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).


Spring forward into the garden

March 20, 2014

Baby chick hides among yellow daffodils

Image: Chick with daffodils (Source: Argonne National Laboratory, U.S. Department of Energy

Ah, spring: the season of rebirth, renewal, and growth. Breathe in the air full of the fresh blossoms of flowers, feel the first warm breezes, gaze at the profusion of color, and listen to the birds chirping and insects buzzing.

Most of the United States just went into daylight saving time on March 9 with instructions to “spring forward” with our clocks. On Thursday, March 20, 2014, we spring forward for real as it is the Spring or Vernal Equinox, fondly known as the official first day of spring. After a brutal winter and the first full month of spring and National Garden Month—April– just around the corner, many minds turn toward planting and gardening with their promise of getting back in touch with nature.

Play the Zone

Before you pull on the mud boots and pick up your gloves and tools, you’ll want to determine where you are in the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map for the United States. The climate where you garden affects the fruits and vegetables that you can grow successfully. Local nurseries and garden centers will typically stock plants that perform well in your climate, but it’s important to know your planting zone if you are ordering seeds, bulbs, or plants from non-local establishments.

USDA-Plant-Hardiness-Zones-Map across the U.S.

Image: USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map (Source: USDA)

How does your garden grow?

If you pore over seed catalogs, browse gardening Web sites, stroll the store aisles of soil, pots, and plants, and read gardening books in the dark winter months, then you probably have the gardening bug. You can also learn to recognize the real insects that you have in your garden with The Bug Book: A Garden Field Guide from the EPA. Gardeners can toil away only to find that someone else is enticed by the new plants; that’s when some choose to control pests by using chemicals. Be extra safe and learn about the effects of pest control, especially if you have children. Greenscaping (see this EPA guide) is an alternative method of dealing with those tiny invaders in your garden.

Lady bugs clustered on an oak branch

Image: Lady bugs gathering on an oak branch (Source: NPS)

Practice safe gardening

EPA's Mission: Sunwise Activity Book for sun safety ISBN  9780160917097In any outdoor activity, you want to be safe and healthy in the garden. While you are digging away and pulling weeds, you can get quite a sunburn or get dehydrated. The EPA’s Mission: Sunwise Activity Book helps educate kids on how to be safe in the sun and to use sunscreen. Check out these health and safety tips so that you can continue to enjoy the time spent outdoors.

How to Prune Trees by the U.S. Forest Service ISBN: 9780160913761How-to-Recognize-Hazardous Defects-in-Trees ISBN: 9780160913778When it comes to tackling bigger projects, read up first to learn what to look for in your own backyard, starting with those stately trees. How to Prune Trees is a best-selling quick guide to smart practices on trimming branches for optimum tree health. How to Recognize Hazardous Defects in Trees is an overview of common issues with trees.

Removing a tree altogether is sometimes the only safe option; Why Would Anyone Cut a Tree Down? is a book for children that explains how taking away an unhealthy tree can benefit the overall environment of the garden.Why Would Anyone Cut a Tree Down? U.S. Forest Service ISBN: 9780160916267

As always, with any larger gardening issues, you’ll want to consult a professional arborist for concerns with your trees.

Mighty oaks from little acorns grow

Gardening is an ideal activity for children. Not only are they out in nature and physically active, but they also learn about where healthy food comes from while observing the weather, biology, zoology, and conservation. The First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama, has been teaching the message of healthy living through nutritious, locally grown food in her White House Kitchen Garden. Plants grown right outside the White House in Washington, DC, end up on the dining table of the President’s family. Whether you are building a kitchen garden, a school garden, or a community garden, Let’s Move has more information for you, including a diagram of the White House Kitchen Garden if you want to recreate it in your own backyard.

The Little Acorn - USDA children's book ISBN: 9780160817014Schools are well aware of the educational benefits of gardening; it begins as early as pre-school. (Download the free “Grow It, Try It, Like It! Preschool Fun with Fruits and Vegetables” garden-themed nutrition education kit.) Teachers can find resources and lesson plans from the EPA to incorporate gardening into their school curriculum. And if April showers are in the forecast, little ones can still learn about nature by curling up with a delightful illustrated book about The Little Acorn, which tells of the cycle of growth and change in the garden that starts with just one seed.

Watch the video below as First Lady Michelle Obama and White House chef Sam Kass tell the story of the first garden on White House grounds since Eleanor Roosevelt’s Victory Garden during World War II.

First Lady and White House chef explain history of the first White House kitchen garden since WW2

Inside the White House: The Kitchen Garden” video of First Lady Michelle Obama and White House chef Sam Kass telling the story of the first garden on White House grounds since Eleanor Roosevelt’s Victory Garden during World War II. This new garden was planted in the Spring of 2009 with the help of local elementary school children and has yielded a constant supply fresh produce for the First Family and White House events. Published May 10, 2012. (Source: White House Let’s Move YouTube Channel)

You can find more White House garden videos and gardening ideas for kids on the Let’s Move Gardening Guide web page.

Look for inspiration in public spaces

A Botanic Garden for the Nation: The United States Botanic Garden (ePub eBook) ISBN: 9780160869129 for out-of-print ISBN: 9780160767722Some folks are lucky enough to own a big garden plot; others grow plants in containers on a balcony or place herb pots by a sunny window. No matter how you garden, you can always look for inspiration for your gardening pursuits. There are a number of places to visit in spring to see the variety of plants. It’s especially helpful to visit places where plants are labeled so that you know what to look for at a local nursery or plant sale.

Cymbidium ‘Hearts of Gold’ orchid in bloom at the U.S. Botanic Garden

Image: Cymbidium ‘Hearts of Gold’ orchid in bloom at the U.S. Botanic Garden

In the nation’s capital, Washington, DC you can go to the United States Botanic Garden and see what’s in bloom or learn how to attract butterflies to your garden.

You can also purchase A Botanic Garden for the Nation: the United States Botanic Garden (ePub eBook), a GPO Online Bookstore perennial favorite (pun intended).

Girl's face peeking out from pink azaleas at National Arboretum in Washington, DC

Peeking out from among the azaleas at the National Arboretum in Washington, DC.

While in the DC area, don’t miss the United States National Arboretum. You can see every single plant contained there, search for individual plants and see exactly where they are located on this interactive map.

Find out what’s in bloom during the month of your visit. (If visiting in April, don’t miss their world-famous display of azaleas / rhododendrons which bloom sometime in April. Check their Azalea page for current bloom conditions.)

The arboretum also has full color posters to help you identify crape myrtles, shrubs, and trees.

U.S. National Arboretum Crape Myrtles Guide

Image: Guide to Lagerstroemia, commonly known as crape myrtle or crepe myrtle, from the National Arboretum. (Source: U.S. National Arboretum)

Learn about gardening by joining others

Restorative Commons: Creating Health and Well-Being Through Urban Landscapes ISBN: 9780160864162You can learn so much about gardening by meeting other like-minded folks. If you don’t have your own garden, you might want to join a community garden or find a local gardening group or volunteer at a gardening club. Urban soils have their own unique characteristics and benefits; find out how to grow gardens in urban soil, then enjoy the benefits that come from gardening in urban landscapes in Restorative Commons: Creating Health and Well-Being Through Urban Landscapes, available from GPO’s U.S. Government Online Bookstore.

