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American & British Stories
One Thousand Dollars 
“One thousand dollars,” said the lawyer Tolman, in a severe and serious voice.  “And here is the money.”
Young Gillian touched the thin package of fifty-dollar bills and laughed.
“It’s such an unusual amount,” he explained, kindly, to the lawyer.  “If it had been ten thousand a man might celebrate with a lot of fireworks.  Even fifty dollars would have been less trouble.”
“You heard the reading of your uncle’s will after he died,” continued the lawyer Tolman.  “I do not know if you paid much attention to its details.  I must remind you of one.  You are required to provide us with a report of how you used this one thousand dollars as soon as you have spent it.  I trust that you will obey the wishes of your late uncle.”
“You may depend on it,” said the young man respectfully.
Gillian went to his club. He searched for a man he called Old Bryson.
Old Bryson was a calm, anti-social man, about forty years old.  He was in a corner reading a book.  When he saw Gillian coming near he took a noisy, deep breath, laid down his book and took off his glasses.
“I have a funny story to tell you,” said Gillian. 
“I wish you would tell it to someone in the billiard room,” said Old Bryson. “You know how I hate your stories.”
“This is a better one than usual,” said Gillian, rolling a cigarette, and I’m glad to tell it to you. It’s too sad and funny to go with the rattling of billiard balls.
I’ve just come from a meeting with my late uncle’s lawyers.  He leaves me an even thousand dollars. Now, what can a man possibly do with a thousand dollars?”
Old Bryson showed very little interest.  “I thought the late Septimus Gillian was worth something like half a million.”
“He was,” agreed Gillian, happily.  “And that’s where the joke comes in.  He has left a lot of his money to an organism. That is, part of it goes to the man who invents a new bacillus and the rest to establish a hospital for doing away with it again. There are one or two small, unimportant gifts on the side.  The butler and the housekeeper get a seal ring and ten dollars each.  His nephew gets one thousand dollars.”
“Were there any others mentioned in your uncle’s will?” asked Old Bryson.
“None.” said Gillian. “There is a Miss Hayden.  My uncle was responsible for her.  She lived in his house. She’s a quiet thing…musical… the daughter of somebody who was unlucky enough to be his friend.  I forgot to say that she was in on the ring and ten dollar joke, too. I wish I had been.  Then I could have had two bottles of wine, given the ring to the waiter and had the whole business off my hands. Now tell me what a man can do with a thousand dollars.”
Old Bryson rubbed his glasses and smiled. And when Old Bryson smiled, Gillian knew that he intended to be more offensive than ever.
There are many good things a man could do with a thousand dollars,” said Bryson. “You?” he said with a gentle laugh.  “Why, Bobby Gillian, there’s only one reasonable thing you could do. You can go and buy Miss Lotta Lauriere a diamond necklace with the money and then take yourself off to Idaho and inflict your presence upon a ranch. I advise a sheep ranch, as I have a particular dislike for sheep.”
“Thanks,” said Gillian as he rose from his chair. “I knew I could depend on you, Old Bryson. You’ve hit on the very idea. I wanted to spend the money on one thing, because I have to turn in a report for it, and I hate itemizing.”
Gillian phoned for a cab and said to the driver:  “The stage entrance of the Columbine Theatre.”
The theater was crowded.  Miss Lotta Lauriere was preparing for her performance when her assistant spoke the name of Mr. Gillian.
“Let it in,” said Miss Lauriere.  “Now, what is it, Bobby?  I’m going on stage in two minutes.”
“It won’t take two minutes for me. What do you say to a little thing in the jewelry line?  I can spend one thousand dollars.”
“Say, Bobby,” said Miss Lauriere,  “Did you see that necklace Della Stacey had on the other night?  It cost two thousand two hundred dollars at Tiffany’s.”
Miss Lauriere was called to the stage for her performance.
Gillian slowly walked out to where his cab was waiting.  “What would you do with a thousand dollars if you had it?” he asked the driver.
“Open a drinking place,” said the driver, quickly. “I know a place I could take money in with both hands. I’ve got it worked out–if you were thinking of putting up the money.”
