Happy Birthday, Medicare!

July 24, 2014

July 30th marks the 49th anniversary of the establishment of the Social Security Act Amendments. In 1965, on this date, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed into law what is better known as the Medicare law. This established both Medicare, the health insurance program for Americans over 65, and Medicaid, the health insurance program for low income Americans. You can read this Public Law in the United States Statutes at Large on GPO’s Federal Digital System (FDsys).

President Lyndon Johnson signs the Medicare Bill. President Harry S. Truman is seated next to him. Others looking on include Lady Bird Johnson, Vice President Hubert Humphrey, and Bess Truman. July 30, 1965. Photo courtesy of Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library, U.S. National Archives

President Lyndon Johnson signs the Medicare Bill. President Harry S. Truman is seated next to him. Others looking on include Lady Bird Johnson, Vice President Hubert Humphrey, and Bess Truman. July 30, 1965. Photo courtesy of Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library, U.S. National Archives

Former President Harry S. Truman participated in the signing ceremony with President Johnson at the Truman Presidential Library in Independence, Missouri. President Truman’s participation served to recognize his effort during his administration to establish a national health insurance program. President Truman and former first lady, Bess Truman, received Medicare registration cards numbers one and two.

on the occasion of the signing of the Social Security Amendments of 1965 in Independence, Missouri. Photo courtesy of Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library, U.S. National Archives

This is the Medicare card believed to have been given to Harry Truman by President Lyndon on the occasion of the signing of the Social Security Amendments of 1965 in Independence, Missouri. Photo courtesy of Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library, U.S. National Archives

The 1950 Census showed that the aged population in the U.S. had grown from 3 million in 1900 to 12 million in 1950. The jump was even greater between 1950 and 1963, growing from 12 million to 17.5 million, a large number of whom had no health insurance. It’s no surprise that in the program’s first three years, nearly 20 million beneficiaries enrolled in Medicare.

Fast forward to today, and Medicare provides health insurance to about 50 million Americans. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), administers the program.

Finding Medicare information and services has never been easier than with www.medicare.gov.

Using the site, users can access a wide array of services. Some examples include:

  • Signing up for Medicare;
  • Modifying Medicare plans;
  • Finding health and drug plans;
  • Learning about different levels of coverage and how to sign up for each, various costs, and supplements and other insurance;
  • Determining if specific tests or services are covered;
  • Filing a complaint, claim, or appeal;
  • Checking the status of any application, claim, or pending action;
  • Finding doctors, providers, hospitals, and suppliers;
  • Accessing forms, resources, and personal assistance;
  • Changing one’s address; and
  • Reporting lost or stolen Medicare cards.

In addition to that, the site offers access to podcasts, videos, and blogs that are not only interesting, but very informative. You can also connect with Medicare via Twitter and YouTube.

The U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO) also provides access to a wide variety of Medicare resources. The U.S. Government Bookstore sells the CMS-1500, the standard health insurance claim form developed by the National Uniform Claim Committee and used by all non-institutional medical providers or suppliers to bill Medicare carriers. It is also used to bill some Medicaid State Agencies.

GPO also provides access to an array of Medicare resources through its Catalog of U.S. Government Publications (CGP), including a collection of free eBooks. Through the CGP, users can access the descriptive catalog record for each publication, as well as a direct link to any publication that available online. Some of the free eBooks available on Medicare topics are:

The CGP and FDsys provide access to a wide variety of other Government documents related to Medicare. Here is just a small sampling:

You can also access countless Federal Government documents related to Medicare at Federal depository libraries nationwide. Find the Federal depository nearest you by visiting the Federal Depository Library Directory.

Happy Birthday, Medicare, and here’s to many more years of helping the American public!

How can I find these Medicare publications?

In addition to clicking on the links in the article above to find the publications, you may find these publications from the following:

And to find popular current Federal publications, you may:

  • Shop Online Anytime: You can buy eBooks as well as print publications (with FREE Standard Shipping worldwide) from the U.S. Government Online Bookstore website at http://bookstore.gpo.gov
  • Order by Phone: You may also Order print editions by calling GPO’s  Customer Contact Center Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5:30 pm Eastern (except US Federal holidays). From US and Canada, call toll-free 1.866.512.1800. DC or International customers call +1.202.512.1800.
  • Shop our Retail Store: Buy a copy of any print editions at GPO’s retail bookstore at 710 North Capitol Street NW, Washington, DC 20401, open Monday–Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., except Federal holidays, Call (202) 512-0132 for information or to arrange in-store pick-up.

About the author: Our guest blogger is Kelly Seifert, Lead Planning Specialist for GPO’s Library Services & Content Management Division that supports the Federal Depository Library Program.

 


I’ve got the Whole World in my Hands…

July 15, 2014

World Factbook 2013-14You know you just sang the title of this blog. Now that I have your attention, let me tell you how you can have the whole world in your hands. Pick up the latest edition of The World Factbook 2013-14, currently available from the GPO Bookstore. Jam-packed with a plethora of information, it’s a one-stop reference for everyone from the youngster who has a geography project to a college student researching the economic climate in other countries.

 

cia logo

The World Factbook is prepared by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)

For those of you who are new to the World Factbook, here are a few key facts:

  • It is prepared by the Central Intelligence Agency.
  • The first unclassified version of the Factbook was published in 1971.
  • The 1975 Factbook was the first to be made available to the public with sales through the US Government Printing Office (GPO)
  • In 1981, it officially became The World Factbook.

The World Factbook 2013-14 provides the latest statistical facts for 267 countries and regions around world. Each entry begins with a small black and white map of the country or territory. It goes on to give a brief background introduction, the geography, people and society, government, economy, energy, communications, transportation, military, and transnational issues. The publication also contains maps that present the physical features and political boundaries of each nation, as well as, the standard times zones of the world and the official flag of each country.

This image of the Physical Map of the World is one of several maps included the World Factbook

This image of the Physical Map of the World is one of several maps included in the World Factbook.

The World Factbook is filled many interesting facts. For instance, did you know that Russia and Japan have not formally ended World War II? According to the World Factbook, “the sovereignty dispute over the islands of, Etorofu, Kunashiri and Shikotan and the Habomai group, known in Japan as the ‘Northern Territories’ and in Russia as the ‘Southern Kuril islands,’ occupied by the Soviet Union in 1945, now administered by Russia and claimed by Japan, remains the primary sticking point to signing a peace treaty formally ending World War II hostilities.”

Other interesting facts, as well as recent updates to various categories and maps can all be found in the World Factbook 2013-14.

Take a journey into the Factbook to learn what you didn’t know about the world we live in.

HOW DO I OBTAIN THE WORLD FACTBOOK 2013-14?

Shop Online Anytime: You can buy these publications (with FREE Standard Shipping worldwide) from the U.S. Government Online Bookstore website at http://bookstore.gpo.gov:

Order by Phone: You may also Order print editions by calling our Customer Contact Center Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5:30 pm Eastern (except US Federal holidays). From US and Canada, call toll-free 1.866.512.1800. DC or International customers call +1.202.512.1800.

Shop our Retail Store:Buy a copy of any print editions from this collection at GPO’s retail bookstore at 710 North Capitol Street NW, Washington, DC 20401, open Monday–Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., except Federal holidays, Call (202) 512-0132 for information or to arrange in-store pick-up.

Visit a Federal Depository Library:Search for U.S. Government publications in a nearby Federal depository library. You can find the records for most titles in the Catalog of U.S. Government Publications or CGP.

About the author: Faith Johnson is an Outreach and Support Librarian for the U.S. Government Printing Office’s Library Services & Content Management division.

Additional content, images and editing provided by Trudy Hawkins, a writer and marketing specialist in GPO’s Publication & Information Sales Division supporting the U.S. Government Online Bookstore (http://bookstore.gpo.gov).

 


Notable Government Documents 2013 – Winners

June 27, 2014

ALA Notable Government Documents 2013Each year, the American Library Association’s (ALA) GODORT Notable Documents Panel selects what it considers to be the most “Notable Government Documents” published during the previous year by Federal, state, and local governments and includes the list of winners in its prestigious Library Journal (LJ). Typically, many of the Federal publications it picks are available through the Government Printing Office’s U.S. Government Online Bookstore.

Library Journal LogoKnown as “the most trusted and respected publication for the library community,” LJ provides groundbreaking features and analytical news reports covering technology, management, policy and other professional concerns to public, academic and institutional libraries. Its hefty reviews sections evaluate 8000+ reviews annually of books, ebooks, audiobooks, videos/DVDs, databases, systems and websites.

According to LJ, “This year’s list of notable documents includes titles on cultural heritage, globalism, diversity and gender equality, lifelong learning, and the environment.” Here are Federal Government documents available through GPO that were selected as Most Notable for 2013.

The Iraq War 2003-2011The Iraq War 2003-2011 “Focusing entirely on the self-sacrifice of military personnel and not on the politics, this chronology tells its story primarily through color photographs and minimal text. Emphasizing the successes of the coalition forces, it centers on medal of honor winners, the wounded, and the dead.” – LJ

A Sense of Place Design Guidelines for Yosemite National ParkA Sense of Place: Design Guidelines for Yosemite National Park “Revised and expanded from the 2004 edition, this history of development in ¬Yosemite covers up to the present. With maps and historical images, the authors attempt to influence the design ethic of future park developers and establish guidelines so that successive plans are compatible with the rhythms and spirit of Yosemite’s landscape and scenery.” – LJ

You Cannot Surge TrustYou Cannot Surge Trust: Combined Naval Operations of the Royal Australian Navy, Canadian Navy, Royal Navy, and United States Navy, 1991-2003 “The premise of this investigation is that the U.S. military can no longer act alone as the world’s only superpower. Within the context of a general history of the role of naval power in defense policy development and using examples dating back to the Revolutionary War, Weir outlines the increasing dependence nations have on one another and argues that conflicts between partners caused by varying rules of engagement can be overcome.” – LJ

The Warren Commission ReportThe Warren Commission Report: The Official Report on the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy “Rereleased on the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination, this is the online pdf version of the Warren Commission Report Summary, which condenses the contents of the 26 hearings and evidence volumes. Reproductions of forensic photos, police reports, physicians’ notes, coroners’ reports, and verbatim extracts of graphic witness testimony supplement the story of that tragic day in Dallas in 1963.” – LJ

Congratulations to the publishers of these deserving award winning publications!

