It’s National Coloring Book Day, and you might be surprised to know that the Sycamore Library has over 175 coloring books and coloring sheets produced by U.S. federal and Texas state government agencies for educational and promotional purposes and covering virtually every topic under the sun. Some are available online for you to download and print out, and others are available in paper format at Sycamore Library. (But please don’t color in our paper documents—photocopy the pages you need so that everyone will have a chance to color!)
How to Find Government Coloring Books
To search for our coloring books, go to the library catalog on the UNT Libraries homepage, select “Books & More” to search the catalog, then select “Advanced Search.”
Once on the Advanced Search screen, enter “coloring books” in the Genre field and select “Government Documents” from the drop-down menu under “Collection.”
You can also search “activity books” in the genre field to find books that usually contain coloring pages, but also include games, puzzles, and other pastimes such as word searches, crossword puzzles, connect-the-dots, quizzes, and other interactive activities that require writing or drawing directly in the book.
Not all government coloring books are available in a physical format. To find hundreds of digital format coloring books go to a government agency website and search for the phrase “coloring book” or “coloring pages.” Many agencies have a “kid’s page” that includes links to coloring books, games, and other educational activities. You can google the name of the agency to find their website. Most—but not all—federal agency websites can be guessed at by entering the agency’s acronym followed by .gov (e.g., nasa.gov).
You can also go to the website usa.gov and search several federal and state government websites simultaneously, using the same phrases listed above.
Little Leon the Lizard is a coloring book from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. A little wordy for a coloring book, this is more of a short chapter book with full page illustrations suitable for coloring. It tells the story of an anthropomorphic lizard who is constantly giving or receiving injuries because of his carelessness while playing with his toys.
Discover Aeronautics and Space: A Coloring Book for Elementary Students
Discover Aeronautics and Space is a coloring book produced by NASA to introduce elementary school children to the various spacecraft used since the Mercury program until 1990, when the book was published, and to depict how astronauts go through everyday activities such as eating, sleeping, and grooming while in space. Children are fascinated by outer space and space travel, so it should be no surprise that NASA has perhaps the largest collection of online coloring books and coloring pages of any government agency. Many of these are also available in print.
#ColorOurCollections is an annual social media event launched in 2016 by the New York Academy of Medicine Library in order to encourage libraries, museums, archives, and other cultural institutions throughout the world to create free coloring books and coloring pages based on the unique content in their local collections. The event usually takes place during the first full week of February each year, and the coloring books are archived on the New York Academy of Medicine Library’s website, which also links to the websites of the participating institutions.
Pictured above is the second coloring book contributed by the Smithsonian Libraries, featuring images based on items in their collection.
We hope this article has inspired you to create some of your own art out of some of the many government agency coloring books and coloring pages they have made available. Please share any coloring projects you have done, and we will put them on display!
Major Jesse Marcel, an intelligence officer from Roswell Army Air Field, with the debris found 75 miles northwest of Roswell in June 1947. Courtesy, Fort Worth Star-Telegram Photograph Collection, Special Collections, The University of Texas at Arlington Library, Arlington, Texas.
For many Americans today, the name “Roswell” will inevitably conjure up images of flying saucers crash landing in the remote New Mexico desert; bald, diminutive aliens with gigantic eyes; and bizarre theories about government conspiracies and cover-ups. The events of 75 years ago have spawned books, movies, and TV shows, and the so-called “Roswell Incident” has attained the status of an American myth. To celebrate the 75th anniversary, here is a brief look at some of the many government publications available in Sycamore Library and on the Internet that provide insight into this intriguing story.
The Roswell Incident
In 1947, beginning in the spring and continuing into the fall, a rash of sightings of unidentified flying objects (UFOs) were being reported across the United States, with the maximum number of these sightings occurring during the period from mid-June to early July.
On July 7, 1947, while interest in UFOs was at its height, W.W. “Mac” Brazel appeared at the office of sheriff George Wilcox in Roswell, New Mexico and described the wreckage of a metal disk and some other materials, including tinfoil, broken wood beams, strips of rubber, and thick paper, which he had discovered a few days earlier on the Foster Ranch where he worked, about 75 miles northwest of Roswell. Brazel had heard stories about UFO sightings on the radio recently and wondered if the debris he found might be part of one of those “flying saucers” everyone was talking about.
Sheriff Wilcox contacted Major Jesse A. Marcel, an officer in the Roswell Army Air Field (RAAF) intelligence office, about Brazel’s discovery. Marcel drove to the sheriff’s office to inspect the wreckage, then went out to the ranch with Brazel to collect as much of the debris as they could.
The next day, July 8, the Public Information Office issued a press release, prematurely announcing that the Army Air Force had recovered a “flying disk.” The news media went wild, for this was perhaps the first time the government had ever taken reports of alien aircraft seriously.
Meanwhile, military police were sent to the sheriff’s office to collect the wreckage, which was flown to Eighth Air Force headquarters in Fort Worth (later known as Carswell Air Force Base) for inspection. Officers and staff in Texas determined that the objects were remnants of a weather balloon and its attached metallic radar target.
A few hours after the previous announcement, the RAAF issued a correction, announcing that the debris found at Foster Ranch was from a weather balloon, not a flying saucer. Immediately suspicion was aroused that the government was covering something up.
Years later it turned out there had indeed been a cover-up, but it had nothing to do with aliens or flying saucers from outer space.
FBI Report on Roswell
On July 8, 1947, the Dallas Office of the FBI issued a one-page teletype summarizing the Roswell incident. This document relays information from the U.S. Air Force that a hexagonal object appearing to be a “flying disk” had been recovered in the desert near Roswell, New Mexico. The object was described as being attached by cable to a balloon about 20 feet in diameter, resembling a weather balloon. Because of the interest generated by the recent UFO sightings, the disk and balloon were transported to Wright Field in Ohio for examination.
This document is available on the FBI website in their FOIA library known as The Vault. Several more FBI investigations of UFOs conducted from 1947 to 1954 are also included in The Vault.