“Oh, no,” said Gillian.  “I was just wondering.”
Eight blocks down Broadway, Gillian got out of the cab.  A blind man sat on the sidewalk selling pencils. Gillian went out and stood in front of him.
“Excuse me, but would you mind telling me what you would do if you had a thousand dollars?” asked Gillian.
The blind man took a small book from his coat pocket and held it out. Gillian opened it and saw that it was a bank deposit book.
It showed that the blind man had a balance of one thousand seven hundred eighty-five dollars in his bank account. Gillian returned the bank book and got back into the cab.
“I forgot something,” he said. “You may drive to the law offices of Tolman & Sharp.”
Lawyer Tolman looked at Gillian in a hostile and questioning way.
“I beg your pardon,” said Gillian, cheerfully.  “But was Miss Hayden left anything by my uncle’s will in addition to the ring and the ten dollars?”
“Nothing,” said Mr. Tolman.
“I thank you very much, Sir,” said Gillian, and went to his cab. He gave the driver the address of his late uncle’s home.
Miss Hayden was writing letters in the library.  The small, thin woman wore black clothes.  But you would have noticed her eyes.  Gillian entered the room as if the world were unimportant.
“I have just come from old Tolman’s,” he explained.  “They have been going over the papers down there.  They found a…”  Gillian searched his memory for a legal term.  “They found an amendment or a post-script or something to the will.  It seemed that my uncle had second thoughts and willed you a thousand dollars.  Tolman asked me to bring you the money.  Here it is.”
Gillian laid the money beside her hand on the desk.  Miss Hayden turned white. “Oh!” she said.  And again, “Oh!”
Gillian half turned and looked out the window.  In a low voice he said, “I suppose, of course, that you know I love you.”
“I am sorry,” said Miss Hayden, as she picked up her money.
“There is no use?” asked Gillian, almost light-heartedly.
“I am sorry,” she said again.
“May I write a note?” asked Gillian, with a smile.  Miss Hayden supplied him with paper and pen, and then went back to her writing table.
Gillian wrote a report of how he spent the thousand dollars: “Paid by Robert Gillian, one thousand dollars on account of the eternal happiness, owed by Heaven to the best and dearest woman on earth.”
Gillian put the note into an envelope.  He bowed to Miss Hayden and left.
His cab stopped again at the offices of Tolman & Sharp.
“I have spent the one thousand dollars,” he said cheerfully, to Tolman.  “And I have come to present a report of it, as I agreed.” He threw a white envelope on the lawyer’s table.
Without touching the envelope, Mr. Tolman went to a door and called his partner, Sharp. Together they searched for something in a large safe.  They brought out a big envelope sealed with wax.  As they opened the envelope, they shook their heads together over its contents.  Then Tolman became the spokesman.
“Mr. Gillian,” he said, “there was an addition to your uncle’s will.  It was given to us privately, with instructions that it not be opened until you had provided us with a full report of your handling of the one thousand dollars received in the will.
“As you have satisfied the conditions, my partner and I have read the addition.  I will explain to you the spirit of its contents.
“In the event that your use of the one thousand dollars shows that you possess any of the qualifications that deserve reward, you stand to gain much more.  If your disposal of the money in question has been sensible, wise, or unselfish, it is in our power to give you bonds to the value of fifty thousand dollars.  But if you have used this money in a wasteful, foolish way as you have in the past, the fifty thousand dollars is to be paid to Miriam Hayden, ward of the late Mr. Gillian, without delay.
“Now, Mr. Gillian, Mr. Sharp and I will examine your report of the one thousand dollars.”
Mr. Tolman reached for the envelope. Gillian was a little quicker in taking it up.  He calmly tore the report and its cover into pieces and dropped them into his pocket.
“It’s all right,” he said, smilingly.  “There isn’t a bit of need to bother you with this.  I don’t suppose you would understand these itemized bets, anyway.  I lost the thousand dollars on the races. Good-day to you, gentlemen.”
Tolman and Sharp shook their heads mournfully at each other when Gillian left.  They heard him whistling happily in the hallway as he waited for the elevator.