How can you get these publications from this year’s Federal Notable Government Documents collection?

Shop Online Anytime: You can buy these and other publications (with FREE Standard Shipping worldwide) from the U.S. Government Online Bookstore website at http://bookstore.gpo.gov:

Shop our retail bookstore at 710 North Capitol Street NW, Washington, DC 20401, open Monday-Friday, 9am to 4pm, except Federal holidays, (202) 512-0132.

Order by Phone: Call our Customer Contact Center Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5:30 pm Eastern (except US Federal holidays). From US and Canada, call toll-free 1.866.512.1800. DC or International customers call +1.202.512.1800.

Visit a Federal Depository Library: Search for U.S. Government publications in a nearby Federal depository library. You can find the records for most titles in the Catalog of U.S. Government Publications or CGP.

About the author: Trudy Hawkins is a writer and marketing specialist in GPO’s Publication & Information Sales Division supporting the U.S. Government Online Bookstore (http://bookstore.gpo.gov).

 


Federal Resources for Food and Nutrition Planning

June 11, 2014

News concerning the debate over changes to the School Lunch Program has brought the topic of child nutrition and health to the forefront, in recent weeks. As government and school officials debate this important topic, Government Book Talk takes a look at the Food and Nutrition Information Center Resources CD-ROM currently available from the GPO Online Bookstore.

Resource Lists CD-ROMThe Food and Nutrition Information Center Resources CD-ROM from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Food and Nutrition Information Center (FNIC) contains a plethora of useful information related to various food and nutrition programs, such as the National School Lunch Program. It particularly offers guidance to help nutrition professionals and consumers locate information and materials on specific food and nutrition topics, such as Child Nutrition and Health, Food and Nutrition Education, School Food Service, and much more. Compiled by Nutrition Information Specialists, these Resource Lists provide resources in a variety of formats including articles, pamphlets, books, audio-visuals, and Web links.

This resource list excerpt from 2008 for educators provides resource information on cultural and ethnic food nutrition.

This resource list excerpt from 2008 for educators provides resource information on cultural and ethnic food nutrition.

The vast information contained on this CD-ROM from the National Agriculture Library collection will prove to be a great resource for parents, educators, school food service professionals and child care providers. Child Nutrition Programs including before/after school and children’s summer municipal camp programs will also benefit from these resource lists for nutritional guidance and food planning for their summer and new school year child nutrition initiatives.

The FNIC website contains over 2500 links to current and reliable nutrition information.

The FNIC website contains over 2500 links to current and reliable nutrition information.

About the FNIC

According to its website, the FNIC is a leader in food and human nutrition information. Located at the National Agricultural Library (NAL) of USDA, the FNIC provides credible, accurate, and practical resources for nutrition and health professionals, educators, government personnel and consumers. To learn more about the FNIC and its various resource lists topics visit the FNIC website.

In addition to the Food and Nutrition Information Center Resources CD-ROM, the USDA has published the following print publication focusing on nutrition and diet, which is also available from the U.S. Government Bookstore.Dietary Guidelines for Americans

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010 offers advice regarding nutrition to promote health and to reduce risk for major chronic diseases through diet and physical activity. The publication is oriented toward policymakers, nutrition educators, nutritionists, and healthcare providers. It summarizes and synthesizes knowledge regarding individual nutrients and food components into recommendations for a pattern of eating that can be adopted by the public. Key Recommendations listed by chapter include: Balancing Calories to Manage Weight; Foods and Food Components to Reduce; Foods and Nutrients to Increase; Building Healthy Eating Patterns; and Helping Americans Make Healthy Choices. It also explains the new food plate which replaced the food pyramid.

How can I get these federal resources on Food and Nutrition Planning?

Shop Online Anytime: You can buy these and other publications (with FREE Standard Shipping worldwide) from the U.S. Government Online Bookstore website at http://bookstore.gpo.gov:

Shop our retail bookstore at 710 North Capitol Street NW, Washington, DC 20401, open Monday-Friday, 9am to 4pm, except Federal holidays, (202) 512-0132.

Order by Phone: Call our Customer Contact Center Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5:30 pm Eastern (except US Federal holidays). From US and Canada, call toll-free 1.866.512.1800. DC or International customers call +1.202.512.1800.

Visit a Federal Depository Library: Search for U.S. Government publications in a nearby Federal depository library. You can find the records for most titles in the Catalog of U.S. Government Publications or CGP.

About the author: Trudy Hawkins is a writer and marketing specialist in GPO’s Publication & Information Sales Division supporting the U.S. Government Online Bookstore (http://bookstore.gpo.gov).


Designing a Nation: Civic Art in the Nation’s Capital

April 17, 2014

The U.S. Capitol and National Mall are a beautiful representation of the dignity and public spirit of the United States of America. This area is steeped in history, and you can learn more about the past and continued efforts to design, build, and preserve the U.S. Capitol and National Mall through many government publications.

Brumidi-To-Make-Beautiful-the-CapitolWith its famous dome celebrating its 150th anniversary in December 2013, the United States Capitol is a treasure-trove of civic art. Just released, To Make Beautiful the Capitol: Rediscovering the Art of Constantino Brumidi gives a detailed history of renowned Italian-born artist Constantino Brumidi’s masterful work in “making beautiful” the walls and ceilings of the United States Capitol in a span of 25 years starting in 1854. Every page delights with gorgeous, full-color photographs and images of Brumidi’s art, from photographs of the frescoes and decoration, to sketches, paintings and images of the artist, particularly the Brumidi Corridors and his “monumental fresco” in the Capitol Rotunda, called The Apotheosis of Washington. Fascinating anecdotes are included throughout of the artist and the inspirations he received for various elements, his relationship with engineer Montgomery C. Meigs, and the conservation efforts to preserve his work accurately for posterity. Read more about this publication and others about art in the Capitol in our prior blog post, National Treasure: The art and architecture of the US Capitol.

The primary oversight board for projects in the National Mall area is the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts, which was established by an act of Congress on May 17, 1910 in Public Law 61-181. This commission was created as an independent review agency for the work of designing the national capitol and to guide the architectural development of Washington. The commission’s role was expanded with later passage of the Shipstead-Luce Act of 1930 (Public Law 71-231 and Public Law 76-248), and the Old Georgetown Act of 1950 (Public Law 81-808). The U.S. Commission of Fine Arts has a long history of guiding the development of the nation’s capital. Several resources are available in print and online to learn more about the commission’s history.

The National Park Service maintains a detailed guide linking to documents and reports that detail the area history. The Mall Cultural Landscape Inventory, part 2 contains several pages describing the history of the Senate Park Commission and its formation into the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts.

Designing-the-nations-capitalThe U.S. Commission of Fine Arts published a monograph in 2006; Designing the nation’s capital: the 1901 plan for Washington D.C. This 359 page monograph contains illustrations in color and black and white, as well as maps. The National Park Service provides full text access to this title online.

In addition to this title, several editions of this history of the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts from 1910 to date were published in 1964, 1977, 1981, 1985, 1991, and 1996.

Civic Art : a centennial history of the U.S. Commission of Fine ArtsThe most recent addition to the volumes available about the history of the commission is celebrates 100 years of the work of the commission. Civic Art : a centennial history of the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts is a beautiful, 626 page monograph with illustrations, maps and plans. It is a comprehensive history of the agency and includes original essays by prominent architects and landscape architects including Arleyn Levee, Carroll William Westfall, and Richard Guy Wilson.

A Botanic Garden for the Nation: The United States Botanic GardenAnother beautiful book that features some of the history of the national mall area is A Botanic Garden for the Nation: The United States Botanic Garden. You can read more about this publication in a previous post on Government Book Talk.

For more information about the U.S. Capital building, you can also check out the publications highlighted in the previous Government Book Talk post on the 150th anniversary of the completion of the Capital Dome.

America’s Castle: the evolution of the Smithsonian Building and its institution, 1840-1878To read more about the history of the Smithsonian, you could visit a depository library and check out the publication, America’s Castle: the evolution of the Smithsonian Building and its institution, 1840-1878.

If you are interested in the official records of the commission, you can locate them at the National Archives. The record collection includes administrative history, annual reports, and a selection of still photographs. The records are divided between College Park, MD and Washington DC. Many of the records pertaining to the building and continued development of the National Mall are available at the National Archives, such as the National Park Service Records for the National Capital Region, and the Records of the Office of Public Buildings and Public Parks of the National Capital.

How Can I get this book and other publications about history of the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts?

About the author: Our guest blogger is Cathy Wagner, a GPO Outreach Librarian for the U.S. Government Printing Office’s Library Services & Content Management (LSCM) Division. Additional content, images and editing provided by Trudy Hawkins, a writer and marketing specialist in GPO’s Publication & Information Sales Division supporting the U.S. Government Online Bookstore (http://bookstore.gpo.gov).


Stop Me If You’ve Heard This One… a Top Ten List of Funny Federal Titles

April 1, 2014

A few weeks ago, Jennifer Davis’ supervisor delivered a challenge to her via email: write a story about humorous government document titles for April Fool’s Day. (Read various stories about the origins of April Fool’s Day here, here and here.) April Fool’s humor has had a long history with American Government, dating back to Founding Father Benjamin Franklin (read caption below).

Benjamin Franklin wearing an ostentatious fake moustache for April Fool's Day

According to news humor site “Weekly World News”, the American founding father of April Fool’s Day was Benjamin Franklin. Since Franklin, April 1st has been synonymous in America for a day of practical jokes and general mischief. Tales of his exploits were published in the Philadelphia Gazette on the 1st of April every year. For example, says the site, he was known to give entire public speeches on April 1 wearing an ostentatious fake moustache. ;-) Can you believe it? (Image courtesy of Weekly World News.)- M. Bartram

Says Jennifer: “I love reading government documents for their data and their fascinating stories, but I usually wouldn’t consider them to be laugh-out-loud funny. Or as a colleague said, “They’re not Abbott and Costello funny”. But everyone’s got to laugh some time, right? And when I searched GPO’s Catalog of U.S. Government Publications (CGP), and picked my colleagues’ brains, I found that Uncle Sam sometimes gets his chuckles, too. I found more titles than these ten—but I want to save some for another occasion. There have been a few other lists of humorous government documents, not all of them Federal titles, circulating around the Internet, and so I’ve tried to keep this list as unique as possible.”

