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NCH WASHINGTON UPDATE (Vol. 10, #46; 18 November 2004) by Bruce Craig (editor) email@example.com; and Tim Nolan (contributor) NATIONAL COALITION FOR HISTORY (NCH) Website at http//www2.h-net.msu.edu/~nch ***************** 1. SPECIAL DONATION APPEAL TO READERS 2. CONGRESS RECONVENES -- SET TO ACT ON APPROPRIATIONS AND HISTORY BILLS 3. NEW EDUCATION SECRETARY NAMED 4. PUBLIC VAULTS EXHIBIT OPENS 5. CLINTON PRESIDENTIAL LIBRARY OPENS 6. BITS AND BYTES: Smithsonian Folklore and Oral History Interviewing Guide; New White House Counsel Namedj 7. ARTICLES OF INTEREST: "First Americans May Have Crossed Atlantic 50,000 Years Ago" (Christian Science Monitor) 1. SPECIAL DONATION APPEAL TO READERS As long-time readers of this publication are aware, the National Coalition for History (NCH) is supported largely by the voluntary contributions of over 70 institutional supporters. Collectively, they provide most of the history coalition's annual operating budget. Each year though we depend on our readers for a small percentage of our budget (about 3%). Nearly every week throughout the year the NCH WASHINGTON UPDATE has been delivering to you vital news and information about what's going on of interest to the history and archive community on Capitol Hill and throughout the nation. Today, we appeal to you, our readers, to give something back: Please make a special end-of-year TAX-DEDUCTIBLE contribution to the National Coalition for History. Though the 108th Congress is not yet over, the history coalition already has a record of accomplishments this year. Working within a particularly difficult budget environment, the history coalition and its member organizations continued to focus on appropriation issues on behalf of history and archives related federal agencies. Those agencies include the National Archives and Records Administration (including the National Historical Publications and Records Commission), the National Endowment for the Humanities (including the "We the People" program), and the Department of Education. Once again this year -- due in part to our ongoing efforts -- an excess of $100 million is expected to flow for the Department of Education (ED) "Teaching American History" grant program. The NCH also is playing a critical role in coordinating efforts of member organizations to insure that the nomination process for the next Archivist of the United States -- Allen Weinstein -- is not politicized. On the legislative front, through our partnership efforts, the NHPRC has been reauthorized (P.L. 108-383). This year we have also joined several lawsuits to insure greater governmental openness, to fight government secrecy, and to protect intellectual property rights. On an ongoing basis we are monitoring legislation of concern to our communities (i.e. Title VI of the Higher Education Act, presidential sites legislation etc.) and the activities of federal agencies (i.e. the National Park Service, Library of Congress, and the Smithsonian Institution). As we approach the holiday giving season, the NCH Board of Directors invite you to make an end-of-the-year contribution to the history coalition. Your contribution will help insure the continuation of our important education and advocacy activities to advance the interests of the historical and archival communities. Contributions may be made payable to the "National Coalition for History" and are FULLY TAX DEDUCTIBLE (federal tax ID #01-0688590) for federal income tax purposes. Please send your contribution to: National Coalition for History, 400 A Street SE, Washington D.C. 20003. All contributions will be acknowledged in writing. 2. CONGRESS RECONVENES -- SET TO ACT ON APPROPRIATIONS AND HISTORY BILLS Congress returned to Washington this week and, if all goes well, is set to act on a number of appropriations and authorizing bills including Senator Lamar Alexander's (R-TN) "American History and Civics Education Act." Congress's main order of business is action on a proposed $385 billion omnibus spending bill for the 2005 fiscal year that began 1 October 2004. The bill -- that at this writing is still taking shape -- is expected to lump together a new foreign aid bill and as many as eight other outstanding appropriation measures. Managers have been working for the last two weeks to bridge the $8 billion differences between the House and Senate passed versions of the remaining spending bills. A few of the more contentious bills may be left out of the omnibus package because of expense or controversial provisions. Hill insiders report that in the final version of the omnibus bill even popular domestic programs will be squeezed and may experience unexpected cuts. Federal aid to education, for example, running about $60 billion a year, could lose hundreds of millions of dollars. Programs like the "Teaching American History" initiative are perhaps less vulnerable than others, but the fact remains, as one Hill insider commented, "these are difficult times." While House and Senate conferees try to come to agreement on outstanding appropriation matters, dozens of authorizing bills are moving through Congress in a last minute effort to enact measures that have languished in various committees for months. For example, House and Senate staff have ironed out a new version of Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Representative Roger Wicker's (R-MS) legislation, "American