(02) Bats

The United Nations has declared twenty eleven to twenty twelve the Year of the Bat. The campaign was launched last year as a way to strengthen efforts for protecting the world’s only flying mammal.

These creatures can be found in many parts of the world. Bats live in cities, deserts, grasslands and forests. There are over one thousand two hundred bat species.

The smallest bat in the world is from Southeast Asia. The Bumblebee bat measures about thirty millimeters in length. The world’s largest bat, the Giant Golden-Crowned Flying Fox, has a wingspan of one and a half meters. Most bats eat insects, but many feed on fruit or nectar from flowers.

Many people think bats are blind, but this is not true. Many species have very good sight. Most bats communicate and find their way by making “echolocation” noises. They produce high-frequency noises and can estimate the distance of an object by using the sound echoes that bounce back to them. So, while bats may travel in total darkness, they “see” using sound.

Sadly, bats are widely feared and misunderstood. Most bats come out of their shelters only at nightfall. Three bat species feed on blood. Because of these qualities, bats have long been linked in many cultures to death, darkness and vampires.

Yet bats are important for agriculture and our environment. They help pollinate plants and spread seeds. They also help control insects. Bats eat huge numbers of insects, including kinds that damage crops.

For example, a brown bat can eat more than one thousand insects the size of a mosquito in one hour. One report says bats save American farmers billions of dollars every year by reducing crop damage and limiting the need for chemicals that kill insects. The report was published earlier this year in Science magazine.

Bats have also proved useful in the medical industry. Some bats carry a substance in their saliva that has been manufactured and used in medicine to help stroke victims.

Over one-fifth of all bat species are under threat. They face disease and the human destruction of their natural environments. In the eastern United States, a disease called white-nose syndrome has greatly damaged bat populations over the past five years. The organization Bat Conservation International says white-nose syndrome has killed more than a million bats since it was discovered in a New York cave in two thousand six. In some areas, the disease has killed nearly one hundred percent of bat populations.

White-nose syndrome has now spread to at least nineteen other states and parts of Canada. The name of the disease comes from a white fungus found on the faces and wings of infected bats. The disease causes the creatures to awaken more often during hibernation, the period when they normally rest. Infected bats leave their shelters during winter and can freeze to death. Or they may use up stored body fat and starve to death.

Leslie Sturges is doing what she can to save bats. She is the director of Bat World NOVA, a bat protection group in the Washington, D.C. area. She cares for injured bats in the basement of her home. Then she releases them back into the wild.

LESLIE STURGES: “You hear a lot of people refer to bats as filthy. But they aren’t. They groom like cats and dogs do. They use these toes back here to actually comb their fur coat out.”

Ms. Sturges also talks about the importance of bats during visits to schools and nature centers. Her goal is to support their protection by bringing attention to the good things that bats provide to people and the environment.

She and her assistant are caring for about thirty injured, sick or orphaned bats this summer.

When the bats are healthy, she moves them to a closed off area next to her home so they can learn once more how to fly.

One of her bats is named Shaggy. She plans to release him, but first wants to make sure he eats well. When the sun sets, she sets him free. But he does not want to leave just yet.

LESLIE STURGES: “So I think what I am going to do is put him back in and let him nap for an hour and I am going to try and release him later tonight. Because he has to go. He can’t live here.”

Ms. Sturges says Shaggy has a good chance of survival because red bats are common in the area.

Fish Farming

Several fishermen in Maine recently completed a study program at the country’s first ever “Cod Academy.” The Maine Aquaculture Association directs the program. It trains fishermen who usually earn a living fishing in the ocean to be fish farmers. The program is aimed at helping commercial fishers to find a new way to carry out their trade.

On a recent morning, a fishing boat left the public dock in the seaside community of Sorrento, Maine. But the men on the boat were not going fishing … they were going farming.

SEBASTIAN BELLE: “Today we’re probably going to be moving cages and sorting codfish so the students will get experience doing that”.

That was Sebastian Belle. He is head of the Maine Aquaculture Association. It operates the new “Cod Academy” in partnership with the University of Maine and other organizations.