Urban gardeners at work planting new seedlings

Image: Urban gardeners at work planting new seedlings (Source: NIH)

It’s food for thought

Fruitful Legacy: A Historic Context of Orchards in the United States, with Technical Information for Registering Orchards in the National Register of Historic Places ISBN: 9780160821271The first presidents were known not only for their political endeavors, but also for their farms, gardens and orchards. If planted and maintained well, gardens and orchards can last for decades, even centuries.

Learn more about the legacy and preservation of historic orchards in the U.S. with these two publications available from GPO’s U.S. Government Online Bookstore:

Happy gardening!

Image: Uncle Sam promoting gardening during wartimeSource: National Archives

Image: World War II USDA poster promoting Victory gardens: “Uncle Sam says GARDEN to Cut Food Costs” (Source: National Archives)

How can I get these and other Federal Government publications on Gardening?

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

About the author: Kristina Bobe is a Senior Planning and Development Specialist for the U.S. Government Printing Office’s Library Services & Content Management (LSCM) Division. Additional content, images and editing provided by Michele Bartram, Government Book Talk Editor and Promotions Manager for GPO’s Publication and Information Sales Division in Washington, DC.


The Emancipation Proclamation and its Role in GPO and African American History

February 5, 2014

February is National African American History Month, also known as Black History Month in the United States. One significant event in African American history happened 151 years ago.  On January 1, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, announcing “that all persons held as slaves” in rebellious areas “shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free.” While this Executive Order only freed slaves living in Confederate states during the Civil War, it nevertheless ultimately paved the way for the eventual abolition of slavery in America and became an important aspect of President Lincoln’s legacy.

lincoln-signs-emancipation-proclamation-on-New-Years-Day-jubilee-dayIn his proclamation of the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 2013, President Barack Obama encouraged all Americans to acknowledge and celebrate the Emancipation Proclamation and “reaffirm the timeless principles it upheld.

Image: Illustration of President Abraham Lincoln signing the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, in Washington. Source: AP 

As we honor African American heritage this month, I’m reminded of the Emancipation Proclamation and the “timeless principles” President Obama was speaking of.

A symbol of equality and justice

The significance of Abraham Lincoln’s signing of the Proclamation during the Civil War was two-fold for African Americans. As mentioned earlier, not only did it lay the foundation for the eventual freedom of all slaves, it also allowed black men to enlist in the Union Army and Navy. This strategic Presidential “war measure” provided African Americans the opportunity to join in the fight for their freedom, in effect enabling the liberated to become liberators. By the end of the war, almost 200,000 black soldiers and sailors had fought for the Union and freedom.

As history teaches, the Civil War was initially about preserving the Union; however, the Emancipation Proclamation also made it about freeing the slaves– “an act of justice” that would grant African Americans, and generations to come, equal citizenship in the U.S.

For this reason, the Emancipation Proclamation remains a widely recognized symbol of freedom in American History that will forever be revered in Black History.

Fancy-Emancipation-ProclamationImage: Engraving by W. Roberts with the text of the Emancipation Proclamation. Source: Library of Congress’s Prints and Photographs division under the digital ID pga.04067.

GPO’s role in the Emancipation Proclamation

But the Emancipation Proclamation also played a significant role in GPO’s own history. Did you know… the then newly established Government Printing Office printed the preliminary version of the Emancipation Proclamation for President Lincoln as one of its first major tasks? The original printer’s proof version was displayed for six months at GPO’s 150th History Anniversary exhibit that opened in June of 2011. I (along with many other GPO employees and visitors) was given an extraordinary opportunity to personally view the original historic document, which contained the printer’s actual proofing marks with requested changes!

STAFF PHOTOGRAPHERImage: Former Public Printer William Boarman views original GPO printer’s proof copy of the preliminary version of the Emancipation Proclamation with Washington DC Mayor Vincent Gray at the GPO history exhibit. In 1862, GPO printed the preliminary version of the Emancipation Proclamation in general orders format, issued as an Executive Order from President Lincoln in his role as Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces. GPO printed 15,000 copies for the War Department, which were distributed to military commanders and their troops and diplomats in foreign countries. The copy displayed at GPO contained proofing marks; those corrections were made in the final version of the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863. Source: GPO

The GPO history exhibit is currently open to the public with free admission, Monday through Friday from 8am to 4:30pm at GPO’s Washington, DC, headquarters at 732 North Capitol Street NW. Unfortunately, the landmark document, which was on loan for six months from the Library of Congress, is no longer available for viewing, but many more historic exhibits are on view for free.

Visitor at GPO History Exhibit carrying Keeping America Informed: The United States Government Printing Office 150 Years of Service to the Nation ISBN: 9780160887048Image: Visitor who has just purchased the GPO history book “Keeping America Informed” views the GPO 150th Anniversary History Exhibit. Source: GPO

To learn more about GPO’s role in the printing of this historic document and other important Federal publications, read GPO’s 150th anniversary history book, Keeping America Informed: The United States Government Printing Office 150 Years of Service to the Nation.

However, you can view and/or read the entire Emancipation Proclamation online at the National Archives website or visit the National Archives in Washington, DC, to see the original signed document.

Teaching the Next Generation about the Emancipation Proclamation

To help parents and educators teach children about the importance of the Emancipation Proclamation and its role in Black History, the National Archives and Record Administration (NARA) published the 150th Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation: Commemorative Coloring Book: Forever Free.

National Archives 150th Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation: Commemorative Children's Book: Forever Free ISBN: 9780160916342Image:  Buy the family friendly 150th Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation: Commemorative Coloring Book: Forever Free.

This 150th anniversary commemorative publication about the Emancipation Proclamation is not a typical children’s coloring book. The wealth of information contained within this great little read makes it useful as a history book for the entire family, not just for kids. For example, I learned about the origins of “Watch Night”:

On December 31, 1862, many enslaved African Americans gathered in churches and prayed. Throughout the night, they waited for the moment when the Emancipation Proclamation would take effect. This special night became known as “Watch Night,” and continues to be celebrated today in many African American churches on New Year’s Eve.

The publication opens with a brief history about President Lincoln’s signing of the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863. It also provides portraits and short biographies describing historical events involving African Americans, such as Harriet Tubman, a former slave and Union spy who also helped recruit black troops, and Frederick Douglass, an abolitionist who helped Abraham Lincoln recruit black troops during the Civil War. It even includes a reference to this famous image:

reading-emancipation-proclamation-torchlightImage: By torchlight, a Union soldier reads the ‘Emancipation Proclamation’ to a room of slaves and their children, 1860s. The image was published as part of the ‘Life of Lincoln: Additional View’ series by the C.W. Briggs Company. Photo credit: George Eastman House/Getty Images

Other short biographies of important figures in black history covered in this book include Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, and President Barack Obama.

National Park Service Discovering the Underground Railroad: Junior Ranger Activity Book ISBN: 9780160900181The National Park Service also has produced another children’s publication focusing on black history and mentioning the Emancipation Proclamation: Discovering the Underground Railroad: Junior Ranger Activity Book. Young children ranging from ages 5 to 10 and older are taught about the history of the Underground Railroad and the struggles African Americans endured in their quest for freedom. Activities include a wordsearch of terms related to the Civil War; a maze routing the journey to freedom; and a timeline highlighting significant events in Black History, such as the Emancipation Proclamation and much more. Upon completion of the activities, children are encouraged to send in their completed booklet for an official Jr. Ranger Badge. [Read about this and other Underground Railroad publications in our blog post: "The Underground Railroad Leaves its Tracks in History".]

