In the years leading up to World War II the German government destroyed millions of books considered undesirable to the Nazis way of thinking and how others should think or what they should learn. Throughout the book burning era,” 37 archives, 402 museums, 531 institutions and 957″ libraries were destroyed. Americans and institutions such as the American Library Association took action by organizing efforts to provide books for the growing number of Americans serving in the military who lacked the basics, including reading materials at military bases. Author Molly Manning provides an interesting (and sometimes humorous) account of what transpired in When Books Went to War: The Stories that Helped us Win World War II. (Houghton-Mifflin, 2014)
The initial goal of the Victory Book Campaign (VBC) was collecting 10,000,000 hardbound books through country-wide book drives. Hardbound books proved cumbersome and donated books were not always “suitable.” A newly formed group, the Council of Books in Wartime, led efforts to first purchase paperback books and the eventual publication of Armed Services Editions from 1942 – 1947. Millions of these small-sized editions representing popular and classic words of fiction and non-fiction were distributed to American military personnel throughout the world. Some titles such as The Great Gatsby and Tree Grows in Brooklyn remain at the literary forefront; others such as the popular Chicken on Sunday and Our Hearts were Young and Gay have faded from our reading tastes but provided enjoyable reading to thousands. The VBC and the ASE are credited with providing entertainment and comfort for members of the military. The projects also helped soldiers become readers and later college students under the GI Bill.
School library media specialists will relate to the familiar situations of attempted censorship of “hot” titles such as Forever Amber (always on a waiting list), limited funding, and unsuitable donations. The New York Telegraph explained, “too many people looked upon the voluntary campaign an opportunity to get rid of books that nobody would want.” There were also political issues. One senator thought the female ALA president was incapable of managing the VBC; another opposed the government’s involvement in publishing books with political overtones.
Manning’s book is an interesting and informative narrative. She become interested in the ASE and VBC when she discovered letters servicemen wrote to authors. Berlin’s Bebelplatz has a memorial to the 1933 book burning; there is not a memorial to the ASE and VBC in the United States. Manning hopes her book “may serve as a memorial to those efforts.” (Afterward)
This not too widely known aspect of life on the homefront during World War II is a unique topic for student research. Some suggested resources for student researchers are:
- Books in Action: The Armed Services Editions. Library of Congress Blog. Includes photos of the small-sized books.
- Books Join the Battle: The Victory Book Campaign. Life on the Homefront: Oregon Responds to World War II.
Photo: Victory Book Campaign. Soldiers of Fort Myer, Virginia, in Statuary Hall of the Capitol, receiving books donated by members of Congress for 1943 Victory Book Campaign
The Digital Public Library of America is a relatively new aggregated collection of digital resources in varied formats from more than 1,600 contributing institutions, including libraries, archives, museums, and entities such as public radio stations. DPLA released 30 primary source sets for educators last fall; additional sets were recently released.
The sets are designed by educators and an education advisory panel to help teach content, facilitate inquiry, and support research in overlapping curriculum topics related to American history, literature, and culture.
The set landing page has a clean, uncluttered look. An easily identifiable pictorial icon for each set invites a quick browse through the available titles. Each set includes 15–20 resources represented by an icon, a teaching guide, and additional resources for research. Set topics include the Panama Canal, Chinese immigration, the atomic bomb, A Raisin in the Sun, Little Women, and the postwar rise of the suburbs.
All Primary Source Sets have the same layout and features. As an example The Impact of Television on News Media includes photos, text, and video and audio recordings. A brief black-and-white video clip of President John F. Kennedy urging the press to use discretion when covering news events intrigued me. In an audio interview, a journalist explains the increasing power of television network news. Photos depict early television personalities and televisions; a text chapter addresses the impact of television on news. These resources all invite close reading, viewing, and listening while also offering multiple approaches to learning at different levels. The set teaching guide includes discussion questions, classroom activities, and primary source analysis suggestions. There are also links to Document Analysis Worksheets from the National Archives and Using Primary Sources materials from the Library of Congress.
Excerpted from THE NEW MEDIA CENTER: Resources for the New Media Specialist–DPLA’s Primary Source Sets and Ben’s Guide, Refreshed! January/February 2015, Published by Information Today Full article
Learn more about using Primary Source sets in your classroom
A fun part of exploring primary sources is discovering unique artifacts that are not what we typically expect. One example is an interview with James Naismith, the inventor of basketball that was recently discovered by a Kansas University Professor.
The interview inspired me to renew my search for Library of Congress resources about the Harlem Rens. I learned about the Rens while watching On the Shoulders of Giants: An Audio Journey Through the Harlem Renaissance, a movie based on Kareen Abduhl Jabbar’s audio book. The film is about so much more than basketball! Primary sources support the fascinating narrative of segregation, civil rights and of course the Rens. Jabbar was at the showing. It was incredibly inspiring.
LOC has a few items related to the Rens.
Genial Robert Douglas, who operates the Renaissance Casino, with his cat Rennie (Photograph showing Douglas, owner of the Renaissance Casino in Harlem and founder of the Renaissance Five basketball team, holding his cat.)
S.Con.Res.57 – A concurrent resolution recognizing the contributions of African-American basketball teams and players for their achievements, dedication, and contributions to the sport of basketball and the Nation.
I could almost hear everyone’s head spinning with curriculum ideas!
What are your ideas for incorporating sports and sports history into the curriculum?