(If you like the topic of this column, you should visit the Washington State University’s exhibit, The Lighter Side of…. The Government Printing Office, which runs through June 28, 2014.)

[Michele Bartram Editor's Note: Over the years, Government Book Talk has also highlighted some funny Federal publication titles within previous blog posts including: Society through a Comic Lens, The Nuttall Tick CatalogueDr. Seuss, U.S. Army, Sprocket Man!War Games, and Ponzimonium. You'll chuckle over the odd, quirky, ironic or inadvertently funny titles of the books mentioned!]

All of these titles in this blog post have records in GPO’s Catalog of U.S. Government Publications, and you might be able to find a copy in your local Federal depository library, or find one at your regional library. Click here for a list of Federal Depository Libraries (the Federal Depository Library Directory or FDLD). Since many of these Government documents —books, posters, pamphlets and PDFs— are older than five years, you might have to search a bit to find a copy. When available, we have provided links for the electronic version of these titles.

Below is the list of Top 10 funniest titles that Jennifer provided, along with additional details about each.

TOP 10 FUNNIEST TITLES

Gobbledygook_has-gotta-go_green-cover1) Gobbledygook has Gotta Go. This Bureau of Land Management title about the problems with Government writing is a classic, and a precursor to the “Plain Language” initiative today to simplify the wording in communications. It has been cited in several collected lists of funny titles, and it’s the only time I cheated and included it in my list anyway.  Gobbledygook is just such a great word to say, and the alliteration makes the title even funnier. You can read a scanned copy of this book here.

2) Preparedness 101: Zombie Pandemic. All of our GPO office mates agree: this comic has got to be the most fun Federal government document to date.  The CDC was smart and exploited the current interest in zombies, and made an emergency preparedness checklist into a comic on preparing for the “zombie pandemic”. In this comic, the scientists of the CDC are the superheroes, isolating the virus “Z5N1” and developing a vaccine in record time, while the locals develop a checklist of emergency supplies so they can stay inside their home. Just the title alone is enough to make you smile—and it gets its point across. You can read the entire publication online here.

cdc-preparedness-101-zombie-pandemic

3) This is a Dumb Bunny. I love the idea of the Federal government calling someone a “dumb bunny”. Even if the document it is quite literally the image of a rabbit, which spoils some of the fun, I am still tickled by the idea of a snarky Uncle Sam. The poster’s actually about smoking cessation.

"This is a dumb bunny!" anti-smoking 1970s poster from the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare

4) Safety is as Stupid Does!!  I know what the goal was with this title. The poster (seen on the University of Iowa Digital Library) makes it clear to the intended audience of military personnel that not thinking hurts safety on the job. However, I think the title missed the mark. It’s funny in its own right.

Safety-is-as-stupid-does_DOD-poster

5) Do Mandrakes Really Scream?  A colleague of mine is a huge Harry Potter fan. She said cataloging this title was the pinnacle of her career. It’s the online exhibition catalog of an National Library of Medicine (NLM) History of Medicine exhibit relating NLM’s historical holdings and the magic and medicine of Harry Potter.

If you read the Harry Potter series, you’ll know what the title is referring to. If you haven’t read the series, check out this free exhibit first; you might find yourself diving into the book series afterwards.

National Library of Medicine NLM "Do Mandrakes Really Scream? Magic and Medicine in Harry Potter" website

6) USDA Saves French Donkey.  The title of this mid-1980s US Department of Agriculture publication just speaks for itself.

[Editor's note: Probably the publication refers to this 1985 story reported in the Los Angeles Times about a rare 7-month-old curly haired French Poitou donkey named Sonette at the San Diego Zoo: "Rare Donkey Passes Test, Can Stay Here"]

French Poitou donkey has dreadlocks that need a haircut

The rare French Baudet du Poitou donkey breed is born with curly hair that naturally grows into long dreadlocks as an adult. This one hasn’t had a haircut in 17 years! (Source: The Telegraph – UK)

7) Self-Motion Perception and Motion Sickness: Final Report for the Project  NASA’s report on a motion sickness project makes me want to just… stop… moving! Read about it on NASA’s website.

NASA-astronauts-with-motion-sicknessAbove: NASA astronauts in zero gravity try to fend off the effects of motion sickness.  To learn more about motion sickness, watch this 3-minute TED Talk animated video about “The Mystery of Motion Sickness.”

America the Beautiful: A Collection of the Nation's Trashiest Humor with comic strips about solid waste or trash8) America the Beautiful: Collection of the Nation’s Trashiest Humor. Not only is the title funny, but the book’s content promises humor as well. This is publication number 2048 of The U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, originally published in 1970. The book consists of thirty comics, from the funny pages like B.C., and some from the editorial pages of publications from the New Yorker to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, all focusing on the problem of waste disposal. You can read the publication in its entirety online at the EPA’s website.

9) French Meadows: Hell Hole Recreation Areas. Although the area is really quite lovely, there’s a problem with image marketing in this U.S. Forest Service tourism brochure.

French-Meadows-Hell-Hole-Reservoir

Poster for The Vampire Bat movie starring Fay Wray10) Controlling Vampire Bats.  This serious US Agency for International Development publication about controlling the spread of rabies through these creatures nevertheless evokes shades of Tippi Hedren… Don’t you get a mental picture of people running down the street away from the bats, waving their arms over their heads and screaming, à la The Birds? Or Fay Wray being controlled by an evil vampire in bat form in the movie “The Vampire Bat” (movie poster image at the right)? Maybe I’ve read too many zombie comics.

How can I find these funny-titled Federal publications?

In addition to clicking on the links in the article above to find the publications, you may find these publications from the following:

  • Visit a Federal Depository Library: Search for U.S. Government publications in a nearby Federal depository library.
  • Visit a Public Library: Ask your local public librarian about Federal Government books available to check out as well as Federal eBooks that may be available for library patrons to digitally download through the library’s Overdrive subscription.

And to find popular current Federal publications, you may:

  • Shop Online Anytime: You can buy eBooks as well as print publications (with FREE Standard Shipping worldwide) from the U.S. Government Online Bookstore website at http://bookstore.gpo.gov
  • Order by Phone: You may also Order print editions by calling GPO’s  Customer Contact Center Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5:30 pm Eastern (except US Federal holidays). From US and Canada, call toll-free 1.866.512.1800. DC or International customers call +1.202.512.1800.
  • Shop our Retail Store: Buy a copy of any print editions at GPO’s retail bookstore at 710 North Capitol Street NW, Washington, DC 20401, open Monday–Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., except Federal holidays, Call (202) 512-0132 for information or to arrange in-store pick-up.

About the author: Adapted and expanded by Michele Bartram, Government Book Talk Editor and Promotions Manager for GPO’s Publication and Information Sales Division in Washington, DC, from an original post by Jennifer K. Davis, formerly from GPO’s Library Services & Content Management Division that supports the Federal Depository Libraries Program (FDLP).

Have a fun and funny April Fool’s Day!


Get to the Olympics with Help from these Free U.S. Government Resources

February 21, 2014

Guest blogger and GPO Supervisory Librarian Valerie Furino writes about U.S. Government publications that can help you achieve your Olympic ambitions.

The 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics are wrapping up, and they have been entertaining and full of surprises.  Many people watch the Olympics and dream of the magical moment of being awarded a medal (preferably gold).   However, that dreamy medal was earned through years of training and preparation.  If you want to give living the life of an Olympian a try, you’ll need to work hard.  You need to eat like an athlete – you need to train like an athlete – and you’ll actually need to GET to the Olympics – grab that suitcase!  Think you’ve got what it takes?  Let’s find out.

us-olympic-training-center-signImage: Tourists enjoying the Olympic Rings sign at the Headquarters for the U.S. Olympic Committee administration and the Olympic Training Center programs in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Get into Competition Shape

First, let’s examine eating habits.  This should be easy – athletes are known for devouring lots of calories.  This handy chart illustrates typical calories burned, depending on a person’s weight – note that the Olympic sports ice hockey, ice skating, and skiing are all included.  (If all the activities on this chart were Olympic sports, I’d be a gold medalist shoo-in for “Operate Snow Blower” after this winter!)  However, you need to eat the right kind of calories.  You’ll need fuel to power you through those salchows and Axel jumps. Nutrition.gov provides a great starting place on various nutrition topics, including meal planning, label reading, and dietary supplements.

ChooseMyPlate_gov_Winter-Health-ChallengeImage: Winter Health Challenge from ChooseMyPlate.gov (February 2014).

Que hay en su plato- Spanish version of What's on My Plate from ChooseMyPlateFrom there, you can navigate to ChooseMyPlate.gov (or buy the What’s on Your Plate?: Choose My Plate -English Language Version or the Spanish language version, Que Hay en Su Plato?: Mi Plato) which contains helpful advice on what to eat.  No matter your circumstance – college student, vegetarian, pregnant – you’ll find great tips on nutrition and some helpful recipes.

OK, nutritional standards have been established.  Now let’s move on to physical training.  Depending on your sport preference, you’ll need to exercise specific muscles – for example, cross-country skiing requires a well-developed abdomen, arms, and lower back, while snowboarding needs a strong core and shoulders.  Health.gov is a good place to start, as it provides general information on both nutrition and activity.  It provides a helpful link to Let’s Move!, a well-known initiative supported by First Lady Michelle Obama that encourages physical activity.  The President’s Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition has a fantastic site loaded with activity and nutrition tips.  If you’d like all your information in one publication, try the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans; if you’re more a visual person, check out some videos .  All these resources are useful tools to get you in shape – or at least keep you towing the line on your fitness New Year’s resolutions.

