For #BannedBooksWeek and author Upton Sinclair’s 135th birthday (belated!), born September 20, 1878.
In honor of Banned Books Week, here’s a letter to President Theodore Roosevelt from Upton Sinclair, whose novel “The Jungle” has been banned in banned in Yugoslavia, East Germany, South Korea, and Boston.
In this letter, Sinclair wrote to President Roosevelt, supported the presence of federal inspectors in the meat-packing houses.
He advised that inspectors should come disguised as workingmen to discover the true conditions, as Sinclair did when he researched his book “The Jungle.”
(PS: Best to avoid reading this at mealtimes.)
Jules Verne, early science fiction author and godfather of the steampunk genre was born on February 8, 1828. What better day to share the National Archives’ Steampunk board on Pinterest?
Are you following the US National Archives on Pinterest? Our photographs from the Joint Committee to Investigate Dirigible Disasters, created to investigate the cause of the USS Akron disaster and the wrecks of other Army and Navy dirigibles, were the inspiration for the steampunk board. What are you favorite things to pin on Pinterest?
January 10, 1863 - Ralph Waldo Emerson recommends Walt Whitman for public service:
“A man of his talents & dispositions will quickly make himself useful, and, if the government has work that he can do, I think it may easily find that it has called to its side more valuable aid than it bargained for.”
Walt Whitman, an influential American poet and hospital volunteer, applied for government employment during the Civil War. However, under the so-called “spoils system,” many government officials obtained their positions not because of special skills, but because of whom they knew. So, Whitman wrote to his friend, the American transcendentalist, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and asked him to write letters of recommendation on his behalf to the secretary of state and secretary of treasury, who were both acquaintances of Emerson. Ralph Waldo Emerson described Whitman as “a man of strong original genius, combining, with marked eccentricities, great powers & valuable traits of character & a self-relying large-hearted man, much beloved by his friends; entirely patriotic + benevolent in his theory, tastes, & practice.” The government did indeed have work that Whitman could do, and for the next eleven years, Whitman was a public servant in three different cabinet departments. During the war years, while employed by the federal government, Whitman continued his volunteer work in the Union hospitals; he estimated that he visited between eighty thousand and one hundred thousand sick and wounded soldiers.
The First Inaugural Poet: Robert Frost
Today, the Presidential Inaugural Committee announced Richard Blanco as the inaugural poet for Barack Obama’s upcoming ceremony. Blanco will become the fifth inaugural poet in the history of U.S. Presidents.
John F. Kennedy’s 1961 inauguration was the first to feature a poet at the swearing-in ceremony, and he named Robert Frost for the honor.
Frost wrote an original poem for the occasion called “Dedication.” He presented a handwritten version of the poem to President Kennedy. Jacqueline Kennedy framed the poem and wrote on the backside in pencil,
“For Jack. First thing I had framed to be put in your office. First thing to be hung there.”
Frost had planned to read a typed copy of the poem during President Kennedy’s Inauguration, but due to sun glare reflecting off the snow, he was unable to read his own draft. Instead, he recited “The Gift Outright” from memory.
Image: Framed poem, “Dedication,” handwritten by Robert Frost for the Inauguration of John F. Kennedy.
Happy Alaska Day & Moby-Dick Day
Color post card. “Eskimo in skin Omiak in pursuit of walrus. Caught in the act of throwing the harpoon, Alaska.”
from the Sir Henry Wellcome Collection, Photographs of the inhabitants of Metlakatla, British Columbia and Metlakatla, Alaska, ca. 1856 - 1936.
On October 18, 1867, the United States officially took possession of the territory of Alaska, having agreed to purchase it from Russia for 7.2 Million Dollars.
A few years earlier on October 18, 1851, Herman Melville’s epic novel Moby-Dick; or, The Whale was first published in London.