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.


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.


First Blood: Year One of the War Between the States

November 22, 2012

On another Thanksgiving Day 150 years ago, America was embroiled in a bitter Civil War. A year later, expressing gratitude for the key Union Army victory at Gettysburg, President Abraham Lincoln would proclaim that the nation will celebrate an official annual Thanksgiving holiday on the fourth Thursday of November. But in 1862, 25 states and three territories were already celebrating the Thanksgiving holiday.

Thus it is fitting that we have this wonderful guest post about the newest book from the Army’s Center of Military History series about the U.S. Army Campaigns of the Civil War. Those who had survived these clashes had much to give thanks for that Thanksgiving Day- as do we all, particularly members of our military and diplomatic services and their families who have served in harm’s way. Enjoy the post and Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours,  Michele Bartram


Guest blogger Sonya Kunkle was a writer and editor for more than 15 years before she joined GPO’s Proof & Copy Markup section. Here she reviews a U.S. Government Bookstore booklet on a topic that caught her interest fairly recently—the American Civil War.

As a child growing up in the Washington, DC, suburbs, I once walked through the grassy fields of Antietam Battlefield (near Sharpsburg, MD) oblivious to the historical struggle waged under my feet. American history wasn’t my favorite subject in school, but as an adult my interest in the Civil War was sparked when I read “The Killer Angels,” a novel by Michael Shaara. “The Killer Angels,” a work of historical fiction, details the Battle of Gettysburg.

This is a good time to be a Civil War history enthusiast, with 2012 being part of the sesquicentennial (150-year anniversary) of America’s bloodiest war. To mark the occasion, the U.S. Government Bookstore has for sale a 64-page booklet, The Civil War Begins: Opening Clashes, 1861 published by the U.S. Army’s Center for Military History.

Image: (Cover of the booklet,. Detail from Capture of Ricketts’ Battery by Sidney E. King, courtesy of William V. Fleitz, Manassas Battlefield Park.

 In this booklet you can read about the reasons for going to war and why key players made many of the decisions they did during the first year of the conflict. The author, Dr. Jennifer M. Murray, also provides a lot of information in text and graphics on the troop movements of both the Federals and the Confederates during each of the key battles of 1861.

Strategic Setting

In his inaugural address, on March 4, President Lincoln declared that he didn’t intend to abolish slavery in states where it existed. Stating that he would not initiate a war, Lincoln informed Southerners, “In your hands … is the momentous issue of civil war …You can have no conflict, without being yourselves the aggressors.

If you look at the numbers, perhaps the Confederates were doomed from the start. The 1860 Census shows that the Union could call on 4 million military-age white males to build their army, whereas the Confederacy could assemble 1 million at most.

The Union also had 10 times the industrial capacity, not to mention better transportation capabilities. In spite of these disadvantages, the South started the Civil War with its first big move—firing on Federal Fort Sumter in South Carolina.

Operations—Fort Sumter

Charleston, South Carolina, was well fortified with Fort Sumter and other defenses. Sumter was built to guard against an enemy fleet, and the walls facing the city were much weaker than those facing the water, leaving the fort vulnerable to attack on land.

On April 11, the Southern Brigadier General Pierre G. T. Beauregard demanded that the Union forces evacuate Fort Sumter. The North’s ranking officer at Sumter, Major Robert Anderson, declined.

At 3 a.m. (or 0300; the author uses military time) on April 12, the Confederates notified Major Anderson that General Beauregard and company would open fire on Fort Sumter in one hour. Twenty minutes after the deadline, a single shell from nearby Fort Johnson, which the North had abandoned, exploded over Sumter. War had begun.

Into Virginia—Bull Run

Image: First Battle of Bull Run. 1889 chromolithograph by Kurz & Allison. Source: Library of Congress. CLICK TO ENLARGE.

In May the Confederates moved their capital from Montgomery, Alabama, to Richmond, Virginia. Richmond became a strategic target for the North, both for its industrial capability and its political importance. The two capitals, separated by only 100 miles, now figured prominently in both sides’ strategies.