Project BLUE BOOK
From 1947 to 1969, a total of 12,618 sightings of UFOs were collected and investigated by the U.S. Air Force. The project, known as Project BLUE BOOK, was headquartered at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio.
As a result of several private and governmental investigations and studies conducted during this time period, the members of the Air Force running Project BLUE BOOK reached the following conclusions:
No UFO reported, investigated, and evaluated by the Air Force had ever given any indication of threat to our national security.
There has been no evidence that sightings categorized as “unidentified” represent technological developments or principles beyond the range of present-day scientific knowledge.
There has been no evidence indicating that sightings categorized as “unidentified” are extraterrestrial vehicles.
On December 17, 1969, the Secretary of the Air Force announced the termination of Project BLUE BOOK. The documentation collected is now in the possession of the U.S. National Archives, and anyone with any further testimony regarding UFOs is referred to one of the many private agencies and individuals that are currently researching such phenomena.
The following blog posts provide more information about records in the National Archives pertaining to UFOs:
In early 1987, British UFOlogist Timothy Good claimed to have been given a highly classified government document indicating that a secret committee of senior U.S. officials called the “Majestic 12” had investigated, and then covered up, the 1947 discovery of a crashed flying saucer containing the bodies of four humanoid aliens.
In February 1994, the General Accounting Office (GAO), acting on the request of Steven H. Schiff, a New Mexico Congressman, initiated an audit to attempt to locate any government records connected with the Roswell incident, and to determine if those records had been properly handled according to established procedures for reporting air accidents.
An extensive search ensued for government records related to the crash near Roswell, and a wide range of classified and unclassified documents dating from July 1947 through the 1950s were examined. These records came from numerous organizations in New Mexico and elsewhere throughout the Department of Defense, as well as from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and the National Security Council.
In 1947, Army regulations required that air accident reports be maintained permanently, and although none of the military services filed a report on the Roswell incident, there was no requirement in 1947 to prepare a report on the weather balloon crash.
Although some of the records concerning Roswell activities had been destroyed, there was no information available regarding when or under what authority the records were destroyed.
Only two government records originating in 1947 have been recovered regarding the Roswell incident:
A 1947 Air Force report noted the recovery of a flying disk that was later determined by military officials to be a radar-tracking balloon.
Project MOGUL: The Real Cover-Up
In July 1994, the Office of the Secretary of the Air Force concluded an exhaustive search for records in response to the General Accounting Office (GAO) inquiry about the “Roswell Incident.” After reviewing its records, the Air Force concluded that the debris recovered from the ranch on July 7, 1947, was a weather balloon, but it was not being used strictly for weather purposes. In early 1995 the results of this inquiry were published in a document nearly 1000 pages long, entitled The Roswell Report: Fact vs Fiction in the New Mexico Desert.
An examination of now declassified technical and progress reports revealed that the Air Force had been conducting an experimental, top secret balloon project, called by the code name Project MOGUL, at the nearby Alamogordo Army Airfield (now Holloman AFB) during the summer of 1947. The Air Force admitted in the 1990s that they had been using this project to develop and test a surveillance device designed to fly over nuclear research sites in the Soviet Union and spy on them.
Project MOGUL was a then-sensitive, classified project, whose purpose was to determine the state of Soviet nuclear weapons research. This was the early Cold War period, and the U.S. government was concerned about the possibility that the Soviets were secretly developing an atomic weapon behind their closed borders. As early as 1945, Dr. Maurice Ewing of Columbia University had proposed to General Carl “Tooey” Spaatz (supervisor of the bombing of Nagasaki and Hiroshima) that a connected string of high-altitude balloons equipped with microphones could be sent floating over the Soviet Union to pick up sound waves and monitor any attempts by the Soviet government to test their own atomic weapon.
The weather-balloon story put out in 1947 had actually been a cover for this top secret spy operation, but only after the documents had been declassified in the post-Cold War era could the true cover-up finally be revealed.
The 1995 Roswell Report dealt only with the material recovered from the first reported incident near Roswell, which had occurred in 1947.
In the decades after the Roswell Incident there were many more reports of UFOs, including two more that occurred near Roswell. Some of these new reports mentioned alien bodies that had been discovered among the crash debris. These bodies were not a part of the original reports of 1947, so they were not discussed beyond a brief mention in the Air Force’s report, but at some point dim memories and inaccurate retellings had caused the various reports to become mixed up and conflated, so that the original 1947 incident was associated not just with the idea of a flying saucer landing in the desert, but also with rumors of dead aliens and more government cover-ups. In 1995 there was even a film released of an alleged “alien autopsy” that took place in connection with the 1947 crash.
In order to respond to these later allegations, the Air Force published a 1997 update to their 1995 report. The update was confidently titled The Roswell Incident: Case Closed. Together, these two reports provide the definitive U.S. Army statement on what really happened during the Roswell incident.
In the final report, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, Air Force researchers investigated reports of alien bodies, and concluded that in every case there was a logical explanation much more mundane than treating them as evidence of the misadventures of extraterrestrial visitors. In almost every case, the fantastic stories collected by UFO theorists and enthusiasts proved to be misinterpretations—intentional or inadvertent—of actual operations and tests carried out by the U.S. Air Force in the 1950s. In some cases, the “alien” bodies were in reality anthropometric test dummies, sometimes damaged, used in scientific experiments involving high altitude balloons. In other cases, there were real bodies, but they were human Air Force personnel who had been injured or killed in the line of duty, not creatures from outer space.
In the public eye and in the popular media, UFOs have come to be associated primarily with “flying saucers” and other visits from extraterrestrial beings. For the armed forces and other government agencies, an unidentified flying object (now more likely to be referred to as “unidentified aerial phenomenon,” or UAP) is thought of as a matter of national security, and is more likely to be an airplane, drone, or other espionage device controlled by a member of an enemy government on Earth. This may not be as sensational as a visit from outer space, but it may be closer to the truth.
