Friday, January 30, 2009

UGA Team to Help in Construction of Historically Accurate Village at Cherokee Heritage Center in Oklahoma

Visitors to the Ancient Village at the Cherokee Heritage Center in Tahlequah, Okla., have for more than 40 years been treated to life as it might have existed in a Southeastern Cherokee village in the 16th century. Time, though, has taken a toll on the reconstructed village, with its council house and demonstration areas.

Now, a team from the University of Georgia is taking the lead in designing and constructing an entirely new model Cherokee village in Tahlequah, which is the capital of the Cherokee Nation. The new village, which will depict life as it might have been lived among the Cherokees around 1710 in the U.S. Southeast, will likely open in the summer of 2010, according to the team.

"From the point of view of the Cherokee Nation Historical Society, we are on a mission to preserve, promote and teach Cherokee culture," said Carey Tilley, executive director of the Society in Tahlequah. "Working with UGA has been a really positive experience in our work to get the story right."

Jace Weaver, director of the UGA Institute of Native American Studies (part of the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences) and a member of the UGA team, said that the timing is good for a new historic village to demonstrate to students and tourists the richness and heritage of Cherokee life in the early period of contact.

"The current village is frankly outmoded and decaying, and the Cherokee Nation wisely realized that they needed to update and rebuild the village," Weaver said. "We've visited the site several times, and the Nation is pleased with the ideas we have presented."

Others on the team from UGA are Ervan Garrison, professor and head of the department of anthropology, and Alfie Vick, an assistant professor in the UGA College of Environment and Design.

While the initial task before the team, which is working with persons from the Cherokee Nation, is to design and build the new village, an important an unexpected ancillary benefit presented itself when Garrison and his graduate student Jessica Cook Hale visited Tahlequah to perform a subsoil survey of an area near the site of the Cherokee Female Seminary, which burned to the ground on Easter Sunday in 1887.

Because the site of the new village is near the ruins of the old seminary, the team had to know the precise location of the old building's ruins, if any, that still might lie underground. To their surprise, Garrison and Cook Hale discovered the massive remains of the seminary's brick walls buried adjacent to the last vestiges of the school - three brick columns.

"The images we found were astounding," said Garrison, "and now the site demands a lot more research. So it's opening up an entirely unexpected avenue of study for UGA and local Cherokee students in the future."

Meanwhile, Vick, an expert on preserving and enhancing the function of natural systems that integrate human use, began drawing plans for the new village, based on historical documents and while working closely with officials from the Cherokee National Historical Society. One of the first problems he faced was finding a proper site, because the current and outmoded village lies on a 6 percent slope that had caused many kinds of drainage problems. The search led them to a flat area near the ruins of the old seminary.

"Our entire effort in Tahlequah began with a May semester class I teach, which had in earlier years been called 'Plant Communities of the Southeast,'" said Vick. "In the summer of 2008, we decided to change it to Plant Communities of the Trail of Tears,' and we took 18 students on study trips, one of which was to Tahlequah."

It was while Vick and his students, some of whom were from North Park University in Chicago, were in the Cherokee capital that they met with Principal Chief Chad Smith, a UGA graduate. Smith and Vick began talking about needs that the Cherokee Heritage Center might have involving plants, and, as it turned out, the Cherokee had for some time been thinking about starting over with a new model village.

As talks began, excitement grew among the UGA faculty, who realized this could be a marvelous project from a scientific point of view and for students in environmental design, archaeology, anthropology and perhaps other fields.

One major decision was to change the focus of the village from its current imagined date of 1540 to 1710, just before the world of the Cherokee changed forever by substantial contact with whites. Yet there are many other reasons for a new village, not the least of which is that scholarship on the Cherokee has dramatically increased in the past 40 years and vastly more is known about them now than in 1967 when the model village was first built.

Using design ideas by Brett Riggs of the University of North Carolina, Vick began to visualize an entirely new village, one screened from nearby areas with patches of cane, and with an artificial stream running through the structures. There will be a central plaza, ball ground, individual dwellings, a blow gun demonstration area, kitchen gardens and much more.

Just as important as historical accuracy in structures, however, is accuracy in the kinds of plants used in the new village, and the UGA team is working to ensure that plants native to the Southeast that will grow in that area of Oklahoma are used in the reconstruction. (According to Vick, two-thirds of plants from the Southeast will grow there.) This May, Vick and Weaver will again take students to Tahlequah to work on designs for plantings at the new village site.