The Civil War Begins: Opening Clashes, 1861 explains why the Union was determined to control Manassas Junction and why in May 10,600 Confederates defended the northern entrance to the Shenandoah Valley.

The author notes an interesting moment caused by the differing (and lack of) uniforms:

Viewing the Virginians, who were wearing civilian clothes, the Federal troops were unsure of their allegiance. To complicate matters further … Federal units were not uniformly dressed in blue; soldiers in the 11th New York, for instance, were dressed in colorful Zouave uniforms, which were also worn by some Confederate units. The Virginians clarified the matter by opening a deadly volley on the New Yorkers.”

Image: Brandy Station, VA, Band of the 114th Pennsylvania Infantry (Zouaves). Source: Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, LC-B8171-7611 DLC. CLICK TO ENLARGE.

The Confederates won the fight, protecting their capital. The first battle of the Civil War resulted in the death of nearly 5,000 men.

The Fight for Missouri

While emotions roiled to the east, the majority of delegates attending a special Missouri secession convention voted to remain in the Union. This decision ran counter to Governor Claiborne F. Jackson’s personal preferences, and he mustered forces in favor of the Confederates.

This part of The Civil War Begins: Opening Clashes, 1861 provides details about how the Civil War reached into Missouri, with one of the key players being Union Brigadier General Nathaniel Lyon.

While directing his men on the front line, Lyon got hit in the calf by a bullet, so he left the field for medical treatment. When Lyon got back on the field, a bullet grazed his head.

Determined to continue the fight, and apparently not taking the hint, Lyon returned to the field. Moments later, a bullet hit him in the chest. He was the first Union general officer to die in the Civil War.

From Belmont to Port Royal

In The Civil War Begins: Opening Clashes, 1861 you can read about the Union Navy’s entry into the Civil War.

It’s an interesting read, with a little information about Southern pirates (pirates!) lurking inside the Outer Banks of North Carolina, pouncing on merchant vessels before Union warships could react. To thwart these outlaws, the Federal Navy designated the Outer Banks as its first target. Union forces prepared for the war’s first joint Army-Navy operation.

You learn something about the battle for Fort Hatteras and the naval tactic (and the Confederates’ faulty ammunition) that helped the Union win the day.

The North’s capture of Fort Hatteras and nearby Fort Clark improved the Union’s outlook soon after their defeat at Bull Run. Offering a “Congratulatory Order,” one Federal officer commented, “This gallant affair will not fail to stimulate the regulars and volunteers to greater exertions to prepare themselves for future and greater achievements.

The Union’s euphoria didn’t last long.

The Civil War Begins: Opening Clashes, 1861 describes what happened between the North and South about 35 miles north of Washington at Ball’s Bluff. Perhaps the statistics are most noteworthy—there were an evenly matched number of men fighting on both sides, but the outcome was lopsided in terms of soldiers wounded and captured. The battle’s uneven results favored the South.

This section also addresses the Union’s win at Port Royal, South Carolina. Here you also can read about what Brigadier General (and future U.S. President) Ulysses S. Grant did in the area of Belmont, MO, that earned him President Lincoln’s favor.

The chronological coverage of the war ends with Union Major General George B. McClellan’s training the Army of the Potomac outside of Manassas. McClellan said he believed that he controlled the “destinies of this great country.”  There was no further action along the Potomac as the curtain closed on 1861.

Analysis

Dr. Murray offers incisive analysis at the end of The Civil War Begins: Opening Clashes, 1861. She describes the early missteps of the secessionists, as well as what the South got right. She also notes the Union army’s mixed results.

Dr. Murray concludes, “As Federal forces grew more experienced and competent, they would gain key victories in 1862 that helped to shape the outcome of the Civil War.”

The last page of the booklet provides a short list of texts for further reading about the first year of the war.

Conclusion

The Civil War Begins: Opening Clashes, 1861 helps me to appreciate the history in my own backyard. Although I find all of the information about the armies’ positions and movements a bit overwhelming, the booklet tempts me to take the 70-mile trip from Baltimore, where I live now, to explore the fields of Bull Run at Manassas. Taking the booklet with me, I’ll have a better understanding of the history I’m walking through.

