14 March 2016

Citizen - Archivists Shine Light on Government!

Sunshine Week is a national initiative to promote open government and freedom of information. This non-partisan, non-profit initiative is celebrated in mid-March each year to coincide with the birthday of the "Father of the United States Constitution," James Madison, that is, March 16, a.k.a. National Freedom of Information Day.  This national initiative is sponsored by the American Society of News Editors and Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.

The goal of Sunshine Week is to enlighten and empower people to play an active role in their government at all levels, and to give them access to information that makes their lives better and their communities stronger. Sunshine Week presents an ideal forum to discuss accountability and transparency in government and learn more about the community in which we live - topics that are never out-of-date.

Good government is in everybody's interest. Here in the BDC we have some materials produced by the League of Women Voters about state and local government from the 1970s as well as Harriet Keyserling's memoir about her terms in the SC Legislature. A good portion of the Nancy Ciehanski archival collection concerns her involvement with the Hilton Head Chapter, League of Women Voters, her political offices and appointments, and community activities during the 1980s. We have an extensive collection of DVDs filmed by the County Channel of Beaufort County government meetings 2008 - 2012. And of course, we provide back files of many local newspapers on microfilm where you can learn about government at all levels: city, county, state, national and international. 
How can you participate in Sunshine Week? You could come check out our holdings mentioned in the previous paragraph. You could attend a government meeting. You could investigate current candidates running for office. Or you can even help the National Archives transcribe documents to celebrate open government. 
The National Archives is looking for Citizen-Archivists to transcribe records this week. As it says, "every transcription helps 'unlock' the information and helps open government records." All you need is the will to help and an internet connection.  Simply go to the National Archives website and accept a mission to transcribe a document based on a historical era. Its goal? That citizen-archivists transcribe a total of 2,000 pages of National Archives documents between March 13 - March 19. Transcriptions created by citizen archivists will enhance searches in the National Archives catalog and will be added to DocsTeach, the online tool for teaching with documents from the National Archives.

Are you ready to accept the challenge? Ready. Set.
See our schedule below for the historical eras of our Sunshine Week transcription missions.
  • Sunday, March 13 – Revolution and the New Nation (1754-1820s) and Expansion and Reform (1801-1861)
  • Monday March 14 – Civil War and Reconstruction (1850-1877) 
  • Tuesday, March 15 – The Development of the Industrial United States (1870-1900) 
  • Wednesday, March 16 – The Emergence of Modern American (1890-1930)  
  • Thursday, March 17 – The Great Depression and World War II (1929-1945)  
  • Friday, March 18 – Postwar United States (1945 to early 1970s)  
  • Saturday, March 19 – Contemporary United States (1968-Present
New to transcription? Learn how it works.

Questions or comments? Email us at catalog@nara.gov.

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