About one and a half kilometers out to sea, the boat finds eight circular pens. A rubber tube encloses each one. The pens are covered with netting material to keep out seabirds. Inside each of the fifty-meter wide areas are up to fifty thousand cod. Most of these fish will be served on dinner tables around the world.

This is the only commercial cod farm in Maine. The operator is Great Bay Aquaculture, a fish-farming company. It is one of the partners in the Cod Academy.

Mr. Belle says that during a year, students are taught everything they need to know about operating a floating farm.

SEBASTIAN BELLE: “One of the things we’ve been teaching the students is how to feed the fish and not overfeed the fish. So you want to give them enough feed, and not waste any feed and make it as efficient as possible.”

The fish-farmers in training take turns throwing special fish food into the pen.

Air bubbles appear as thousands of cod come up to feed. They can be seen from the boat with an underwater camera.

Bill Thompson is one of the Cod Academy’s four students. He says the program has showed him that aquaculture, or fish-farming, is a wise choice.

BILL THOMPSON SR: “Even if the wild stocks came back to their fullest capacity they still wouldn’t feed the world. So this is the way of the future. And it’s feasible for a family to run a business also.”

That is why Mr. Thompson’s son is also a student at the academy. Thirty-nine year old Bill Thompson Junior has been a working fisherman for much of his life. He earns a living diving for urchins and fishing for lobster. But he notes that he has a wife and four children to support, so it was time for a change.

BILL THOMPSON JR: “Well I’ve seen a depletion of the source of everything I have been harvesting over the years. I look into the future, I can’t see my kids set up in what I’m doing right now as far as, you know, lobstering, urchining. I don’t want to see them get a source that’s depleting every year.”

Becoming a fish-farmer has its own financial risks. Sebastian Belle says students need to develop a business plan before they can graduate. They will be expected to raise about half of the money they would need for any farm they want to create. Mr. Belle says the “Cod Academy” is based on successful programs started in Japan and Norway more than thirty years ago. Those programs were created to retrain fishers who once caught tuna and herring.

SEBASTIAN BELLE: “It’s never been done before in America and we’re trying to see if it’s a model that has some potential.

Mr. Belle says he hopes the program will help people in Maine realize the huge promise that cod farming holds. He admits aquaculture has its critics. Critics say that crowding fish together in a farm can spread disease and produce unhealthy fish.

But Mr. Belle says Maine’s fish farmers have learned from those mistakes. And he says state inspectors make sure that fish farms obey environmental rules.

The first students of the “Cod Academy” graduated this month. They are now permitted to seek financial aid from the Maine Aquaculture Association to start their own cod-farms.

This program was written and produced by Dana Demange, with reporting by Tom Porter and Jeff Swicord.  I’m Barbara Klein.

And I’m Mario Ritter.  You can find our programs online with transcripts, MP3s, podcasts and pictures at voaspecialenglish.com Join us again next week for EXPLORATIONS in VOA Special English.

(03) Diets

(04) A Difficult Life for English Settlers

This is Rich Kleinfeldt. And this is Sarah Long with THE MAKING OF A NATION, a VOA Special English program about the history of the United States.

Today, we tell about the first permanent English settlements in North America.

England was the first country to compete with Spain for claims in the New World, although it was too weak to do this openly at first.  But Queen Elizabeth of England supported such explorations as early as the 1570s.

Sir Humphrey Gilbert led the first English settlement efforts. He did not establish any lasting settlement.  He died as he was returning to England.

Gilbert’s half brother Sir Walter Raleigh continued his work. Raleigh sent a number of ships to explore the east coast of North America. He called the land Virginia to honor England’s unmarried Queen Elizabeth.

In 1585, about one-hundred men settled on Roanoke Island, off the coast of the present day state of North Carolina. These settlers returned to England a year later.  Another group went to Roanoke the next year.  This group included a number of women and children.  But the supply ships Raleigh sent to the colony failed to arrive.  When help got there in 1590, none of the settlers could be found.

History experts still are not sure what happened.  Some research suggests that at least some of the settlers became part of the Indian tribe that lived in the area.

