Sunday, January 31, 2010

Black Americans in Congress: Online Exhibits and Educational Resources

Since 1870, when Senator Hiram Revels of Mississippi and Representative Joseph Rainey of South Carolina became the first African Americans to serve in Congress, a total of 125 African Americans have served as U.S. Representatives or Senators.

The Black Americans in Congress web site, based on the book Black Americans in Congress, 1870–2007, contains biographical profiles of former African-American Members of Congress, links to information about current black Members, essays on institutional and national events that shaped successive generations of African Americans in Congress, and images of each individual Member, supplemented by other historical photos.

This valuable resources provides educators and learners with a variety of features. Click this link to historical essays, and these for member profiles, artifacts, historical data, and educational resources.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Dirksen Congressional Center: Grant proposal Deadline February 1, 2010

The Dirksen Congressional Center invites applications for grants to fund research on congressional leadership and the U.S. Congress. A total of up to $35,000 will be available in 2010. Awards range from a few hundred dollars to $3,500.

The competition is open to individuals with a serious interest in studying Congress. Political scientists, historians, biographers, scholars of public administration or American studies, and journalists are among those eligible. The Center encourages graduate students who have successfully defended their dissertation prospectus to apply and awards a significant portion of the funds for dissertation research. Applicants must be U.S. citizens who reside in the United States.

The awards program does not fund undergraduate or pre-Ph.D. study. Organizations are not eligible. Research teams of two or more individuals are eligible. No institutional overhead or indirect costs may be claimed against a Congressional Research Award.

There is no standard application form. Applicants are responsible for showing the relationship between their work and the awards program guidelines. Applications are accepted at any time. Applications which exceed the page limit and incomplete applications will NOT be forwarded to the screening committee for consideration.

All application materials must be received on or before February 1, 2010. Awards will be announced in March 2010.

Complete information about eligibility and application procedures may be found at The Center's Web site. PLEASE READ THOROUGHLY.

Frank Mackaman is the program officer at

The Center, named for the late Senate Minority Leader Everett M. Dirksen, is a private, nonpartisan, nonprofit research and educational organization devoted to the study of Congress and its leaders. Since 1978, the Congressional Research Awards (formerly the Congressional Research Grants) program has paid out $776,188 to support 378 projects.

The Dirksen Congressional Center

2815 Broadway, Pekin, IL 61554


309.347.6432 Fax

See also Facebook and Twitter.

Friday, January 15, 2010

The National History Club: LeadAmerica Essay Contest

This contest invites students to write an essay of not more than 2,000 words (supplemented with a bibliography) on Historical Leadership. Using an event from the past students should write about how the leadership by a person or a group of people contributed to the development of society, and what today's leaders and citizens can learn from this.

Students should feel free to explore any time period and a person or a group from any place in the world. A few examples are: Presidents (foreign leaders), Explorers, Inventors, Civil Rights Leaders, Doctors, Army Generals, Sports Figures, etc.

Entries may be submitted in one or more of the following forms: 1) Microsoft Word document or 2) PDF document. All entries must be received by April 1, 2010 and can be emailed to Bob Nasson at (please type "LeadAmerica" in the subject line).


1st prize: A full scholarship to attend LeadAmerica's National Leadership Summit (Summer 2010) at Georgetown or John Hopkins Universities in Washington, DC or Baltimore, MD (a $2499 value)

2nd prize: A $1000 scholarship towards attendance at LeadAmerica's National Leadership Summit

10 Honorable Mentions: A copy of the book, Letters from Leaders, provided by LeadAmerica

*Winning essays will be featured on both the NHC's and LeadAmerica's websites.

*1st and 2nd prize winners will be featured in the NHC Spring eNewsletter

The National Leadership Summit, hosted by LeadAmerica, provides high achieving students with the opportunity to build real world career skills and analyze leadership attributes within the environment of our nation's capital. For ten days, students participate in leadership case studies on individuals like George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, while debating current policy initiatives confronting the United States such as Health Care, National Security and the Environment through the National Leadership Summit campaign simulation. In addition to exploring policy, students practice skills central to future success such as coalition and platform building, networking, public speaking, conflict resolution and communication, while also visiting sites like Capitol Hill, Mount Vernon and the Smithsonian Museums. Students also complete LeadAmerica's leadership curriculum through engaging activities and a ropes challenge course, which foster necessary skills such as teambuilding, time management and culminate in the formulation of a personal mission and vision statement.