HOW DO I OBTAIN The Civil War Begins: Opening Clashes, 1861?

  • Buy it online 24/7 at GPO’s Online Bookstore.
  • 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.

Other Federal Titles about the Civil War

You may also be interested in these titles about the Civil War available from the U.S. Government Bookstore:


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.


Beauty and the Best- Two calendars inspire New Year’s resolutions

January 18, 2012

In January of every year, people around the world find themselves making their New Year’s resolution. However, resolutions that come from the Government tend to be about serious topics like laws or declaring war. Case in point: George Washington himself famously said in a letter in 1775 justifying the American colony’s inevitable steps toward declaring independence: “We have, therefore, to resolve to conquer or die.”

Thus, you will be pleasantly surprised to know that the Federal Government can also help us with some of our personal resolutions as well. The most popular personal resolutions tend to be about getting fit, or finding more time to “stop and smell the roses” by relaxing and enjoying the beauty around us.

With their decorative and inspiring calendars for 2012, the National Park Service and the Marine Corps are ensuring that we can meet both these New Year’s resolutions with showing us both “Beauty” and “The Best”.


The National Historic Landmark 2012 Event Planner Calendar

This 12-month wall calendar / event planner from The National Park Service features the winning photographs from their Twelfth Annual National Historic Landmarks (NHL) Photo Contest.

According to the contest rules, these original photos have to be “fantastic photographs that illustrate the significance of any of the over 2,500 National Historic Landmarks, our nation’s most significant treasures”.  One beautiful image from each National Park Service region and a stunning national winner were all chosen last fall from thousands of submissions for inclusion in this 2012 calendar, with the winning photograph gracing the cover.

The winning cover photo (shown above) by photographer Eric Vondy was of National Historic Landmark Pecos Pueblo, in South of Pecos, New Mexico. Park Service judges described it:

This evocative photograph inspires the imagination, yet this site’s real history is legendary. Led by an Indian guide called “The Turk,” famous Spanish explorer Coronado and his men set out from this pueblo to search for Quivira, one of the legendary “Seven Cities of Gold.” Abandoned in 1838, today the site, east of Santa Fe, is managed by Pecos National Historical Park.

   

Calendar Images: (Left) 1895 lumber schooner C.A. Thayer, San Francisco, California. Photographer: John Conway.  (Right) Missouri Botanical Gardens, St. Louis, Missouri. Photographer: Judy Hitzeman.

Want to see your photo win next year? If you’re a photographer, amateur or professional, you can participate in their next annual National Park Service photo contest. Read the details on their  Annual National Historic Landmarks (NHL) Photo Contest web site.

How do I get this 2012 National Historic Landmarks Photo Contest event planner calendar?

  • UPDATE AS OF 1/19/2012:  Due to the overwhelming customer response to this blog post, unfortunately GPO has sold out of its remaining stock of this calendar! If more should become available, we will update this post.

However, feel free to enjoy the beautiful images from the calendar on the National Park Service’s FlickR page for the National Historic Landmarks 2011 Photo Contest Winners.


Marine Corps Special Issue Semper Fit Sports Calendar 2011-2012

The second wall calendar is even more surprising and very inspiring as well to those who are resolved to living a healthier lifestyle through fitness.

Issued by Marines Magazine, the Marine Corps’ Official Magazine, this colorful 17-month Sports Calendar (August 2011 – December 2012) recognizes some of the outstanding athlete “leathernecks” who participate in the Marine Corps’ “Semper Fit” sports, recreation and fitness program worldwide.  (“Semper Fit” is a nod to the Marine Corps motto of “Semper Fi” short for “Semper Fidelis” which is Latin for “Always Faithful” or “Always Loyal”).

One Marine base describes the Semper Fit program:

The mission at Semper Fit is to conduct, encourage and inspire the quality of life programs for that promote Healthy Lifestyles through recreation, athletics, physical fitness, the Single Marine Program and other health and wellness activities for Marine Corps active and retired members, their families and civilian workers.

