Remembering 9/11: Tales of Heroes and Tough Lessons

September 11, 2014

9-11 Decade of Remembrance Twin Towers and Pentagon Logo designed by David McKenzie at the Government Printing OfficeIn remembrance of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Government Book Talk revisits blogger Michele Bartram’s post from September 11, 2013.

There are certain moments and events that are etched in our national consciousness. Ask any American who was alive in the 60’s where he or she was when John F. Kennedy or Martin Luther King was assassinated and you will hear a stirring personal story. For our generation, it was September 11, 2001.

Image: September 11 Decade of Remembrance logo with World Trade Center Twin Towers surrounded by a figure representing the Pentagon. Created by David McKenzie with the Government Printing Office for the U.S. Government Bookstore.

I was right across from the Twin Towers twelve years ago today, getting ready to board a ferry for my daily commute from New Jersey across the Hudson River into Manhattan, when I saw the second plane hit the World Trade Center right across from me. So, too, I cried with a group of strangers as we stood on the ferry platform and watched in horror as the first tower fall, saw the dust cloud rise and felt the earth—and the world—tremble.

America and Americans have changed since that day… twelve years ago today. We have since heard stirring stories of heroes and sacrifice, and learned many grim lessons that are still affecting both policy and people today.

Many of these stories of heroism, missed opportunities, and resulting actions have been painstakingly and faithfully chronicled by a wide array of Federal agencies, ensuring the sacrifices and lessons are not forgotten.

Responding to the Tragedies

Both in New York and the Pentagon in Washington, DC, we saw how first responders and medical personnel rushed to save lives. These excellent publications tell the stories of the heroes from that day:

  • 008-000-01049-8Pentagon 9/11 (10th Anniversary Edition) (Paperback) includes a foreword by Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and provides the most comprehensive account available of the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon and aftermath, including unprecedented details on the impact on the Pentagon building and personnel and the scope of the rescue, recovery, and care-giving effort.
  • 008-000-01048-0Attack on the Pentagon: The Medical Response to 9/11 not only tells the personal stories from medical personnel responding to the attack on the Pentagon, but also provides insight from MEDCOM officers detailed to New York to support National Guard troops guarding ground zero’s perimeter. It also includes the Army’s involvement in the recovery of deceased attack victims at the Pentagon and the work of the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology in identifying human remains at Dover Air Force Base. In addition, the roles of military and civilian hospital staffs and of military environmental health and mental health specialists in taking care of attack victims and their families are also examined.

Tough Lessons

The single must-read for every American about September 11 is the official version of The 9/11 Commission Report: Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States. This publication lists the findings of the National 9/11 Commission, listing all the painful errors made leading up to the terrorist attacks and outlining specific recommendations for international, national, state and local changes in policy and procedures that the panel of experts felt needed to be implemented to ensure a similar attack never happened again. This seminal publication has served to inform all subsequent policies and legislation since 9/11. It is available in print or as an eBook.

911-commission-report

Image: Launch of the 9/11 Commission Report. Courtesy: CSMonitor.com

The Senate, Select Committee on Intelligence, and House, Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence examined the intelligence failures leading up to 9/11 and jointly published the results in United States Congressional Serial Set, Serial No. 14750: Joint Inquiry Into Intelligence Community Activity Before and After Terrorists Attacks of September 11, 2001 With Errata.

027-001-00097-1Additional insights into the causes of and responses to terrorism can be gleaned from Terrorism Research and Analysis Project (TRAP): A Collection of Research Ideas, Thoughts, and Perspectives, V. 1. This publication provides the findings from the post-9/11 FBI Terrorism Research and Analysis Project (TRAP) Symposium. TRAP is a leading research consortium made up of international/domestic academics and law enforcement officers, and is a working group sponsored by the FBI’s Behavioral Science Unit. In it, these counter-terrorism experts provide a better understanding of the causes of terrorist activity and possible government response tactics to mitigate terrorist actions.

064-000-00029-2As we watch the new World Trade Center going up in New York, we can be assured that builders are incorporating architectural and construction lessons learned from the World Trade Center Building Performance Study: Data Collection, Preliminary Observations, and Recommendations.

