American Indian Day – A Tribute to Native American Settlers

May 11, 2017

On May 13 1983, President Ronald Regan signed a proclamation declaring it “American Indian Day” in honor of the Native American people who first settled this land.

The proclamation states, “In recognition of the unique status and contribution of the American Indian peoples to our Nation, the Congress of the United States, by House Joint Resolution 459 (P.L. 97 – 445), has authorized and requested the President to issue a proclamation designating May 13, 1983 as `American Indian Day.’”

For the entirety of the existence of our country, there have been treaties between the Native American tribes and our Government, but in January of 1983, Reagan’s administration set forth to strengthen the ties and to increase the sovereignty of the individual tribes.

A few years later, the Senate and President Reagan designated November 23 – 30 as “American Indian Week.” Then in 1991, Congress passed Senate Joint Resolution 172 (Pub. L. 102-123) authorizing and requesting the President to proclaim the month of November 1991, and the month of each November thereafter, as “American Indian Heritage Month.”

Since then, each president has proclaimed November as “American Indian Heritage Month” and continued the honor for the first settlers of this land.

The U.S. Government Publishing Office (GPO) makes these proclamations, including the original 1983 Proclamation 5049, available in digital files through govinfo. As the GPO continues its efforts to digitize vital Government documents, the history of our Nation and the story of the continued collaboration with the sovereign Native American tribes will be documented and provided to the public for free. It’s all part of our mission in Keeping America Informed.

The Catalog of U.S. Government Publications (CGP) also has several of the ongoing acts and resolutions that Congress has passed through the years to assist the Native American tribes such as:

If you’re interested in learning more about the History of the American Indian tribes, visit the GPO Bookstore and pick up a volume of the Smithsonian’s Handbook of North American Indians series. It is the ultimate resource for Native American history across various regions of North America. The multi-volume hardcover reference set is intended to give an encyclopedic summary of what is known about the prehistory, history, and cultures of the aboriginal peoples of North America north of the urban civilizations of central Mexico.


Click on the Links: For the free resources, click on the links above in the blog post.

Shop Online Anytime: You can buy eBooks or print publications —with FREE Standard Shipping worldwide— from the U.S. Government Online Bookstore at

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.

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

Visit a Federal depository library: Search for U.S. Government publications in a nearby Federal depository library. You can find the records for most titles in GPO’s Catalog of U.S. Government Publications.

About the author: Blogger contributor Scott Pauley is a Writer and Editor in GPO’s Library Services and Content Management office.

A Star-Spangled Anniversary

September 12, 2014
Image: Celebrating the 200th Anniversary of our National Anthem

Image: Celebrating the 200th Anniversary of our National Anthem (

September 2014 marks the 200th anniversary of the United States National Anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner.” In September 1814, after a 25-hour long battle with the British, U.S. soldiers at Baltimore’s Fort McHenry raised a 42-foot American flag in victory. A young Francis Scott Key, a Maryland-born attorney, was aboard a ship in Baltimore’s harbor to negotiate the release of an American prisoner and was so inspired by the patriotic sight that he wrote “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

Image source:

Francis Scott Key (

If you’re lucky enough to be in Maryland during the month of September, the Star-Spangled Spectacular is a free festival that celebrates the 200th anniversary of our National Anthem. Tall ships, Navy ships, and the Blue Angels will come to Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. Landside festivals include living history demonstrations. Events crescendo on September 13, 2014 with two star-studded patriotic concerts and extraordinary fireworks display over Fort McHenry and the Baltimore harbor, which will broadcast live on PBS’ Great Performances. Learn more here.

You can check out the National Park Service’s Fort McHenry page for details about the park, its history, and the festivities.