First-Lady-Michelle-Obama-White-House-lawn-Lets-move-kidsImage: First Lady Michelle Obama exercising with kids on the White House lawn for the Let’s Move! initiative. Source: White House

Getting to the Games

Apply-for-US-passport-State-DepartmentYou’ve trained and you’ve been keeping excellent eating habits – you’re now ready to get to the games, whether as an athlete or a spectator!  (Hey, it takes a lot of climbing to get to your seat in an Olympic stadium.)   Besides the United States, the Olympics have been held in some beautiful and exotic places – London, Beijing, Athens,  Vancouver, and Torino.  If traveling out of your home country, be sure to check if any vaccinations are required.  Also check for any travel alerts.  Do you have a current passport?  Need a visa to travel to the host country? These convenient U.S. State Department sites will guide you.

world_factbook_12-13After taking care of logistics, spend some time reading up on the host nation.  The World FactBook updated annually by the CIA (you can also buy the World Factbook print edition complete with wall maps) and the Library of Congress Country Studies series (many also available in print from our Foreign Country Studies collection) are two excellent resources to help guide you through your host country.  And this handy worldwide wireless guide from the Federal Communications Commission will help you figure out how to use your phone while traveling abroad!

How can I get these publications?

  • Click on the Links: For the free resources, click on the links above in the blog post.
  • Visit a Federal Depository Library: Search for one of these publications in a nearby Federal depository library. (Librarians: You can find the records for most of these titles in the Catalog of U.S. Government Publications or CGP.)
  • Shop Online Anytime: You can buy any of the eBooks or print publications mentioned above—with FREE Standard Shipping worldwide— from the U.S. Government Online Bookstore at http://bookstore.gpo.gov.
  • Order by Phone: You may also order print editions mentioned in this blog post by calling our Customer Contact Center Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5:30 pm Eastern (except US Federal holidays). From US and Canada, call toll-free 1.866.512.1800. DC or International customers call +1.202.512.1800.
  • Shop our Retail Store: Buy a copy of any print editions mentioned in this blog post by visiting GPO’s retail bookstore at 710 North Capitol Street NW, Washington, DC 20401, open Monday–Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., except Federal holidays, Call (202) 512-0132 for information or to arrange in-store pick-up.

About the Author: Valerie Furino is a Supervisory Librarian for the Government Printing Office’s Library Services & Content Management (LSCM) Division.


Federal Favorites: Our Best Selling Books of 2013

January 16, 2014

Ahhh…. It’s that time of the year again: Awards season! From the Golden Globes to the Academy Awards, red carpets abound with interviews of movie stars and other celebrities boasting about their best work during the past year.

We at the US Government Bookstore want to make sure our star publications and Federal agency publishers get their moment in the limelight, too. So, we are pleased to announce the winning publications that you, our readers, chose through your purchases over the past year: The US Government Bookstore Best Sellers of 2013!

Top-Government Books and Best-Sellers-of-2013 from the GPO US Government Online BookstoreHere are some of the more notable books, eBooks, posters and more that were winners in your eyes over the past year:

ART & TRAVEL

National Park System (Wall Map Poster)Americans love our national parks, so it’s no surprise the National Park System Wall Map Poster was a big hit.

Humanities-Magazine-2014-01Humanities is a bimonthly magazine published by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) which covers NEH sponsored research in the humanities and NEH programs and projects, as well as information on recent and upcoming NEH grants.

HISTORY

With the 150th anniversary and reenactment of the Battle of Gettysburg last summer, The Gettysburg Campaign, June-July 1863 was a smash success (Read our post “Gettysburg, America’s Bloodiest Battle” for more information).

Perennial favorite Underground Railroad: Official Map and Guide (Read our post “The Underground Railroad Leaves its Tracks in History”) was joined by two publications commemorating 50th anniversaries:

Book Cover Image for Statistical Abstract of the United States 2012 (Paperback)Finally, the Statistical Abstract of the United States, the last official edition published in 2012 by the U.S. Census Bureau, contains a standardized summary of all official key statistics on the social, political, and economic organization of the United States (Read our post: “Statistical Abstract and Print Mashups in a Digital Age”).

TREES & FORESTS

Book Cover Image for The Little AcornI won’t be going out on a limb to say that our customers definitely wanted to hug trees this year, as books about Trees & Forests topped the lists. Why Would Anyone Cut a Tree Down? and The Little Acorn are extremely popular books for children explaining about the uses and life cycle of trees.

Image for Timber Management Field BookHow to Prune Trees and How To Recognize Hazardous Defects in Trees for amateur and professional gardeners, landscapers and foresters alike, and the Timber Management Field Book serves as the most popular reference handbook for forestry professionals.

(Read our posts “Oh, say, can you tree? American Christmas tree traditions,” “Pruning Trees” and “Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax Inspires Kids to Hug a Tree” for more information on these titles.)

BUSINESS AND LAW

A Basic Guide to Exporting for Small & Medium-Sized Businesses (10th Revised)International business entrepreneurs and would-be exporters have made A Basic Guide to Exporting: The Official Government Resource for Small and Medium-Sized Businesses a best-seller every year (Read our posts: “Exporting Made Simple and “Government eBooks Made Easy– and Sometimes Free” for more information).

Copyright Law of the United States in U.S. Code as of 12/2011Protecting intellectual property and privacy were extremely hot topics in 2013, making the Copyright Law of the United States and Related Laws and the Overview of the Privacy Act of 1974, 2012 Edition (extremely popular last year (Read our post: “The Privacy Act: What the Government Can Collect and Disclose about Youfor more information).

TRANSPORTATION AND NAVIGATION

TAstronomical Almanac for the Year 2014 and Its Companion the Astronomical Almanahe latest versions of the annual best-selling Astronomical Almanac for the Year 2014 (Combined Print plus Online Edition) and The Nautical Almanac for the Year 2014 are critical tools to aid commercial and private navigation by both air or water (Read our post: “Navigating by the Moon, Planets, and Starsfor more information).

Specifically for maritime navigation, Navigation Rules, International-Inland contains the latest international regulations for preventing Book Cover Image for FAA Safety Briefingcollisions at sea as well as the U.S. Inland Navigation Rules which have been in effect for all inland waters, including the Great Lakes.

The FAA Safety Briefing magazine provides updates on major Federal Aviation Administration rule changes and proposed changes, as well as refresher information on flight rules, maintenance air worthiness, avionics, accident analysis, and other aviation topics.

CITIZENSHIP AND CIVICS

Preparing to become a United States citizen and reaffirming knowledge of the American system of Government is extremely popular with our customers, and this year was no exception. Top civics and citizenship publications for 2013 included the Constitution of the United States and the Declaration of Independence (Pocket Edition) and materials for preparing for the U.S. Naturalization Test to become a United States citizen—

(Read our posts: “Quiz and History for Bill of Rights Day December 15”, “Quiz: Are you smarter than an 8th grade Civics student?”, and “Notable Documents 2009: Civics Flash Cardsfor more information on these products.)

Another patriotic publication that proved popular (Do you like the alliteration?:-) was Our Flag, which briefly describes the history of the American flag and sets forth the practices and observances appropriate to the display of Old Glory, was a top-seller.Book Cover Image for How Our Laws Are Made

The Congressional book, How Our Laws Are Made, provides citizens with a basic outline of the numerous steps of our Federal law-making process from the source of an idea for a legislative proposal through to its publication as a statute and becoming the “law of the land”.

HEALTH

Watching our weight and eating better were definitely on the minds of Americans this year as Diet & Nutrition books and posters were best sellers, including:

Book Cover Image for Special Operations Forces Medical HandbookHealthcare professionals turned often to the U.S. Government Bookstore for Physician References & Medical Handbooks, Medical & Health Research, and Military & Emergency Medicine publications in 2013. Top on the list were copies of the new Healthcare Law, as well as the Special Operations Forces Medical Handbook.

But also important were publications used to improve the quality of healthcare research and patient care and safety. These included the ORI: Introduction to the Responsible Conduct of Research  (also available in Packages of 50) which provides guidelines for Public Health Service-funded researchers, as well as the TeamSTEPPS patient care and safety training materials for healthcare personnel, such as the TeamSTEPPS Instructor Guide (Binder Kit) and TeamSTEPPS Pocket Guide that should be handed out to all healthcare personnel who attend TeamSTEPPS training.

SECURITY AND EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT

Emergency management personnel and first responders responded strongly to the many great safety and emergency response publications on the U.S. Government Bookstore.  These books and pocket guides topped their “must have” list in 2013:

Specifically for dealing with Hazardous Materials (HAZMAT) and Chemical-Biological-Radiological-Nuclear-Explosive (CBRNE) incidents, clean-up and response were these best-selling guides:

The importance of radio communications was underscored by the popularity of the United States Frequency Allocations: The Radio Spectrum Chart (Poster) of all assigned frequencies and the National Interoperability Field Operations Guide which contains radio guidelines for establishing or repairing emergency communications in a disaster area.

GOVERNMENT

Every year, the publications containing the President’s proposed Federal Budget for the upcoming fiscal year are on our best sellers list, and the Fiscal Year 2014 Budget publications followed this tradition. (Note: Stay tuned! The new Fiscal Year 2015 Budget publications will be coming out soon from the White House).

United States Government Manual 2013 lists all federal agenciesThe U.S. Government Manual, the ultimate handbook of all Federal agencies, was a hit as it is every year. Now you can get the new edition: United States Government Manual 2013 (Read about it on our Blog post:  “Understand How the U.S. Government is Organized”).

Other “Best of the Best” Government titles include:

How can I get these “Best-selling Books of 2013”?

  • Shop Online: You can purchase these publications from the U.S. Government Online Bookstore at http://bookstore.gpo.gov by clicking on the individual links above in this blog post. You may also click here to shop our entire “Best Sellers of 2013” collection.
  • Order by Phone: Call our Customer Contact Center Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5:30 pm Eastern (except US Federal holidays). From US and Canada, call toll-free 1.866.512.1800. DC or International customers call +1.202.512.1800.
  • Shop our Retail Store: Buy a copy of any print editions from this collection at GPO’s retail bookstore at 710 North Capitol Street NW, Washington, DC 20401, open Monday–Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., except Federal holidays, Call (202) 512-0132 for information or to arrange in-store pick-up.
  • Visit a Federal Depository Library: Search for one of these publications in a nearby Federal depository library.

