As a part of the National History Center’s third International Seminar on Decolonization in the 20th Century, Dane Kennedy, the Elmer Louis Kayser Professor of History and International Affairs at George Washington University, gave a lecture entitled "Decolonization and Disorder" at the Kluge Center of the Library of Congress on July 9, 2008. The lecture is now available online through a video at the National History Center Site and web cast on the Library of Congress’s site.
Kennedy examined the waves of European decolonization that began with the “New World” colonies in the late 18th/early 19th century, spread to the “Old World” in the early 20th century, and culminated in the “Third World” in the mid- to late-20th century.
In the news this week, the Higher Education Act reauthorization bill (H.R. 4137) made it through Congress with contributions from both sides of the political spectrum. Also, the death of Nobel Prize winning author and historian Alexander Solzhenitsyn has sparked many remembrances, we point to a few. The Library of Congress has posted a webcast of Dane Kennedy’s lecture at the recent Decolonization seminar put on by the National History Center. The LOC also grabbed our attention with a webcast on “How the States Got Their Shapes” and National Book Festival podcasts available through iTunes.
Recently, the Librarian of Congress James H. Billington and First Lady Laura Bush announced the eighth annual National Book Festival, to be held on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., on September 27, 2008. Nearly 70 authors will be on hand to talk to audiences, answer questions, and sign books. A preliminary list is available here, and more authors will be added as the event draws near. Bancroft and John H. Dunning prize winner Gordon S. Wood of Brown University will be one of the historians presenting at the “History & Biography” pavilion.
Teachers looking for lesson plans for grades 4-12 will want to visit the Educational Resources page on myLOC.gov. Here, they will find lesson plans and online activities featuring historical materials from the library’s collection. Using these lesson plans will expose students to working with primary sources—photos, documents, maps, and so on—like a true historian.
For example, take the lesson “The Declaration of Independence: From Rough Draft to Proclamation,” featured on the main page. Here, students will see Jefferson’s (unidentified) rough draft of the Declaration, interpret it, and speculate as to what it might be. Then, they will read the document side-by-side with the published version and discuss the differences.
Foundation Grants for Preservation in Libraries, Archives, and Museums is a publication (available online as a PDF) that was created by the Library of Congress and the Foundation Center. It lists 1,725 grants of $5,000 or more that were awarded by nearly 500 foundations from 2003 through 2007. “It covers grants to public, academic, research, school, and special libraries, and to archives and museums for activities related to conservation and preservation.” Contact information and links to each foundation are provided.
A significant underlying problem in the recent controversy over the European Reading Room is the declining numbers of researchers in the Library of Congress reading rooms. Staff at the library could not provide me with specific numbers, but they did confirm my anecdotal impression (as someone who has used the library regularly over the past 23 years) that there has been a sharp decline in the number of people using their resources on site.
So if researchers are not at the library, where are they?
The Library of Congress’s Wise Guide is a flashy web portal meant to introduce visitors to what the LOC has to offer online. Each month the site highlights about half a dozen online features, presenting a brief article and related links for each. The April 2008 edition of the guide includes posts on the library’s baseball resources, images of Lincoln, and highlights of the new “Library of Congress Experience,” to name a few.
Visit the Wise Guide’s archives to explore past months’ features.
Among the recently announced 2008 Pulitzer Prize winners are two historians. We start off this post by recognizing them and linking to their award winning works. In other news, the Library of Congress posted a press release last week about the relocation of their European Reading Room, in response to a flurry of protests from academics. From the Chronicle’s Footnoted blog comes an article on the issue of anonymity in the academic blogosphere. And we round out this post with a number of web/tech features, including a Making History podcast, a look back on past technology with Manan Ahmed, a series on digital humanities projects at ClioWeb, Boston Library on Flickr, and new digitized newspapers at the LOC’s Chronicling America site.