May 08, 2006

Our Documents by NARA: Online Source to form a more perfect Union An USA Department Initiative

A discussion had started on H-TAH list. The question was placed by Paul Leslie of Nicholls State University.

The responses were quite fruitful. The query was to "list fifteen documents/speeches that reflected America's past over the last 306 years". Gary Daynes and Debra Schneider directed the attention to Our Documents.

On the site one can find 100 such documents starting from Lee Resolution (1776) to Voting Rights Act (1965).

Daynes finds the list idiosyncratic (?!!) but simultaneously refer to the discussion by NARA (National Archives and Records Administration – USA) on the issue of selecting or excluding of the documents.

Schneider of Merrill F. West High School, Tracy, California has pointed out that this list is there for the last two years.

I quote from the site about its aim.

"We invite all Americans to participate in a series of events and programmes to us thinking, talking and teaching about the rights and responsibilities of citizens in our democracy. At the heart of this initiative are 100 milestone documents of American history."

It is desired there that students, teachers, parents, and the general public direct attention to them in order to form a "more perfect union"(Is it a reference to Civil War?).

As a teacher, I am delighted to learn about this. I hope that it is going to remain there for long.

Apart from the motive, it is exhilarating and amazing to find such a thing on the web. I have been talking about the need of online sources and using for technology for the Human resource development along with other like minded people and teachers. Here I am finding a case which shows the way that it can be achieved through such a model. I am presently also working on an article on misuse of Mobile Phones for cheating, memory sticks and pen scanners for cheating in AIIMS Exams, using sms for solving IIT entrance exams. Everyone say that the student should be penalized and all such devices should be banned. On the other hand, it is desired under ICT project to use the new technologies to promote research, human resource development and fruitful interaction. Then, there are sting operations, hidden cameras and like activities to contain corruption but it is raising the issue of privilege of privacy. The same devices are being used to film immoral activities. One is just at loss to understand that what actually we are going to make out of these technologies. But here is an answer. May the Bhartiyas (Indians with capital at New Delhi) look at it !!

As a teacher I am amazed, happy and highly enthusiastic on finding this source. I read the Article of Confederation and Constitution of America especially Article 4 which had been identified in the Secession Resolution of South Carolina on December 24, 1860 in order to declare that there was a breach of compact. Now, I have the source to read and counter check all the references to all such historic documents in original. In case of India, one can find the Parliamentary debates since 1946 at India Image. However, it requires lot of skills to locate them. I always reached by fluke to the desired documents not knowing how to reach a same document again and again. The ICT projects of UGC have not directed their attention to similar type of public responsive initiative by the archives. The National Archive of India has placed the web site but with the hope to decide upon the model on which they are going to make the documents available to the general public. It is left to all those resourceful people to acquire money to reach there but people like me, who do not like any binding while working would never get there. The Digital Library of India is ready but one does not know when they will bring documents in different languages online apart from the Telegu documents.

Well, this is something good. It is yet another important and useful Online Source for teachers and research scholars regardless of the aim of the site with which they have envisaged this model. Let us hope they maintain it there for long.

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