About the Author: Government Book Talk Editor Michele Bartram is also Promotions and Ecommerce Manager for GPO’s Publication and Information Sales Division in Washington, DC, and is responsible for online and offline marketing of the US Government Online Bookstore (http://bookstore.gpo.gov) and promoting Federal government content to the public. Assistance provided by Stephanie Jaeger, Sales & Marketing Coordinator for GPO’s Sales & Marketing Division that markets GPO’s publishing services to the Federal sector.


Government eBooks Made Easy– and Sometimes Free

December 19, 2013

Riding on Washington, DC’s Metrorail subway system these days, one sees more electronic devices in hand than print books (the same is true when I was in New York, Chicago, San Francisco and across the country). This reflects the revolution going on in the publishing industry nationwide with the astonishing growth of ebooks.

Reading-books-ebooks-ipad-on-subwayImage: Digital and print readers on the New York City subway. Courtesy: “corners311″ on Reddit.

According to Publisher’s Weekly, Bowker Market Research found that for the first half of 2013, e-book sales in the United States accounted for 14% of consumer dollars spent and 30% of all the units sold of any format of books.

The Rumors of [Print’s] Death are Greatly Exaggerated

However, print is far from dead. In fact, hardcover book sales in the U.S. were up over 10% through the first eight months of 2013, according to the latest numbers from the Association of American Publishers. And many users still prefer print for reference and textbooks.

Battle-of-ebooks-vs-print-booksImage: Infographic of the benefits of both ebooks and print books. Courtesy: Coupon Audit and Self Publishing Review.

When media research firm Voxburner questioned sixteen to 24-year-olds about their preferences for physical products versus digital content, printed books jump out as the media most desired in material form, ahead of movies (48%), newspapers and magazines (47%), CDs (32%), and video games (31%).

The two big reasons for preferring print are value for money and an emotional connection to physical books. On questions of ebook pricing, 28% think that ebooks should be half their current price, while just 8% say that ebook pricing is right. The top-rated reasons for preferring physical to digital products were: “I like to hold the product” (51%), “I am not restricted to a particular device” (20%), and “I can easily share it” (10%).

U.S. Government Bookstore Makes eBooks Easy

US-Government-bookstore-DRM-Free-eBooks at http://bookstore.gpo.gov/ebooksImage: U.S. Government Online Bookstore’s eBooks section.

Fortunately, the U.S. Federal Government addresses these issues with our new downloadable eBooks, as we launched our new eBooks section.

  • Not Restricted: All eBooks on the U.S. Government Bookstore website are non-proprietary. They are not restricted to a particular device or manufacturer, assuming the correct format is chosen. (See below for an explanation of ePub, Mobi, and PDF formats).
  • Easily shared: The eBooks on the U.S. Government Bookstore are DRM-free (Digital Rights Management) eBooks, meaning once you own a title, you can share it.
  • Economical Pricing:  Many eBooks on our website are free, and others are very reasonably priced, with the unlimited downloads and sharing.
  • Multiple Formats: For those who still “want to hold a product,” many of our titles are offered in print or eBook format, with users often buying both.
  • Third Party Channels: To expand the availability, GPO has set up partnerships to make these eBooks available on many of the top online retail and library channels such as BarnesandNoble.com,  Apple iBookstore, Google Play, Overdrive (for libraries).

To EPUB or MOBI, that is the question

Readers need to select the correct eBook format for their devices. PDFs work best on computers or if you want to print, since they are really like photocopies of a page. Text is not reflowable, meaning it is fixed on the page and does not automatically readjust if you want to change the font size or turn your device sideways.

For most users, EPUB format is the best, since it is the industry standard of most publishers and libraries. EPUB format eBooks can be used on most eReader devices like the Barnes & Noble Nook or Apple iPad, as well as on computers with free eReader software like Adobe Digital Editions.

If you want to read the eBook on an Amazon Kindle, you need to choose MOBI format eBooks.

On all of these eBooks on the U.S. Government Bookstore, you will need to side-load them onto your device, by downloading them and copying them to the particular device.

For more information about this, read our page on eBook Readers and Digital File Formats on the U.S. Government Online Bookstore website.

New and Newsworthy eBooks from the U.S. Government

Here are a few of the new and newsworthy DRM-free eBooks currently on the U.S. Government Bookstore to build your own online library of free and inexpensive ebooks:

FREE EBOOKS

Ponzimonium: How Scam Artists Are Ripping Off America (ePub eBook)Ponzimonium: How Scam Artists Are Ripping Off America (ePub eBook) Terrific book about Ponzi schemes and other investment fraud, the con artists who got caught, and how consumers can avoid these scams.

FAA_NextGen_Implementation_Plan_2013_ 9780160920714FAA NextGen Implementation Plan (ePub eBook) Provides a roadmap of the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA’s) transition to the next generation of smarter, satellite-based and digital technologies and new procedures to make air travel more convenient, predictable and environmentally friendly.

NEWSWORTHY EBOOKS

A Basic Guide to Exporting: The Official Government Resource for Small and MediuA Basic Guide to Exporting: The Official Government Resource for Small and Medium-Sized Businesses 10th Revised edition (ePub eBook)

For more than 70 years, A Basic Guide to Exporting has been the resource that businesses have turned to for answers to their questions
about how to establish and grow overseas markets for their products and services. Whether your firm is new to exporting or in need of a refresher on the latest ideas and techniques, this comprehensive guide, now
completely revised and updated, provides the nuts-and-bolts information you will need to meet the challenges of the world economy.

The U.S. is the world’s largest exporter of products and services, but a comparatively small percentage of businesses actually do it. The business owners that export find it lucrative, educational and endlessly fascinating as their work brings them into close contact with people and cultures worldwide. This book profiles 25 Americans who battled competitors, fear of the unknown, and personal adversity to build successful small businesses in the global marketplace.

The Children's Bureau Legacy: Ensuring the Right to Childhood (ePub eBook)The Children’s Bureau Legacy: Ensuring the Right to Childhood (ePub eBook) Comprehensive history of the Children’s Bureau from 1912-2012 in eBook format that shares the Bureau’s legacy of leadership and commitment to improving the safety, permanency and well-being of children, youth and families.

9/11 Commission Report (ePub eBook)9/11 Commission Report (ePub eBook) Contains the final report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (also known as the 9-11 Commission), an independent, bipartisan commission created by congressional legislation and the signature of President George W. Bush in late 2002. This edition has been designated as the only official U.S. Government edition of the 9-11 Commission’s Final Report. It provides a full and complete account of the circumstances surrounding the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, including preparedness for and the immediate response to the attacks. It also includes recommendations designed to guard against future attacks.

Wings in Orbit is an authoritative documentation of the many accomplishments of the NASA Space Shuttle Program. Starting with a foreword written by astronauts John Young and Robert Crippen, this compelling book provides accurate, authentic and easily understood accounts from NASA’s best subject matter experts and external resources. The book captures the passion of those who devoted their energies to the Program’s success for more than three decades. It focuses on their science and engineering accomplishments, the rich history of the program and the shuttle as an icon in U.S. history.

How can I obtain these eBooks?

  • Shop Online: You can purchase these publications from the U.S. Government Online Bookstore at http://bookstore.gpo.gov by clicking on the links above in this blog post or  clicking here to shop our eBooks collection.
  • Order by Phone: Call our Customer Contact Center Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5:30 pm Eastern (except US Federal holidays). From US and Canada, call toll-free 1.866.512.1800. DC or International customers call +1.202.512.1800.
  • Shop our Retail Store: Buy a copy of any print editions from this collection at GPO’s retail bookstore at 710 North Capitol Street NW, Washington, DC 20401, open Monday–Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., except Federal holidays, Call (202) 512-0132 for information or to arrange in-store pick-up.
  • Visit a Federal Depository Library: Search for one of these publications in a nearby Federal depository library.

Federal Agencies: Interested in seeing your eBooks here?

If you are with a U.S. Federal Government agency and wish to see your print or digital publications made available on the U.S. Government Bookstore or need dissemination of your publications, contact us.

Click here to read about all Government Printing Office services for Federal agencies.

About the Authors: Government Book Talk Editor Michele Bartram is Promotions Manager for GPO’s Publication and Information Sales Division in Washington, DC, and is responsible for online and offline marketing of the US Government Online Bookstore (http://bookstore.gpo.gov) and promoting Federal government content to the publicStephanie Jaeger is Sales & Marketing Coordinator for GPO’s Sales & Marketing Division and is responsible for marketing GPO’s publishing services to the Federal sector.


Oh, say, can you tree? American Christmas tree traditions

December 17, 2013

Victorian German style Christmas Xmas tree1899To anyone who enjoys Christmas trees, we say “Wie treu sind deine Blätter!” This means “how faithful are your branches”, a line from “O Tannenbaum,” the German Christmas carol. “O Tannenbaum” (Oh Christmas Tree)* was originally a folk song from Germany that’s been translated to English and sung here in the United States for years. In fact, Nat King Cole sang a classic version in German if you’re ever interested in hearing the original version. A bit of trivia: *The tune for “O Tannenbaum” is also used for the state song of Maryland—if you’re from there, or went to university there, you might have heard the state song if you haven’t heard the holiday version! Just like they got us hooked on the song about evergreens, Germany was instrumental in getting us hooked on the decorated Christmas tree tradition as well.

German immigrants really started the modern craze for Christmas trees that came to the United States in the early 1800s. Queen Victoria, who helped set fashions for the Western world in the mid to late 1800s, helped the trend along with her family Christmas tree (which she may have learned about from her German husband, Albert). (Image above depicts a Victorian era Christmas celebration.)

The evergreen tree is likely a Yule custom carried over and remade from Celtic and/or Scandinavian pagans. Regardless of the origins of the custom of bringing an evergreen into your dwelling place during the year’s darkest days, this much is for sure: having a Christmas tree is now a tried and true American holiday tradition.

