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February 8, 2008 (REVISED March 7, 2008)
Library of Congress Presents Symposium on New Deal
"I pledge you, I pledge myself, to a new deal for the American people" said Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1932 on the occasion of his nomination as the presidential candidate of the Democratic Party. The "New Deal" he had promised the American people began to take shape immediately after his inauguration on March 4, 1933. The multi-faceted social, cultural and fiscal recovery program aimed to reform and reinvigorate national life, and to end the Great Depression. Many New Deal administrators believed that art could be a part of the daily lives of all Americans, not just the elite, and could enrich the lives of all who came in contact with it.
Leading scholars from throughout the United States will join experts from the Library of Congress in the program, "Art, Culture, and Government: The New Deal at 75," on Thursday and Friday, March 13 – 14. The American Folklife Center is sponsoring the event in collaboration with the John W. Kluge Center, the Center for the Book, the Digital Reference Team and the following Library divisions: Prints and Photographs; Manuscript; Rare Book and Special Collections; Music; and Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound. The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) and the National New Deal Preservation Association are also cosponsoring the events. The two-day program is free and open to the public, but registration is required. For a detailed schedule of events and to register, visit www.loc.gov/folklife/.
The program will begin with an afternoon presentation titled "New Deal Resources: Preserving the Legacy" on Thursday, March 13 at 1 p.m. in LJ 119, located on the first floor of the Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First Street S.E., Washington D.C. Representatives from NARA and the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum will join staff from several Library divisions to discuss and display a selection of materials from their New Deal holdings.
A day-long symposium titled "The New Deal Legacy and Contemporary Scholarship" will be held on Friday, March 14 beginning at 8:30 a.m. in the Mumford Room, sixth floor of the James Madison Building, 101 Independence Ave., S.E. Leading scholars will present recent research based on New Deal materials, showcasing how innovative interpretation of the Library's archival holdings continues to inspire new revelations and reassessments of 20th-century American culture. Speakers include human rights activist Stetson Kennedy, who will present "Working for the New Deal: A Voice from the Era;" historian Michael Kazin from Georgetown University, who will present the keynote address; and Christopher Brieseth, from the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute at Hyde Park, N.Y., who will provide a summation of the two days in his presentation on "Lessons from the New Deal for the 21st Century." Other scholars will discuss topics as varied as the Native American contributions to the Federal Writers Project, WPA marionette theaters and how New Deal researchers documented topics as diverse as traditional music, religion and Puerto Rican culture.
The Library events will be complemented by two events at the National Archives. On Thursday, March 13, archivist Allen Weinstein moderates a panel featuring Senate historian Donald Ritchie; Jonathan Alter, editor of Newsweek; and Allida Black, director and editor of the Eleanor Roosevelt papers. On Saturday, March 15, the National Archives presents "For a Better America: the New Deal on Film," a day-long festival of rare period films produced by the U.S. government's New Deal agencies. For additional information on NARA programs, call (202) 357-5000 or view the calendar of events at www.archives.gov/calendar/.
The National New Deal Preservation Association (NNDPA) is also hosting events, including a New Deal bus tour on March 12 and a panel session on the morning of March 13. For additional information and registration for NNDPA programs, please call (505) 473-3985 or (505) 690-5845 by March 10, email firstname.lastname@example.org or use the registration form available for these events on www.newdeallegacy.org.
Founded in 1800, the Library seeks to further human understanding and wisdom by providing access to knowledge through its magnificent collections, including materials gathered from New Deal programs such as the Work Projects Administration, Federal Theatre Project, Federal Writer’s Project and Farm Security Administration-Office of War Information. These include manuscripts, music, prints, photographs, posters, recordings, folklife and theater materials, and first-person interviews. Many of these rich resources and treasures may also be accessed through the Library’s award-winning Web site www.loc.gov.
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