To learn more about LeadAmerica and the National Leadership Summit, please visit this link.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Inside Higher Education: Ph.D. Supply and Demand

SAN DIEGO -- As history graduate students arrived in the large table-filled ballroom here Friday to try to learn how to find a job, the room was seriously overheated. These would-be professors didn't need any more sweat or discomfort.

The temperature was adjusted, but the challenges facing those on the job market were an undercurrent here throughout the annual meeting of the American Historical Association. Attendance was down, in no small part because history job openings are way down, so far fewer departments are doing interviews at the meeting. While the graduate students here talked strategy and hoped to pick up leads on positions or how to make themselves more marketable, many professors were talking about whether doctoral programs should change -- both in light of the tight job market and out of larger concerns about graduate education.

Click here to read the entire article. Highly recommended.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Historical Thinking Matters

Historical Think Matters is a collaborative project of the Center for History and New Media, George Mason University, and School of Education, Stanford University. The project is supported by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation with additional support from the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

As stated on its home page this is a “website focused on key topics in U.S. history, that is designed to teach students how to critically read primary sources and how to critique and construct historical narratives.”

The web site is divided into several main sections. Student Investigations focuses on four central topics derived from post- US Civil War history, specifically the Spanish American War, the Scopes Trial, Social Security and Rosa Parks. These include activities that “foster historical thinking and encourage students to form reasoned conclusions about the past.” The second section, Why Historical Thinking Matters provides “an introduction to the site's approach using documents to explore conflicting accounts of the 1775 Lexington Green skirmish.” Teacher Materials and Resources provides history instructors resources, “pre-service teachers and teacher-educators offering classroom materials and strategies, examples of student and teacher work, and supplementary sources.” The project includes a how-to-use section that you can access at this link.

Historical Thinking Matters was the 2008 Winner of the American Historical Association's (AHA) James Harvey Robinson Prize for an Outstanding Teaching Aid. The History Education Council of Hawaii highly recommends this exceptional historical teaching and learning resource.

Return Borrowed Books, When Read: Honolulu, 1860

"Next to the pleasure of reading a new and interesting book is that of loaning it to some friend, who will derive an equal amount of profit and pleasure from its perusal.

"Having cleared our own sanctum of borrowed books, (alas! we confess our remissness,) we feel it would not be amiss to exhort others to go and do likewise -return borrowed books.

"In looking over our selves, some very valuable volumes are missing, breaking up sets, and we shall be exceedingly glad to have them returned."

The Friend, Honolulu
July 1860, page 52

Thursday, January 7, 2010

A "Cooper Union" for Honolulu: Star Bulletin, January 1935

The Honolulu Star Bulletin published a series of editorials under the banner ‘Is Ignorance Desirable?’ The series focused on the need in Hawaii and the rest of the United States for educational initiatives, especially in the area of what we refer to today as adult or continuing education. We’ve reproduced the text of this final installment of four such editorials dated January 11, 1935.

Cooper Union is cited in the editorial as a precedent for such measures. The editorial cites the 19th century lyceum movement and lecture circuits that were open to all.

Perhaps one of the most famous speeches delivered at Cooper Union was one by then-Republican presidential candidate Abraham Lincoln in 1860. ‘Lincoln at Cooper Union’ is a book by Harold Holzer that is highly recommended reading.

IV. A “Cooper Union” for Honolulu (Star Bulletin: January 11, 1935; page 6).

The vigor of interest in mass education in America is in marked and humbling contrast to that which other countries have experienced and which we ourselves had in earlier periods.

In pioneer days the lyceum was a permanent fad. Every little wide place in the road had its lecture course. Our greatest minds did not despise going out on circuit, and the backwoods farmer would finish his chores early to go hear Emerson.