Since Christmas trees have become more secular and are so popular, the Christmas tree industry is a huge business in the United States. In 2007, Americans spent over $460 million on cut trees. The Federal government wants to support this industry, and people’s holiday happiness.

TREE AND FIRE SAFETY

To help people keep their holidays safe, the Federal government publishes a number of Christmas tree fire safety publications, such as the U.S. Fire Safety Administration’s (USFA) Christmas/Christmas Tree Fires and December and Holiday Fires.

FEMA-USFA-holiday-fire-safety-infographicImage: US Fire Safety Administration’s Winter Holiday Fire Safety infographic.

According to the USFA, fire deaths increase by 50% between December 24 and 26, and injuries during that period increase by 61%.  As the USFA pointed out, “In residential structure fires where the ignition point is a Christmas tree or other holiday decoration, the fire is typically more severe in every measurable way (p.2)”. For tips on avoiding Christmas tree fires, and to view a video on proper Christmas tree safety, take a look at USFA’s Holiday & Christmas Tree Fire Safety Outreach Materials. You’ll be able to increase your awareness and look out for your family’s welfare while continuing to enjoy your household decorations.

CUTTING YOUR OWN TREE FROM A NATIONAL FOREST

If you and/or your family enjoy going out to pick a tree and cut it, you might be able to pick one up from a national forest. For example, the Federal government has harvested all of the Capitol Christmas trees from national forests. In fact, the 2009 tree was a blue spruce that came from the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest.

Certain forests have designated areas where it is possible to cut Christmas trees, once you have paid for your cutting permit. Contact your local national forest for its policies; you’re especially likely to find Christmas tree cutting areas in the West. Some national forests post their Christmas tree maps online. You can download Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, Soldotna, Alaska: Christmas Tree Cutting Areas and Maps of 2013 Cutting Areas in the Apache and Sitgreaves National Forests. You’ll be pulling your tree from a prestigious tree-growing area, if you do decide to get a permit from a national forest.

The trees are for personal use only, and Forest Service allows only one tree per household. Permits for the trees are quite cheap, compared to what I paid at my local Washington, DC, area hardware store. You do have to factor into the cost a bit more money for the gas it takes to haul a tree out of the forest and get it home. However, some experiences, such as holiday traditions spent together with family and friends, are priceless.

PLANTING AND CARING FOR YOUR LIVE TREE

Why-would-anyone-cut-a-tree-down? by US Forest Service ISBN: 9780160916267Some families buy live Christmas trees then plant them when the holidays are over, while others use a cut tree for the holidays then plant a new tree in the spring as a symbol of renewal.

To explain to children the need for cutting trees as well as the value of this renewable resource, the Forest Service has published the best-selling publication “Why Would Anyone Cut a Tree Down?” It is full of explanations of need to remove trees for fire management and helping prevent overcrowding, and gives instructions on how to plant a tree as well.

How-to-Prune-Trees How-to-Recognize-Defects-in-TreesTo care for your live tree once it’s planted, be sure to check out How to Prune Trees to keep your tree looking and growing its best.

And the useful How To Recognize Hazardous Defects in Trees will help you identify problems in a tree that could be detrimental to its health.

FAMOUS WASHINGTON, DC AREA CHRISTMAS TREES

Here in the Nation’s capital, there are a number of famous Christmas trees.

National Christmas Tree and the Pathway of Peace

Since 1923, the United States has held a tradition of having a National Christmas Tree lighting in Washington, DC, starting with President Coolidge lighting the “First National Christmas Tree.” Starting in 1954, a “Pathway of Peace,” 56 smaller, decorated trees representing all 50 states, five territories, and the District of Columbia were planted surrounding the National Christmas Tree. They stay decorated through New Year’s Day.

2012-National-Tree_Pathway-of-PeaceImage: 2012 National Christmas Tree and Pathway of Peace on Ellipse behind the White House. Credit: National Park Service

Today, the annual lighting ceremony on the Ellipse—the grassy area south of the White House— is usually televised with tickets given by lottery in advance, with celebrities and the President and First Family doing the honors of lighting the National Christmas Tree and kicking off the season.

The Capitol Christmas Tree

The annual Capitol Christmas Tree lighting held on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol has been an American tradition since 1964 and is a great holiday event that you don’t want to miss. However, the official practice of lighting the “Capitol Christmas Tree” did not start until 1968 according to the Architect of the Capitol.

2013-Capitol-Xmas-TreeImage: 2013 Capitol Christmas Tree. Image source: Architect of the Capitol.

The Capitol Christmas Tree should not to be confused with the National Christmas Tree, which is planted near the White House and lighted every year by the President and First Lady. The Speaker of the House officially lights the Capitol Christmas Tree.

“Yule” Scream for the Norwegian Embassy Tree

A lesser known but charming Capital City tradition comes from Norway. Since 1996, the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Washington, D.C. has given a Christmas tree to the American people as a symbol of friendship between the United States and Norway. The lighted tree is usually decorated with both U.S. and Norwegian flags, and can be found in DC’s Union Station train station. As explained by the Norwegian ambassador in the annual lighting ceremony attended by high-level U.S. military  and Government officials as guests, the gift of the Norway-US friendship tree also express Norway’s gratitude for the assistance received from the United States during and after World War II.

Tusen-takk-Amerika or Thank you, America banner from the Norwegian Embassy's 2013 Friendship Christmas Tree at Union Station in Washington, DC. Photo copyright: Michele BartramImage: Norwegian Embassy’s “Thank you, America” (Tusen Takk, Amerika!) banner at base of the Norwegian-US Friendship Xmas tree at Washington, DC’s Union Station in 2013. Image credit: Michele Bartram

From a distance, all you see are the 20,000 lights and the American and Norwegian flags cascading up the 32-foot tree. Upon closer inspection, this year’s visitors found 700 little reflective screaming faces on ornaments Norwegian-Embassy-Tree-Edvard-Munch-Scream-ornament-2013 from the Norwegian Embassy's 2013 Friendship Christmas Tree at Union Station in Washington, DC. Photo copyright: Michele Bartramdepicting Norwegian artist Edward Munch’s infamous “Scream” painting—placed on the tree by the humorous Norwegians in honor of 2013’s 150th anniversary of Munch’s birth.

In a way, [the “Scream”] symbolizes all the angst in preparing for an excellent Christmas,” said Norwegian Ambassador Kare Aas to the Washington Post with tongue planted firmly in cheek.

Image: Edvard Munch “Scream” 2013 ornament and flag of Norway on the Norwegian Embassy Friendship Christmas Tree. Image credit: Michele Bartram

Just taking a drive around the National Mall on a December night, seeing the National Christmas Tree and the Pathway of Peace, the national menorah, the Capitol Christmas Tree, and the Norway-US Friendship Tree can put you in more of a holiday mood.

GIFTS FOR UNDER YOUR TREE

Incidentally, if you’re still looking for holiday gifts to go under your tree, GPO’s U.S. Government Bookstore has loads of gift suggestions on their Gift Guides & Calendars page. Or give an eBook for a great last-minute gift to anyone around the world.

Hanukkah is past this year and there are only a few days left before Christmas day, but then again, there are always gift opportunities on Hogmanay, New Year’s Day, and Three King’s Day (Los Reyes Magos)/ Epiphany, too!

HOW CAN YOU GET THE PUBLICATIONS LISTED HERE?

And remember, worldwide standard SHIPPING IS FREE on the U.S. Government Bookstore website, so shop away!

  • Shop Online: Download the free publications listed by clicking on the links in the article above.
    You can purchase the print and ebook publications mentioned from the U.S. Government Online Bookstore at http://bookstore.gpo.gov by clicking on the individual links above in this blog post or the links below:

  • Order by Phone: Call our Customer Contact Center Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5:30 pm Eastern (except US Federal holidays). From US and Canada, call toll-free 1.866.512.1800. DC or International customers call +1.202.512.1800.
  • Shop our Retail Store: Buy a copy of any print editions from this collection at GPO’s retail bookstore at 710 North Capitol Street NW, Washington, DC 20401, open Monday–Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., except Federal holidays, Call (202) 512-0132 for information or to arrange in-store pick-up.
  • Visit a Federal Depository Library: Search for one of these publications in a nearby Federal depository library.

About the author(s): Adapted and expanded by Government Book Talk Editor-in-Chief and the US Government Printing Office (GPO) Promotions & Ecommerce Manager, Michele Bartram, from an original blog post by Jennifer K. Davis from GPO’s Library Services & Content Management Division that supports the Federal Depository Libraries Program (FDLP). Happy holidays from us both!


Gift-Giving Traditions and 12 Books of Christmas

December 5, 2013

ORIGINS OF HOLIDAY GIFT-GIVING

For centuries, Europeans and North Americans have been giving gifts around Christmastime.

Sing-heigh-ho-ancient-British-yule-log on Christmas cardImage: Ancient Britons carrying a Yule log and holly branches. Source: From the bottom of the barrel blog.

The practice dates to the pagan and druid peoples of Rome, the British Isles and Scandinavian countries. The Romans gave gifts or money for gift-giving at Saturnalia, a winter festival that lasted seven days; according to some sources, the gift-giving occurred on the last day of Saturnalia (December 23). When the Romans conquered Britain, they incorporated pagan religious practices into their festivals, so that the locals felt more integrated into the Roman Empire. Pagans and Druids celebrated the winter solstice festival, Yule, and although by many accounts it was not the most important pagan festival, it was celebrated quite a bit. Any visitors to the Irish Neolithic pagan monument Brú na Bóinne** are left in no doubt of that. The pagans may have given gifts at the Yule celebration as well.

Christianity later took over much of Europe, and the Christians, like the Romans, learned that the best way to truly conquer was not to divide, but to incorporate. Gift-giving became a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, just as pagan Yule branches became “Christmas trees”. Although the pilgrims at Massachusetts formally outlawed public celebrations of Christmas for twenty-two years, the whole Christmas juggernaut eventually won out in the United States.