Policy and Legislative Response

United States Congressional Serial Set, Serial No. 14924, House Report No. 724, 9/11 Recommendations Implementation Act, Pts. 1-6 outlines the specific legislative changes enacted by Congress, providing both background and justifications for them along with attribution.

A print copy of the law itself can be purchased here: Implementing Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007, Public Law 110-53 along with the details of the various committee conferences contributing to it in Implementing Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007, Conference Report to Accompany H.R. 1, July 25, 2007.

Defending the Homeland since 9/11

041-001-00657-5National Strategy for Homeland Security (October 2007) provides the common framework outlined by the George W. Bush Administration to guides, organize and unify the United States’ homeland security efforts.

008-000-01068-4A new publication from the Air Force Reserve called Turning Point 9.11: Air Force Reserve in the 21st Century, 2001-2011 tells the story of how the Air Force Reserve responded to 9/11 and have contributed to the security of the United States in a post-September 11 world.

050-012-00440-4In a similar vein, Rogue Wave: The U.S. Coast Guard on and After 9/11 chronicles the involvement of the U.S. Coast Guard on that fateful day and the evolving role in national and world security since.  Part of the Coast Guard 9/11 response is told in this touching video about the boatlift to evacuate people from lower Manhattan is told in a video narrated by Tom Hanks entitled: BOATLIFT, An Untold Tale of 9/11 Resilience.”

A touching video about the boatlift to evacuate people from lower Manhattan on 9/11 (September 11) is told in a video narrated by Tom Hanks entitled: BOATLIFT, An Untold Tale of 9/11 Resilience. Click on the image above or this link to view the “Boatlift” video.

The upcoming U.S. Army War College Guide to National Security Issues, Volume 2: National Security Policy and Strategy provides a summarized look at the national security curriculum now taught to our nation’s top military and civilian leaders by the U.S. Army War College. Revised with the lessons learned from the years since 9/11, this publication includes a chapter on ”Securing America From Attack: The Defense Department’s Evolving Role After 9/11.”

How can I obtain these Federal 9/11 publications?

  • Shop Online: Print Editions of these 9/11-related publications may be ordered from the U.S. Government Online Bookstore at http://bookstore.gpo.gov, by clicking on the links above in this blog post or shopping our Terrorism & 9/11 History collection under our US & Military History category.
  • Order by Phone: Call our Customer Contact Center Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5:30 pm Eastern (except US Federal holidays). From US and Canada, call toll-free 1.866.512.1800. DC or International customers call +1.202.512.1800.
  • Visit our Retail Store: Buy copies of these publications 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.
  • Find them in a Library: Find these publications in a federal depository library.

About the author: Adapted by Trudy Hawkins, Writer and Marketing Specialist in GPO’s Publication & Information Sales Division in Washington, DC, from an original post by Michele Bartram, former Government Book Talk Editor in support of the U.S. Government Online Bookstore (http://bookstore.gpo.gov).


The History of eBooks from 1930’s “Readies” to Today’s GPO eBook Services

March 10, 2014

To some it might seem strange that the Government Printing Office, the printer of Federal publications for over 150 years, is blogging about eBooks for “Read an eBook” Week and the 25th anniversary of the World Wide Web . However, GPO has been working with digital publications for years and is fully immersed in eBooks.

History of the Ebook and E-Reader Devices

While many know that the paperback book came to us in the 1930s, few know that the concept for electronic books arose at the same time. According to Wikipedia, the idea of the e-reader came to writer and impresario Bob Brown after watching his first “talkie” (movies with sound). In 1930, he wrote an entire book on this invention and titled it “The Readies” [/reed-eeze/] playing off the name of the “talkie.” (Read about Brown in this New York Times article.)

simultaneous_reading_machine

Image: Fantasy exhibit of an electronic simultaneous reading machine. Source: The Architecture of Possibility

Wrote Brown: “The written word hasn’t kept up with the age… The movies have outmaneuvered it. We have the talkies, but as yet no Readies.” He explained why it was needed, saying: “To continue reading at today’s speed, I must have a machine.” He described his ideal future e-reader as: “A simple reading machine which I can carry or move around, attach to any old electric light plug and read hundred-thousand-word novels in 10 minutes if I want to, and I want to.” Furthermore, this machine would “allow readers to adjust the type size and avoid paper cuts.