On August 3, 1949, Congress passed House Joint Resolution 170 (81st Congress), designating June 14 of every year as Flag Day and requesting that the president issue an annual proclamation calling for its observance.
According to a charming though apocryphal anecdote, Betsy Ross was working in her upholstery shop one day when General George Washington and three members of a committee from the Continental Congress approached her and asked if she could sew them a United States flag according to the new design they had just come up with. She said she would try, and asked to see the design. Everything about it pleased her except for the fact that the stars had six points. When she proposed a design using five-pointed stars instead, the committee objected that cutting out five-pointed stars would be too difficult. To counter this objection, she picked up a sheet of paper, folded it quickly, and with a single snip of the scissors cut out a perfectly symmetrical five-pointed star. The committee was so impressed they immediately acceded to her request, and that is why the United States flag has five-pointed stars today.
The President’s Budget for Fiscal Year 2023, which runs from October 1, 2022 to September 30, 2023, is now available for anyone with access to a computer to read online for free. GPO has signed and certified the PDF files to assure users that these online documents are official and authentic. They should be viewed using Adobe Acrobat or Reader version 7.0 or higher.
In a few weeks a paper copy of the FY 2023 Budget will be available for reading at Sycamore Library. A paper copy can also be pre-ordered from the U.S. Government Bookstore if you would like to purchase your own personal copy.
FACT SHEET: The President’s Budget for Fiscal Year2023 is a press release from the White House Briefing Room that highlights economic achievements of the past year of the Biden administration and previews the President’s vision for further recovery from the pandemic during the next fiscal year.
The Budget Process
The U.S. Constitution gives Congress the “power of the purse,” but does not prescribe how that power is to be exercised, nor does it provide a specific role for the President with regard to budgetary matters. Instead, various statutes, congressional rules, practices, and precedents have been established over the years to create a complex system in which multiple decisions and actions occur with varying degrees of “coordination” (to put the matter politely). As a consequence, there is no single definitive “budget process” through which all budgetary decisions are made.
This oversimplified list of steps, therefore, can provide a general idea of how the federal budget is created and implemented, but keep in mind that the reality is never so orderly or linear:
Formulation of the President’s Budget
Executive agencies submit their requests for funds to the Office of Management and Budget.
The President reviews these requests and makes the final decisions on what to go in the proposed budget.
The budget documents are prepared and sent to Congress. (These are the documents described in this post.)
Action by Congress
Congress reviews the President’s budget and passes a budget resolution, setting total spending levels for the year. (They may follow, modify, or reject the President’s recommendations.)
Within the framework of the budget resolution, individual committees prepare detailed appropriations bills to provide funding for specific purposes. Other legislation affecting spending and revenue is also developed.
The House and Senate work out their differences and enact the appropriations bills.
The President signs the bills and the budget is now law.
The fiscal year begins.
Execution of the Enacted Budget Laws
Agency program managers execute the budget they have been provided.
Data are collected on how much the government actually spends and receives.
For a more detailed description of the budgetary process that occurs today and how it developed over the years, see the Congressional Research Service report Introduction to the Federal Budget Process. This CRS report also includes appendices that provide a glossary of budget-process-related terms and a flowchart of congressional budget process actions.
Organization of the Budget
The Budget of the United States Government is divided into three main volumes and is accompanied by several supporting documents and supplemental materials provided to enhance one’s understanding of the Budget.
The title volume—a scant 149 pages long—is by far the most succinct volume. It contains the Budget Message of the President, which explains the President’s budget priorities, and it provides summary tables of the President’s proposed plans for the budget and any recommended taxes.
An Appendix to the Budget of the U.S. Government might sound like an afterthought, but it is the bulkiest volume and presents the most detailed information about the individual programs and appropriation accounts that constitute the budget. It is intended primarily for use by the congressional appropriations committees, since they are the ones who will make the final decisions about how much money will be spent and on what.
The Appendix includes
The text of proposed appropriations language for each government department and agency
Budget schedules for each account
New legislative proposals
Narrative explanations of what work is to be performed and what funds are needed
Proposed general provisions applicable to the appropriations of entire agencies or groups of agencies
Historical Tables provide data on budget receipts, outlays, surpluses or deficits, federal debt, and federal employment over an extended time period, generally from 1940 or earlier to several years into the future. The data are adjusted as much as possible to be consistent with the current budget and to provide comparability over time.
Additional chapters of the Analytical Perspectives, as well as other miscellaneous supporting documents and supplementary materials useful for understanding the budget, will be released as they become available.
Historical editions of the Budget of the United States Government from 1921 to 2021 are available on the Federal Reserve Archival System for Economic Research (FRASER) website. Be aware that this is not an official version of the Budget of the United States Government, and neither the authenticity nor the completeness of the data can be guaranteed. FRASER is provided through a partnership between GPO and the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. (Note also that the dates of the Appendix and Special Analysis volumes may differ.)
Would You Like to Know More?
Visit us in the Sycamore Library at UNT, or send us a message at email@example.com if you have any questions or would like more information about the U.S. Budget or any other federal, state, or local government information.
“Each February, National Black History Month serves as both a celebration and a powerful reminder that Black history is American history, Black culture is American culture, and Black stories are essential to the ongoing story of America — our faults, our struggles, our progress, and our aspirations. Shining a light on Black history today is as important to understanding ourselves and growing stronger as a Nation as it has ever been. That is why it is essential that we take time to celebrate the immeasurable contributions of Black Americans, honor the legacies and achievements of generations past, reckon with centuries of injustice, and confront those injustices that still fester today.”
Over 400 years of the African American experience is documented through primary source materials availalbe at the Library of Congress. This guide provides access to digitized collections, search strategies, and external websites related to the topic.
Since 1870, when Senator Hiram Revels of Mississippi and Representative Joseph Rainey of South Carolina became the first African Americans to serve in Congress, a total of 175 African Americans have served as U.S. representatives, delegates, or senators. This online exhibit at the U.S. House of Representatives History, Art, & Archives website is based on the paper publication Black Americans in Congress. These are a few of the contents of this exhibit:
Biographical profiles of former African-American members of Congress
Links to information about current Black members
Essays on institutional and national events that shaped successive generations of African Americans in Congress
Images of each individual member, supplemented by other historical photos.