The photographs on this calendar depict everything from individual sports such as the famous Marine Corps Marathon held annually in Washington, DC, and aerial motorcycle tricks…

   

Calendar Images: (Left) Start of the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, DC. (Right) Motorbike aerialist and member of the “Metal Mulisha Troops” Marine stunt team.

…to intramural and varsity sports like baseball, basketball, wrestling, tug-of-war, the Dragon Boat Race, and the Warrior Games.

 

Calendar Images: (Left) Tug-of-war competition at Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan. (Right) All-Marine team of active duty and veteran “wounded warriors” at opening ceremony of the all Armed Forces Warrior Games.

Many of the athletes included are recognized globally for their athletic ability, and others are Marines who stay at the top of their game no matter their age or disability, maintaining the extremely high physical fitness standards of the Corps.

The calendar also includes Federal holidays and key dates of significance to the Corps.

The Father of Semper Fit retires

Ironically, last month after nearly 36 years of service as a Marine officer and a civilian whose final role was as Quantico’s head of recreation, Chris D’Orazio, the founder of the Semper Fit program retired.

Image: Col. Dan Choike, base commander, presents Chris D’Orazio, head of recreation, a challenge coin during D’Orazio’s retirement ceremony in the Main Ballroom at the Clubs of Quantico on Dec. 5, 2011. Source: Quantico Sentry newspaper

In an interview for the Quantico Sentry, D’Orazio explained how the Semper Fit program concept came to him back in 1985, D’Orazio when he read an article about the low life expectancy of retired Marines, whether officer or enlisted:

 “Marines, especially back then, played hard, worked hard, drank hard and smoked hard,” said D’Orazio. “I looked out the window and saw a young Marine put out a cigarette, finish a can of beer, then walk back inside the building.”

“I look down and thought to myself, based on this article, this guy’s going to live less than five years after he retires,” D’Orazio said. “After a career and everything they’ve worked for, they are probably going to die that soon; that’s terrible. That was pretty much the genesis of the word ‘Semper Fit.’”

In addition to the “Semper Fit” program for USMC, D’Orazio started the “Getting Stronger, Now” fitness program for the state of Maryland, both of which were pilot fitness programs under the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports.

This 2012 Semper Fit calendar is a fitting tribute to a man who dedicated his life to, well, fitness!

And the photos are pretty inspiring to hang on anyone’s wall, too!

Calendar Image: Marines compete in the 37th annual Naha Dragon Boat Race in Naha, Japan.

How do I get this Marine Corps 2012 Semper Fit Sports calendar?

  • Buy it online 24/7 at GPO’s Online Bookstore.
  • Buy it at GPO’s retail bookstore at 710 North Capitol Street NW, Washington, DC 20401, open Monday-Friday, 9am to 4pm, except Federal holidays, (202) 512-0132.

So whether you aspire to find more beauty in the world around you or to be the best you can be, the Government is here to help you out!

Resolve to have a safe and happy 2012, America!


Summer Travels

July 7, 2010

Government publications are more than just books. Guest blogger Kelly Seifert reminds us that maps and guides can be just as engrossing, especially at this time of year.

If you’re planning on doing some travel around the country this summer, you can start your planning with the National Parks System Map and Guide. It features a map of the United States, including Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands, showing the locations of parks, historic sites, and other properties operated by the National Park Service. On the reverse side, an alphabetical list of each National Park System property describes its activities, services, and facilities. If you’re planning on exploring any of the 391 destinations of the National Parks Service this summer, this is an essential take along. You can also easily access this publication by visiting your local Federal depository library. Locate a library in your area here.

To make your trip complete, check out these other great publications as well: 1) the National Trails System: Map and Guide, which includes descriptions of national historic and scenic trails, and 2) the National Wildlife Refuge System: A Visitor’s Guide, which contains a map showing national wildlife refuges that provide recreational and educational opportunities. The Visitor’s Guide also provides tips for visiting national wildlife refuges and lists refuges in all 50 States, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, along with the best wildlife viewing season and the features of each refuge.

Why leave the country for a little R&R when there are so many national treasures right on your doorstep? Happy Travels!


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