Rural dwellers had their “literacy societies,” where the relative joys of pursuit and possession were discussed and horny-fisted plowmen stoutly affirmed and denied that “the signs of the times indicated the downfall of the Republic.”

Then the Chautaugua ran its long and beneficent course, until there was hardly a hamlet so belated and poverty-smitten as not to have its annual intellectual feast.

To a degree, these ventures in popular educational method were not genuine products of indigenous intellectual interest, but ventures in commercial speculation. The Chautaugua was a vast network, with necessarily intricate organization, involving advance agents, tent superintendents, elaborate equipment, troupes of musicians, impersonators, lecturers, entertainers and stage folks of all sorts.

England has had a more deep-rooted effort in its workingmen’s institutes, organized and financed by the workers themselves. Anyone familiar with the life of John Ruskin will remember that much of his precious time was given to lecturing before such organizations. Dickens, too, would lay aside his pen to speak here and there before some gathering of eager-minded working people.

Philanthropic Peter Cooper, prosperous glue maker and iron works owner, and in 1876 candidate for President, established in New York far back in 1854 the people’s institute called “Cooper Union,” which flourishes to this day, offering an enormous variety of courses of instruction to those who toil but wish to live and learn as well.

There is need of such a “people’s institute” in Honolulu, where competent instruction at nominal cost may be offered to Honolulu’s working population.

No other single agency, perhaps, would do more to further our happy racial relationships and maintain a healthy community spirit.

None, surely, would be a more secure anchor to windward, as we face the task of weathering out the next five decades of Hawaii’s history.

Such an institution should, it is true, arise out of the initiative of the workers themselves, but history indicates that social improvements are born in the brains of idealists, set going by the public-spirited and philanthropic, and finally supported and made use of by the intended beneficiaries. The inertia of populations is one of the marvels of sociology.

A sensible beginning would be the promoting of a few evening classes in some accessible downtown place to which all might come without embarrassment. The courses would have to be simple, perhaps, but thoroughgoing, and the subjects such as had popular appeal.

It would be necessary to select the teachers with extraordinary care. None of the sort that students call a “sleeping porch” could succeed. The dry-as-dust, dehumanizing academic bore who often holds forth in college halls could not survive an hour in a people’s institute. A genuine interest in human beings and an ability to communicate enthusiasm for his subject would be as essential in the teacher as knowledge of the subject itself.

Someday, perhaps, the flame of adult education will blaze in our streets, and the people will begin to go to school. Where is there a better place to go? Where a place that can offer so much of the joyful sense of growth? Honolulu may have a “Cooper Union,” and other places, too, have people’s institutes of their own.

Such institutions would be an outcome of the community’s grasping the concept of education, widely held among educators already, that the function of schooling is not merely to qualify one to hold a particular job, but to live a larger life.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

5th Annual Summer Institute for Teachers: Federal Trials and Great Debates in United States History

Secondary school teachers of United States history and government are invited to apply for a summer institute, Federal Trials and Great Debates in United States History, to be held June 27-July 2, 2010, in Washington, DC.

The institute is co-sponsored by the Federal Judicial Center and the American Bar Association Division for Public Education. The institute will provide teachers with the training and resources to engage students in the history of landmark federal cases.

This year's institute will study trials under the Sedition Act of 1798, Ex parte Merryman and debates on habeas corpus during the Civil War, and a trial of bootleggers during Prohibition.

Faculty will include David Cole of the Georgetown Law School, Saul Cornell of Fordham University, Linda Greenhouse of Yale Law School and formerly Supreme Court reporter for the New York Times, and Michael Vorenberg of Brown University.

Participation will be limited to 20 teachers. Travel, lodging, and meal expenses will be reimbursed. Further information and application materials are available on line.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Martin Luther King, Jr., Day: January 18, 2010

Martin Luther King, Jr., Day is a federal holiday on Monday, January 18, 2010. Schools across America are closed. This day is set aside to celebrate the birthday of the Civil Rights leader, minister, and Nobel Peace prize recipient who was assassinated on April 14, 1968. President Ronald Reagan signed Martin Luther King, Jr., Day into federal law on November 2, 1983. Here is the text of President Reagan's speech.