One reason for the delay in getting supplies to Roanoke was the attack of the Spanish Navy against England in 1588.  King Phillip of Spain had decided to invade England. But the small English ships combined with a fierce storm defeated the huge Spanish fleet. As a result, Spain was no longer able to block English exploration.

England discovered that supporting colonies so far away was extremely costly.  So Queen Elizabeth took no more action to do this.  It was not until after her death in 1603 that England began serious efforts to start colonies in America.

In 1606, the new English King, James the First, gave two business groups permission to establish colonies in Virginia, the area claimed by England. Companies were organized to carry out the move.

The London Company sent one hundred settlers to Virginia in 1606. The group landed there in May, 1607 and founded Jamestown.  It was the first permanent English colony in the new world.

The colony seemed about to fail from the start. The settlers did not plant their crops in time so they soon had no food. Their leaders lacked the farming and building skills needed to survive on the land.  More than half the settlers died during the first winter.

The businessmen controlling the colony from London knew nothing about living in such a wild place. They wanted the settlers to search for gold, and explore local rivers in hopes of finding a way to the East.  One settler knew this was wrong.  His name was Captain John Smith. He helped the colonists build houses and grow food by learning from the local Indians.  Still, the Jamestown settlers continued to die each year from disease, lack of food and Indian attacks.

The London Company sent six thousand settlers to Virginia between 1606 and 1622. More than four thousand died during that time.

History experts say that all the settlers surely would have died without the help of the local Powhatan Indians. The Indians gave the settlers food.  They taught them how to live in the forest. And the Powhatan Indians showed the settlers how to plant new crops and how to clear the land for building.

The settlers accepted the Indians’ help. Then, however, the settlers took whatever else they wanted by force.  In 1622, the local Indians attacked the settlers for interfering with Indian land.  Three hundred forty settlers died.  The colonists answered the attack by destroying the Indian tribes living along Virginia’s coast.

The settlers recognized that they would have to grow their own food and survive on their own without help from England or anyone else. The Jamestown colony was clearly established by 1624.  It was even beginning to earn money by growing and selling a new crop, tobacco.

The other early English settlements in North America were much to the north of Virginia, in the present state of Massachusetts. The people who settled there left England for different reasons than those who settled in Jamestown. The Virginia settlers were looking for ways to earn money for English businesses. The settlers in Massachusetts were seeking religious freedom.

King Henry the Eighth of England had separated from the Roman Catholic Church. His daughter, Queen Elizabeth, established the Protestant religion in England. It was called the Church of England, or the Anglican Church. The Anglican Church, however, was similar to that of the Roman Catholic Church.

Not all Protestants liked this.  Some wanted to leave the Anglican Church and form religious groups of their own.  In 1606, members of one such group in the town of Scrooby did separate from the Anglican Church.  About one hundred twenty-five people left England for Holland.  They found problems there too, so they decided to move again…to the New World.

These people were called pilgrims, because that is the name given to people who travel for religious purposes.

About thirty-five pilgrims were among the passengers on a ship called the Mayflower in 1620. It left England to go to Virginia. But the Mayflower never reached Virginia. Instead, it landed to the north, on Cape Cod Bay. The group decided to stay there instead of trying to find Jamestown.

The pilgrims and the others on the Mayflower saw a need for rules that would help them live together peacefully.  They believed they were not under English control since they did not land in Virginia.  So they wrote a plan of government, called the Mayflower Compact.  It was the first such plan ever developed in the New World.

They elected a man called William Bradford as the first governor of their Plymouth Colony.  We know about the first thirty years of the Plymouth Colony because William Bradford described it in his book, Of Plymouth Plantation.

As happened in Jamestown, about half the settlers in Plymouth died the first winter.  The survivors were surprised to find an Indian who spoke English. His name was Squanto. He had been kidnapped by an English sea captain and had lived in England before returning to his people.

The Pilgrims believed Squanto was sent to them from God.  He made it possible for them to communicate with the native people. He showed them the best places to fish, what kind of crops to plant and how to grow them. He provided them with all kinds of information they needed to survive. The settlers invited the Indians to a feast in the month of November to celebrate their successes and to thank Squanto for his help. Americans remember that celebration every year when they observe the Thanksgiving holiday.