The work in Tahlequah also provides a golden opportunity for faculty in the UGA Institute of Native American Studies, said Weaver.

"There are so many aspects to the project that we can work on in the future, that we're truly delighted that the Nation showed confidence in our ability to assist them as they move forward on this," he said. "They take the preservation of their history seriously, and UGA students and faculty look forward to helping them in that effort for some years to come."

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Presentation Focuses on Lost Stories of Slaves

Douglas A. Blackmon, the Wall Street Journal Atlanta Bureau Chief, will give a presentation on his groundbreaking book, “Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II,” which broadly examines how a form of neoslavery thrived in the U.S. long after legal abolition. The lecture is planned for February 12, 2009, 4:00 to 6:00PM in the Georgia Tech Library’s Ferst Room.

"Slavery by Another Name” unearths the lost stories of slaves and their descendants who journeyed into freedom after the Emancipation Proclamation and then back into the shadow of involuntary servitude. It also reveals te stories of those who fought unsuccessfully against the re-emergence of human labor trafficking, the modern comapnies that profited most from neoslavery, and the system’s final demise in the 1940s.

The program is free and open to the public, however, interested parties are encouraged to R.S.V.P. the event by e-mailing Steven Henderson: steven.henderson@ht.gatech.edu.

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Thursday, January 29, 2009

Census Bureau Daily Feature for Thursday, January 29: Seeing Eye Dogs’ 80th

(BUSINESS WIRE)--Profile America — Thursday, January 29th. The nation’s first guide dog school — The Seeing Eye — was founded on this date 80 years ago in Nashville, Tennessee. The idea came from a magazine article by Dorothy Eustis about a guide dog program in Germany and a response from Morris Frank, who was blind. Frank traveled around the U.S., demonstrating how guide dogs could free the blind to pursue a more active life. In the years since, The Seeing Eye has matched more than 13,000 specially bred and trained dogs to sightless people from the U.S. and Canada. Most of the cost is covered by charitable contributions each year. Across the U.S., there are close to 2 million people over the age of 15 who are unable to see.

Profile America is produced by the Public Information Office of the U.S. Census Bureau.

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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

National Museum of the Marine Corps Remains Top Virginia Destination

(BUSINESS WIRE)--The National Museum of the Marine Corps has announced over 500,000 visitors recorded in 2008, maintaining its position as a top Virginia attraction. In its second full year open to the public, the Museum’s attendance was bolstered by attracting Marines and families not only from the region but from across the nation. Since opening to the public in November 2006, the Museum has received over 1.2 million visitors.

“We are extremely pleased, though not surprised, by the number of visitors we received in 2008,” said Lin Ezell, the Museum’s Director. “Today people are looking for economical ways to spend time with their families and as a free, cutting-edge and educational attraction located off I-95, we provide a great and convenient destination for them.”

The Museum will soon expand to include three additional galleries with exhibits interpreting the periods from 1775 through World War I, each featuring new, state-of-the-art visitor immersive experiences. Construction on the new galleries, expected to open in the spring of 2010, has already begun. Despite construction on future galleries, the Museum remains open to the public, with several exhibits moving temporarily within the Museum and remaining on public display, including combat photographs of the Global War on Terrorism and a Pioneer unmanned aerial vehicle.

New exhibits and artifacts will also soon come to the Museum, including the Marine Corps flag that survived the Sept. 11, 2001 attack on the Pentagon and the traveling exhibit, “Memories of World War II”, which includes photographs from the Associated Press archives. The black and white photography exhibit will be on display at the Museum January 30 through March 29.

With funding provided by the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation and its donors, the adjacent Semper Fidelis Memorial Park will also expand in 2009 with the addition of a new chapel slated to open in September. The $5 million nondenominational chapel is made possible by a gift from the Timothy Day Foundation of Phoenix, AZ and will be a quiet and contemplative space where visitors can honor the sacrifices of those who serve and have served the nation. The structure will evoke images and memories of the improvised field chapels familiar to all service members.

The initiatives to expand the National Museum of the Marine Corps and Marine Corps Heritage Center are fulfilling the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation’s vision of creating a multi-dimensional, world-class facility to be enjoyed by visitors time and time again.

