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NARA gets more social

I am both a primary source junkie and a social networking junkie and I’m loving the new look at NARA.

A NARA blog post from 12/13 explains:

You may have noticed that things look a little different on our website today. That’s because the National Archives just received a digital makeover, streamlining our look and feel and moving some items around on the back end too. While overhauling our website may be our most visible change here, we’ve been making improvements all year to encourage openness and improve accessibility. Here are three other ways we’ve improved:

  • Social media. It’s hard to believe that in 2009 we didn’t have a single blog, Twitter account, YouTube page, Flickr account, or Facebook account. Over the past year we’ve had a veritable explosion of all these–dozens of Facebook pages, participation in Twitter contests, daily blog posts for every audience, viral videos, and millions of Flickr views–as just a few ways we’re helping to bring the Archives to you.
  • Federal Register. Earlier this year a young group of developers helped to revamp the Federal Register, America’s one-stop shop to see what’s going on in the Federal Government. Streamlined, easy-on-the-eyes and intuitive, this new website brought the Federal Register into the digital age.
  • Wiki. Our Archives Wiki just got a nod from the White House, showing up on their OpenGov website as further proof that we’re working to make your National Archives as accessible and interactive as possible. Researchers and users of all kinds can contribute and dialogue on our researcher wiki.

Just as a for instance, NARA’s Twitter presence is rich.  A couple of weeks ago, the Archive launched its Bill of Rights Twitter Contest,

In this great condensing of America, one item has been spared, however. The Bill of Rights–that great document that contains the first ten amendments to the Constitution–hasn’t been abridged by a single punctuation mark. Until now. . .

. . . we asked our readers: “what if the authors of the Bill of Rights only had 140 characters per amendment?” . . .Archivist David Ferriero picked the pithiest tweets and the winners will receive a reproduction of the Bill of Rights, compliments of the National Archives eStore.

The event winds down today, but take a look at the action in recent weeks by searching or following  #BillofRights hashtag.

Here’s a list of additional archival tweeting you might be interested in following:

  1. @ArchivesNews: Designed to be your one-stop-Twitter-shop for all things Archival, the @archivesnews Twitter feed is a hodgepodge of links to historic goodness. Think of @archivesnews as the hub of spokes in a wheel, from here you can connect to the latest Piece of History, Press Release, speech from Archivist Ferriero, document of the day or … background history on Teddy bears?
  2. @FedRegister: Consider this Uncle Sam’s personal Twitter account. Routinely updated, the Federal Register’s Twitter account is a great way to keep tabs on what’s going on in the Federal Government. Want to know what the EPA is doing to keep the air clean?  Look no further. What about the latest documents signed by President Obama? If you need to be in-the-know when you’re on the go, this is a great resource.
  3. @JFKlibrary: It’s no surprise that JFK’s most famous line fits in a Twitter post: “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country” is a mere 69 characters long. The man knew how to fit a lot into a little bit of text. If you’re a JFKophile there is no better stream to follow than @JFKlibrary. It has the latest on the happenings at the Presidential Library and often links to third-party sites that share in their appreciation of our 35th President.
  4. @Kennedy1960: It’s the 50th anniversary of the election of President Kennedy this year, and while JFK wasn’t tweeting on the campaign trail, this Twitter stream might have you thinking differently. Using quotes from the man himself, this Twitter account followed on JFK from the campaign trail  and won’t stop until he hits the White House.
  5. @EisenhowerNews: Speaking of 50th anniversaries, the anniversary of Eisenhower’s farewell address is this January, and the man’s library will be covering it on their Twitter stream, along with the latest happenings at the library itself. While Eisenhower may have been wary of the vast military-industrial complex, Twitter apparently gets a green light.
  6. @NARA_RecMgmt: The title says business, but the tweets say fun and informative. For people interested in the actual how-to of records management–how is it that we capture and preserve President Obama’s e-mails, after all–there is no better Twitter account than this. This feed is run by the same Twitter-savvy folks who manage the Records Express blog.
  7. @DocsTeach: One of our most active Twitter accounts, @DocsTeach not only provides its followers with the latest teacher-related goodness coming out of the National Archives, but also posts on interesting documents, important meetings, and new blog posts from a suite of Archives-related blogs.
  8. @DiscoverCivWar: Love the Civil War? Love the Civil War in 140 characters or less? Launched in conjunction with the National Archives Discovering the Civil War exhibit, you’d be hard pressed to find a more amusing way to keep track of neat Civil War facts than this Twitter feed. Updated at least daily, this feed is a great escape for any Civil War history buff.

Our students will never know about those white gloves.  They can mess with docs to their heart’s content.  Teachers, don’t miss NARA’s  Docs Teach.

Just a few additional screen shots from our newly social Archives!

Joyce Valenza About Joyce Valenza

Joyce is an Assistant Professor of Teaching at Rutgers University School of Information and Communication, a technology writer, speaker, blogger and learner. Follow her on Twitter: @joycevalenza

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