See also these other resources from the U.S. House of Representatives History, Art & Archives website:
Joseph H. Rainey: 150 Years of Black Americans Elected to Congress: Joseph Rainey of South Carolina embarked on his remarkable House career in December 1870: he became the first African-American Representative, the first Black man to preside over the House, and the longest–serving African American during the tumultuous Reconstruction period. Rainey and his nineteenth-century colleagues blazed a path followed by more than 160 Black Members to date—despite the barriers thrown up by the legacy of slavery and the rise of Jim Crow. To celebrate Rainey’s milestone, this page provides ready access to teaching materials, oral histories, biographies, documents, artifacts, that tell the 150-year history of African Americans in Congress.
Records Search: African Americans—History: This search sifts through the millions of pages of official archival records of the U.S. Congress and yields a thoughtfully chosen collection of primary sources that highlight key historical moments in the lives of African and Americans in Congress and provide institutional and functional context about the House.
Clinical trials are research studies that evaluate the safety and effectiveness of medical products such as medications, vaccines, and devices by testing them on human volunteers. People of color are often underrepresented in these trials. This is a concern because people of different ages, races, and ethnicities may react differently to certain medical products. Diversity in clinical studies can show which medical products or therapies work best for people with certain illnesses or for certain groups of people. Ensuring people from diverse backgrounds join clinical trials is key to advancing health equity.
This document summarized key points discussed at a symposium held on October 25, 1996 at Howard University in Washington, D.C. The symposium comprised three panel sessions that addressed the benefits of and barriers to clinical trial participation by physicians and patients of color.
Symposium participants learned about new treatments for hypertension, AIDS, diabetes, and prostate cancer—serious diseases that disproportionately affect communities of color. They also learned about the role of clinical trials in developing therapies for these diseases and improving access of minority populations to promising new therapies. In addition, participants reviewed the process used by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to evaluate new therapies for safety and efficacy and the regulatory mechanisms used to enhance patient access to promising new therapies. Participants had an opportunity to examine the impact of managed care on the conduct of clinical trials, and also learned the extent to which Medicaid and Medicare cover investigational therapies.
Symposium faculty comprised distinguished medical research scientists from the public and private sectors, community leaders, health care providers, and representatives from FDA.
The FDA encourages diverse participation in clinical trials. If you think a clinical trial may be right for you, talk to your health care provider.
You can also search for clinical trials in your area at www.ClinicalTrials.gov—a database of privately and publicly funded clinical studies conducted around the world. See the FDA’s Clinical Trial Diversity page for more information.
This U.S. Department of State publication recounts how African-American slaves and their descendants have struggled to win — both in law and in practice — the civil rights enjoyed by other Americans. It is a story of dignified persistence and struggle, a story that produced great heroes and heroines, and one that ultimately succeeded by forcing Americans to confront squarely the shameful gap between their universal principles of equality and justice and the inequality, injustice, and oppression faced by millions of their fellow citizens.
This document contains full color illustrations and includes sections on Black Soldiers in the Civil War, Marcus Garvey, Ralph Johnson Bunche, Jackie Robinson, Rosa Parks, Medgar Evers, and the Bloody Sunday in Selma.
This eBook published by the U.S. Department of State Bureau of International Information Programs provides an overview of the life and achievements of Thurgood Marshall. Although he is not as well known as Martin Luther King, Jr. outside the U.S., Marshall’s achievement in demolishing the legal structure that sustained racial segregation in the American South advanced the civil rights cause as profoundly as did the nonviolent protests led by King.
This publication includes photographs, articles, a timeline, a summary of the landmark case Brown v. Board of Education (which made public segregation illegal by rulling that separate is never equal) and information about other issues Marshall focused on.
From the Civil War to the present, a variety of plans have been proposed for studying the institution of slavery and subsequent racial discrimination against African Americans and their impact on living Americans; for issuing a formal apology for the enslavement of African Americans and for their racial segregation; and for recommending remedies to Congress. The debate over reparations has mostly revolved around the questions of who is accountable for slavery—individuals or the society as a whole—and who has benefitted from slaver and subsequent discrimination against African Americans.
This Congressional Research Service report examines the historical background of this issue, recent attempts to gain redress in court; presidential attitudes toward the issue; and various legislative remedies that have been proposed and lobbied for or against. The report concludes with a summary of arguments for and against reparations.
H.R. 40 and the Path to Restorative Justice is the transcript of a congressional hearing held before the Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties of the Committee on the Judiciary in the U.S. House of Representatives on June 19 (i.e., Juneteenth), 2019. This hearing contains testimony for and against reparations from Senator Corey Booker, Representative Burgess Owens, authors Ta-Nehisi Coates and Coleman Hughes, and many others, and provides a very detailed discussion on this topic, with multiple points of view represented. The published hearing also includes letters, statements, and other items submitted for the record.
“Reparations for Black American descendants of persons enslaved in the U.S. and their potential impact on SARS-CoV-2 transmission” is a study made available in the National Library of Medicine’s PubMed Central database that emphasizes how especially pertinent this issue is during the current pandemic, as Black Americans in the United States have suffered from a significantly disproportionate incidence of COVID-19. Going beyond mere epidemiological tallying, the potential for racial-justice interventions, including reparations payments, to ameliorate these disparities has not been adequately explored. This study considers potential health benefits of racial-injustice interventions such as reparations in the form of reduced SARS-CoV-2 transmission risk. A restitutive program targeted towards Black individuals would not only decrease COVID-19 risk for recipients of the wealth redistribution; the mitigating effects would also be distributed across racial groups, benefiting the population at large.
Toot your hooters, Woodsy the Owl is 50 years old this year! We would like to use this anniversary to highlight just a few of the many resources we have in the Government Information Connection at Sycamore Library related not just to Woodsy, but also to the rest of that sometimes delightfully weird menagerie of characters the U.S. government has created over the years to charm and educate the public.