Free-eBooks-from-Project-GutenbergIt would take over 40 years for Brown’s prescient vision to become reality. Starting back in 1971, Michael S. Hart launched Project Gutenberg and digitized the U.S. Declaration of Independence, becoming the first eBook in the world. (To put the date into context, 1971 was the year that the first email message was ever sent– between two mainframe computers!) In 1985, the Voyager Company, a pioneer in CD-ROMs, was founded and published “expanded books” on CD-ROM including Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park, and in 1993, Digital Book, Inc. offered the first 50 digital books on floppy disk.

Fast forward to 1998, and four important events happened: 1) the first dedicated eBook readers were launched: Rocket Ebook and Softbook; 2) the first ISBN issued to an eBook was obtained; 3) US Libraries began providing free eBooks to the public through their web sites and associated services; and 4) Google was founded by Larry Page and Sergey Brin.

In 2000, the same year Blu-Ray discs were launched, Stephen King offered his novella Riding the Bullet as a digital-only computer-readable file, and two years later, Random House and HarperCollins started to sell digital versions of their publications. In 2004 Sony released its Sony Librie e-reader and then its Sony Reader in 2006.

2007 changed the world of reading forever with Amazon’s launch of the Kindle eBook reader in the U.S. and the launch of the iPhone by Apple. In 2009, Barnes & Noble introduced the Nook, and Sony linked with libraries via the Overdrive digital network to enable library patrons to borrow eBooks from their local library.

ereaders-ebook-devices

Image: Wide variety of eReaders and eBook reading devices. Courtesy: eBookAnoid

2010 was a banner year for eBooks as: 1) Apple released the iPad along with iBooks and its iBookstore on iTunes, selling half a million eBooks in less than a month; 2) Google’s eBookstore launched; and 3) Amazon reported that for the first time, its eBook sales outnumbered its hardcover book sales.

By January 2011, eBook sales at Amazon had outpaced its paperback sales, and by the end of the first quarter of 2012, eBook sales in the United States surpassed all hardcover book sales for the first time, topping over $3 Billion in revenue nationwide. And as of the end of 2013, the Association of American Publishers announced that eBooks now accounted for about 20% of all U.S. book sales.

Types and Formats of Digital Publications

Today, one sees many kinds of digital publications. “Electronic” or digital books can come as printable PDFs, enhanced PDFs with hyperlinks and embedded files, or “true eBook” formats: EPUB or MOBI files. EPUB is the most common and non-proprietary format, used by most Government agencies, commercial publishers, and libraries, and can be used on a variety of devices and software from different vendors. MOBI or AZW is used by Amazon for its Kindle readers and software.

EPUB and MOBI are “true eBook” formats because they offer resizable and reflowable text, automatically adjusting to the font and screen size and orientation (portrait or landscape) set on the e-reading device or software being used. (For more information, read our blog post “Government eBooks Made Easy– and Sometimes Free.”)

Readers either download digital publications onto their dedicated eReader like a Kindle or Nook, or they download it to their desktop or laptop computer, smart phone or tablet computer to read. If it is not a dedicated eReader device, the user must first have software on his device to allow him to read the format of eBooks he has downloaded.  To learn more about eBook formats and find FREE software to read EPUB eBooks on your computer or mobile device, read our detailed eBook Readers & Formats page on the U.S. Government Bookstore.

Image: Infographic of different eBook readers and apps options Source: Digital Book World

Image: Aptara’s infographic of different eBook readers and apps options Source: Digital Book World

Magazines are also available digitally, but their typically image-heavy content makes them more suited for reading on color tablets and desktop computers than smartphones or black-and-white eReaders with smaller screen sizes or no color. Zinio.com, touted as “The World’s Largest Newsstand”, is one of the sites where readers can search for and subscribe to digital magazines or buy individual issues.

GPO Digital Publication Services: “Helping Federal Agencies keep America informed”

In addition to helping Federal agencies design, print, promote and distribute physical publications, GPO has, for a number of years now, been helping our Federal agency partners design, convert, disseminate, and promote digital publications as well. From eBooks to audiobooks, PDFs to e-periodicals, MP3s to mobile sites, GPO is working with Federal agencies to not only assist them in producing the best digital publications in the right formats, but to also augment their own outreach efforts by helping spread the word to gain the largest audience possible for their publications.