Giving gifts at Christmastime eventually became de rigueur, even for secular and non-Christian people. American Jews in the late nineteenth century started to promote Hanukkah—a minor Jewish festival—as a time for Jewish parents to give their own children gifts, so that American Jewish children wouldn’t feel left out when their peers got gifts. And although Kwanzaa isn’t supposed to include gifts, some parents give their children gifts on Kwanzaa days. It seems that few Americans, despite their religious convictions, can resist the ritual of end-of year gift-giving and the ties the practice strengthens among us.

12_books_of_christmas-bannerImage courtesy Scholastic.

So by now we’ve worn the stretchy pants for Thanksgiving, and powered through the mall on Black Friday. On Cyber Monday, as I write this, it’s time to get ready for some serious shopping: we’re in the middle of Hanukkah, and we’ve got a mere twenty-three days before Christmas and twenty-four days before Kwanzaa. You need to get some creative gifts, stat. For help with this goal, turn to GPO’S US Government Bookstore, especially the wallet-friendly Bargains Under $20 page—it’ll help you wipe out your stocking stuffer list in a red-hot minute. That said, here are 12 solid suggestions for your holiday gift-giving, no matter what holiday you’re celebrating at this time of year!

KIDS’ CORNER BOOKS

Fun-with-Fire-SafetyYou need to get something small to give your little ones as well as the big presents, and it encourages your kids to read more if you give books as gifts. Fire trucks nearly always captivate the pre-K set: show them a picture of a fire truck, complete with cute Dalmatian, and their attention is rapt. Marty and Jett’s Activity Book: Let’s Have Fun with Fire Safety (US $5.00 includes FREE shipping) activity book comes with cutouts for junior fire badges and finger puppets, coloring pages, a maze, and a fill-in-the-blanks puzzle. There’s a list of important things for kids to remember in a fire. Most schools now include this information in their curriculum, so the book is a good reinforcement of that learning—and it’s also a coloring book. This little volume’s a slam-dunk: educational and amusing, all in one cute package.

BLM-Junior-Explorer-Geology-and-FossilsDoes the child in your life love picking up interesting shells or rocks at the beach or park? Then he or she will love this Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Junior Explorer Geology and Fossils Activity Book (US $7.00 includes FREE shipping) that includes fun facts, a crossword puzzle, and activities about rocks and fossils for explorers ages 8 to 12, along with a Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Junior Explorer Certificate that proves the child is a true budding “rock star.”

Junior-Palentologist-Activity-BookIs your child or grandchild a fan of Jurassic Park or Dinosaur Train? Then be sure to pick up the National Park Service’s Junior Paleontologist Activity Book, Ages 5-12, Explore, Learn, Protect Activity Book (US $6.00 includes FREE shipping) in which kids can learn about dinosaurs, explore some of the US national parks that offer you a look into this ancient past, and complete fun activities that will let them earn a junior paleontologist badge.

Deliciously-Healthy-Family-MealsFor busy parents who want to make healthy meal preparation a family affair, Keep the Beat™ Recipes: Deliciously Healthy Family Meals (ON SALE US $10.50 includes FREE shipping) is a delightful kid-friendly healthy cookbook developed by a single father and nutritionists that features delicious, heart-healthy, kid-friendly recipes and also provides tips for involving children in meal preparation. The appendix is loaded with information on meal planning, cooking, and nutrition for families and children to help combat obesity and diabetes.

NON-FICTION MULTIMEDIA AND PRINT BOOKS

Baptism-by-Fire-CIA-Korean-War-analysisWith an 85-year-old war Korean War veteran from America currently detained in North Korea while on a tourist trip, this new eBook from the CIA is very timely. Before North Korean forces invaded the South on 25 June 1950, the CIA had only a few officers in Korea, and none reported to the CIA’s analytic arm, the Office of Research and Estimates (ORE). With an accompanying DVD that contains over 1,300 recently declassified documents and more than 5,000 pages of material, this Baptism by Fire, CIA Analysis of the Korean War multimedia book-and-DVD set (US $18.00 includes FREE shipping) sums up the analysis by the then only 3-year old Central Intelligence Agency about the Korean Conflict and the generally low priority given the region by the Truman Administration’s State Department and the US Armed Forces.

YouTube-WarThe evolution of digital information and communication technologies have developed to such a point that terrorists can film, edit, and upload their own attacks to Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and other websites within minutes of staging them, whether the Western media are present or not. In this radically new information environment, the enemy no longer depends on traditional media. This is the “YouTube War.” The new book YouTube War: Fighting in a World of Cameras in Every Cell Phone and Photoshop on Every Computer (US $16.00 includes FREE shipping) lays out the nature of the new digital and online media environment in terms of its implications for a war against media-savvy insurgents, and then considers possible courses of action for the Army and the U.S. military.

Crossing-Cultures-with-the-Peace-CorpsCrossing Cultures with the Peace Corps: Peace Corps Letters from the Field (US $17.00 includes FREE shipping) is a great offering for a school or college student, a teacher, a newly or soon-to-retire person, or someone who likes reading about other cultures. Although the authors structured the book for use in schools, and includes lesson plans at the end of each letter, reading the letters is good entertainment for anyone. You can learn things about Togolese family life, Chinese average salaries, South African attitudes about AIDs, and the native tongue of Paraguay, Guaraní. Studying cultural attitudes of other societies always makes you appreciate your own society, and it may even make you want to learn more about others. This book will make you reflect on what you value, even while you walk away with some good talking points for your next party.

The-First-LadiesThe First Ladies (US $17.00 includes FREE shipping) is the perfect book for the history buff, art historian, costume designer or fashionista in your family. Each page features a biography of every first lady, and her official portrait in full color on the facing page. You can read the accomplishments and tribulations of each FLOTUS (First Lady of the United States) from Martha Washington through Laura Bush, watch the trends in ladies’ dress and portraiture change, and learn some interesting tidbits of American historical trivia. This book was my favorite Christmas gift when I was twelve, and the passage of time since then makes it nearly a classic today.

National-Wildlife-Refuge-System-Visitor-GuideNational Wildlife Refuge System: A Visitor’s Guide (US $5.00 includes FREE shipping) The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service manages a “…diverse system of 500+ refuges encompassing almost 92 million acres of lands and waters spans the continent from Alaska’s Arctic tundra to the tropical forests in Florida; from the secluded atolls of Hawaii to the moose- trodden bogs of Maine.” Most of the book is composed of full-color maps. You can plan your next trip with the help of these maps, either for a weekend or a full two-week blowout in summer. This print edition is back-pocket friendly for a day out on the trail.

How-to-Prune-TreesHow to Prune Trees (ON SALE US $2.00 includes FREE shipping) is a great gift for any homeowner. While some may think pruning trees is quite simple, you actually have to know when to trim a tree, in what weather to trim it, and why you would trim a tree, etc. Pruning is a fairly complicated task; if you trim a tree incorrectly, you can kill it. It costs quite a bit to buy a new tree from a nursery, and a long time to grow a new one. Investing a mere $2 in this color-illustrated guide might save you or your gift’s recipient big bucks, and after a few reads, give the satisfaction of mastering a new art.

NON-FICTION EBOOKS

If eBooks are on your gift-giving list, try these new DRM-free downloadable offerings:

Exporters-Wit-and-Wisdom-of-Small-Business-OwnersExporters! The Wit and Wisdom of Small Business Owners Who Sell Globally (ePub eBook) (US $7.99) profiles 25 Americans who battled competitors, fear of the unknown, and personal adversity to build successful small export businesses in the global marketplace. Alternately humorous, amazing and inspirational, their stories also serve as valuable advice for readers wanting to follow their example and start exporting.

Childrens-Bureau-LegacyThe Children’s Bureau Legacy: Ensuring the Right to Childhood (ePub eBook) (US $9.99) shares the 100-year legacy of this landmark agency that established the first Federal Government programs, research and social reform initiatives aimed to improve the safety, permanency and well-being of children, youth and families.  It provides a fascinating exploration of the evolution of America and our treatment of children through each Presidential Administration as it covers often inspiring and sometimes heart-wrenching topics such as: ending child labor, the Orphan Trains and the controversial Indian Boarding Schools; adoption and foster care; infant and maternal mortality; Aid to Dependent Children; support of US military families and care of European World War II refugee children; early childhood education Head Start; child abuse and neglect; and much more.

AND OUR FREE E-GIFT TO YOU

Fifty years have not erased the controversy and angst of the fateful day of November 22, 1963, when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated by Lee Harvey Oswald in Dallas. (See our blog post Remembering Camelot: Best of the old and new official publications about John F. Kennedy.)

GPO-WARREN-COMMISSION-REPORT-on-the-Assassination-of-President-John-F-Kennedy-JFKTo commemorate this tragic event, the Government Printing Office (GPO) is offering a free digitized version of the full, original (and now long out-of-print) Official Report on the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy (PDF) (FREE DOWNLOAD) by The President’s Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy, known as the Warren Commission. Sort through the evidence, interviews, and facts that were available to the Commission in the ten months following the assassination, and make your own conclusions about the crime and the report’s “single shooter” finding.

FREE SHIPPING ADDS TO THE JOY OF GIVING

When you’re looking for the perfect gift this holiday season, spend some time shopping through GPO’s U.S. Government Online Bookstore. And remember, worldwide standard SHIPPING IS FREE on the U.S. Government Bookstore website, so shop away!  After all, there’s enough there to stuff a sleigh (or a million dreidels ;-).

How can I obtain these 12 Bargain Books?

  • Shop Online: You can purchase these publications from the U.S. Government Online Bookstore at http://bookstore.gpo.gov by clicking on the links above in this blog post or clicking here to shop all our BARGAINS UNDER $20 publications.
  • Order by Phone: Call our Customer Contact Center Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5:30 pm Eastern (except US Federal holidays). From US and Canada, call toll-free 1.866.512.1800. DC or International customers call +1.202.512.1800.
  • Shop our Retail Store: Buy a copy of any print editions from this collection at GPO’s retail bookstore at 710 North Capitol Street NW, Washington, DC 20401, open Monday–Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., except Federal holidays, Call (202) 512-0132 for information or to arrange in-store pick-up.
  • Visit a Federal Depository Library: Search for one of these publications in a nearby Federal depository library.