The Birth of Woodsy Owl
Woodsy Owl made his official debut on September 15, 1971. Ten years earlier, Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring had alerted the nation to the dangers of pesticides polluting the environment. Her book inspired a movement that increased throughout the 1960s, culminating in the first Earth Day celebration in 1970.
The Forest Service wanted to join in promoting this anti-pollution message—their Smokey Bear fire-prevention campaign had already succeeded beyond all expectations. But they didn’t want to dilute Smokey’s familiar slogan with a second message, so a new spokes-character was created: Woodsy, the anti-pollution owl. The two of them have continued to this day encouraging children and adults to protect the forests and all our natural surroundings.
Lady Bird Johnson meets Smokey and his new pal, Woodsy Owl. Courtesy U.S. Forest Service.
What Is a Government Mascot?
There have been animal mascots in the military academies and branches of the armed forces since before the twentieth century, and symbols such as the bald eagle, Columbia, and Uncle Sam have been used to personify the United States for even longer, but the first instance of a government agency using an anthropomorphized animal character to promote a cause was probably the Smokey Bear campaign, which started during World War II.
World War Worries
As the Forest Service was losing manpower and equipment to the war effort, they needed a creative way to alert American citizens to the dangers of forest fires and to instill a sense of personal responsibility for protecting the forests.
Previous attempts to communicate this message included this poster by “I Want You” designer James Montgomery Flagg, featuring a hectoring Uncle Sam:
There were also posters featuring Bambi the deer, who was quite popular because of the recent movie, but was on loan by his owner Disney for only a year. The Forest Service needed a positive message delivered by a character they could call their own.
The War Advertising Council
The nonprofit War Advertising Council had already been organized by American businesses and advertising professionals to promote the war effort through posters and other media. They encouraged Americans to buy war bonds, keep their lips sealed, and grow victory gardens. The Council assigned the advertising agency Foote, Cone and Belding the task of developing a forest fire prevention campaign using the same techniques that had been used to sell commercial products to consumers.
Smokey Bear Is Not a Mascot
Eventually the discussions led to the idea of an anthropomorphized bear named Smokey, dressed as a Forest ranger and delivering a single, memorable slogan about fire prevention. The cuteness factor and the simplicity would appeal to both adults and children, and the use of anthropomorphism has been shown to help us identify on a personal level with a message that might otherwise seem abstract or remote.
Smokey eventually acquired a vast and dazzling panoply of promotional paraphernalia. Not only was there Rudolph Wendelin’s familiar image of Smokey in his dungarees and ranger hat, brandishing a shovel; there were also posters, scripts, lesson plans, coloring books, and comic books; there was a song (that got his name wrong); there were toys, hats, t-shirts, buttons, bookmarks, and other swag, all to promote a single, laser-focused message: “Only you can prevent forest fires.”
And make no mistake about it, it’s all about the message. The Forest Service wants you to be aware that Smokey is not a mascot—he is a “fire prevention bear.” Smokey has never been intended to personify the Forest Service the way other mascots might represent an entire agency or team.
The Smokey Bear campaign was so successful that President Truman encouraged the Council to continue after the war as the Advertising Council (later shortened to the Ad Council). They would encourage advertising agencies to work pro bono to create public service advertisements, which would then be promoted for free in the newspapers, on the radio, and on the newly popular medium of television.
Woodsy Owl was not a project of the Ad Council, but his campaign was modeled after Smokey Bear’s and shared some of the same personnel. Smokey’s “caretaker,” the artist Rudy Wendelin, used his talents to give the preliminary sketches of Woodsy a distinct personality. Both characters wore pants and a hat, but nothing else; both had a ballad written about them; and both generated a huge amount of swag.
Some Advertising Superstars
Other government agencies would develop their own mascots or messengers according to this same template, with varying degrees of success. Here are a few that for a time at least were very popular, widely-recognized icons in our cultural landscape:
Johnny Horizon was the Bureau of Land Management’s anti-littering spokesman in a popular campaign that predated and then briefly competed with Woodsy Owl. He peaked during a clean-up campaign preceding the American Bicentennial in 1976, then was retired and forgotten everywhere except in Twin Falls County, Idaho, where the communities still celebrate Johnny Horizon Day every May.
In the 1960s, the U.S. Post Office Department used the character of Mr. ZIP in a popular campaign to encourage people to use ZIP Codes on their mail. He was largely phased out after ZIP codes became accepted as the norm, but enjoyed a brief revival during the 50th anniversary of the ZIP code system in 2013. In his heyday he was recognized by 80 percent of Americans, and many of you probably still fondly remember him today.
McGruff, the Crime Dog
In the late 1970s, the Ad Council partnered with the FBI to create an anthropomorphic animal character that, like Woodsy Owl, was deliberately modeled after Smokey Bear. The result was a hugely successful anti-crime campaign featuring McGruff the Crime Dog and his slogan “Take a Bite Out of Crime.”
Vince and Larry
In the late 1980s, the Ad Council partnered with the U.S. Department of Transportation to create a humorous campaign featuring the crash test dummies Vince and Larry encouraging Americans to “Buckle Up.” The ads ran from 1985 through 1998, and in 2010 the Vince and Larry costumes and other related items were donated to the Smithsonian Institution.
The Fun, Freaky, and Forgotten
In contrast to these few hits, there are dozens of also-rans who for one reason or another did not quite capture the imagination or support of the public.
Some of them have a certain whimsical appeal or strangeness that can inspire enthusiasm in those whose tastes run toward the bizarre. In some cases, they may even develop a cult audience.
Freddy Food Stamp
Freddy Food Stamp was borrowed by the Food and Nutrition Service from the Mississippi Department of Public Welfare. He’s little more than a rectangle with a face and limbs, but even had he been blessed with a great artist he would have become obsolete when the Food Stamp Program was replaced by SNAP.