Today we offer five areas of digital (and print) publication services to U.S. Federal Government agencies in the Executive, Legislative or Judicial branches:

  1. Image: Choosing the right format and content for your publication is made easier with GPO's publication consulting services.

    Image: Choosing the right format and content for your publication is made easier with GPO’s publication consulting services.

    Publication Consultation services: Do you need advice on what formats are best for your content? Need to know how to best structure and build your digital publication to ensure its broadest use and dissemination? We offer free consulting services to Federal agencies to help you get these projects on the right track.

  2. Design services: Does your agency need assistance in developing and producing digital or print publications, from photography, videography, copy, layouts and more? Our fee-based Creative Services can be hired to do this for you, with only an inter-agency memo required to get started.

    GPO-Creative-Digital-Media-Services

    GPO’s Creative & Digital Media Services helps Federal Agencies design the perfect publication in any format, print or digital.

  3. eBook Conversion services: Are you a Federal agency that already has a print book or magazine you want to turn into a digital publication? Or do have one digital format like a plain PDF that you need to convert to another format so more customers can use it? We offer fee-based conversion services to turn that publication into digital formats ready for commercial distribution.

    GPO offers ebook conversion services to Federal agencies

    Image: GPO can help Federal Agencies convert their existing publications into alternative formats. See our eBooks & Digital Services page for more information.

  4. Dissemination services: After all this work creating the perfect digital books and magazines, you need to make sure it reaches the widest intended audience possible. GPO’s Sales Program provides a network of the top print and eBook distribution services and sites in the world, including Google Play, Apple iTunes, Barnes & Noble, MyiLibrary, Overdrive, and Zinio (for e-magazines and journals), to name a few.Whether an agency has print books or posters, maps or  MP3s, eBooks or audio books, GPO can help agencies disseminate their publications through the top channels worldwide. Learn more in the eBook Channels for Federal Publications section below or visit our eBooks & Digital Services page. (Note that libraries can find links to published U.S. Government eBooks in GPO’s Federal Depository Library Program’s special eBooks at GPO page.)

    Image: GPO's Publication & Information Sales team helps Federal Agencies attain the broadest dissemination possible through our many worldwide eBook distribution partnerships.

    Image: GPO’s Publication & Information Sales team helps Federal Agencies attain the broadest dissemination possible through our many worldwide eBook distribution partnerships.

  5. Promotional services: Once your digital publication shows up on all these channels, how do you drive customers to find it?  For items in GPO’s Sales Program, we market our Federal agency partners’ digital publications through a variety of methods that could include: posts on this widely-read Government Book Talk blog; posts on other social media such as Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook and more; targeted outreach and press releases; flyers, catalogs and other direct mail; live events and webinars; search marketing; alerts to Federal Depository Libraries about the title; and our free New Titles by Topic email subscription service, to name just a few of our many promotional tools.

    Image: GPO's Publication & Information Sales team helps get the word about our Federal Agency Partners' publications through integrated marketing and outreach.

    Image: GPO’s Publication & Information Sales team helps get the word about our Federal Agency Partners’ publications through integrated marketing and outreach to the public, book dealers, industry and consumer organizations and more.

GPO Sales Program Manages eBook Channels for Federal Government

Thus, GPO has established the most robust dissemination program available for Federal agencies to “get their eBooks out where users are looking for them,” by signing partnerships with the top eBook and eMagazine distribution services in the world and expanding our own online bookstore to offer eBooks.

In order to take advantage of the sophisticated technology and distribution partnerships GPO has put in place for the Federal Government, Federal agencies can choose one of two models for GPO to disseminate their digital publications:

a)     PAID CONTENT: Under this model, instead of having the Federal agency pay GPO for dissemination and promotion, the costs for GPO’s dissemination and promotional services (including elaborate metadata and search optimization) are recovered by selling the eBook to the public at a reasonable price.

b)     FREE CONTENT: However, if the Federal agency determines that the digital publication needs to be free to the public through all the commercial channels, the agency may pay GPO a modest fee for dissemination and promotional services, and the eBook will be offered for free to the public.

Image: Extract from GPO's U.S. Government Bookstore home page at http://bookstore.gpo.gov, which has print and digital publications available.