How can you get these publications?

About the author: Guest blogger 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).

Images and additional content provided by Government Book Talk Editor Michele Bartram. Bartram is 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 and promoting Federal government content to the public.


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.


No-Vacation Nation? Take Time to Enjoy Our National Parks and Trails

August 13, 2013

Vacation-Time-Goes-Unused-in-USAmericans are generally extroverted, friendly, talkative—and apparently, workaholics. As the Europeans put it, Americans live to work, while they work to live.

Image source: From infographic on lack of vacation time in U.S. Produced by Column Five for Rasmussen College.

Studies by various travel companies and polling groups have shown that Americans are among the group of nationalities that take the least amount of vacation (others being the Japanese, Taiwanese, South Koreans, Singaporeans, and Mexicans). Part of the reason may be that the United States is the only developed nation in the world that does not guarantee any paid holidays for workers by law. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics concluded in a recent report that only seventy-two percent of wage earners in the United States received both holidays and paid vacations voluntarily granted by their employers. The rest of the employed population does not get paid vacation.

It’s unfortunate that Americans regularly skip using all their allotted vacation days*. [*See also: Schwartz, Tony (February 10, 2013). “Relax! You’ll Be More ProductiveThe New York Times.] Surveys of people in the U.S. report that they do not feel their bosses support taking leave, and they fear that being away from work looks like they are not committed to their jobs. Understandably, workers are afraid to look less than absolutely dedicated in this job market. Looking at our lack of vacation days and our failure to take advantage of them, one could conclude that we are not a well-rested people.

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Image: December 2012 infographic on why Americans don’t take more vacation time. Created by: Ally Bank from various public sources.

However, health researchers, sleep researchers, and psychologists have found that there is a direct correlation between rest and good health, and rest and productivity. Taking your vacation is almost a tonic against occupational stress.

Stop and Smell the Roses at a National Park or Trail

National Park System Map and Guide  ISBN: 9780912627878 available from http://bookstore.gpo.govIf you do get a paid vacation and have been putting off your annual jaunt, it’s time to sit down and plan one before summer ends. Many Federal Government agencies offer great resources for planning your next vacation or recreational activity.

For example, three excellent publications from the National Park Service– National Trails System: Map and Guide, National Park System Map and Guide, and the National Park System (Wall Map Poster) — can aid you in planning your trip to America’s best vacation destinations, our national parks and trails!

While most Americans are familiar with our fabulous national parks, fewer are aware of our 45 year-old National Trails System which is…

National Trails System Map and Guide“…the network of scenic, historic, and recreation trails created by the National Trails System Act of 1968. These trails provide for outdoor recreation needs, promote the enjoyment, appreciation, and preservation of open-air, outdoor areas and historic resources, and encourage public access and citizen involvement.” (National Park Service)

With the help of these National Park Service maps, you can hike interesting trails and learn history while you are appreciating the outdoors and getting a workout. Or you can pick a national park you’ve never visited before, and experience something new to spur your creativity. If you enjoy visiting cities, pick a park not far outside of town so that you could get a taste of nature in addition to some cultural experiences.

For example, the Washington, DC, area where the Government Printing Office is headquartered is a prime tourist and staycation destination with its many national parks and historic sites. Our Washington DC Area Tourism & Recreation collection includes maps, history and guidebooks about the area, including the new 2013 Washington DC tourism map by the National Park Service that includes all the newest monuments and museums. and the wonderful Capital Engineers: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Development of Washington, D.C. 1790-2004, (reviewed earlier on Government Book Talk blog) that tells “The Untold Story Behind the Engineering of Washington DC” and its many famous landmarks.

Once you pick a park, search the Web site recreation.gov to find the activities available there. If you look at the National Park system map and find yourself spoiled for choice, you may be able to narrow down your options when you discover the types of activities available at the parks. And if you are interested in vacationing in a city or a resort, but want to hit a nearby recreation center, you can search for alternatives just by entering a city or zip code. For example, if you plan to visit Las Vegas, but you’d like some time to enjoy rock climbing, too, you might rent a car for the day and drive to Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, 12.57 miles from the city center. Most of the National Parks have guidebooks available to help you plan your trip: a number of them are available for sale from the U.S. Government Bookstore.

Of course, the money and time needed for a vacation are no joke. You may be one of the unlucky 28% that does not get a paid vacation. Or getting time off work may just be impossible. If any one of those factors applies to you, try a weekend getaway someplace nearby instead. The National Park Service has suggestions for quick breaks or “staycations” all the country. Once you’ve selected a site, you can fine-tune your plans with the information about reservations and camping available at recreation.gov.

Support for Your Pursuit of Happiness

As our nation has declared the pursuit of happiness a self-evident truth and an inalienable right, it seems we have a patriotic duty to pursue a holiday. The Federal government definitely supports your vacation. After all, each one of our modern presidents has set a prime example for the people by taking vacations to better handle the rigors of the job. As President Nixon put it: “Like other presidents, before and after me, I felt the need to get out of the White House and out of Washington in order to keep some sense of perception.”

Obamas-at-Grand-CanyonImage: U.S. President Barack Obama and family vacationing at the Grand Canyon National Park in August 2009. Source: White House. 

How can the public find these tourism and recreation maps and guidebooks?

How can Federal Depository librarians access these publications?

  • Find the records for these titles via the cataloging records in GPO’s Catalog of Government Publication or CGP.
  • Find them in a federal depository library.

About the author(s): Adapted from an original article on the FDLP Community Blog by Jennifer K. Davis from GPO’s Library Services & Content Management Division that supports the Federal Depository Libraries Program (FDLP). Editor and additional content by: Government Book Talk Editor-in-Chief and , GPO Promotions & Ecommerce Manager, Michele Bartram.


Gettysburg, America’s Bloodiest Battle

July 2, 2013

Maybe you’ve been to the Gettysburg National Military Park in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, to tour the battlefield and visitor’s center. Maybe you’ve even gone to one of the annual battle anniversaries, where men and women with Civil War-era clothes and weaponry reenact the battle details with great verve. Lasting three days in 1863, from July 1-3, Gettysburg was the bloodiest battle ever fought on American soil, with up to 10,000 Union and Confederate troops dead and another 30,000 wounded. But surprisingly, this tremendous battle was a purely unplanned accident that grew out of a desperate need for soldiers’ shoes!

Gettysburg-Reenactment

Image: Battle of Gettysburg Reenactors at “the Wall”. Image source: Breitbart.com

Visiting the Gettysburg National Military Park

Having witnessed the activities of scores of reenactors who visited the park during the years I lived near the town, I know that people invest themselves very deeply in the Civil War in general, and in the Gettysburg battle in particular. You don’t have to be an extreme fan to appreciate the silence of the rolling battlefield landscape. Imagining the July heat, the stench of sweat, horse, wool clothing and blood, the cries of pain and death, is easy to do when you’re standing there on that “consecrated ground” as Lincoln said in his famous Gettysburg Address after the battle.