Other English settlers began arriving in the area now called New England. One large group was called the Puritans. Like the pilgrims, the Puritans did not agree with the Anglican Church. But they did not want to separate from it. The Puritans wanted to change it to make it more holy. Their desire for this change made them unwelcome in England.

The first ship carrying Puritans left England for America in 1630.  By the end of that summer, one thousand Puritans had landed in the northeastern part of the new country. The new English King, Charles, had given permission for them to settle the Massachusetts Bay area.

The Puritans began leaving England in large groups. Between 1630 and 1640, 20,000 sailed for New England. They risked their lives on the dangerous trip. They wanted to live among people who believed as they did, people who honored the rules of the Bible. Puritans believed that the Bible was the word of God.

(05) Cashmere Goats and Angora Goats

Goats are valuable not just for their milk and meat. Or for their ability to control weeds and help renew grasslands. Or even for their ability to be gentle around children. Goats can also be valuable for their hair.

Cashmere goats produce cashmere and Angora goats produce —

Did you think we were going to say angora? No, angora fiber comes from rabbits. Angora goats produce mohair.

Mohair is used in sweaters, scarves, coats and other products, including floor coverings and doll hair.

The United States is a leading producer of mohair, along with South Africa and Turkey. America’s top producing state is Texas.

An adult Angora can produce as much as seven kilograms of hair each year. As the goats grow older, however, their hair becomes thicker and less valuable.

Hair from white or solid-colored goats is the most popular, but the appeal of mixed-color mohair has grown.

Angora goats are also used as show animals. They require little special care. The animals need milk from their mothers for three or four months.

They reach full maturity when they are a little more than two years old. But even then they are smaller than most sheep and milk goats.

Cashmere goats are usually larger than Angoras. They can grow big enough to be kept with sheep and cattle.

The outer hair of the animal is called guard hair. Behind it is the valuable material on a cashmere goat. Cashmere is valued for its softness and warmth without much weight.

Some farmers comb their cashmere goats to remove the hair. But if the animals do get a haircut, it often takes place at the time when they naturally lose their winter coat — between December and March.

Angora goats generally get their hair cut two times a year, in the spring and fall. The job can be done with simple cutting tools or by hiring a professional shearer. Angoras may need special protection from the cold for about a month after shearing.

The value of an animal’s coat depends on the age, size and condition. But whatever kind of goat you choose, be sure you have a good fence. Goats love to explore.

(06) What Do You Know About the Common Cold?

Do you think getting cold can give you a cold? Is it bad to drink milk when you have a cold? Can chicken soup cure a cold?

Ranit Mishori is a family medicine doctor at Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington. She says colds are more common in winter, but not because of low temperatures. The cold weather just means people stay inside more.

RANIT MISHORI: “People tend to congregate and be together and the way the common cold virus is transmitted from one person to another is through handshakes, through sneezing, or coughing on one another.”

Adults generally get two to three colds a year. Children are likely to catch four or five. Dr. Mishori says some people mistakenly believe they can become resistant to colds.

RANIT MISHORI: “There are about two hundred different viruses that cause the common cold. People think that once you get infected one time you develop immunity for the rest of your life. This is wrong.”

There is still no cure for the common cold. But Dr. Mishori says there are ways to feel better sooner.

RANIT MISHORI: “So if you get a cold and on day one and you start taking about two grams of vitamin C a day, there is evidence that it might shorten the number of days that you will be suffering with these symptoms.”

She says honey can also help.

RANIT MISHORI: “There is increased evidence that it helps shorten the duration of the common cold sometimes even by two to three days.”

Dr. Mishori says honey seems to be especially effective in children with colds. But the Agriculture Department says never to feed honey to babies less than one year old. It says even honey in prepared foods may contain substances that can make babies very sick.

Some people believe in treating a cold with chicken soup. Does it work?

RANIT MISHORI: “Chicken soup has anti-inflammatory properties, so it helps reduce the duration of the cold but also it helps clear the mucus.”