Image: Extract from GPO’s U.S. Government Bookstore home page at http://bookstore.gpo.gov, which has both physical products (print books, CD-ROMs and DVDs, posters, flashcards, etc.) and DRM-free digital publications (eBooks, audio books, PDFs, etc.) available.

eBook Channels for Federal Publications

All ebooks available on GPO's U.S. Government Bookstore are DRM-free

All ebooks available on GPO’s U.S. Government Bookstore are DRM-free, with no restrictive Digital Rights Management.

Because we have optimized the navigation and search on our site specifically to make it easy to find Federal eBooks by Agency, Topic and/or Format, many titles are seeing more downloads here than out on commercial sites like Google or iTunes or even on agencies’ own websites.

Also contributing to the surging popularity with the public of obtaining eBooks from the U.S. Government Bookstore is the fact that unlike eBooks purchased from some of the proprietary eBook distributors, digital publications on the U.S. Government Online Bookstore are DRM-free (no Digital Rights Management), meaning they are not restricted to a single device or manufacturer and can be downloaded multiple times.

  • Commercial eBook Channels: Apple iTunes iBookstore, Google Play eBookstore, Barnes & Noble Nook Book Store, Powell’s, eBookPie, Diesel eBookStore, (United States), and more.
  • U.S. Public Libraries: Overdrive’s Library Digital Distribution provides eBooks to public library patrons nationwide.
  • Academic eBook Channels: EBSCO, MYiLibrary, AcademicPub and others.
  • Digital Magazine Channels: Zinio.com worldwide distribution of digital magazines and journals.

Featured eBooks Available Now on the U.S. Government Bookstore

Shop GPO's extensive selection of all DRM-free Federal ebooks.

FREE EBOOKS: Some of the best FREE ebooks available now from the U.S. Government Bookstore include:

OTHER POPULAR TITLES:  Here are some of the newer and more popular DRM-free Federal eBooks available from the U.S. Government Bookstore:

  • Free Trade Agreements: 20 Ways to Grow Your Business (ePub eBook) The book provides detailed information on best prospects, insights on the economic and political situation, tips on business culture, free and low-cost assistance for entering each country market where the U.S. government has negotiated preferential access for U.S. companies.
  • The U.S. Army and the Lewis and Clark Expedition (ePub eBook) is an engaging account of the U.S. Army’s role in the Lewis and Clark Expedition, officially designated the “Corps of Volunteers for North Western Discovery.”
  • Sources of Weapon Systems Innovation in the Department of Defense: The Role of In-House Research and Development, 1945-2000 (ePub eBook) explores the historical evolution of this process during the Cold War to the end of the twentieth century, focusing specifically on the content, scope, organizational structure, and management of in-house research and development (R&D) in the Army, the Navy, and the Air Force. It is not merely a comprehensive history of U.S. military R&D, but is rather a broad historical overview of changing institutional patterns of technological innovation within the Defense Department’s major weapons laboratories.
  • Deep Water: The Gulf Oil Disaster and the Future of Offshore Drilling, Report to the President, January 2011 (ePub eBook) is the official report of Presidential Commission assigned to investigate the Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster, analyze its causes and effects, and recommend the actions necessary to minimize such risks in the future. The Commission’s report offers the American public and policymakers alike the fullest account available of what happened in the Gulf and why, and proposes actions—changes in company behavior, reform of government oversight, and investments in research and technology—required as industry moves forward to meet the nation’s energy needs.
  • Black Americans in Congress, 1870-2007 (ePub eBook) is a comprehensive history of the more than 120 African Americans who have served in the United States Congress through 2007. Written for a general audience, this eBook contains a profile of each African-American Member, including notables such as Hiram Revels, Joseph Rainey, Oscar De Priest, Adam Clayton Powell, Shirley Chisholm, Gus Hawkins, and Barbara Jordan.
  • HAP: Henry H. Arnold, Military Aviator (ePub eBook) Aviation and military history buffs will enjoy reading about Colonel Henry Harley Arnold or “HAP” Arnold, one of the first two active U.S. Army pilots. Also available in Print, this eBook is available currently through third party eBooksellers.

How can I get Federal Government eBooks and digital magazines?