Park officials and enthusiasts always commemorate the battle days in Gettysburg, as is happening this week, and it’s a great event for those who can attend in person. When you want to actually (or mentally) place yourself in specific skirmishes in the battle on specific points on the field, you will need a guide. You can hire a guide to ride with your group and interpret the tour for you. That kind of activity is excellent, but is pricey and requires advance planning.

But if you haven’t visited the battlefield, this sesquicentennial anniversary year is a good time to make a virtual trip, if not a real one. (There are over 12,000 reenactors, with 300 foreign reenactors from 16 different countries, and tens of thousands of visitors anticipated for this year’s 150th anniversary reenactment!)

Starting with these guide and history books below is a great beginning to what could be a life-long interest.

The Best of Guides

To fully understand the Gettysburg Campaign and its significance as the pivotal point in the American Civil War, you need to learn from experts. Fortunately, GPO has publications from the two best sources: the US Army Center of Military History and the National Park Service.

The Gettysburg Campaign: June–July 1863 and Gettysburg National Military Park Handbook

   Gettysburg-Campaign-from-GPOThird in “The U.S. Army Campaigns of the Civil War” series  of campaign brochures from the U.S. Army Center of Military History that commemorate our national sacrifices during the American Civil War, The Gettysburg Campaign: June–July 1863 describes the turning point in the “Battle Between the States.” Authors Carol Reardon and Tom Vossler examine the military operations and strategies along with the somewhat accidental circumstances that culminated in the pivotal and devastating three-day Battle of Gettysburg. With many maps and illustrations, this helps provide some back story and military strategy, as it goes into the various skirmishes leading up to the battle starting back in June and up to the battle itself.

As General Robert E. Lee of the Confederate Army said,

“It had not been intended to fight a general battle at such a distance from our base, unless attacked by the enemy, but finding ourselves unexpectedly confronted by the Federal Army, it became a matter of difficulty to withdraw through the mountains with our large trains. . . . A battle thus became in a measure unavoidable (Campaign, p. 31).”

Gettysburg-National-Park-Handbook

The National Park Service’s publication, Gettysburg National Military Park Handbook, delves into the history of the battleground itself, that “consecrated ground” and provides a detailed guide of all the amenities of the park along with the on-field maneuvers and results, as well as insight into the personalities and anecdotes that such an epic event always generates. It also covers post-battle events, such as the establishment of a cemetery at Gettysburg and the genesis of Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, as well as reproductions of 12 battle paintings by F. D. Briscoe. It’s like having a National Park ranger pointing out key aspects and giving you insights about this important national landmark.

Hooker out, Black Hats in

Through both of these excellent publications, you can come to know a bit about the personnel of the Gettysburg Campaign, such as the story of the last-minute, last-ditch replacement of General Hooker as Commander of the Federal Army of the Potomac by General George G. Meade. Commander of the U.S. Army General Halleck replaced Hooker at his own demand, and Hooker left his command in a great hurry. Meade arrived at Gettysburg knowing little of the status of his troops and even less about Lee’s troops. You can also read all the details of General Daniel Sickles’ unauthorized movements from Cemetery Hill.

Michigan-soldier-iron-brigade-Civil-WarDon’t forget to study the awe-inspiring story of the Iron Brigade, also known as the Black Hat Brigade. Some Confederates called them “them Black Hat Fellers” because of the black Hardee hats they wore that were different from the standard-issue Union blue kepi hats. Made up of the 2nd, 6th, and 7th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry Regiments, the 19th Indiana, and the 24th Michigan, the Iron Brigade was famous for its fierceness on the field. The Iron Brigade made a tremendous impact during the Gettysburg Campaign, and they suffered dire casualties as a result. Their bravery in fighting on Herbst’s Woodlot and against the 26th North Carolina had a strong effect on the outcome of the Gettysburg Campaign.

Image: Gochy Charles. Company F, 24th Michigan (Iron Brigade). Image Source: WaterfordHistory.org

How can I obtain these Gettysburg publications?

The more you read about these and other stories of the battle, the more easily you can get drawn in to the story of all the human bravery, pathos and drama that was part of the Gettysburg Campaign and the American Civil War. Immerse yourself in the history of The Gettysburg Campaign: June–July 1863 and familiarize yourself with the park through the Gettysburg National Military Park Handbook. You’re likely to be endlessly fascinated.

Federal Depository Librarians: You can find the records for these titles in the CGP.

About the author(s): Our co-bloggers include: guest blogger Jennifer K. Davis from GPO’s Library Services & Content Management Division that supports the Federal Depository Libraries Program (FDLP) and Government Book Talk Editor, Michele Bartram, GPO Promotions & Ecommerce Manager.


History Was Made at the Women’s Rights National Historical Park

March 26, 2013

Guest blogger Jennifer K. Davis from GPO’s Library Services & Content Management Division that supports the Federal Depository Libraries Program (FDLP) writes about the Women’s Rights National Historical Park brochure in honor of National Women’s History Month. (Originally posted in the FDLP Community site on March 25, 2013.)

March is National Women’s History Month, and I am writing this posting on International Women’s Day. If I had the twelve hours–round trip– to hit the road, I’d head for the Women’s Rights National Historical Park in Seneca Falls, New York, and celebrate how far we have come as a nation.

Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton

It would definitely be a work-related trip. The U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO) printed Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s most famous– and in her estimation, her best– speech in 1915. She delivered her address, Solitude of Self, before the Committee on the Judiciary on January 18, 1892. She argued why the law needs to treat women as equal citizens under the law and she argued for women to get the vote via a law that would eventually became the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution.

Image: Susan B. Anthony (left) and Elizabeth Cady Stanton (right). Source: The Susan B. Anthony Center for Women’s Leadership.

Sadly, it took forty-two years after Stanton and fellow suffragist Susan B. Anthony first drafted the 19th amendment in 1872 and long after their deaths for the amendment to finally be ratified and made law in 1920. Since Stanton’s house is part of the park, it’s here that you can discover a very human portion of United States history and feel a renewed sense of the privilege that all United States citizens have to vote.

Not only can you learn about Stanton at the park, you can also get a wider view of the earliest stages of the women’s rights movement in the United States. Four historical properties and a visitor’s center make up the park. You can visit the Wesleyan Chapel in Seneca Falls where the leaders of the women’s rights movement held the First Women’s Rights Convention in August 1848. Stanton’s home is open from spring through fall. You can tour the house she referred to as “the Center of the Rebellion” where she raised her large family while networking with other women on women’s rights reforms.

Another one of the four park properties, the M’Clintock House in nearby Waterloo, was the home of Mary Ann and Thomas M’Clintock.

MClintocksMrs. M’Clintock held the planning session for the First Women’s Rights Convention and drafted the Declaration of Sentiments at their home as well. (As an added bonus, the M’Clintocks were Quakers and their house was a stop on the Underground Railroad–so you can find out more about Quakers and belatedly celebrate African-American History Month while there.)

While in Waterloo, you can walk by the Hunt House, where Jane and Richard Hunt hosted Lucretia Mott and held an assembly for her where the attendees announced the plan for the First Women’s Right’s Convention. Although you can’t tour the Hunt House now as it is too fragile, the National Park Service (NPS) is making plans to restore it in the future. Visiting these locations brings home the exciting sense of purpose and activity of the American women’s rights movement of the late 1800s.