Sprocket Man was a bicycle safety superhero adapted (some might say “bowdlerized”) by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) from a comic originally commissioned by Stanford University and a local organization called the Urban Bikeway Design Collaborative. The entire comic was drawn by a Stanford student named Louis Saekow. Sprocket Man would probably have a cult following among bicyclists if the CPSC hadn’t offended them by classifying adult bicycles as children’s toys. The comic was reprinted several times with increasingly prissy modifications in each iteration.
Thermy and BAC
Thermy the thermometer travels the country fighting his nemesis BAC the bacterium while educating America on the many ways food can become contaminated. Thermy’s catchy slogan is “It’s safe to bite when the temperature is right!”
In this family activity book, Thermy teaches principles of food safety with the help of three anthropomorphic friends: a pump bottle filled with soap, a cutting board, and a refrigerator. They represent the principles of cleaning, separating, cooking, and chilling in order to avoid food contamination.
Thirstin’ is quite literally a tall drink of water with a baseball cap. The EPA uses him to teach children about protecting and conserving drinking water.
This unusually-shaped CD contains computer games, animations, and other activities that feature Thirstin’.
The Characters at NRCS
The Natural Resources Conservation Service has probably spawned more animal messengers than any other agency except the National Park Service, which seems to have a mascot for every individual national park. They include Sammy Soil, Mighty Mini Microbe (a rare female character), S.K. Worm (who when traveling is played by an animatronic puppet rather than a human being in costume), and the WhoBuddies—a group of six environmentally conscious owl superheroes.
Government mascots and messengers may be fun and educational, but they have not been without controversy.
Waste of Money
They are frequently seen as an extravagant waste of taxpayer money. Little research has been done to show whether mascots are effective in promoting social change, and often their themes seem irrelevant to the interests of young children. Sometimes there seem to be way too many characters redundantly promoting the same message.
Here are four different characters that have been used to teach children about water safety: Otto Otter, Bobber the Water Safety Dog, an anonymous safety pin, and an anonymous fish:
Smokey Bear’s slogan was changed from “Only You can Prevent Forest Fires” to “Only You Can Prevent Wildfires,” not just to address the issue of wildfires that occurred in grasslands and other areas outside the forests, but because the Smokey campaign had led to a reduction of prescribed burns, which inadvertently made the forests even more susceptible to out-of-control wildfires.
Misleading or Manipulative
Most insidiously, the Ad Council has been accused of using their access to the media to push a pro-business agenda that is not always in the public interest.
For example, emphasis on individual responsibility has been used to distract the public from the more serious and deep-seated problems created by corporations and government policies. Encouraging individual citizens to pick up their trash does little to alleviate the problem of systemic pollution by industries, and does not address the issue of companies packaging everything in disposable containers.
In order to maintain a mascot or messenger’s popularity, they must be updated every once in a while to stay relevant to current concerns and to stay stylistically fresh.
Even the perennially popular Smokey Bear experienced a moment of self-doubt in the 1970. One TV ad showed actress Joanna Cassidy imploring us in a sultry voice to be careful in the forest. At the end of the message she rips her face off and reveals herself to have been Smokey Bear in disguise. He chuckles and asks,“If you had known it was me, would you have listened?”
Woodsy Owl’s popularity grew throughout the 1970s and 1980s, but in the 1990s Woodsy became an unwitting participant in a conflict between the logging industry and the northern Spotted Owl, which had recently been added to the endangered species list. The 1990s were also a time when doctors were becoming alarmed at the growing rate of obesity among Americans, and Woodsy’s rotund owl shape made him seem like an unhealthy role model. The anti-littering message also seemed relatively trivial as climate change became a growing cause for concern.
The old, “classic” Woodsy was replaced by a trimmer, fitter Woodsy who was more appropriately dressed for hiking, and his message was broadened to “Give a Hand—Care for the Land.” The new Woodsy looked less like an owl and more like a human with an owl head.
The new slogan proved so unmemorable that when a survey was conducted a few years after the updated image, his old slogan was still the most recognized by Americans. The new slogan came dead last, even behind two “decoy” slogans. Eventually Woodsy kept both the original and the new slogan. Today even his new “buff” image might be criticized as “fat shaming.”
To the horror of fans who had grown up with the classic Woodsy, the old costumes were ordered to be burned:
Ben’s Guide to the U.S. Government for Kids provided educational resources and games to teach children in grades K–12 about how the U.S. government works and about related topics such as our national symbols. Ben Franklin was not around when the Government Printing Office was created, but his experience as a printer and his role in drafting some of the most important founding documents of our nation made him the perfect mascot for the GPO’s educational website.
The original Ben’s Guide to the U.S. Government was released in 1999 and was very text heavy. As with so many webpages designed in those early days of the World Wide Web, the illustrations seem dated and somewhat amateurish today.
On November 17, 2015, the Government Publishing Office launched an updated and redesigned version of Ben’s Guide. The Federal Depository Library program partnered with the American Association of School Librarians (AASL), a division of the American Library Association (ALA), to ensure the quality and comprehensibility of the site’s content and to make sure it was suitable for the age ranges of the intended audience. The remake is far more polished and interactive than the old site, and the division into grade levels was replaced by three categories cleverly named after levels of training in the printing trade. In September 2016, the new Ben’s Guide was selected as one of the American Library Association’s “Great Websites for Kids.”
Compared to the original Ben Franklin mascot, the new Ben has personality and panache, and there’s definitely nosize shaming here as there was with Woodsy! Notice he has also been given a catchy slogan — “Let’s Go On a Learning Adventure!”This is an example of a mascot update that works.
Celebrate with Us
We invite you to visit the Sycamore Library and celebrate Woodsy Owl’s birthday with us. You can see a display of Woodsy-themed items from our collection and investigatethe many other mascots and messengers in our library.We also invite you to explore the Sycamore Stacks Blog, the Government Information Connection, and other collections and resources at Sycamore. Come on over, and you might be surprised at what we have—you’ll find more at Sycamore!