In the August 27, 1963 edition of the Honolulu Star Bulletin an editorial entitled ‘The Right of Petition’ was published. This was the day before the March on Washington, at a time when racial tensions were high. We provide our visitors with the following excerpts as food for thought:

This centennial year of Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation has been chosen for renewed efforts on the part of Negro leaders to assert their rights as Americans, to hasten the legal process of implementing the constitutional guarantees of those rights.

No longer are the nation’s Negroes willing to wait for the vaguely promised changes in attitude that education might bring –for they have not been forthcoming.

The Negro has, of course, every bright to demand everything that is legally his as an American. The right to vote, to attend the public school in his neighborhood, peaceably to voice his protests, to enjoy public facilities. And he has the right to insist that these guarantees be spelled out in the law of the land, and that those charged with the enforcement of the law be compelled to see that these laws are enforced.

But the real victory for the Negro, and from all others who differ physically from the white majority in this country, awaits the time when people are enlightened enough to recognize that the brotherhood of man transcends the physical variegrations of the species.

While prejudice exists, it will be passed along from one generation to the next, for the child’s prejudices are born out of those of its parents. We can hope that these prejudices will in time be diluted so that the transmitted strain becomes less virulent with the passing generations.

This is what the Negro has been asked to wait for. But in many parts of the country there is no evidence that the strain was, in fact, becoming less virulent, and so now the Negro seeks to establish his legal rights and to insist that he be protected in them. This is the reason for the March on Washington.

Rev. Dr. King’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech is posted on YouTube.

Go to this link at for a summary of the Martin Luther King, Jr., Day holiday.

Rev. Dr. King was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. His speech on this occasion was delivered on December 10, 1964 in Norway. Go to this link for its text and an audio version.

The National Parks Service (NPS) provides online access to the King family home, including various resources.

For many Americans going to Rev. Dr. King’s birth home is not possible. However, the National Parks Service provides a “virtual tour” by clicking this link:

NPS also provides online historic resource study materials as well as photos and multimedia presentations ideal for classroom use.

For teachers, NPS provides a variety of instructional resources suitable for classroom use.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Examination of Honolulu Schools: 1857

Within a few days it has been our privilege to attend the examination of the Royal School, and the Honolulu Free School, (formerly Oahu Charity School).

Verily, a school-teacher toiling from day to day to impart the rudiments of an English education to the children of our city, deserves to be well paid, and merits the gratitude of parents. Our readers will, of course, understand us as referring to the faithful teacher, as we believe the teachers of these schools really are. It is trying and responsible work, but still encouraging. We can speak of improvements, for we know what these schools were, and what they are now.

The Royal School is made up almost exclusively of the more advanced pupils, gathered from the native schools in which the English language is taught. Most of the scholars in this school now speak the English language with propriety and distinctness.

The Honolulu Free School is made up of pupils gathered from various sources. It would be difficult to determine exactly how many nations are there represented. We have frequently visited the school for the last fifteen years, but never saw it appear better than it did on the day of its last semi-annual examination.

Source: The Friend, Honolulu: June 25, 1857.

Happy New Year (Honolulu, 1854)

“Happy New Year,” is a kindly expression, that will drop from ten thousand lips, on this opening of the year 1854. May our readers not only repeat and re-repeat the wish, but may they also do something to make their friends, neighbors and fellow-men happy. A kind word is valuable, but a kind act is better. Let all contentions be buried in the grave of the dying year. Forget what is evil, and keep in lively remembrance what is good. Hereafter strive to make all with whom you associate, more happy. As you pass along the journey of life, gladden the hearts of your fellow travelers. Let each day witness your love of peace, desire to do good, and your willingness to act well your part in life. Then will your days, months, and years pass happily away, while you are sustained by the animating assurance that you have not lived in vain.

Source: The Friend, Honolulu: January 2, 1854.