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June 2011

the latest from
Suite 603


June 29, 2011

Maryland Gold Medalist Ethan McComb with NEH Chairman Jim Leach at National History Day. Ethan's junior individual exhibit on the Marshall Plan was the first time a Maryland Humanities Council competitor won a gold medal. Ethan also won the NEH Scholars Award.
"IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776"
New logo, new name in the Northern Mariana Islands
Alabama's Project Turn the Page aids tornado-damaged libraries and schools
3,703,964 newspaper pages: catch up on your reading
Court determines that volunteers can deduct contributions

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"IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776"

"The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

"When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government."

read the rest of the Declaration of Independence >>

New logo, new name in the Northern Mariana Islands

As part of its 20th anniversary celebrations, the humanities council in the Northern Mariana Islands is becoming the Northern Mariana Islands Humanities Council. With the new name, the Council introduces a new logo and tag line which features its island character.

Alabama's Project Turn the Page aids tornado-damaged libraries and schools

The Pratt City Library today.
The Pratt City Library today.

Following the devastating tornadoes that ripped through Alabama in April, the Alabama Humanities Foundation was awarded a $30,000 Chairman's Emergency Grant from NEH to launch Project Turn the Page, an initiative to help provide free books for damaged public libraries and schools. Public libraries suffered significant damage in Pratt City, White Hall, and Ragland, while schools were damaged in at least six different locations, including Jefferson County, Tuscaloosa County, Franklin County, Marion County and DeKalb County.

As part of Project Turn the Page, AHF plans to compile a list of books, including those focusing on Southern and Alabama history and fiction, as well as award-winning young adult titles. The libraries and schools will be invited to choose titles from the list that they wish to receive, up to a determined dollar amount.

A portion of the grant monies will expand AHF’s new Literature and Health Care reading-and-discussion seminar at the VA Hospital in Tuscaloosa. Sessions will now include the impact of the tornado on the surrounding areas and how the hospital staff and patients are coping with the storms’ aftermath.

Another portion will help the town of Cordova participate in AHF’s upcoming Museum on Main Street exhibit “Journey Stories.” The Smithsonian Institution’s traveling exhibit can be viewed at the Bankhead House and Heritage Center in neighboring Jasper beginning June 25. Cordova was scheduled to be a part of Walker County’s celebration of the exhibition until the storms came through in April.

3,703,964 newspaper pages: catch up on your reading

The front page of the San Francisco Call, 28 June 1911
The front page of the San Francisco Call, 28 June 1911

Historical newspapers are perhaps the single, most comprehensive resource on which to base our study of America’s past. Newspapers have chronicled the daily life of America’s citizens in small towns and cities, since the first newspaper appeared in the colonies in 1690. They vividly document the civic, political, social, and cultural events of the nation’s history.

To make these sources more broadly available to all citizens across the nation, the National Endowment for the Humanities has been supporting the development of Chronicling America through the National Digital Newspaper Program , a partnership with the Library of Congress. The library has created a new interface to search and find with greater ease the more than 3.7 million newspaper pages currently available in Chronicling America. Users may consult 507 newspapers titles published from 1860 to 1922 in the District of Columbia and the following states: Arizona, California, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Virginia and Washington.

Besides featuring a sampling of historic newspapers on the home page, the new interface provides enhanced search and display capabilities. A link to the “U.S. Newspaper Directory, 1690-Present” helps users identify what titles exist for a specific place and time, and how to access them. If a title is currently available in Chronicling America, the record contains a link to the first issue of the newspaper as well as an essay outlining its history. The “Recommended Topics” page includes a list of guides with suggested search terms and dates that teachers and students can use to explore a topic in Chronicling America. For technical experts, there is an extensive application programming interface (API), which allows reuse of the newspaper data in multiple ways.

Court determines that volunteers can deduct contributions

A Chronicle of Philanthropy article notes that an "animal-rescue volunteer has won a case in the U.S. Tax Court that enables other volunteers to take charitable deductions for their efforts."

Jan Van Dusen, a volunteer at the nonprofit Fix Our Ferals, deducted $12,068 on her 2004 tax return as expenses incurred while caring for 70 stray cats. The IRS declared them ineligible personal expenses. "Ms. Van Dusen, a former lawyer, sued, representing herself."

The Tax Court judge "ultimately ruled that Ms. Van Dusen’s bills were ones incurred in helping a charity and therefore eligible to be deducted."

Read more about this case in the Wall Street Journal >>

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