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Monday, January 26, 2009

Join In Online for Archaeological Work in Egypt with Johns Hopkins

Follow along online as Johns Hopkins University Egyptologist Betsy Bryan and her team of students, artists, conservators and photographers return to their investigation of Mut Temple this month, once again focusing their attention on the temple's Sacred Lake. Bryan and her crew are resuming their excavation in Luxor, Egypt, and are sharing their work via "Hopkins in Egypt Today," their popular digital diary offering a virtual window into day-to-day life on an archaeological dig.

With new posts appearing daily through the end of January, visitors to "Hopkins in Egypt Today" at www.jhu.edu/egypttoday/ will find photos of Bryan and her colleagues working on site in Luxor. In collaboration with the American Research Center in Egypt, which also supports Johns Hopkins' work inside the temple proper, Bryan will excavate the north perimeter of the lake, which was drained of nearly all its water in December. This month's excavation will continue work done in June and July 2008 proceeding from the region of an ancient stone dock on the east of the temple. Areas on the south and west of the temple will also be investigated. Any materials found in the lake bed will be conserved and desalinated near the bank of the lake before being transferred to a further protected environment. This work will continue for about one month and precedes other work by ARCE to clean and freshen the lake. The lake will be refilled with less saline water after the work is completed in July and will be drained again next winter.

The team members are former Johns Hopkins graduate student Violaine Chauvet, now a lecturer in Egyptology at University of Liverpool in England; conservators Chuck Van Siclen, Franck Burgos, Kent Severson, Hiroko Kariya, and Lotfi Hassan; photographers James Van Rensselaer and Norman Barker; graduate students Ashley Fiutko, Shaina Norvell-Cold, Meredith Fraser; undergraduate Jessica Popkin, who is majoring in Near Eastern Studies and History of Art; and alumna Emily Russo, who earned her degree in Near Eastern Studies and is now a graduate student in Egyptology at Brown University.

The goal of the "Hopkins in Egypt Today" Web site is to educate visitors by showing them the elements of archaeological work in progress. The daily photos and detailed captions emphasize not only discoveries, but the teamwork among Bryan, her colleagues, students and their "gufti," the local crew members who are trained in archaeology. That teamwork is essential to a successful dig, Bryan said. The Web site typically garners more than 50,000 hits every winter, when the dig ordinarily is active.

According to Bryan, modern-day Luxor is rich in finds from ancient Egypt's New Kingdom, like the major discovery made by the Johns Hopkins team in 2006: a 3,400-year-old nearly intact statue of Queen Tiy, one of the queens of the powerful king Amenhotep III. Bryan has said that the statue is "one of the true masterpieces of Egyptian art." Bryan is the Alexander Badawy Professor in Egyptian Art and Archaeology at Johns Hopkins. Her work is funded by grants from the American Research Center in Egypt and the U.S. Agency for International Development.

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Friday, January 23, 2009

UGA Sponsors District I History Day Competition

More than 150 6th- through 12th-grade students and teachers representing 32 counties in Georgia, will participate in the District I History Day Competition on Saturday, Feb. 7. This annual competition, sponsored by the University of Georgia Office of Academic Special Programs, will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Clarke Central High School.

National History Day provides a way for students in Georgia to study and learn about historical issues, ideas, people and events. It also provides students with reading, writing, research and communication skills that prepare them for careers in business, law, medicine, computer science, teaching and countless other disciplines.

During the 2008-2009 school year, students were invited to research topics related to this year's theme, The Individual in History: Actions and Legacies. "The competition has two divisions--junior and senior--based on school grades. Students research historical subjects, create entries, and compete in district, state and national contests," said David Dalton, coordinator of the Office of Academic Special Programs. "They acquire useful historical knowledge and perspective, and develop critical-thinking and problem-solving skills that will help them analyze information and make effective decisions in their future professional and personal lives."

District I participating counties include Banks, Barrow, Clarke, Dawson, Elbert, Fannin, Forsyth, Franklin, Greene, Gwinnett, Habersham, Hall, Hancock, Hart, Jackson, Jasper, Lumpkin, Madison, Morgan, Newton, Oconee, Oglethorpe, Putnam, Rabun, Rockdale, Stephens, Taliaferro, Towns, Union, Walton, White and Wilkes.

Nationwide, 700,000 students and 40,000 teachers participate in National History Day programs annually. More than 2,000 students from across the country attend the national contest (from 48 states, the District of Columbia, Department of Defense Schools and American Samoa).