  • Shop Online Anytime: You can buy eBooks as well as print publications (with FREE Standard Shipping worldwide) from GPO’s U.S. Government Online Bookstore website at http://bookstore.gpo.gov:
  • Shop Commercial eBook Channels:  Search these sites for the ISBN or exact title of the Federal eBook. Also, GPO’s Online Bookstore lists third party eBooksellers where the title can be found for eBooks in our eBook Sales program.
  • Visit the Federal Agency’s website: Often, PDFs of the publication are posted on Federal Agencies’ websites.
  • Visit a Federal Depository Library: Search for U.S. Government publications in a nearby Federal depository library. Librarians: You can find the records for most titles in the Catalog of U.S. Government Publications (CGP), or search for published U.S. Government eBooks in GPO’s Federal Depository Library Program’s special eBooks at GPO page.
  • Visit a Public Library: Ask your local public librarian about Federal eBooks that may be available for library patrons to check out through the library’s Overdrive subscription.

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


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.


Understand How the U.S. Government is Organized

January 13, 2014

The United States Government Manual 2013

United States US Government Manual 2013 ISBN: 9780160919510 Available from http://bookstore.gpo.gov/products/sku/069-000-00216-1?ctid=38The Government Manual is an essential guide to the United States Federal Government, where one can find the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and information on every U.S. Government agency. This official handbook on the Federal Government is published annually by the National Archives and Record Administration’s Office of the Federal Register.

Two years ago, Government Book Talk featured the Government Manual with the post “Browsing the Government Manual”. Here, we will take another look at this ultimate resource on the U.S. Government.

The 2013 Government Manual begins with the country’s founding documents, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, and then goes on to profile each agency, quasi-official agency, international organization in which the United States participates, board, commission, and committee found in the Legislative, Judicial, and Executive branches of the U.S. Government. The profiles include:

  • Organizational charts
  • List of principal officials
  • Summary statement of the agency’s purpose and role in the Federal Government
  • Brief history of the agency, including its legislative or executive authority
  • Description of its programs and activities
  • Information on consumer activities, contracts and grants, employment, publications, and contact information.

This organizational structure is beneficial for large executive branch agencies that have several departments each with their own mission and function.  For example, 20 pages of the manual are devoted to the nearly 40 different divisions, offices, and bureaus that make up the Department of Justice, which seems complex but pales in comparison to the Department of Defense and its behemoth structure.

The Government Manual concludes with the History of Agency Organization Structures. This section of the manual is arguably the highlight of this publication, as it provides a history of the lifetime and timeline of each agency as the U.S. Government grows with the country. For example, the Bureau of Immigration was created in 1891 as a branch of the Department of Treasury and cycled through to the Department of Commerce and Labor, the Department of Labor, the Department of Justice, and finally, after losing its name but keeping its functions, landed in the newly established Department of Homeland Security in 2002.

The Government Manual is not only a great resource on the United States Federal government and its functions, but also a goldmine of new information and interesting facts that are not commonly known about the U.S. Government and the country’s history.  So, if you would like  to understand how the U.S. Government is organized, then this is the book for you!

How can I get a copy of “The United States Government Manual 2013”?

About the Author: Our guest blogger is Emma Wojtowicz, Public Relations Specialist in GPO’s Office of Public Affairs. Additional content provided by Stephanie Jaeger, Sales & Marketing Coordinator for GPO’s Sales & Marketing Division and is responsible for marketing GPO’s publishing services to the Federal sector.


Quiz and History for Bill of Rights Day December 15

December 13, 2013

Bill-of-Rights-Founding-Father-President-James-Madison-statue-AP-PhotoImage: James Madison statue in front of Bill of Rights. AP Photo.

We celebrate Bill of Rights Day on December 15 every year in the midst of the bustling holiday season. Although it’s not a Federal holiday, it’s definitely a day for American citizens to commemorate the freedoms we enjoy by law. And no, the right to shop—while popular in America— is not listed in the Bill of Rights!

History of the Bill of Rights

The Founding Fathers drafted the United States Constitution during the First Constitutional Convention, held from May through September 1787 in Philadelphia. The completed draft constitution, sent to the States for ratification in September 1787, did not include any mention of individual rights. The framers’ focus was largely on structuring a strong government, and getting that structure put into place. Without such a structure, the Founding Fathers feared the country’s collapse into chaos or new attacks from outsiders. They left the issue of individual rights without adding it to the Constitution during that meeting.

