National History Day Contact:

Mark Robinson / 301-314-9542




President Bush Announces National Initiative on American History, Civics, and Service

WASHINGTON, September 17 -- Today President George W. Bush observed the 215th anniversary of the signing of the United States Constitution by announcing a national initiative titled “Our Documents: A National Initiative on American History, Civics, and Service.” “Our Documents” was created through a collaboration between National History Day (NHD), the National Archives and Records Administration, the Corporation for National and Community Service and the USA Freedom Corps in order to promote public exploration and understanding of how our rights and responsibilities as Americans have taken shape over time.


“Our Documents” invites all Americans to participate in a series of events and programs to get us thinking, talking and teaching about the rights and responsibilities of citizens in our democracy. The project includes workshops, town meetings, competitions, and votes for students, teachers, parents and the general public. “Our Documents” revolves around 100 milestone American documents drawn from thousands of public laws, Supreme Court decisions, inaugural speeches, treaties, constitutional amendments, and other national artifacts that have shaped us as a people and that are part of our nation’s archives. Beginning with the Lee Resolution of 1776 and culminating with the Voting Rights Act of 1965 these documents reflect our diversity, our unity, and our commitment as a nation to continue the work of forming “a more perfect union.”


The goal of “Our Documents” is to engage students, teachers, parents, and the general public in reading these historical documents and ask them to vote at for the one they consider the most significant. Through this process Americans will explore the nation’s civic legacy and reflect on the meanings of citizenship in a republican democracy.


Through the course of the school year “Our Documents” will engage students and teachers in the 2002-2003 National History Day program theme “Rights and Responsibilities in History.” Students across America will explore their rights and responsibilities by creating original performances, documentaries, papers, or three-dimensional exhibits as part of “Understanding Our Documents: A National Competition for Students.” History and social studies teachers will also have the opportunity to develop document-based lesson plans for national awards and distribution. “Teaching Our Documents: A Lesson Competition for Educators” invites teachers to develop and test a classroom lesson focusing on one or several of the 100 Milestone Documents in US History. Educator and student awards will be announced at the National History Day competition June 15-19, 2003 at the University of Maryland at College Park.

Other projects and events involved in “Our Documents” include:


·        An Website with resources for teachers, students and others.

·        A poster distributed to schools across America to promote this special initiative and focus America’s attention on understanding the past as a guide.

·        A source book of lessons related to the 100 significant documents in American history. The lessons are designed for classroom use and include enrichment suggestions for further study and research of the 100 milestone documents.

·        Teacher workshops related to “Our Documents” in every state during the 2002- 2003 school year.

·        Video and CDROM based instructional materials for the classroom.

·        A live-televised town meeting on history and democracy, sponsored and produced by The History Channel.


In inviting all Americans to participate in “Our Documents”, the collaborators hope to keep the conversation started by the nation’s founders on national rights and responsibilities alive in America’s classrooms.


National History Day is not just one day, but a yearlong education organization that makes history come alive through educator professional development and active student learning. Effective educators like Chauncey Veatch, 2002 National Teacher of the Year, incorporate NHD into their curriculum and over 2 million people are annually engaged in NHD programs. The organization has received the National Endowment for the Humanities Charles Frankel Prize for public programming and is funded nationally by Cargill, The History Channel, and other corporations, foundations and individuals.


For more information visit the official website at




MEDIA CONTACT: Mark Robinson, National History Day, 301-314-9542;

NOTE TO EDITORS: For contact information on local schools or students participating in "Our Documents" in your community, please contact Mark Robinson at the information above.