January 30, 2008

January 30, 2008 - Fifty Years of NASA

In 2008 the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is celebrating 50 years of

scientific and technological feats in air and space. NASA technology also has been adapted for many nonaerospace uses by the private sector. NASA remains a leading force in scientific research and in stimulating public interest in aerospace exploration, as well as science and technology in general. Perhaps more importantly, our exploration of space has taught us to view Earth, ourselves, and the universe in a new way.

NASA has scheduled events throughout the United States. Check out their 50th Anniversary Site for more information. The agency has also developed an extensive History of NASA site that details the key historical events of the past half century in space.

Image Source: NASA 50th Anniversary Site

October 4, 2007

October 4, 2007 - 50th Anniversary of Sputnik

The October 4, 1957 launch of Sputnik I by the Soviet Union ushered the world into the space age, and forever changed U.S. - U.S.S.R. relations.

"The Sputnik launch changed everything. As a technical achievement, Sputnik caught the world's attention and the American public off-guard. Its size was more impressive than Vanguard's intended 3.5-pound payload. In addition, the public feared that the Soviets' ability to launch satellites also translated into the capability to launch ballistic missiles that could carry nuclear weapons from Europe to the U.S. Then the Soviets struck again; on November 3, Sputnik II was launched, carrying a much heavier payload, including a dog named Laika."

The next year Congress passed the National Aeronautics and Space Act (commonly called the "Space Act"), which created National Aeronautics and Space Administration and gave the United States a boost in the race for space.

NASA - History of Sputnik

Photo Source: NASA

September 30, 2007

September 30, 2007 - Berlin Airlift

Called one of the greatest feats of aviation history, over 2.3 million tons of supplies were flown into Berlin over a period of 10 months. After World War II, Germany was divided into four sectors controlled by England, France, the United States and Russia. The capitol city of Berlin, located in the Russian sector, was divided in half with Russia in control of the east, and the others, of the west. In June 1948, Russian military closed off all roads to Berlin, thereby cutting off all ground supplies to the city.

Rather than fight a ground war to open the roads, the United States Air Force began flying in supplies. "Airplanes took off every three minutes, around the clock. They maintained that interval throughout the 170-mile (274-kilometers) flight, not veering an inch from the prescribed route, speed, or altitude. When they arrived in Berlin, they were allowed only one landing attempt. If they missed it, they had to transport the load back to base. When each plane landed in Berlin, the crew stayed in the plane: a snack bar on a wagon gave them food, and weathermen arrived in jeeps with weather updates. As soon as Germans unloaded the last bit of cargo, the plane would take off. "

Russia opened up the roads a year later and the last supply plane landed on September 30, 1949.



U.S. Centennial of Flight Commission - Berlin Airlift

EDSITEment - Formation of the Western Alliance, 1948-1949

September 25, 2007

September 25, 2007 - Little Rock Nine

Today marks the 50th anniversary of the integration of Little Rock Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. Many schools during the 1950's were integrating after the U.S. Supreme Court decision Brown v. Board of Education (1954) which declared segregated schools unconstitutional. However in the case of Little Rock, the nine African-American students who enrolled at the high school were stopped from entering the school by the Arkansas National Guard, called up by Governor Faubus. President Dwight D. Eisenhower ordered in the U.S. Army's 101st Airborne Division and federalized the Arkansas National Guard. On September 25, 1957, the nine students entered the school under federal protection. These actions garnered national attention and made the integration of the Little Rock school a symbol of the Civil Rights Movement. In 1999 President Bill Clinton awarded the Little Rock Nine the Congressional Medal.

Source: National Park Service

July 26, 2007

Armistice in Korea

Department of State. August 1953. S 1.38:61.

Often the "same" document will be published in multiple sources from multiple agencies within the government and it is up to the user to decide which version is the one that will work for them.

For example, this publication includes the text of the armistice agreement with Korea, plus related materials. Probably most useful for research, but not the official version. The official version of the armistice appears in Treaties and Other International Agreements Series S 9.10: 2782, also from the Department of State. So, if you had to have the "real" thing, then you would go the Treaties... series.

However, you can also find the text of the armistice on the Department of State website at Korean War Armistice Agreement. Same agency, same agreement, certainly an official government website - does this version count as the "real" thing? There's no firm answer; for a class paper, it might be fine; in court, probably not.

Plus, the National Archives and Records Administration hosts an educational site at Armistice Agreement for the Restoration of the South Korean State (1953) that includes the agreement text plus some supporting material, although not the same material as is in Armistice in Korea. Is the Archives material adequate? Again, no firm answer.

Armistice Hall, North Korean Side. Source: Library of Congress.

July 19, 2007

Problems of Communism

United States Information Agency. 1952. IA 1.8:
This bimonthly periodical with the peculiar title ceased publication in 1992, because, with communism collapsed in the USSR, Eastern Europe and numerous other countries around the world, the United States Information Agency (USIA) decided its work was done. Not long after the publication ceased, the agency itself was disbanded as an independent agency and folded into the US Information Service of the Department of State. The history of the USIA, and it's "public diplomacy" are described at


March 8, 2007

Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS)

Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS) is the official record of the United States' foreign policy. The Department of State has published FRUS since 1861. FRUS can be found in the libraries for 1870-1931 and 1932-present. You can find online versions for 1861-1960 at University of Wisconsin Digital Collections and for 1952-present at the Department of State.