History and Civics Education Act of 2004" (H.R. 5360). The new bill version includes a number of provisions that the National Coalition for History has been advocating for inclusion in a rewrite of the legislation. The bill has been revised to authorize workshops "for both veteran and new teachers of American history and civics" -- language that was sorely missing in the original bill version. This line serves to complement and build upon the language in the already authorized "Teaching American History" initiative that is administered by the Education Department. The bill now also contains an statutory authorization for the National History Day (NHD) Program. The bill authorizes the Secretary of Education to award grants to NHD, "for the purpose of continuing and expanding its activities to promote the study of history and improve instruction." 3. NEW EDUCATION SECRETARY NAMED U.S. Secretary of Education Roderick R. Paige resigned this week making him the fourth member of President Bush's cabinet to leave the administration before the start of his second term. Keeping to a pattern of naming trusted White House staff to vacated cabinet positions, the president has named domestic policy advisor Margaret La Montagne Spellings as the nation's eighth secretary of education. In 2001, Roderick Paige became the seventh education secretary in the nation's history and the first African-American to assume that position. Though administration officials have said that the 71 year old Paige is leaving of his own accord, Hill insiders report that there is little doubt that the White House grew unhappy with his performance. Earlier this past year, Paige drew heavy criticism from Republicans and Democrats alike when he referred to the National Education Association, the largest teachers' union in the country, as a "terrorist organization." A 2003 report in the National Journal also ranked Paige near the bottom of President Bush's cabinet members in terms of influence within the administration and clout on Capitol Hill. Ms. Spellings has been involved in shaping education policy for George W. Bush since he was the governor of Texas. She was one of the principal architects of the president's "No Child Left Behind" act and has been his chief domestic policy advisor for the last four years. In making his announcement, the president characterized Spellings as an "energetic reformer" who has a "special passion for this cause [of school reform]." Both Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill lauded the nomination. Spellings is expected to win easy confirmation. 4. PUBLIC VAULTS EXHIBIT OPENS After four years of planning the National Archives finally opened its "Public Vaults" exhibit on 12 November 2004. This 9,000 square foot permanent exhibit displays the letters, films, recordings, photographs, and maps that are the underpinnings of American history. This $7 million public-private partnership between the National Archives and the Foundation for the National Archives is intended to make the archives more accessible -- and to make history more interesting to visitors. "Public Vaults" provides a sampling of the archives' vast holdings and encourages visitors to search deeper into records. It features a selection of presidential documents, sound recordings that presidents recorded, investigatory records, newsreels, immigration records, and patent applications. The exhibit begins with the Record of America hallway; this central pathway takes the visitor on a journey through time and the changing technology of records. Branching off of this pathway are five "vaults." In addition to original records, each vault features new electronic tools that allow the visitor to explore fragments of our past in astonishing detail. The Public Vaults draws its themes from words in the Preamble to the Constitution We the People records of family and citizenship; To Form a More Perfect Union records of liberty and law; Provide for the Common Defense records of war and diplomacy; Promote the General Welfare records of frontiers and firsts; and To Ourselves and Our Posterity keeping records for future generations. Some rooms appear like a library, others have borrowed the vertical-box look of storage unit shelving. Interactive touch screens give visitors the option of calling up more material on a specific subject. The designers have also incorporated new film editing techniques into the exhibit. The film editing display allows the visitor to use the archives exquisite footage of D-Day to edit his or her own two-minute version of the landing on D-Day. For more information please visit the NARA's "Public Vaults" exhibit web page at: http://www.archives.gov/national_archives_experience/visit/public_vaults_2.html 5. CLINTON PRESIDENTIAL LIBRARY OPENS On 18 November 2004, the William J. Clinton Presidential Library was dedicated on the south bank of the Arkansas River. In attendance were representatives from both the Republican and Democratic parties, former President Clinton and his wife Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, President George Bush, former Presidents Bush and Carter, and other dignitaries. The Little Rock facility houses the William J. Clinton Presidential Library, the Clinton School of Public Service, and the Clinton Foundation offices. The Clinton presidential center will be the 12th presidential library built in the United States. The $165 million price tag will make this 30-acre center the largest and most expensive presidential library constructed to date. The library contains eight C-5 cargo planes worth of presidential materials including nearly 2 million photographs, 80 million pages of records and documents, 75,000 gifts and artifacts, and 21 million email messages. The archive is the repository of the written, video and audio records of the Clinton-Gore Administration, and beginning in 2005 will be available to historians, students and others with an interest in researching the Clinton presidency. The center has a full-time educator on staff who will regularly host school groups for on-site lessons. James Polshek, a New York architect, created the unique building design which is meant to resemble a glass bridge to the 21st century, and Ralph Appelbaum Associates designed the exhibits. The 20,000 square-foot museum contains thematic alcoves depicting important milestones in the Clinton presidency, such as the economic boom and elimination of the deficit, reducing crime and promoting peace and democracy in the world. It features a multi-media timeline of world events between 1993 and 2001, interactive flat-screen displays and a whirl of high-tech gadgets, a full-scale replica of the Cabinet Room and the Oval Office, and several exhibits that detail life in the White House, including "State Events" "Welcoming the World" and "Making The House a Home." The Library is equipped with state-of-the-art technology, including high-definition television screens and 19 interactive stations. Visitors can enter any date during the entire Clinton presidency and see the president's complete schedule for that day. They can also sit in chairs around the cabinet room table and view information about each cabinet department on monitors built into the tabletop. The opening of the Clinton library may well provide new fuel for the long-standing debate over the value of presidential libraries. The archival component of presidential libraries -- the part that provides a one-stop research opportunity for scholars -- rarely sparks controversy, but the museum component frequently does. And the Clinton library will be no exception to the rule. Just as critics of the Richard Nixon presidential library claim it minimizes Watergate in its exhibitry, the Clinton library will be criticized, (as the Washington Times proclaims in its page-one story headline) for "Whitewashing Whitewater." While it undoubtedly will take historians decades to establish the definitive view of the Clinton presidency, the Clinton library will be formative in helping to make that possible. For more information on the Clinton Presidential Center tap into: http://www.clintonpresidentialcenter.org/. 6. BITS AND BYTES Item #1 -- Smithsonian Folklore and Oral History Interviewing Guide: The Smithsonian Institution Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage have released a new online educational resource that presents guidelines that Smithsonian folklorists have developed for collecting folklife and oral history from family and community members. It features a concise, easy-to-use guide to conducting an interview, as well as a sample list of questions that may be adapted to each interviewer’s own needs and circumstances. The Guide concludes with a few examples of ways to preserve and present one’s findings, a selection of further readings, a glossary of key terms, and sample information and release forms. A free download of the Guide can be obtained at the Smithsonian Institution Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage web site at: www.folklife.si.edu . Item # 2 -- New White House Counsel Named: President Bush has appointed Harriet Miers, a long-time Texas associate as White House counsel succeeding Alberto Gonzales who has been nominated to be attorney general. In the past Miers has served as Mr. Bush's personal attorney in Texas and also as his staff secretary. Her selection ends speculation that Gonzales's successor would be be Brett Kavanaugh who is the current White House staff Secretary. Kavanaugh is still awaiting confirmation to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. 7. ARTICLES OF INTEREST One posting this week: In "First Americans May Have Crossed Atlantic 50,000 Years Ago" (Christian Science Monitor; 18 November 2004) staff writer Peter Spotts writes of a new archaeological discovery suggests humans migrated to the western hemisphere far earlier than previously thought. For the article tap into: http://www.csmonitor.com/2004/1118/p01s02-usgn.html?s=hns . *********************************************************** The National Coalition for History invites you to subscribe to this FREE weekly newsletter! You are also encouraged to redistribute the NCH Washington Updates to colleagues, friends, teachers, students and others who are interested in history and archives issues. A complete backfile of these reports is maintained by H-Net on the NCH's recently updated web page at: http://www2.h-net.msu.edu/~nch . To subscribe to the "NCH Washington Update," send an e-mail message to: firstname.lastname@example.org with the following text in the body of the message (and only this text) SUBSCRIBE H-NCH firstname lastname, institution. To unsubscribe, send an e-mail message to: email@example.com according to the following model SIGNOFF H-NCH. 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