Information about all of these sites, as well as slideshows of the historical houses, the text of Stanton’s address, historical factoids, and photos of the major architects of the women’s rights movement and their supporters, are available at the Women’s Rights National Historical Park brochure online. Even if, like me, you can’t get to upstate New York to see these sites in person, you can (almost) feel like you’ve been there once you’ve given the park Web site a thorough visit.

It’s worth the time it takes to make the trip, whether actual or virtual. It’s amazing to see how far we’ve come as a nation in the advancement of personal rights, and how much all of society (men and women) have done to push our mothers, sisters, aunts and daughters forward. Having that perspective is one of the many advantages of learning about the park.

Continue your self-education by reading the park brochure at your local Federal depository library. You can find it either via the title’s PURL (Permanent URL) or through the Catalog of Government Publications (CGP) record that GPO cataloged for the Federal depository libraries in the March 2013 record load.

How can I access this publication, the Women’s Rights National Historical Park web brochure?

[Note from M. Bartram:] You can also purchase print publications and eBooks from GPO’s U.S. Government Online Bookstore related to the topics discussed in this article:


March Madness: New GPO Bookstore Website and Historic Anniversaries

March 22, 2013

March is traditionally a month of change and national excitement in the United States. Together with the change of seasons and college basketball frenzy, some important national milestones were reached this month that we should acknowledge, from new achievements to key anniversaries.

New U.S. Government Bookstore Website

First, last week we launched our upgraded U.S. Government Bookstore ecommerce site, http://bookstore.gpo.gov/.  Our ecommerce website has gone through several iterations since its first version in 1999, each time adding functionality to keep up with the changing needs.  Today, GPO has over 4,000 Federal print publications and more than 150 eBooks available through our online bookstore.

New-US-Government-Online-Bookstore-website

Our new website includes the following user-friendly features:

Browse-ALL-Topics-on-GPO-BookstoreClick on the dark blue Browse All Topics button on the site to see and browse by a list of all the topical categories.

These last two features—eBooks and new Categories—are particularly important in light of three other important milestones this month.

National Women’s History Month

March is National Women’s History Month in the United States, and we have a new main “Browse by Topic” category, Minorities, Cultures & Languages, where you can find books for and about African Americans, American Indians, Asian Americans & Pacific Islanders, Cultural Awareness, Disabled, Hispanics, LGBT, Minority Issues, Non-English Government Publications, Seniors & Elderly and Women, including dozens of books and eBooks about Women’s History.

Womens_History_Books_Slide

Harriet Tubman Centennial

One of the famous American heroines in the Women’s History collection is Harriet Tubman, who died 100 years ago this month making it her Centennial. Tubman escaped from slavery and returned to lead dozens of others to freedom in the mid-1800s. In addition to being the most well-known of Underground Railroad “conductors,” she was also a nurse, spy, suffragist, and more.

With all these roles, it is appropriate that we have created so many new “Browse by Topic” categories. One is Slavery & Underground Railroad (under US & Military History), where great books featuring Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad can be found.  Other new topics include Nursing under Health & Benefits and Intelligence & Espionage under Security, Defense & Law Enforcement.

Additional publications about National Parks can be found under the main category of Art, Maps & Travel, along with Posters & Prints and Maps, Almanacs & Navigation Guides.

BROWSE BY AGENCY: You can also find National Park Service (NPS) publications under Department of the Interior (DOI) in the Browse by Agency categories on the menu at the lower left side of the site, where publications are categorized by the Federal agency that published them. For example, our own Government Printing Office (GPO) publications are under Congress & Legislative Agencies.

Iraq War 10th Anniversary

Finally, this week is the tenth anniversary of the start of the Iraq War, which began on March 19, 2003, as Operation Iraqi Liberation, later renamed Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Iraq-War-10th-Anniversary_Books_Slide

President Obama, in an address about the Iraq war 10th anniversary this week said:

“As we mark the 10th anniversary of the beginning of the Iraq war, Michelle and I join our fellow Americans in paying tribute to all who served and sacrificed in one of our nation’s longest wars. We salute the courage and resolve of more than 1.5 million service members and civilians who during multiple tours wrote one of the most extraordinary chapters in military service. We honor the memory of the nearly 4,500 Americans who made the ultimate sacrifice to give the Iraqi people an opportunity to forge their own future after many years of hardship.”

Since the beginning of the war, the Defense Department has published dozens of excellent publications about the war, the strategies, Saddam Hussein, Iraq, reconstruction and the achievements and sacrifices made by our Armed Forces. You can find these publications featured under Iraq & Persian Gulf Wars which can be found under US & Military History > Battles & Wars categories.

It’s a Launch, Not a Landing

So, our new site marks the completion of over a year of hard work by our team here at the Government Printing Office, all aimed to make sure “we the people” can discover more about our Nation through excellent publications by our Federal Government. But there’s a good reason we call it a website launch and not a landing. This is only the beginning, with more great content and features to come! Enjoy!

So, please visit GPO’s new online bookstore website at http://bookstore.gpo.gov/ and tell us what you think!

About the Author:  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. She was also in charge of the online bookstore relaunch!


Shock and Awe: 3 Inspiring Wall Calendars for 2013

January 11, 2013

Shock and awe were the terms that came to mind when these three wall calendars / event planners came across my desk this week.

Shock came from the “I didn’t know that!?” response to the fascinating facts and awe as in “How did they take such awe-inspiring photos”? And the final “Awww” as in “Awww, shucks!” because there are only limited quantities available (under 100 each), so if you don’t act immediately, they’ll be gone! In fact, our supply of the National Park’s Service famous National Historic Landmarks calendar last year sold out in a few hours, and we expect this year to be more of the same.

In spite of our now digital world, wall calendars are still useful as a quick visual reference for you, your family or even your team at the office. And with these particular calendars on your wall this year, you will also be inspired to see the beauty in nature both far and near. As Anne Frank said, “Think of all the beauty still left around you and be happy.

Let’s take a peek at these three terrific calendars…


The National Historic Landmark 2013 Event Planner Calendar

Each fall, the National Park Service (NPS) holds a public photo contest to choose “fantastic photographs that illustrate the significance of any of the over 2,500 National Historic Landmarks, our nation’s most significant treasures.”  They select one image from each of the 13 National Park Service regions to be included in their annual calendar, with the winning photograph gracing the cover. (There is a separate photo contest for National Natural Landmarks as well.)

What is a U.S. National Historic Landmark, you ask? It may be “a historic building, site, structure, object, or district,” but it must be a “nationally significant historic place” that possesses “exceptional value or quality in illustrating or interpreting the heritage of the United States” as designated by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior.

The goal of their annual National Historic Landmark Photo Contest, says NPS:

“…is to encourage people to discover and explore landmark sites across the country and be inspired by our past. Based on this year’s pool of exceptional photographs, connections were made…Perhaps this year’s winning entries will spark the urge to explore the country’s vast array of more than 2,500 National Historic Landmarks, to seek out the stories that connect our rich history, and share your own views in next year’s contest.”

This 13-month wall calendar / event planner runs from January 2013 through January 2014 and features the winning photographs from the National Park Service’s Thirteenth Annual National Historic Landmarks (NHL) Photo Contest in 2012.