Today in History & New York mayoral proclamation (2013)
The Harlem Rens (Black Fives Foundation)
LOC: Primary Source Sets , eBook Student Discovery Sets and teaching ideas
Jim Crow and Segregation
On the Shoulders of Giants: The Story of the Greatest Team You Never Heard Of, 2011 historical sports documentary film directed by Deborah Morales, written by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Anna Waterhouse.
Learn more about using Primary Sources in your classroom
I get lots of compliments and questions about how I successfully keep my many pots of geraniums over winter. It’s so easy!!! When it begins to freeze I move them to a dark, cool basement room. The only light comes through a small east facing window. We do nothing with them. When they begin to show signs of green (usually March) we move them in front of a large south-facing main floor window. As they grow I fertilize and prune tall stalks. In May, or earlier if is warm enough, we move the outside! I continue fertilizing and pruning as needed, using pruned stalks to fill in any gaps. Some of the larger plants are six or seven years old!
“It’s been such a good thing for the school!” The comment from Julie, a parent involved in planning a new high school media center implemented a decade ago, summed it up well. Yes, it was and still is a good thing. And for me, it was one of several media-center-planning experiences. But what would I do now? Are the media centers we were proud of that many years ago still adequate and functional?
Planning was once relatively prescriptive. We considered the number of square feet needed per student; shelving for books and magazines; designated spots for circulation, reference, conference rooms, storage, and perhaps for some, a video production studio; a teaching classroom; soft seating; and, by the early 1980s, computer labs. Within a few years, school-wide internet access and wireless technology added further complexity to the decision making. The challenge of making good decisions about facilities continues to evolve.
New article of interest: From Library Media Center to MEDIAPLEX, School Library Connection, October 2015. The article by Diane Rupertand Michael McCullough describes on an interesting approach to a remoded, some new concepts and challenges two to high school media specialists.
Posted September 10, 2015on:
The Boys in the Boat (Penguin, 2013) is the newest addition to my “memorable books” list. Daniel Brown’s nonfiction account of the University of Washington’s competition at the 1936 Berlin Olympics is almost as exciting as listening to a broadcast of a tie-breaker basketball ball game. While Washington the team was victorious, winning and getting there was not easy. Brown describes life in Seattle and America during the Great Depression, the life-long struggles of Joe Rantz (the team member most highlighted) team training, competition with a rival California team, competing against prestigious Ivy League teams, and the art and physics of rowing.
Hitler’s emerging power and the conniving put into creating a positive impression for visiting teams are woven throughout the narrative. The work of Leni Riefenstahl, a producer of Nazi propaganda films, and the massive work dedicated to building the Olympic stadium are especially intriguing. I was also interested in the depictions of East vs West (reminded me of The Great Gatsby) and lt a “younger” and yet unknown Seattle. The art, woodworking skills, and influence of George Pocock who built the shells are another fascinating part of the story.
As with other non-fiction, I was curious about the author’s resources. They are extensive, including interviews with surviving family members and friends, letters, diaries, photographs, Universal Newsreels, other films, newspapers, log books, and unpublished manuscripts. The end notes provide exhausting insight into just how much research goes into researching and writing a book like this. A few of these many primary resources are:
- University of Washington beats California in a boat race in Seattle, Washington, a Universal newsreel, highlights Washington’s defeat of California in 1936.
- The Washington rowing history web site has provides detail about the 1936 Olympic team.
- Audio tape, coxswain Bob Moch describes the Olympic rowing condition and race.
Read the book about this band to brothers to learn just how hard the team worked and how close the Olympic competition race was! You will learn some new vocabulary and gain an appreciation on rowing along the way.
I never imagined a book about rowing could be so informative, interesting, and exciting!
The Polish Cultural Institute and Museum celebrates Winona’s Kashubian heritage and the prominent role Kashubian Poles and their descendants have played in Winona’s history and culture since the mid 1800’s.
The museum is located in the original headquarters of the Laird-Norton Lumber Company, a large lumber mill that operated during Winona’s heyday as a lumber milling town. Many immigrants were employed in the lumber industry.
Notable exhibits include wedding dresses and photos, household tools, lumber and farming tools, household objects,musical instruments, photos, religious artifacts and contemporary history artifacts.
Grants and other funding have provided opportunities to translate, digitize and archive archives and documents. A portion of the web site is in Polish Language translation services are provided by a young man who immigrated to Winona from Poland as a nine year-old.
The museum’s web site has biographical information on many deceased and living Winonans of Polish, links to genealogy sites, a list of pictures and stories related to Winona landmarks with Polish and Kashubian connections. The original (Washington) Kosciuszko School, the Hot Fish Shop and the Basilica of Saint Stanislaus Kostka are examples of significant local structures represented.
The Heritage and Community center has a large pictorial timeline display reflecting significant events and people (including contemporaries.) A large sign showing language differences in English, Polish and Kashubian spellings caught my eye. The adjacent heritage house is furnished with artifacts representing Polish culture and used as a guest house.
The impressive museum is maintained by people who are passionate about preserving their heritage. Notable exhibits include wedding dresses, wedding photos, household tools, lumber and farming tools, vehicles, musical instruments, photos, religious artifacts and contemporary history artifacts. Many Winonans and residents of Western Wisconsin where Kashubians also settled maintain ties with Winona’s sister city Bytow. What’s in your backyard?