** Brú na Bóinne is a carved stone underground chamber that lights up to show the carvings on the stone walls only on the winter solstice, December 21.

About the author(s): Adapted by Government Book Talk Editor-in-Chief and the US Government Printing Office (GPO) Promotions & Ecommerce Manager, Michele Bartram, from an original blog post by Jennifer K. Davis from GPO’s Library Services & Content Management Division that supports the Federal Depository Libraries Program (FDLP). Happy holidays from us both!


National Treasure: The art and architecture of the US Capitol

December 2, 2013

One hundred and fifty years ago today, on December 2, 1863, the United States Capitol Dome was completed, adding its own distinctive grandeur to the skyline of our Nation’s capital city.

Last month in November 2013, a two-year project began to restore the aging dome. Read all about it on the Architect of the Capitol’s website about the US Capitol Restoration Project at http://www.aoc.gov/dome.

While most of the focus on the Capitol these days pertains to politics, this anniversary is an appropriate time to reflect on the art and architecture of one of our National Treasures, the US Capitol, along with the artists, architects and engineers who helped make it a showplace worthy of a world class city. Following are a few of the more outstanding publications about the US Capitol art and architecture.

Glenn Brown’s History of the United States Capitol

Glenn-Brown-History-of-the-United-States-CapitolPrepared for the Bicentennial of the construction of the United States Capitol in 1994, Glenn Brown’s History of the United States Capitol is the definitive history of the construction of the Capitol, including the many trials and tribulations along the way, such as the burning of the Capitol by the British in August 1814 during the War of 1812.

Glenn-Brown_US-Capitol-after-British-burning-in-War-of-1812Image: US Capitol exterior after the fire from the British burning of Washington. From Glenn Brown’s History of the United States Capitol

Capital Engineers: The US Army Corps of Engineers and the Development of Washington DC, 1790-2004

In his introductory address kicking off the second inauguration of President Barack Obama and Vice President Joseph Biden on January 21, 2013, Senator Schumer (D-N.Y.) remarked on the completion of the Capitol Dome 150 years ago—just two years ahead of President Lincoln’s second inauguration on March 4, 1865:

When Abraham Lincoln took office [in 1861], two years earlier the dome above us was a half-built eyesore… Conventional wisdom was that it should be left unfinished until the war ended, given the travails and financial needs of the times. But to President Lincoln the half-finished dome symbolized the half divided nation. Lincoln said, ‘If people see the Capitol going on it is a sign we intend the union shall go on.’ And so, despite the conflict which engulfed the nation, and surrounded the city, the dome continued to rise.”

Capital Engineers: The US Army Corps of Engineers and the Development of Washington DC, 1790-2004 ISBN: 9780160795572The Army Corps of Engineers played a significant role in the design and construction of the Capitol Dome and the rest of Washington, DC. In the enjoyable and anecdote-filled book entitled Capital Engineers: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Development of Washington, D.C. 1790-2004, readers can discover the politics, passion, inspiration and innovation that went into crafting the landmark historic monuments, public buildings and infrastructure that makes up the Nation’s capital, including sketches and insider stories about the design and construction of the United States Capitol and Dome.

You can read the detailed review of this fun and fact-filled book under our earlier blog post, The Untold Story Behind the Engineering of Washington DC. Lincoln-First-Inauguration-at-US-CapitolImage: First Inauguration of Abraham Lincoln, March 4, 1861, beneath the unfinished Capitol dome. Source: Library of Congress

NEW! To Make Beautiful the Capitol: Rediscovering the Art of Constantino Brumidi

To Make Beautiful the Capitol: Rediscovering the Art of Constantino Brumidi, 2013 edition, ISBN: 9780160921001Once the Dome was completed, it was decided that it needed to be a showcase of the finest art. For those visitors lucky enough to come to Washington, DC, and take a tour of the Capitol, they marvel at the “monumental fresco” in the Capitol Rotunda, called The Apotheosis of Washington, that reminds one of the Sistine Chapel and the incredible frescoes along the walls and ceilings of the corridors and special rooms, such as the President’s Room.

In this stunning new publication, To Make Beautiful the Capitol: Rediscovering the Art of Constantino Brumidi, the United States Senate Office of the Curator provides an updated history of the work on the Capitol by Italian-born artist, Constantino Brumidi, who spent the last 25 years of his life making the Capitol into an awe-inspiring piece of art worthy of his own native land’s masterpieces with his frescoes and decoration of the walls and ceilings. Includes new discoveries about the artist, his inspirations and genius resulting from recent extensive restoration of his work to its original glory.

US Capitol The Brumidi Corridors, from To Make Beautiful the Capitol: Rediscovering the Art of Constantino Brumidi ISBN: 9780160921001 Image: The Brumidi Corridors, from To Make Beautiful the Capitol: Rediscovering the Art of Constantino Brumidi

United States Senate Catalogue of Fine Art

United States Senate Catalogue of Fine Art ISBN 9780160511721Visitors to the finished Capitol are often surprised by both its stunning architectural details and the impressive art complementing the interior spaces. Now, those works of art–ranging from portraits of prominent senators to depictions of significant events in U.S. history–are accessible to everyone through the publication of the United States Senate Catalogue of Fine Art. Prepared by the Office of Senate Curator, the catalogue represents the first comprehensive effort to illustrate and interpret this rich collection of 82 sculptures, 75 paintings, 2 enameled mosaics, and 1 stained glass window. Capitol_George-Washington-Memorial-WindowImage: Stained glass George Washington Memorial Window, by Maria Herndl in 1904, from United States Senate Catalogue of Fine Art

The 160 pieces in the catalogue represent the work of 111 artists, including such celebrated figures as Gilbert Stuart, Alexander Calder, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, Thomas Sully, and Daniel Chester French. Many of the works feature prominent senators, including portraits of Everett McKinley Dirksen, Mike Mansfield, and Robert A. Taft, and small bronze sculptures of Henry Clay and Daniel Webster.

A majority of the people depicted are immediately recognizable, such as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Benjamin Franklin, but there are also lesser-known figures include the Ojibwa Indian Chief Be Sheekee (Buffalo) who was in Washington to negotiate a peace treaty the year he died, and Senate employee Isaac Bassett, who came to the Senate in 1831 as one of the first pages and stayed until 1895, when he was an elderly doorkeeper. Capitol_Ojibwa-Indian-Chief-Be-SheekeeImage: Marble bust of Indian Chief Be sheekee, or Buffalo, by sculptor Francis Vincenti in 1856

Although portraits dominate the collection, the American landscape is represented by an oil painting of Niagara Falls in winter. Major events are also documented, such as the first reading of the Emancipation Proclamation by President Abraham Lincoln and the first manned moon landing. There are two special collections: a collection of vice presidential busts, and a series of paintings of major U.S. army posts completed by Seth Eastman.

Eastman Forts Print Set

In 1870, the House Committee on Military Affairs commissioned artist Seth Eastman to paint 17 images of important U.S. Army forts in the United States after the Civil War. He completed the works between 1870 and 1875. For many years, the fort paintings hung in the rooms assigned to the House Military Affairs Committee, first in the Capitol and later in the Cannon House Office Building. During the late 1930s, they were returned to the Capitol for public display. Of the 17 paintings, 8 are located today in the Senate wing. Seth Eastman US Army Forts paintings Print Set

This Eastman Forts Print Set includes a booklet, “The Eastman Forts, A Guide to the Print Set,” and 10 color prints of Eastman paintings of the following ten forts: Fort Mackinac in Michigan; Mifflin in Pennsylvania; Trumbull in Connecticut; Tompkins and Wadsworth in New York; Scammel and Gorges in Maine; Delaware in Delaware; Snelling in Minnesota; Taylor in Florida; Defiance in New Mexico (now Arizona); and Fort Rice in North Dakota. Painting of Fort Trumbull, Connecticut, by Seth Eastman hanging in the US CapitolImage: A painting of Fort Trumbull, Connecticut, by Seth Eastman, commissioned by the U.S. Army in 1870, and hanging in the US Capitol. Part of the Eastman Forts Print Set.

United States Senate Catalogue of Graphic Art

US-Senate-Catalogue-of-Graphic-ArtSome of the art about the Capitol was not included in the building itself, but was produced outside of it by the press and media of the day. Prior to the advent of modern media with color photographs and live audio and video, Americans received their news and images from newspapers and illustrated news magazines, which included both hard news and softer features full of engravings, portraits, political cartoons, and illustrations.

The United States Senate Catalogue of Graphic Art reflects this coverage mix of both hard and soft news. The catalogue includes prints involving the Senate that depict important events of the day such as the debate over slavery, the impeachment trial of Andrew Johnson, and presidential inaugurations. But also featured are prints capturing the daily rhythms of the Senate such as the crowded Capitol corridors, Senate pages delivering documents, lobbyists pleading their case, meals in the Senate dining room, and idyllic scenes of the Capitol building and grounds.

Capitol-Interior-Rotunda-1853How can I obtain these publications about the US Capitol Art and Architecture?

  • Shop Online: You can purchase these publications from the U.S. Government Online Bookstore at http://bookstore.gpo.gov by clicking on the links above in this blog post or  clicking here to shop our US Capitol Art publications.
  • Order by Phone: Call our Customer Contact Center Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5:30 pm Eastern (except US Federal holidays). From US and Canada, call toll-free 1.866.512.1800. DC or International customers call +1.202.512.1800.
  • Shop our Retail Store: Buy a copy of any print editions from this collection at GPO’s retail bookstore at 710 North Capitol Street NW, Washington, DC 20401, open Monday–Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., except Federal holidays, Call (202) 512-0132 for information or to arrange in-store pick-up.
  • Visit a Federal Depository Library: Search for one of these publications in a nearby Federal depository library.

About the Author: Government Book Talk Editor Michele Bartram is Promotions Manager for GPO’s Publication and Information Sales Division in Washington, DC, and is responsible for online and offline marketing of the US Government Online Bookstore (http://bookstore.gpo.gov) and promoting Federal government content to the public.


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