Palmer, Barbara. “Sprocket Man, the Superman of bike safety, returns’” Stanford Report. October 23, 2002. Available at Stanford: Transportation. https://transportation.stanford.edu/bicycle/about-the-bicycle-program/meet-sprocket-man
“Sprocket Man Comics.” The Retrogrouch. September 25, 2015. http://bikeretrogrouch.blogspot.com/2015/09/sprocket-man-comics.html
Lutz, William D. “’The American Economic System’: The Gospel According to the Advertising Council.” College English, Vol. 38, No. 8, Mass Culture, Political Consciousness and English Studies (Apr., 1977), pp. 860-865. https://doi.org/10.2307/375958
Vance-Cooks, Davita. Prepared Statement before the Committee on House Administration, U.S. House of Representatives, Priorities of the House Officers and Legislative Branch Entities for FY 2018 and Beyond. February 26, 2017. https://www.congress.gov/115/meeting/house/105520/witnesses/HHRG-115-HA00-Wstate-Vance-CooksD-20170206.pdf.
The month of May is celebrated annually in the United States as Asian American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander Heritage Month. (The exact title varies, but the sentiment remains constant.) The reason this particular month was chosen was largely to commemorate two especially significant events: the arrival of the first Japanese immigrant to the United States (a shipwrecked 14-year-old boy named Manjiro) on May 7, 1843; and the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad (constructed primarily by Chinese migrant workers) on May 10, 1869.
During the month of May and beyond, we invite you to explore the many government information resources at the Eagle Commons Library and online that celebrate the significant role Asian/Pacific Americans have played in the creation of a dynamic and pluralistic American society with their contributions to the sciences, arts, industry, government and commerce. These are a few of our favorites:
The site includes virtual exhibits and collections; a huge library of ready-to-use educational resources such as lesson plans, student activities, collection guides, and research aids; selected audio and video resources; and selected images from the various participating agencies. Join these federal agencies in paying tribute to the generations of Asian and Pacific Islanders who have enriched America’s history and are instrumental in its future success.
On December 15, 1900, Robert W. Wilcox—son of a New England sea captain and a Native-Hawaiian mother—took the oath of office as the first Delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives from the Territory of Hawaii. Wilcox was the first Asian Pacific American (APA) member of Congress, as well as the first member of Congress to represent a constituency outside the continental United States. During the next century, another 59 individuals of Asian or Pacific Islander ancestry followed Delegate Wilcox into the Capitol to become members of the U.S. Congress. Dalip Singh Saund, an immigrant from India who was in office from 1957 to 1963 and who is pictured on the cover of this publication, was the first Asian American, the first Indian American, and the first member of a non-Abrahamic faith to be elected to the U.S. Congress.
Fourth in the Women and Minorities in Congress series (previous volumes have profiled women, Black Americans, and Hispanic Americans in Congress), this publication is the most comprehensive history available on the Asian and Pacific Islander Americans who have served in Congress. This detailed, richly-illustrated work provides a biographical profile of each member and tells the story of how Asian and Pacific Islanders moved from a position of almost complete exclusion and marginalization to an increasing influence at the center of American government.
You can find several healthy and easy-to-make recipes for Asian-style dishes on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s MyPlate.gov website. For example, the “Five Happiness Fried Noodles” recipe featured in the photo above combines carrots, bamboo shoots, mushrooms, bean sprouts, and green onions with fried noodles and a simple sauce. The recipe originally appeared on the California Department of Social Services EatFresh.org website and was funded by the USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The USDA and their partners have adapted recipes from many cuisines around the world to create well-balanced dishes that incorporate a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and lean protein foods.
In October 2009, a two-day symposium was held in the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, DC. to discuss the complicated interactions between American and Asian artists and visual traditions from the eighteenth century to the present. Presentations by both senior and emerging scholars and curators explored cultural interactions in a variety of “contact zones” ranging from the Pacific and Atlantic coasts of the United States to venues of artistic production in India, China, Japan, the Philippines, and Vietnam.
This document, published by Smithsonian Institution Scholarly Press in 2012, contains the symposium proceedings, along with an introduction by symposium organizer, Cynthia Mills, and two essays by co-organizers, Lee Glazer and Amelia Goerlitz, on the Smithsonian’s research resources relating to East-West exchange. A webcast of the symposium is also available for viewing on the Smithsonian American Art Museum Symposium Playlist.
In response to the recent increase in acts of violence, harrassment, and xenophobia directed against the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities in the United States—especially against Asian women and girls—President Biden announced the following steps were being taken to advance safety, inclusion, and belonging for all Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander communities:
Saturday, May 1 is election day across Texas. Municipalities around the state are deciding a variety of races including city council seats, school district/board seats, mayors, and even one seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. So often the news is dominated by national politics, so much so, that the importance of state and local politics can be lost amongst the noise. It’s important to remind folks that so much of our everyday lives are governed locally.
The decisions our mayors, city councilors, county commissioners, school board members, district attorneys, sheriffs, and other local officials make impact our lives on daily basis. Property taxes and sales taxes fund our local governments and the people we elect to local offices make the decisions on how and what is taxed and who or what receives the funds. Our local governments make decisions about critical local infrastructure including power/electricity, water, roads, and parks. They make decisions on business permitting, new neighborhood development, road expansions and repairs, shopping districts, community policing, local resource control, and more. Our school boards make decisions about the education of our communities’ children including the facilities in which they learn or the modes by which instruction is delivered. The little things that impact our daily lives, those things which we may take for granted, are often the results of decisions made by our local government officials.
To make your voice heard and influence the local decisions that impact your life, turn out on May 1st to cast your vote in your local municipal race. If you’re unsure where to look for information or how to find out who’s on your ballot, the UNT Libraries and Government Information Connection have you covered. Check out our Voting and Civic Engagement Guide for links to voter information, including Vote411.org. For those in the North Texas region, The Dallas Morning News has a list of races and candidates and a tool to create a personal ballot.