For more information, call 706/542-7623 or see www.georgiacenter.uga.edu/oasp.

The University of Georgia Office of Academic Special Programs equips Georgia's pre-college students to succeed and to flourish in an increasingly complex and highly technical world by becoming problem solvers, critical thinkers, inquirers, reflective learners, and more productive and influential members of their communities.

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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

National Museum of American History to Open 'Abraham Lincoln: An Extraordinary Life'

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Smithsonian's National Museum of American History will celebrate the 200th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's birth with a new exhibition, "Abraham Lincoln: An Extraordinary Life," opening Jan. 16, 2009. The exhibition is made possible through the generous support of the Ford Motor Company Fund, the Richard Lounsbery Foundation and the History Channel.

Showcasing the museum's major Lincoln collection, the exhibition will present more than 60 objects associated with Lincoln's life, from an iron wedge he used to split wood in the early 1830s in New Salem, Ill., to his iconic top hat that he wore the night he was shot at Ford's Theatre. More than 50 graphics in the form of photographs, personal portraits, painting, sketches and cartoons will also be featured throughout the exhibition.

"We are excited about bringing together for the first time this unique and unparalleled collection of Lincoln objects," said Museum Director Brent D. Glass. "What better way to celebrate Lincoln's 200th birthday than by telling the story of his extraordinary life?"

Visitors to "Abraham Lincoln: An Extraordinary Life" will explore sections on Lincoln's early life, his presidential campaign, the White House and the Civil War, the Emancipation Proclamation, his assassination and the national mourning that followed. Stories about how the objects came to be in the Smithsonian collections are integrated into the exhibition, to present not only aspects of Lincoln's life but also how he has been remembered. Lincoln's office suit and Mary Todd Lincoln's gown, made by Elizabeth Keckley, will be displayed together, with additional costumes and family-related objects that convey more of the history of the Lincoln family's time in the White House.

Visitors will see Lincoln's gold pocket watch from his days as a Springfield lawyer, the inkstand he used to draft the Emancipation Proclamation, his patent model for lifting boats and all eight prison hoods worn by the Lincoln conspirators.

Other notable objects will include plaster casts of Lincoln's face and hands that were taken by Chicago artist Leonard Volk. The casts of Lincoln's hands were taken May 20, 1860, two days after he received the nomination as the Republican Party presidential candidate. To steady his right hand in the mold, which was still swollen from shaking hands with supporters, Lincoln cut off a piece of broom handle to hold. Volk later placed the piece of broom handle in the original cast, which will be on display.

Two short videos by the History Channel will round out the exhibition. The first looks at Lincoln's patent model for lifting boats over shoals. Lincoln was inspired to design the device after his boat became stuck in shallow waters during a trip to Niagara Falls. An animation based on an engineering analysis of the Lincoln patent model will show visitors how it would have worked. The second, an eight-minute film, sheds light on the Emancipation Proclamation and how it affected the Civil War.

"As a whole, the exhibition presents a more personal and intimate look at Lincoln. It reminds us that Abraham Lincoln, whose story has become so mythic, was a real individual. Through all his achievements, successes and tragedies, he led an extraordinary life," said Harry Rubenstein, the exhibition's curator and chair of the museum's division of politics and reform. The opening of the exhibition will coincide with the museum's debut of "America's New Birth of Freedom: Documents from the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum" in the Albert H. Small Documents Gallery.

Companion Book

With more than 150 illustrations of objects and photographs, "Abraham Lincoln: An Extraordinary Life," is the official companion book to the exhibition. Both the book and the exhibition present a new and intimate story of the life and legacy of this remarkable individual. Like no other American, Lincoln's life is entwined with the history and culture of the nation. His rise from poverty to the presidency has inspired others to believe in the promise of opportunity, his success in preserving a democratic nation is one of America's greatest triumphs and his death is an American tragedy. Written by Rubenstein, the book is published by Smithsonian Books and will be available for $12.95 in late January.

Public Programs

To explore the complex and momentous issues Lincoln confronted as President, the museum will present an exciting public dialogue series to accompany "Abraham Lincoln: An Extraordinary Life." The series will focus on the most critical and difficult decisions made by Lincoln in their historical context, as well as their meaning to modern Americans. Six free evening programs will be presented periodically during the two-year run of the exhibition and are made possible by a National Endowment for the Humanities grant through the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. The first program is planned for February 2009. Check the museum's Web site for the schedule at http://americanhistory.si.edu/.