As a result of this omission, Edmund Randolph, George Mason, and Elbridge Gerry refused to sign the Constitution on principle. Maryland delegates Luther Martin and John Francis Mercer reportedly walked out of the Convention, at least in part because the draft did not include a Bill of Rights. In September, Randolph, Mason and Gerry joined in asking for a second constitutional convention to address the issue of personal rights. All three men advocated strongly for a bill of rights throughout most of the constitutional convention. The people ultimately adopted the Constitution, sans any bill of rights, on September 17, 1787. Eleven states ratified it and it went into effect in 1789.

Founding Father James Madison was a delegate from Virginia who had been a key actor and speaker at the First Constitutional Convention. He had held onto the idea of the individual freedoms as discussed at that Convention. Although Federalist Madison was originally a skeptic about needing a Bill of Rights, like Randolph, Mason and Gerry he came to believe that the inclusion of personal rights was imperative to be added to the United States Constitution.

quote-enlightened-statesmen-will-not-always-be-at-the-helm-President-James-MadisonImage courtesy IZQuotes.

In Madison’s view, the value of a listing of rights was:

  • in part educational for the populace under this new form of Government,
  • in part as a vehicle that might be used to rally people against a future oppressive Government when “less enlightened statesmen” may be in power,
  • and finally–in an argument borrowed from Thomas Jefferson–Madison argued that a declaration of rights would help install the judiciary as “guardians” of individual rights against the Legislative and Executive branches of the Federal Government.

Thus, while serving in the first U.S. House of Representatives, Madison framed and introduced the Bill of Rights as legislative articles to amend the Constitution on June 8, 1789.

He used as a model George Mason’s Virginia Declaration of Rights, written in May 1776, and also based his legislative articles in part on the English Bill of Rights (1689), the Magna Carta and other documents.

Painting-Adoption-of-VA-Declaration-of-RightsImage: This painting, The Adoption of the Virginia Declaration of Rights, depicting the adoption of the Virginia Declaration of Rights by the fifth Virginia Revolutionary Convention was made by Jack Clifton in 1974. It now hangs in the Virginia State Capitol. Courtesy: Virginia Memory online exhibit of the Library of Virginia.

What rights are in Bill of Rights?

Painting-of-James-Madison-reading-Bill-of-Rights-to-First-CongressMadison included in his articles a list of rights of the individual, such as free speech, freedom of religion, freedom of the press, free assembly, freedom from unreasonable search and seizure, and others, as well as some limits on government powers.

Image on the right: Madison reading his Bill of Rights to Congress. Courtesy: University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law.

On August 21, 1789, the U.S. House of Representatives adopted Madison’s articles, proposed them in a joint resolution of Congress on September 25, 1789, and finally ratified them on December 15, 1791.

The Bill of Rights consists of the first ten amendments to the Constitution, and is a key “fundamental document” of the United States Federal government.

Cartoon of the Bill of Rights depicting the first 10 Amendments to the US Constitution. From a 1971 Teacher's Guide transparency for "Young Citizen"

Image: Bill of Rights depicted in cartoon format from 1971 Young Citizen teacher’s guide transparency. Courtesy: Syracuse University. CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE and for teacher printable version.

  • First Amendment:  Freedom of Religion, Speech, and Press, the Right to Assemble Peaceably and to Petition the Government “for a redress of grievances.
  • Second Amendment: Right to Keep and Bear Arms- “A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.
  • Third Amendment: Quartering of Troops- “No soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.
  • Fourth Amendment: Search and Seizure- “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
  • Fifth Amendment: Grand Jury, Double Jeopardy, Self-Incrimination, Due Process
  • Sixth Amendment: Criminal Prosecutions – Right to  a speedy public trial by an impartial jury, to confront witnesses and to counsel for defense.
  • Seventh Amendment: Common Law Suits –Right to a Trial by Jury
  • Eighth Amendment: No Excessive Bail or Fines or Cruel and Unusual Punishment- “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.”
  • Ninth Amendment: Non-Enumerated Rights or “Rule of Construction of the Constitution”-  “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”
  • Tenth Amendment: States’ Rights- Rights not explicitly delegated to the Federal Government in the Constitution are reserved to the States or to the People.