Different this year is the inclusion of bonus contest submission photos on each calendar page, giving even more eye candy every month for us lucky few who have the calendar.

National Historic Landmarks Photo Contest 2013 Calendar front cover

Image: Front of the 2013 NHL calendar shows some of the winning public photos. Listed from top down, left to right: 

  • This year’s winning image of Saugus Iron Works National Historic Site in Saugus, Massachusetts, takes us back in time to the early industry of the 17th century, represented by scenic waterwheels and forge. Here, European iron makers brought their much-needed skills to a young Massachusetts colony (Photo by Don Woods).
  • One of the “bonus” photos is of Hay House staircase in Macon, Georgia (Photo by Andrew Wood).
  • Holy Assumption Orthodox Church, Alaska, dates from the 1890s (Photo by Dawn Wilson).
  • Charleston Market Hall and Sheds, South Carolina, is one of the last surviving 19th century American market complexes (Photo by Steven Hyatt).
  • Stanton Hall, Mississippi, represents Natchez’s wealth and opulence on the eve of the Civil War (Photo by Mike Talplacido).
  • Pike’s Peak, Colorado, a National Historic Landmark, seen from Garden of the Gods, a National Natural Landmark (Photo by Dawn Wilson).
  • Nevada Northern Railway, East Ely Yards, Nevada, is the best-preserved, least-altered, and most complete main yard complex remaining from the steam railroad era (Photo by Jen Dalley).
  • Schooner Alma (NPS), California, built in 1891, is the only survivor of a once-typical American vessel (Photo by John Conway).

National Historic Landmark 2012 Photo Contest Bodie Historic District California

Image: One of the 2012 National Historic Landmark Photo Contest Honorable Mentions in this year’s calendar. Depicts Bodie Historic District, a genuine California gold-mining ghost town from the late 1800′s that was abandoned in the mid-1900′s. Bodie State Historic Park is located in the Bodie Hills east of the Sierra Nevada mountain range in Mono County, California, approximately 75 miles (120 km) southeast of Lake Tahoe (Photo by Joe Wenninger).


NASA Science 2013 Event Planner / Wall Calendar

For this second wall calendar we leave the confines of earth and reach for the stars with the NASA Science 2013: Changing the Way We View the Earth, Our Sun, and the Universe wall calendar.

NASA Science 2013 Calendar front cover

It features a vast array of rare or never-before-seen phenomena as seen from NASA space photography in stunning full color.

In addition to showing U.S. national holidays, the calendar also includes all the moon phases, a nice touch!

NASA Science 2013 Wall Calendar back cover

Image: Back of calendar shows insets of the monthly features, including:

  • a Deep Space Dragonfish nebula;
  • a massive cloud hole over Australia;
  • probing the edge of our atmosphere and jet streams;
  • an untouched crater on the Moon as a potential lunar settlement site;
  • a supernova stellar explosion;
  • blackouts in the East Coast from “derecho” thunderstorms;
  • Astronauts’ view of the Southern Lights that shifted unexpectedly;
  • NASA’s Curiosity rover lands safely on Mars;
  • tracking the fastest moving pulsar ever seen in space;
  • following the “greening” of the desert as Saudi Arabians tap ancient underground Ice Age water reserves;
  • rare “transit” of Venus passing in front of the sun; and
  • mapping impact craters on the planet Mercury.

Source: NASA / Jet Propulsion Laboratory-CalTech.

Space nuts (and “Big Bang Theory” fans) will be thrilled with this large calendar and its fascinating facts and stunning photos about space exploration and space-based science.


U.S. Geological Survey 2013 Event Planner/ Wall Calendar

This year’s U.S. Geological Survey’s calendar gives an eye-catching glimpse into the many facets of USGS and describes how their science is an integral part of decision-making in the U.S. and around the world. This calendar provides a dramatic glimpse at the changing world around us and how U.S. scientists are responding to these changes.

USGS 2013 Calendar front cover

For each month, descriptions of the various USGS service areas are shown along with dramatic full-color photographs or graphics giving timely examples, such as USGS work in: assessing invasive species like the high-leaping Asian carp; studying the effects of hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” on the environment; remote sensing to find precious metals in Afghanistan; tracking flooding such as happened in North Dakota; and mapping earthquakes.

USGS 2013 Calendar Eastern Earthquakes page

Image: The East Coast portion of the USGS National Seismic Hazard map showing all earthquakes of 3.0 magnitude or greater that have been detected since 1974. Certainly those of us in the Washington area felt it keenly when the 5.8 magnitude quake based in Mineral, Virginia, hit on August 23, 2011. Coincidentally, another quake occurred yesterday in the same spot… yikes! Luckily, it was only a 2.0.

This calendar is ideal for anyone interested in natural disasters and earth science, and stumping your friends with interesting science facts!

To learn more about the USGS, you may want to read our earlier blog post, US Geological Survey and the Science of Hurricanes.


How can I buy these wall calendars?

  • Buy them 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, (202) 512-0132.

About the Author:  Michele Bartram is Ecommerce and 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.


Keeping the Kids Entertained… and Educated

December 27, 2012

This week as holiday breaks from school and winter weather keep the kids indoors, parents are looking for ways to keep them entertained–and educated– at the same time.

Fortunately, many Federal agencies this year provide the perfect solution with publications that are both fun AND educational, and with which the kids might actually learn something besides how to shoot down some “Angry Birds” on their new tablet! ;-) From dinosaurs to fossils, freedom runners to astronauts, these fun facts will prove more fascinating than fiction.

Here are a few that I (and my eight and six year-old nephews) particularly enjoy:

     Junior-Paleontologist Junior Paleontologist Activity Book, Ages 5-12, Explore, Learn, ProtectFor the kid who thinks dinosaurs are dynamite

In this illustrated color booklet, a child can learn about ancient life, complete fun activities, and explore some of the 230 national parks that preserve fossils and offer a look into the distant past.

And after completing the age-appropriate activities in this book, your child can then go online to request his or her free Junior Paleontologist badge from the National Park Service.

 Junior-Explorer-Geology-Fossils Junior Explorer Geology and Fossils Activity Book
For the kid who wants to be a “rock star”>/p>Fossils are the “rock stars” in this activity book as well. Includes fun facts, a crossword puzzle, and activities about rocks and fossils for explorers ages 8 to 12, along with a free Junior Explorer Certificate from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

Introduces basic kid-friendly concepts about geology, types of rocks and formations, and a glossary of terms. Focuses on Earth features– rock formations, canyons, caves, craters and more– that formed over long periods of time and that cannot be replaced as humans remove and make use of them, and the role of geologists to manage these non-renewable natural resources.

It also lists great public lands managed by the BLM that tourists can visit and explore these fossil-rich landscapes.

 Underground-Railroad-Activity-Book Discovering the Underground Railroad: Junior Ranger Activity BookFor the child who wants to change the world

Provides activities for children ages 5-12 to learn about the history of the underground railroad and the Emancipation Proclamation.

Children who finish the age-appropriate activities can send in to the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Program to receive a free Junior Ranger badge from the National Park Service.