The exhibition was designed by Haley Sharpe Design, and the dedicated exhibition Web site is http://americanhistory.si.edu/lincoln.

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Saturday, January 10, 2009

Scenes of America Before World War II

Pictures are indeed worth a thousand words. Sit back and enjoy this look at America before World War II. For some of us, this also brings back vivid memories of life. For others, astonishment of how America was just a mere 65 years ago.

http://www.openmyeyeslord.net/ALookBackInHistory.htm

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Thursday, January 8, 2009

National Archives Celebrates 75th Anniversary

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The National Archives announced today the year-long celebration of its 75th anniversary. Signed into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on June 19, 1934, the legislation established a National Archives to preserve the permanently valuable papers of the federal government. Today the institution has become a cornerstone of our democracy, making billions of documents created by federal officials available for inspection, thereby holding public officials accountable for their actions.

To celebrate this milestone, the National Archives has planned a number of special activities and free public programs throughout the year. These events will highlight the history of the Archives and the breadth of the unique holdings.

Today marks the launch of the anniversary website: www.archives.gov/75th that shines a spotlight on defining moments in the agency's history through the decades with photo galleries, notices of special events at the National Archives Building in Washington, DC, as well as at the 14 regional archives and 12 presidential libraries located throughout the nation. The website also features testimonials from researchers and visitors who describe their discoveries at the National Archives. These include personal stories of individuals who recognized photos of their ancestors that were featured in one of our exhibitions; as well as accounts of long, complex research adventures to discover the proverbial golden needle in a haystack of documents. Researchers are encouraged to submit their own discovery stories for this page. A specially-commissioned commemorative poster and other anniversary items that will become keepsakes of this milestone anniversary are for sale on the website.

Big records, big events, and big ideas are the focus of a new major exhibition entitled, "Big! Celebrating the 75th Anniversary of the National Archives." Opening on March 13, 2009, in the Lawrence F. O'Brien Gallery of the National Archives Building in Washington, DC, treasures such as the 13-foot scroll of the Articles of Confederation which was the first constitution of the United States, the size 22 sneakers of basketball legend Shaquille O'Neal, and one of only 25 surviving copies of the first printing of the Declaration of Independence by John Dunlap will be included in the exhibition. All of the items in "Big!" are pieces of the American story--writ large.

In June of 2009, the National Archives, in cooperation with the Foundation for the National Archives, will publish a richly illustrated coffee-table book featuring the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and many of the one-of-a-kind documents, photographs, maps and three-dimensional objects that the National Archives holds in trust for the American people.

To celebrate this milestone anniversary, Prologue, the National Archives flagship quarterly publication, will feature a specially-themed issue tracing the emergence of the National Archives as the nation's recordkeeper and steward of the documents of its history.

Two national awards recognizing significant achievements in genealogy research based on records from the National Archives will be presented this year to winners of essay contests.

Sixty-eight years ago, at the dedication of his Presidential library, Franklin Roosevelt said, "To bring together the records of the past and to house them in buildings where they will be preserved for the use of men and women in the future, a Nation must believe in three things. It must believe in the past. It must believe in the future. It must, above all, believe in the capacity of its own people so to learn from the past that they can gain in judgment in creating their own future."

The National Archives remains committed to President Roosevelt's credo. It continues to preserve the records of the past, so that upcoming generations can make informed decisions about the future of our nation.

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Wednesday, January 7, 2009

National History Day Receives Major Gift From Kenneth E. Behring

HH Note: The state of Georgia was represented by a talented group of Troup County girls in 2008 as they performed a skit based on real life women who were "Rosie the Riveter." Performances of this delightful skit were given last year at the Little White House in Warm Springs, GA.

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- National History Day announced today a $1.9 million gift from philanthropist Kenneth E. Behring to "improve the teaching and learning of history at middle and high schools throughout the country."

The announcement was made during a special briefing at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History.

"We are obviously delighted and grateful," said Cathy Gorn, National History Day executive director, in accepting the gift. "Mr. Behring's generosity will enable us to take important new steps to open the window of history to students and teachers. We know the need and desire for history education is out there. Now we have the capacity to serve thousands more. This gift will help us demonstrate that the study of history can be both enlightening and fun."

This year National History Day is celebrating its 30th anniversary and will explore the theme "individuals in history." The group emphasizes the importance of research, thinking and communication skills among students, and provides educators with resources and training to enhance classroom teaching. More than 600,000 students nationwide take part in the program.

