On October 24, 2008, in response to a petition filed by the National Security Archive and several historical associations, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) released the previously secret grand jury transcripts of eight witnesses related to Cold War espionage prosecutions. The nearly 300 pages of transcripts from the Brothman/Moskowitz grand jury reveal important new details about the testimony of Elizabeth Bentley, the so-called “Red Spy Queen,” and Harry Gold, who led authorities to David Greenglass and the Rosenbergs. In addition, NARA released the testimonies of Vivian Glassman, Edith Levitov, and Frank Wilentz from the Rosenberg grand jury.
The Public Interest Declassification Board (PIDB) has announced it will meet on October 31, 2008, to discuss the lack of a satisfactory means to identify and prioritize the declassification review of “historically significant” information. The PIDB had identified a need to address this issue in the Board’s report to the President, titled Improving Declassification.
The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) recently announced that it was extending the deadline for a second round of applications for its Picturing America program. The deadline is being extended to November 14, 2008, from the original deadline of October 31st. Picturing America is a free educational resource that helps teach American history and culture by bringing some of our nation’s greatest works of art directly to classrooms and libraries.
The Gilder Lehrman Institute has announced it is accepting applications for its 2009 Summer Seminars for Teachers. The seminars are designed to strengthen participants’ commitment to high quality history teaching. Public, parochial, independent schoolteachers, and National Park Service rangers are eligible. Forty seminars will be offered in the 2009 program. The application deadline is February 15, 2009.
On December 5, 2008, George Washington University and the National Security Archive will join forces for a daylong workshop on “Effective FOIA Requesting for Researchers.” This session will offer a unique opportunity for graduate students currently enrolled in PhD programs to learn the fundamentals of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and how to use it.
On October 10, the National Park Service opened the Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site at Moton Field in Tuskegee, Alabama, to commemorate and interpret the heroic actions of the Tuskegee Airmen during World War II.
With Congress in recess, the National Coalition for History Washington update will be published every other week until after the election unless there is breaking news.
This week, Congress passed, and sent to the President for his signature, legislation (S. 3477) to make changes in major program areas at the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) and the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).
In a report to Congress issued this week, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) questioned the readiness of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) to begin accepting the Bush administration’s records on January 20, 2009. GAO expressed concerns that NARA has yet to develop a plan to mitigate the risk of not having a fully functional system in place on Inauguration Day.
As we recently reported, Wal-Mart, Stores, Inc., is planning to build a 145,000-square-foot “Wal-Mart Supercenter” in Orange County, Virginia, a quarter-mile from the Wilderness Battlefield National Park. This week, the National Coalition for History joined a Wilderness Battlefield Coalition that has been formed to fight the development.