Gently covers topics including: the meaning of freedom and slavery; the hardships and daily life of slaves; the importance and travel routes of the “Underground Railroad;” safe refuge choices; key dates and laws relating to slavery and emancipation; and key figures including Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglas and abolitionists Levi and Catharine Coffin, among others.


Celebrating-Space-Shuttle_30-Years
Waving-Astronaut
Celebrating 30 Years of the Space Shuttle programFor the kid or teen with stars in his or her eyes

For older kids, teens and adults with stars in their eyes (and dreams of space), this could be the book for them.

A tribute to everything accomplished during NASA’s Space Shuttle program’s 30 years of operation, this colorful book is chock-full of stunning color photography and interesting facts of every shuttle mission and its crews, from deploying the Hubble Telescope to the inspirational Sally Ride, the first American woman in space.

From its first mission on April 12, 1981, to its last, on July 21, 2011, the Space Shuttle program defined NASA and served as an inspiration to future engineers and astronauts worldwide.

Beginning with the orbiter Columbia and continuing with Challenger, Discovery, Atlantis, and Endeavour, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Space Shuttle has carried people into orbit; launched, recovered, and repaired satellites; conducted cutting-edge research; and helped build the largest human made structure in space, the International Space Station.

All of these books can also be found at the following locations:

  • Buy it 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, (202) 512-0132.
  • Find it in a federal depository library.

Hopefully, these books will help our readers beat the winter blahs as families have to stay indoors due to the weather.

After all, as this famous (albeit anonymous) quote says: “Education is the best gift you could ever receive, because once you have it, no one can ever take it from you.

About the Author:  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.


1940 Census Goes Digital

April 11, 2012

Last week, on April 2, 2012, the 1940 United States census was released to the public in digital format by the National Archives in conjunction with the U.S Census Bureau at http://1940census.archives.gov

Image: 1940 Census Poster urging Americans to “Help the Ten-Year Roll Call”. Source:U.S.Census Bureau

Reports National Public Radio:

Veiled in secrecy for 72 years because of privacy protections, the 1940 U.S. census is the first historical federal decennial survey to be made available on the Internet initially rather than on microfilm.

In a great example of a private/public partnership, Archives.com’s parent company partnered with the National Archives to provide the public with free digital access to the 1940 Federal Population Census.

Miriam Kleiman, spokeswoman for the U.S. National Archives, told The Associated Press that the Archives’ 1940 census site registered more than 22 million hits in just four hours from almost 2 million users on its very first day of release. It is extremely popular already with librarians, researchers and genealogists researching their family tree.

Data from the Great Depression

Archivist Connie Potter, in an entertaining video about the Archives’ digitization project, explains that the reason this census is so amazing is because it describes “the country during the Great Depression.  It reflects all of the economic dislocation, how many people were immigrants, how many people had what level of education.

Last week’s release of digitized information covers detailed records on 132 million people living in the United States at the end of the Depression and a year before Pearl Harbor.

The census data was transferred to microfilm during World War II, and in 2009, National Archives personnel began digitizing those records, culminating in the release of the database last week.

Over 3.9 million images were digitized, providing a bonanza for researchers.

Some interesting facts about the 1940 Census

Image: An enumerator interviews a woman with her 10 children around her for the 1940 census. Source: National Archives at College Park

The Census Bureau began the 1940 census with extensive long-term planning, recruiting and training.  Back in 1940, about 120,000 census-takers, called enumerators, spread out across the U.S. and territories, going door-to-door to interview families.

Enumerators both then and now can face challenging situations when gathering the data to tabulate the census, from trudging through fields or mushing a dog sled across the snow.

Image: Rural visit by a U.S. Census taker in connection with the 16th decennial census of 1940  Source: Library of Congress image number LC-USZ62-91199

Image: The Alaska Territory saw the census enumerator arrive in his dog sled, 1940 – 1941 Source: National Archives Research Catalog

Questions from the 1940 Census

It’s interesting to note the questions that were asked on the 1940 census form.  One of the fifty questions the enumerators asked Americans in 1940 reflected the more formal societal structures of the time: “What was the Relationship of this person to the head of the household, as wife, daughter, father, mother-in-law, grandson, lodger, lodger’s wife, servant, hired hand, etc.?”  

Another question was very relevant for a Depression-era nation where children as young as 14 still worked, and millions of out-of-work Americans were given “public emergency” jobs around the country under Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal programs. One was the Works Project Administration (originally the Works Progress Administration) or WPA, which was the “largest and most ambitious New Deal agency and employed millions of unskilled workers to carry out public works projects,including the construction of public buildings, roads and dams, as well as operating large arts, drama, media, and literacy projects.

Image: WPA Federal Arts poster. Source: Smithsonian Archives of American Art

Another New Deal program mentioned in the census was the Civilian Conservation Corps or CCC . It was designed to provide employment mostly for young men in relief families who had difficulty finding jobs during the Great Depression (there were separate programs for veterans and Native Americans), while at the same time implementing a general natural resource conservation program in every state and territory for the “conservation and development of natural resources in rural lands” owned by federal, state and local governments. Many trees were planted and national and state parks built and preserved by the CCC.

Image: Illinois CCC recruiting poster. Source: Archives.gov

Another youth-focused program referenced was the National Youth Administration or NYA that focused on providing work and education for young Americans between the ages of 16 and 25.

Thus, it makes sense that this 1940 census question asked Persons 14 Years Old and Over” to classify their employment status during the time of the census-taking (March 24-30, 1940) as follows:

  • Was this person AT WORK for pay or profit in private or non-emergency Government work during week of March 24-30? (Yes or No).
  • If not, was he at work on, or assigned to, public EMERGENCY WORK (WPA, NYA, CCC, etc.) during week of March 24-30? (Yes or No).

How to Use the 1940 Census

Even for those not steeped in genealogy research will find it thrilling, like I do, to see the excitement build over the release of these images.  It might be fun to look up my ancestors because I know my grandfather worked for the W.P.A.   I’m also interested in looking at the various trends and metrics available on housing to see if there is any correlation to the current economic situations.

Visit the National Archives pages to see the various resource location aids, enumerator training videos, and question templates that have been gathered for your use.  Based on the times, there were specific instructions for enumerators to get a count of temporary housing such as huts, tents, and cabins as of a point in time.   Here’s one bit of instruction to help clarify how to count the large transient population: “Persons in hotels, tourist or trailer camps, missions, and cheap one night lodging houses (flophouses) will all be enumerated as of the evening of April 8th”.

Help Tag the Images

The Census Bureau is appealing to the public for help indexing and meta tagging the images.  This is a genealogy crowdsourcing project to ensure the 3.8 million images are indexed and freely searchable online. You, too, can register to be a 1940 Census Blog Ambassador and get a nifty badge for your page!

You can follow the 1940 Census via Twitter at: #1940Census #Genealogy #history. 

How can you get other Census Bureau publications today?

The release of the historic images will be made at 1940census.archives.gov.

For those interested in more current information, take a look at the resources in GPO’s U.S. Government Bookstore.  The subscription series help keep you updated on the Census and Population statistics as they are released.

  • Buy them at GPO’s retail bookstore at 710 North Capitol Street NW,Washington, DC 20401. Open Monday-Friday, 9am to 4pm, except Federal holidays. Call 1.(202) 512-0132 for more information.
  • Find them in a Federal Depository Library.