Mucus is the sticky substance that can make you cough and have trouble breathing during a cold.

Have you ever heard the old saying “feed a cold, starve a fever”? Dr. Mishori says this is not necessarily a good guideline to follow. She says if you have a cold but do not feel hungry, then don’t eat.

RANIT MISHORI: “But you have to drink a lot and you can drink water or you can drink tea — anything that gets fluids into your body. That’s very important.”

But what about drinking milk during a cold? Some people think it only causes more mucus. Dr. Mishori says yes and no.

RANIT MISHORI: “Dairy products do not cause increased secretions, but they can thicken the secretions. So it’s possible that discomfort is somewhat more enhanced when you drink milk. But obviously, if you’re a baby and that’s all you drink, you should not stop giving babies milk.”

(07) A Clash of Cultures in the New World

Our story today is a sad one.  It is the story of a clash of peoples, religions, ideas, and cultures.  It is a story of strongly held ideas and a lack of compromise.

It is the story of the relations between Europeans and the natives who had lived for thousands of years in the area we now call North America.

Many different Native American groups lived on the East Coast of what would become United States.  They spoke many different languages.  Some were farmers, some were hunters.  Some fought many wars, others were peaceful.

These groups are called tribes.  Their names are known to most Americans…the Senecas, the Mohawks, the Seminole, the Cherokee to name only a few.

These tribes had developed their own cultures many years before the first European settlers arrived.  Each had a kind of religion, a strong spiritual belief.  Many tribes shared a similar one.

The Indians on the East Coast shared a highly developed system of trade.  Researchers say different tribes of Native Americans traded goods all across the country.

The first recorded meetings between Europeans and the natives of the East Coast took place in the 1500s.  Fishermen from France and the Basque area of Spain crossed the Atlantic Ocean.  They searched for whales along the east coast of North America.  They made temporary camps along the coast.  They often traded with the local Indians.

The Europeans often paid Indians to work for them.  Both groups found this to be a successful relationship.  Several times different groups of fishermen tried to establish a permanent settlement on the coast, but the severe winters made it impossible.  These fishing camps were only temporary.

The first permanent settlers in New England began arriving in 1620.  They wanted to live in peace with the Indians. They needed to trade with them for food.  The settlers also knew that a battle would result in their own, quick defeat because they were so few in number.

Yet, problems began almost immediately.  Perhaps the most serious was the different way the American Indians and the Europeans thought about land.  This difference created problems that would not be solved during the next several hundred years.

Land was extremely important to the European settlers.  In England, and most other countries, land meant wealth.  Owning large amounts of land meant a person had great wealth and political power.

Many of the settlers in this new country could never have owned land in Europe.  They were too poor.  And they belonged to minority religious groups.  When they arrived in the new country, they discovered no one seemed to own the huge amounts of land.

Companies in England needed to find people willing to settle in the new country.  So they offered land to anyone who would take the chance of crossing the Atlantic Ocean.  For many, it was a dream come true.  It was a way to improve their lives.  The land gave them a chance to become wealthy and powerful.

American Indians believed no person could own land.  They believed, however, that anyone could use it.  Anyone who wanted to live on and grow crops on a piece of land was able to do so.

The American Indians lived within nature.  They lived very well without working very hard.  They were able to do this because they understood the land and their environment.  They did not try to change the land.  They might farm in an area for a few years. Then they would move on.  They permitted the land on which they had farmed to become wild again.

They might hunt on one area of land for some time, but again they would move on.  They hunted only what they could eat, so the numbers of animals continued to increase.  The Indians understood nature and made it work for them.

The first Europeans to settle in New England in the northeastern part of America were few in number.  They wanted land.  The Indians did not fear them.  There was enough land for everyone to use and plant crops.  It was easy to live together.  The Indians helped the settlers by teaching them how to plant crops and survive on the land.

But the Indians did not understand that the settlers were going to keep the land.  This idea was foreign to the Indians.  It was like to trying to own the air, or the clouds.

