The National Archives Presents Noontime Programs in March
Press Release · Thursday, February 21, 2013

Washington, DC…The National Archives presents a series of noontime programs in March on topics ranging from mourning rituals in the Civil War to the cultural milestone Free to Be . . . You and Me. These events are free and open to the public. All programs will be held at noon in the William G. McGowan Theater of the National Archives Building in Washington, DC, which is located on the National Mall and is fully accessible. Attendees should use the Special Events entrance on Constitution Avenue at 7th Street, NW.

When We Were Free To Be: Looking Back at a Children’s Classic and the Difference It Made
Friday, March 8, at noon
Free to Be . . . You and Me—the groundbreaking children’s record, book, and television special, debuted in 1972. Conceived by actress and producer Marlo Thomas and promoted by Ms. magazine, it captured the spirit of the growing women’s movement and inspired girls and boys to challenge stereotypes, value cooperation, and respect diversity. When We Were Free To Be: Looking Back at a Children’s Classic and the Difference It Made book editors Lori Rotskoff and Laura L. Lovett will discuss this cultural milestone with Free To Be...You and Me producer Carole Hart; Dorothy Pitman Hughes, a lifelong activist for social justice and children’s welfare; and child development specialist Barbara Sprung. A book signing will follow the program. This special event celebrates the March 8 opening of a new photographic exhibition, “Searching for the Seventies: The DOCUMERICA Photography Project,” located in the Lawrence F. O’Brien Gallery.

BOOK TALK:  The Girls of Atomic City: The Untold Story of the Women Who Helped Win World War II
Wednesday, March 13, at noon, William G. McGowan Theater
The Tennessee town of Oak Ridge was created from scratch in 1942 as one of the Manhattan Project’s secret cities. It was home to more than 75,000 people, many of them young women recruited from small towns across the South. Denise Kiernan discusses her book, The Girls of Atomic City, and the women who unwittingly played a crucial role in one of the most significant moments in U.S. history. A book signing will follow the program.

BOOK TALK:  Fear Itself: The New Deal and the Origins of Our Time
Wednesday, March 20, at noon, William G. McGowan Theater
Eighty years ago, President Roosevelt uttered his famous rallying cry to a nation: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Professor Ira Katznelson reinterprets the causes and consequences of the New Deal and its aftermath, putting new emphasis on the role of Congress and southern legislators in the formation of Depression-era foreign and domestic policy. A book signing will follow the program.

FILM:  From the Vaults: The River and The Columbia
Friday, March 22, at noon, William G. McGowan Theater
The River is Pare Lorentz’s monumental documentary about the exploitation and misuse of one of our greatest natural resources—the Mississippi River (1937; 32 mins.). In 1941, Woody Guthrie recorded songs for The Columbia (released in 1949; 30 mins), including some of his most famous compositions: “Roll On Columbia,” “Pastures of Plenty,” and “Grand Coulee Dam.” The Charles Guggenheim Center for Documentary Film presents these films in commemoration of the 80th anniversary of the New Deal and in partnership with the 2013 Environmental Film Festival in the Nation’s Capital.

LECTURE:  Mourning in America: Death in the Civil War White Houses
Friday, March 29, at noon, William G. McGowan Theater
Professor Catherine Clinton discusses how both President Abraham Lincoln and Confederate President Jefferson Davis suffered the loss of a child in their respective White Houses. This was not an unusual circumstance for the majority of American parents in the nineteenth century, but a poignant reminder of life's fragility, especially during the Civil War. The circumstances leading up to and surrounding the death of Willie Lincoln in 1862 and the tragic accident which robbed the Davis family of their young son, Joseph in 1864, are explored in brief, with an extended treatment of the sentimentalization of Victorian mourning, the rise of the "black branch" of the fashion industry, and the widespread embrace of grief and remembrance rituals and symbols in everyday American life during the Civil War.

The National Archives is fully accessible, and Assisted Listening Devices are available in the McGowan Theater upon request. To request a sign language interpreter for a public program, please send an email to or call 202-357-5000 at least two weeks prior to the event. To verify dates and times of the programs, call 202-357-5000 or view the Calendar of Events online. To contact the National Archives, please call 1-866-272-6272 or 1-86-NARA-NARA (TDD 301-837-0482).

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For press information, contact the National Archives Public Affairs staff at 202-357-5300.

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