Guest blogger: Nancy Faget, one of our federal librarians in GPO’s Library Services & Content Management Division who writes often about NASA “rocket scientists” and digital innovations in the library field.


The Underground Railroad Leaves its Tracks in History

February 27, 2012

Last week during National Black History Month, ground was broken on the National Mall in Washington, DC, for what will become the National Museum of African American History and Culture. In his remarks at the ceremony, President Obama mentioned that he wanted his daughters to see the famous African Americans like Harriet Tubman not as larger-than-life characters, but as inspiration of “how ordinary Americans can do extraordinary things.

Image: This original photo of Harriet Tubman in the handbook lists the many roles she played in addition to being a “conductor” on the Underground Railroad, including nurse, spy and scout for the Union army during the Civil War. Her quote: “I looked at my hands to see if I was the same person now I was free. There was such a glory over everything… I felt like I was in heaven.” Source: The Underground Railroad: Official National Park Handbook.

One of the most dramatic areas of African American history is the story of the fight against slavery and the profile in courage represented by the ordinary people who did extraordinary things while participating in the Underground Railroad.

The National Park Service (NPS) has produced a number of exemplary publications about it, with three of them available today from the U.S. Government Bookstore, including the

That these items are not your typical guidebooks about a single historic site is due to the fact that the Underground Railroad itself is not a typical American national park.

Congress and the National Park Service act to preserve the legacy of the Underground Railroad

Back in 1990, Congress instructed the National Park Service to perform a special resource study of the Underground Railroad, its routes and operations in order to preserve and interpret this aspect of United States history.

Following the study, the National Park Service was mandated by Public Law 105-203 in 1998 (you can read the law on GPO’s FDSys site) to commemorate and preserve this history through a new National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Program to “educate the public about the importance of the Underground Railroad in the eradication of slavery, its relevance in fostering the spirit of racial harmony and national reconciliation, and the evolution of our national civil rights movement.”

What was the Underground Railroad?

What was called the Underground Railroad was neither “underground” nor a “railroad,” but was instead a loose network of aid and assistance by antislavery sympathizers and freed blacks across the country that may have helped as many as one hundred thousand enslaved persons escape their bondage from before the American Revolution through the Civil War.

Image: NY State historical marker in Albany for the UGRR along the American Trails UGRR bicycle route.

Describing one of the most significant internal resistance movements ever, the National Park Service said in a 1996 press release that:

The Underground Railroad was perhaps the most dramatic protest against human bondage in United States history.  It was a clandestine operation that began during colonial times, grew as part of the organized abolitionist movement, and reached a peak between 1830 and 1865. The story is filled with excitement and triumph as well as tragedy –-individual heroism and sacrifice as well as cooperation to help enslaved people reach freedom. 

Where did the term “Underground Railroad” come from?

Historians cannot confirm the origins of the name, but one of the stories reported by the Park Service has the term coming out of Washington, DC, in 1839, when a recaptured fugitive slave allegedly claimed under torture that his escape plan instructions were to send him north, where “the railroad ran underground all the way to Boston.” However it came about, the term was widely in use by 1840, and is often shortened to “UGRR” by “those in the know.”

Image: An 1837 newspaper ad about a runaway slave from the book “The Underground Railroad from Slavery to Freedom” By Wilbur Henry Siebert, 1898. 

Underground Railroad Routes

Another byproduct of the UGRR special resource study was that the National Park Service carried out an analysis of slavery and abolitionism and identified the primary escape routes used on the UGRR.

The map below is included in the Underground Railroad: Official Map and Guide, produced by the National Park Service Cartographic staff at Harpers Ferry Center, shows the general direction of escape routes. Contrary to popular belief, Canada was not the only destination for freedom-seeking slaves–since some fled to Mexico, Florida and the Caribbean– but it was the primary destination as the efforts to catch fugitives increased.

Image: Selected Routes of the Underground Railroad from the Underground Railroad: Official Map and Guide.

Additional outputs of the resource study and the subsequent research are the following three excellent Underground Railroad publications from the National Park Service.

Underground Railroad: Official National Park Handbook

The first book in our trio of publications is the Underground Railroad: Official National Park Handbook. It is comprised of a series of fascinating articles by top Underground Railroad historians that weave together a thorough view of the amazing stories behind the legend, illustrated with many drawings, court records, letters, paintings, photos, and other pictorial representations that help make this history come alive for the reader.

The handbook is broken into 3 major sections and 5 chapters:

  • Part I: An Epic in United States History:
    • 1- Myth and Reality by Larry Gara. This introductory chapter reviews and evaluates the truths vs. the legends that grew about the Underground Railroad.
  • Part II: From Bondage to Freedom:
    • 2- Slavery in America by Brenda E. Stevenson. In this chapter, the author details the rise of the institution of slavery in America and the harsh realities of life for the people who suffered under it. An interesting segment discusses the inequities of life for enslaved women vs. men.  
    • 3- The Underground Railroad by C. Peter Ripley. This fascinating chapter tells the courageous and often harrowing stories of freedom seekers and those who aided them, including Harriet Tubman who made nearly 20 trips to lead 300 slaves to freedom and Henry “Box” Brown who shipped himself in a 2X3’ wooden crate from Richmond to Philadelphia to escape. Sprinkled throughout are cameos of famous former fugitives and abolitionists including Sojourner Truth, Frederick Douglas, and abolitionists William Lloyd Garrison and Gerritt Smith, among many others.
  • Part III: Tracking the Past:
    • 4- Tracking the Past by the National Park Service. This chapter outlines some of the work done by the National Park Service and others to discover, verify and catalog the important people, places and artifacts related to the Underground Railroad.
    • 5- Further Reading by Marie Tyler McGraw. In this final chapter, the author provides a recommended reading list for interested researchers of the authoritative works related to different aspects of the Underground Railroad story.

Underground Railroad: Official Map and Guide

This map and guide includes drawings, blurbs, maps and chronologies about different aspects of the slave trade and the Underground Railroad.

Included in this fold-out map and guide are the escape routes map shown earlier, vignettes of key figures from key “conductors” on the Railroad to abolitionists, and even a short glossary of terms related to the UGRR.

Discovering the Underground Railroad: Junior Ranger Activity Book

The final item in our trio of publications is the Discovering the Underground Railroad: Junior Ranger Activity Book.

Many National Parks offer visitors the opportunity to join the National Park Service Family as Junior Rangers. Interested students complete a series of activities during their park visit, share their answers with a park ranger, and receive an official Junior Ranger badge or patch and Junior Ranger certificate.

Since there is no one national park site for the Underground Railroad, the National Park Service came up with a different process with this activity book. Aspiring Underground Railroad Junior Rangers have to complete different numbers of activities in the book pertaining to their particular age level, then send the completed booklet in to the National Park Service’s Omaha office. There, “a ranger will go over your answers and then return your booklet along with an official Junior Ranger Badge for your efforts.

This fun booklet includes activities appropriate from ages 5 to 10 and older, from word finders and mazes to essays and historical fact matching.

How can you get these Underground Railroad publications?

About the Author:  Michele Bartram is Promotions Manager for GPO’s Publication and Information Sales Division and is responsible for online and offline marketing of the US Government Online Bookstore (Bookstore.gpo.gov) and promoting Federal government content to the public.


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