The ALA Public Programs Office is currently coordinating a project with thirty libraries around the United States called “Soul of a People: Writing America’s Story,” with funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities. “Soul of a People” addresses the fascinating history of a small part of Franklin Roosevelt’s Works Progress Administration (WPA)—the Federal Writers’ Project. Instead of building roads and bridges, the Writers’ Project helped to create a remarkable portrait of America in words.
Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month was created in 1992 to pay tribute to the generations of Asians and Pacific Islanders who have enriched America’s history and are instrumental in its future success. The month of May was chosen to commemorate the immigration of the first Japanese to the United States on May 7, 1843, and to mark the anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869. The majority of the workers who laid the tracks were Chinese immigrants.
Women’s contributions to history only began to be formally celebrated and recognized in the 1970s, and in 1981, a congressional resolution officially established a “National Women’s History Week.” In 1987, the National Women’s History Project worked to expand the celebration to the entire month of March and received strong bipartisan support from both houses of Congress.
Picturing America presents forty images of paintings, sculptures, buildings, photographs, drawings, silver, quilts and baskets that reflect American art from pre-colonial to contemporary day. Last Spring ALA and NEH invited me to present ideas at the ALA Conference on how public libraries could use these images in programming. That started my personal journey with most of the images.