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In my department, we’re preparing for Constitution Day on Wednesday–printing stickers and buttons, boxing up pocket Constitutions, creating activity booklets, updating our website. Last year, we handed out hundreds of pocket Constitutions in a matter of hours at the Political Science department, and this year we’ve already begun receiving requests for them. This year, we’re also participating in a community event at the local Barnes and Noble, which is designed to draw grade-school kids and their parents. We’ve even got a giant replica print of the Constitution (with extra blank but “antique-looking” pages) for the kids to sign.
Here are some of the many resources available online:
- Search for great resources from the Constitution Center!
- Peggy Garvin recently posted a great summary of the purpose and origin of Constitution Day on LLRX.com.
- If you’re looking for last-minute display ideas, here’s a great webpage at the Minnesota State University of Mankato (recommended to me by Shari Laster, Gov Docs librarian at the University of Akron—thanks, Shari!).
- Also, here are some sources for pocket constitutions and related government publications (great giveaways!).
- And we printed our replica based on the gorgeous images on NARA’s Charters of Freedom website.
- See more primary resources at the Library of Congress website.
- The Constitution Day website also has trivia and great resources for making activity booklets, etc.
I’m interested to hear what your library has planned for the event–please comment below and let us know what you’re doing, where you found resources, etc. Are you planning events at the library, on a campus, in the community?
I’m sitting at my desk at work because today is not a holiday at the University of Pittsburgh. Why not? I remember when I was a small child in Pennsylvania we had no school on Feb. 12, Lincoln’s birthday, or Feb. 22, Washington’s birthday. Somehow in the 20-odd years during which I didn’t live in Pennsylvania that changed.
Here’s the scoop on today’s holiday. It is a national holiday called "Washington’s Birthday" as spelled out in federal law at 5 U.S.C. § 6103(a) . But this holiday status applies only to employees of the federal government – executive departments, independent agencies, and Government corporations, including their field services. Washington’s Birthday (Feb. 22) has been a national holiday since 1879 but in 1971 it moved to the third Monday in February instead of Feb. 22.
In my state of Pennsylvania, today is also a state holiday called "Presidents’ Day" as spelled out in Pennsylvania state law 44 P.S. § 11 . Both Washington’s and Lincoln’s birthdays were once state holidays, but in 1968 the Washington’s Birthday holiday was moved to the third Monday in February instead of Feb. 22, and in 1978 the Lincoln’s Birthday holiday was eliminated. And again, this only applies to state government employees and banks. For the rest of us, employee manuals tell us that companies generally balance internal work requirements and employee morale against federal and state holiday schedules and the prevailing practices among other local employers.
There is an entertaining and informative article on the National Archives website that gives a detailed history of today’s holiday.