Where can you learn more about the Bill of Rights?

US-Constitution-and-Declaration-of-Independence-Pocket-Guide_I9780160891847 Buy at the US Government Online Bookstore http://bookstore.gpo.gpvIf you want to learn more about the Bill of Rights, an excellent place to start would be reading the source document, the Constitution of the United States and the Declaration of Independence; the GPO U.S. Government Bookstore sells a handy Constitution of the United States and the Declaration of Independence Pocket Edition. The full text of the ten amendments of the Bill of Rights is there for you to read and study.

US Citizenship and Immigration Service Civics Flash Cards for the US Naturalization Test ISBN-9780160904608 Available from GPO's US Government Bookstore a http://bookstore.gpo.govImage courtesy Citizenship Guru.

Kids in school, or adults wanting to revisit the fundamentals they learned in civics classes, can learn a lot from the Civics Flash Cards for the U.S. Naturalization Test (English Version)—and obviously the target audience, U.S. residents who want to become American citizens, will benefit from studying these, too.

Spanish-Civics-Flash-Cards-for-US-naturalization-test Tarjetas de Educación Cívica ISBN 9780160902048 Available from the US Government Bookstore at http://bookstore.gpo.govIf you’re more comfortable reading en español, you can study using the same flash cards in Spanish: Tarjetas de Educación Cívica para el Exámen de Naturalización to cover the same material.

You can also listen to the same questions in English on the USCIS (US Citizenship and Immigration Services) website. (I didn’t see them offered in Spanish on their site, though.) If you’re cramming for the naturalization or a civics exam, listening to the questions is excellent reinforcement for your study plan.

Mini-Quiz from the Citizenship Test

Civics-Flash-Cards-Question-38If you’ve already read this post, or studied the Constitution, you will probably ace questions #1 and #2 of the United States naturalization test for citizenship:

  1. “What is the supreme law of the land?”
  2. “What does the Constitution do?”
  3. “What do we call the first ten amendments to the Constitution?” (Bonus points if you get the answer to this question #5 correct!)

(Answers: 1- The Constitution. 2- Sets up the government; Defines the government; Protects basic rights of Americans. 3- The Bill of Rights, of course! )

For even more challenging questions based on the U.S. Citizenship test, take our fun Quiz: Are you smarter than an 8th grade Civics student?

In-depth civics questions can be answered by the capsule summary answers to the questions in Learn About the United States: Quick Civics Lesson for the Naturalization Test 2013 (Book Plus CD). Students need to know the principles and background behind the answers, not just the answers themselves, obviously.

Question six asks, “What is ONE right or freedom from the First Amendment?” The text lists the possible answers, and then relates the reasons for the guarantee of those freedoms. The authors explain freedom of expression as follows:

“The First Amendment of the Bill of Rights protects a person’s right to freedom of expression. Freedom of expression allows open discussion and debate on public issues. Open discussion and debate are important to democracy.”

You’ll definitely have a thorough grounding in the basics of American Federal government by the time you’re done with the lesson.

The Right to Exercise… Your Rights, That Is

Exercise your right to open discussion by reading some of these documents, and talking to friends about them. If you are a school student, maybe you’ll have an opportunity to write about the Bill of Rights or the freedoms the Bill of Rights guarantee.

1963-2013-Civil-Rights-logoIn this year, the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation and the 50th anniversary of three significant events from the Civil Rights movement— the March on Washington for Rights and Freedom, the murder of African-American civil rights activist Medgar Evers who was involved in efforts to overturn segregation at the University of Mississippi, and the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama— it’s a good time to reflect on our civil rights and liberties, and how lucky we are to have them.

Image: Civil Rights Movement 50th Anniversary logo. Courtesy: City of Birmingham, Alabama

How can you obtain official publications that explain the Bill of Rights and other documents of American rights?

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


National Treasure: The art and architecture of the US Capitol

December 2, 2013

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

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

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

Glenn Brown’s History of the United States Capitol

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

United States Senate Catalogue of Fine Art

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

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

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

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

Eastman Forts Print Set

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

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

United States Senate Catalogue of Graphic Art

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

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

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

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

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


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