Students choose historical topics and conduct extensive primary and secondary research through museums, libraries, archives, oral history interviews and historic sites. After analyzing and interpreting their sources and drawing conclusions about their topics' significance in history, students present their work in original papers, websites, exhibits, performances and documentaries.

National History Day activities culminate in a national contest - now called the Kenneth E. Behring National History Day competition - held in June at the University of Maryland and attended by thousands of students who display history projects they have developed during the year.

In his remarks, Mr. Behring stressed the need for young people to study and understand history. "There's nothing more central to the education process than learning about the individuals, events and movements that have shaped our way of life," he said. "I hope this contribution will make it possible for students and teachers alike to gain a greater appreciation of history."

Through the partnership with the National Museum of American History, projects by the state finalists will be presented at the museum. The partnership will also feature web and blog components for use by students, teachers and families.

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Thursday, January 1, 2009

An American Home: The History of the White House

(ARA) - In 1861, when a Union militia was called in to protect the White House as tensions rose around the nation’s capital, soldiers spilled from one elegant room into another, begging for food in the kitchen. In a starkly different landscape almost a century later, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth chatted privately with the Roosevelts in a well-dressed reception room -- marking the royal family’s first visit since 1860. And on a summer day in 1964, the American quest for equality hit a powerful new stride when Lyndon B. Johnson sat down in the East Room to sign the Civil Rights Act.

But ordinary things happen in the White House, too. Despite the constant glare of media, the daily influx of visitors and the stress that typically clings to those in charge of running a nation, the White House is also a refuge, a place where presidents can reconnect to the things that make them ordinary and human. Ulysses S. Grant ended each day feeding treats to his horses in the stables. Richard Nixon spoke to the portraits of past presidents in a quiet attempt to channel their wisdom. John F. Kennedy discovered a new interest in roses.

The White House, home to America’s finest leaders and stage for its most critical moments, has evolved dramatically since its construction began in 1792. When John Adams moved into the new building in November, 1800, there was no running water or electricity, and the telephone hadn’t yet been invented. The East Room was a mere unfinished shell, where Abigail Adams hung laundry from clotheslines. Only small dirt roads connected the sprawling mansion to a city center dominated by open, rolling terrain, with views that cascaded toward the Potomac River with little more than trees and grazing livestock to interrupt the view.

But that serene landscape changed dramatically two years into the War of 1812, when the British set fire to several government buildings -- including the White House. The only object saved, thanks to Dolley Madison, was an immense portrait of George Washington hanging in the State Dining Room. (It’s the oldest item in the White House today.) Three years later, James Monroe moved back in. By 1830, the North and South Porticos had been constructed, and a century later the East Wing was created. The West Wing was rebuilt and expanded in 1934.

But changes go beyond architectural, as the character of the White House is constantly evolving from one president to the next. John Adams planted a magnolia tree, now 200 years old, with branches that fill tall windows on the dining room’s south side. Franklin D. Roosevelt converted a long cloakroom into a small movie theater. Brand new bowling lanes were all the rage during Harry Truman’s administration. Dwight D. Eisenhower added a putting green outside the Oval Office. And President Clinton made good use of a new jogging track encircling the South grounds’ driveway.

The imprint of each great leader still hangs in the air. It’s a powerful sensation, one that Jacqueline Kennedy reveled in. “I love the Lincoln Room the most,” she said. “When you see that great bed, it looks like a cathedral. To touch something I know he had touched was a real link with him.”

Today, the public can enjoy similar experiences on self-guided tours scheduled up to six months in advance through their Congressional representative’s office. The White House and the surrounding President’s Park, which features Lafayette Park, Sherman Park, and the Ellipse, are all part of the National Park System. The Park Service offers in-depth interpretation at the White House Visitor Center near the southeast gate, where visitors can view a video, explore exhibits, and glimpse a collection of more than 30,000 objects, including antiques and original artwork.

When Barack Obama and his family move into the White House this January, they will choose items from the collection to decorate their new home, gently shaping each room to their liking as they settle into traditions that began more than two centuries ago. It’s one small way they’ll make this historic house their own.

For more information about the White House and other national parks, visit the nonprofit National Parks Conservation Association at www.npca.org.

By Amy Leinbach Marquis

Courtesy of ARAcontent

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