About the National Archives

Welcome Remarks for "A Towering Task: The Story of the Peace Corps"

McGowan Theater, National Archives Building, Washington, DC
September 25, 2019

Good evening, and welcome to the William G. McGowan Theater at the National Archives. I’m David Ferriero, Archivist of the United States, and I’m pleased you could join for tonight’s special screening of A Towering Task: The Story of the Peace Corps, with our special guests Glenn Blumhorst, Alana DeJoseph, and Shana Kelly.

Before we begin the film, I’d like to let you know about two other programs coming up soon in the McGowan Theater.

On Thursday, October 3, at noon, Sarah Milov will be here to discuss her book, The Cigarette: A Political History, which tells the story of the rise and fall of the most controversial consumer product in American history.

And on Tuesday, October 8, at noon, Anne Gardiner Perkins tell us about her new book, Yale Needs Women: How the First Group of Girls Rewrote the Rules of an Ivy League Giant.  Yale’s landmark decision to admit women in 1969 was a step forward for equality in education.

To keep informed about events throughout the year, check our website, Archives.gov, or sign up at the table outside the theater to get email updates. You’ll also find information about other National Archives programs and activities.

Another way to get more involved with the National Archives is to become a member of the National Archives Foundation. The Foundation supports the work of the agency, especially its education and outreach programs. Check out their website—archivesfoundation.org—to learn more about them and join online.

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With his signature on Executive Order 10924, President John F. Kennedy officially established the Peace Corps on March 1, 1961. Just a few months earlier, while campaigning for the Presidency, he had proposed a corps of volunteers who would dedicate themselves to the progress and peace of developing countries. The documentation of the creation of the Peace Corps and the signed Executive order are in the holdings of the National Archives. Thousands more textual records, photographs, and films in the Archives document the storied history of the Peace Corps.

The records can be found in this building, at our College Park facility, and at several of the Presidential Libraries administered by the National Archives.

The John F. Kennedy Library, in particular, has a large collection of material relating to the Peace Corps. One unique body of records is the Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Collection, which contains oral history interviews as well as correspondence, diaries, journals, and sketches.

We’re well aware of the richness of the material in our care, and we’re especially pleased and proud when researchers make use of them in ways that make them known to a greater audience. A Towering Task incorporates motion picture footage and still photographs from the National Archives, and we look forward to seeing the results of the filmmakers’ work tonight.

I’d like to send out special thanks to two of our archivists—Dan Rooney, head of our Motion Picture, Sound, and Video Branch, and Nick Natanson, an archivist in the Still Pictures Branch, were instrumental in getting much of the footage and photographs used in the film.

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And now, I’d like to turn the microphone over to our first special guest.

Glenn Blumhorst is president and CEO of National Peace Corps Association, which is composed of more than 180 grassroots affiliate groups and over 200,000 individuals who share the Peace Corps experience. Founded in 1979 and headquartered in Washington, DC, the association’s mission is “to champion lifelong commitment to Peace Corps ideals.”

Glenn also spent 18 years with ACDI/VOCA, an economic development organization that fosters broad-based economic growth, raises living standards, and creates vibrant communities. He worked on several major USAID-funded projects throughout Central and South America, and his work has taken him to more than 65 countries.

Glenn launched his career by serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Guatemala from 1988 to 1991. He holds a master of public administration and a bachelor of science in agriculture, both from the University of Missouri-Columbia, and he is the 2018 recipient of the prestigious University of Missouri Faculty-Alumni Award.

Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Glenn Blumhorst


And now I’d like to introduce the producer/director of A Towering Task.

Alana DeJoseph has worked in video and film production for over 20 years. She has worn many hats as producer, director, videographer, and editor, but her heart has always been in documentaries. Between 2003 and 2005, she was associate producer of the PBS documentaries The Greatest Good (about the U.S. Forest Service) and Green Fire (about conservationist Aldo Leopold). Combined, the two films have appeared in more than 40 film festivals in the United States and overseas and have won numerous awards. She is also a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer herself.

Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Alana DeJoseph.