The government document specialists at the Eagle Commons Library can find information on any subject for you. For instance, we can find help you find a children’s book on bats, a conservation book on bats, a book about bat funguses, and even a list of places where you can go to see bats in Texas. Today is International Bat Appreciation Day, and we are standing by to meet all your bat information needs!
These are some of our favorite government documents and websites related to bats. They represent only a fraction of the information that is available at the Eagle Commons Library, but they are excellent examples of the kind of material you can obtain from government resources:
Home to 32 of the 47 species of bats found in the United States, Texas is without doubt the battiest state in the country! Texas also has the largest bat colony in the world (at Bracken Cave Preserve, near San Antonio) and the largest urban bat colony (at the Congress Avenue Bridge, in Austin).
This website from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department will tell you the best locations and times for watching bats and provide tips on how to have a memorable bat-watching experience without causing harm to the bats or to yourself. The Bat-Watching Sites of Texas Guide is also available as a pamphlet.
This delightful picture book uses the story of Echo the Bat to introduce the concept of remote sensing to very young children. Illustrations show satellite imagery of the landscape, and when the reader opens flaps in the images (similar to windows in an Advent calendar), the ground-level view of the landscape appears. Lesson plans and activities and an Adventure of Echo the Bat Teacher’s Guide are available to help teach the concepts in this book.
Many Americans are afraid of bats or view them as annoying pests, but bats play a number of very important roles in our ecosystem. With more than 1400 species, bats comprise the second-largest order of mammals (rodents are the largest), and by eating harmful insects, pollinating many species of plants, and dispersing seeds, they provide critical services to the ecology of our planet. And we all know that bat guano makes an excellent fertilizer!
This document explains how humans can support the bat population by incorporating bat housing into buildings and bringing bat-friendly habitat into neighborhoods.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service also has detailed plans showing how to build a bat box to attract bats to your house.
White-nose syndrome (WNS) is a disease of hibernating bats caused by a fungus, Pseudogymnoascus destructans, that infects skin of the muzzle, ears, and wings of the bats. Since the winter of 2007–2008, millions of insect-eating bats in 35 states and seven Canadian provinces (as of March 2021) have died from this devastating disease, resulting in bat population declines that could have major impacts on the environment and agriculture.
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has been a leading contributor to the interagency response to WNS since 2008 and continues to provide ongoing scientific support to these efforts by performing fundamental research on bat ecology, fungal biology, and WNS epidemiology and pathology. This USGS webpage provides links to maps, publications, photos, videos, and other information to keep you up to date on the latest research.
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has not helped the bat’s reputation. Did the pandemic originate from bats? If so, could it happen again? Read this and other articles from the National Library of Medicine’s PubMed database to keep up with the latest research.
Many other government agencies also have information on the potential connection between bats and SARS-CoV-2. For instance, a study from the U.S. Geological Survey with the catchy title Assessing the Risks Posed by SARS-CoV-2 in and via North American Bats: Decision Framing and Rapid Risk Assessment explores the possibility of whether infected humans might transmit the virus to American bats, and if those infected bats could serve as a source for new infection in humans, domesticated animals, or other wild animals—a terrifying scenario indeed, but also an opportunity to gain awareness and be prepared.
Would You Like to Know More?
We hope these resources have helped you gain some appreciation of the valuable contributions bats make to our lives. You can find many more federal and state government publications related to bats in the University of North Texas Libraries Catalog.
Annie Webb Blanton got her education career off to an early start, taking a job as a teacher in a one-room rural schoolhouse as soon as she graduated from high school at the age of seventeen.
While earning her bachelor’s degree at the University of Texas, she continued to support herself by teaching elementary and high school, scheduling her college courses during the summers while school was out.
From 1901 to 1918, she taught English at North Texas State Normal College, an institution you may be more familiar with under its current name, the University of North Texas. Her no-nonsense textbook Review Outline and Exercises in English Grammarwas adopted in classes across the country.
With the help of fellow suffragists, who in 1918 had won the right to vote in Texas primaries, she ran for Superintendent of Public Instruction (forerunner of the current Texas Education Agency), defeated the incumbent by a large majority, and thus became the first woman in Texas elected to a statewide office.
These are just a few of her myriad accomplishments as Superintendent:
Instituted a system of free textbooks
Revised teacher certification standards
Raised teacher salaries
Improved rural education
Promoted equality for women teachers
In 1920 she campaigned vigorously for the Better Schools Amendment, which amended the Texas Constitution to remove limitations on tax rates allowable by local school districts for support of their public schools, thereby reducing the state’s burden of the costs of public education.
After an unsuccessful run for Congress, Blanton earned a master’s degree at the University of Texas in Austin in 1923, then continued at UT as a member of the faculty. In 1926 she took a brief leave of absence to earn a PhD at Cornell, then returned to UT-Austin in 1927. In 1929 she founded the Delta Kappa Gamma Society International to promote the professional and personal growth of women educators and excellence in education. Blanton remained a member of the faculty at UT-Austin until her death in 1945.
Read some of the works authored by Annie Webb Blanton: https://bit.ly/3kILhbB (This might be the perfect opportunity to review the basics of English grammar in case you’ve forgotten!)
Explore thousands of photos, letters, and other documents pertaining to Annie Webb Blanton in the Portal to Texas History: https://bit.ly/3uQiSFp
“Everything that helps to wear away age-old prejudices contributes towards the advancement of women and of humanity.” —Annie Webb Blanton
Article by Bobby Griffith.
Photo of Annie Webb Blanton circa 1900 – Collections, Special , Michelle Dotts, and Clio Admin. “Annie Webb Blanton Historical Marker.” Clio: Your Guide to History. December 19, 2016. Accessed March 25, 2021. https://www.theclio.com/entry/28674
Campaign material – “Concerning the Race for State Superintendent of Public Instruction” Circa 1917-1918, Jane Y. McCallum Papers. AR.E.004, Austin History Center, Austin Public Library.
Flyer – “Vote For Annie Webb Blanton for State Superintendent of Public Instruction,” Circa 1917-1918, AF – Biography – Blanton, Annie Webb, Austin History Center, Austin Public Library.