The U.S. Government Printing Office offers publications and resources to help you learn more about this pivotal point in American history.

citizens almanacAvailable through the U.S. Government Bookstore, The Citizen’s Almanac: Fundamental Documents, Symbols, and Anthems of the United States, contains information on the history, people, and events of the United States. This resource is primarily targeted at immigrants hoping to become U.S. citizens. However, it can also serve as a patriotic resource for elementary school-age children through freshmen in high school. Teachers of social studies and civics programs may want to have a copy handy to use in classrooms. Some examples of things covered in the publication are: rights and responsibilities of citizens, the Star-Spangled Banner, the Pledge of Allegiance, the Gettysburg Address, the Constitution, landmark decisions of the Supreme Court, and much more. A related resource is the Civics and Citizenship Toolkit.

GPO’s Federal Digital System also has a variety of Government documents related to the Star-Spangled Banner:

Star Spangled Banner Flag on display at the Smithsonian's National Museum of History and Technology, around 1964

Star Spangled Banner Flag on display at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of History and Technology, around 1964

GPO’s Catalog of U.S. Government Publications provides access to a fascinating document from the Smithsonian, National Museum of American History: The Star-Spangled Banner: State-of-the-Flag Report, 2001. This document describes the history of THE flag that inspired our National Anthem, where it has traveled since 1814, the conservation project undertaken to preserve it for future generations, and more.

Also check out this information from the Smithsonian on the Star-Spangled Banner. You can also learn about the flag’s preservation project here. You can also learn more about Francis Scott-Key here.

You can also visit a Federal depository library near you to discover what other publications the Federal Government has to offer on this incredible moment in American history. Locations are nationwide. Find the Federal depository nearest you by visiting the Federal Depository Library Directory.


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

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

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

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

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

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

April 17, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1940 Census Goes Digital

April 11, 2012

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

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

Reports National Public Radio:

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

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

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

Data from the Great Depression

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

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

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

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

Some interesting facts about the 1940 Census

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

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

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

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

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

Questions from the 1940 Census

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

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

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

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

Image: Illinois CCC recruiting poster. Source:

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

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

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

How to Use the 1940 Census

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

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

Help Tag the Images

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

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

How can you get other Census Bureau publications today?

The release of the historic images will be made at

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

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

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

Balloon Bomb Attacks

October 4, 2010

A couple of weeks ago, I was reading a book about various attempts by Japan to attack the U.S. and Australia between 1942 and 1945. Among these ventures was the attack on Sydney Harbor by midget submarines, a submarine-based seaplane incendiary bombing of Mount Emily, near Brookings, Oregon, and the 1944-45 launching of 9,000 balloons that dropped explosive and incendiary bombs across the U.S. and Canada as far east as Michigan.

I don’t know about other readers of that book, but when I got to the bomb-bearing balloons, I thought, “Smithsonian Annals of Flight!” This publication series, which ran from 1964 to 1974, produced 10 booklets on various aspects of the history of aviation, all of which are worth reading. The one I remembered was Japan’s World War II Balloon Bomb Attacks on North America, an exhaustive study of the strategic concept (a Japanese desire for retaliation after the 1942 Doolittle raid on Tokyo and subsequent American bombing), the years of research and development of various prototypes, and  how the approximately 9,000 paper (!) balloons were constructed and launched.

The author makes the interesting point that the main reason these attacks failed to achieve the psychological victory anticipated by Japan was the total secrecy with which the American government and media greeted the aerial invaders. Since the Japanese military failed to learn anything about the fate of this extraordinary weapon and faced a growing shortage of resources by early 1945, it simply gave up. By then, though, the remnants of many balloons had been recovered on U.S. and Canadian soil, several had been shot down by fighter planes,  and, tragically, a woman and five children were killed when they triggered a balloon bomb they found in the Oregon woods during a church picnic.

Although the balloon bomb campaign failed, it did have the potential to cause extensive damage to the war effort by starting forest fires, as well as damaging civilian morale. Scary note: one bomb landed near the Hanford nuclear facility involved in the Manhattan Project but resulted only in an electrical outage – whew!

Japan’s World War II Balloon Bomb Attacks on North America tells a fascinating and little-known story of World War II that also describes the first intercontinental weapon of war – and unfortunately, not the last. You can read this publication here or drift over to a library to read it. It was later reprinted by Smithsonian Institution Press using a more colorful cover than the original, and either edition can be found via various used book Web sites.


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