As the years passed, more and more settlers arrived, and took more and more land.  They cut down trees.  They built fences to keep people and animals out.  They demanded that the Indians stay off their land.

Religion was another problem between the settlers and the Indians.  The settlers in New England were very serious about their Christian religion.  They thought it was the one true faith and all people should believe in it.  They soon learned that the Indians were not interested in learning about it or changing their beliefs.

Many settlers came to believe that Native Americans could not be trusted because they were not Christians.  The settler groups began to fear the Indians.  They thought of the Indians as a people who were evil because they had no religion.  The settlers told the Indians they must change and become Christians.  The Indians did not understand why they should change anything.

The European settlers failed to understand that the Native American Indians were extremely religious people with a strong belief in unseen powers.  The Indians lived very close to nature. They believed that all things in the universe depend on each other.  All native tribes had ceremonies that honored a creator of nature.  American Indians recognized the work of the creator of the world in their everyday life.

Other events also led to serious problems between the Native Americans and the settlers.  One serious problem was disease.  The settlers brought sickness with them from Europe.  For example, the disease smallpox was well known in Europe.  Some people carried the bacteria that caused smallpox, although they did not suffer the sickness itself.

Smallpox was unknown to Native Americans.  Their bodies’ defense systems could not fight against smallpox.  It killed whole tribes.  And, smallpox was only one such disease.  There were many others.

The first meetings between settlers and Native Americans were the same in almost every European settlement on the East Coast of America.  The two groups met as friends.  They would begin by trading for food and other goods.

In time, however, something would happen to cause a crisis. Perhaps a settler would demand that an Indian stay off the settler’s land.  Perhaps a settler, or Indian, was killed.  Fear would replace friendship.  One side or the other would answer what they believed was an attack.  A good example of this is the violent clash called King Philip’s War.

Matacom was a leader of the Wampanoag tribe that lived in the northern-most colonies.  He was known to the English as King Philip.  Without the help of his tribe, the first European settlers in that area might not have survived their first winter. The Wampanoag Indians provided them with food.  They taught the settlers how to plant corn and other food crops.  The two groups were very friendly for several years.

As the years passed, however, fear and a lack of understanding increased.  Matacom’s brother died of a European disease.  Matacom blamed the settlers.  He also saw how the increasing numbers of settlers were changing the land.  He believed they were destroying it.

One small crisis after another led to the killing of a Christian Indian who lived with the settlers.  The settlers answered this by killing three Indians.  A war quickly followed.  It began in 1675 and continued for almost two years.  It was an extremely cruel war.  Men, women and children on both sides were killed.  Researchers believe more than six hundred settlers were killed.  They also say as many as three thousand Native Americans died in the violence.

History experts say the tribe of Indians called the Narraganset were the true victims of King Philip’s War.  The Narraganset were not involved in the war.  They did not support one group or the other.  However, the settlers killed almost all the Narraganset Indians because they had learned to fear all Indians.

This fear, lack of understanding and the failure to compromise were not unusual.  They strongly influenced the European settlers relations with Native Americans in all areas of the new country.

(08) Houses Made of Straw

Today we bring you a new take on an old tale. It’s the story of the three little pigs and the big bad wolf that blew down a house made of straw and one made of sticks. The only house left standing was the one made of bricks. Now there is new evidence to suggest that houses built with bales of straw can be very strong. They are also environmentally friendly.

Pete Walker is a professor at the University of Bath in Britain. He and a team of researchers there have built a house made out of straw bale and hemp material.

During the next twelve months the team will study the effectiveness of these materials in home building. Professor Walker says there are many good reasons for using straw.

PETE WALKER: “One of the benefits is it’s a relatively inexpensive renewable material that’s readily available.”

Professor Walker says straw takes in carbon dioxide as it grows. So it can be seen as having no harmful effects on the environment. He says straw helps the environment in other ways.

PETE WALKER: “The straw bales walls are relatively thick and so all that straw provides very good thermal insulation. So we make buildings that require very little heating in the winter or indeed very little cooling in the summer. So they require very little additional energy.”

Professor Walker says this reduces home operating expenses. It also reduces the effect on the environment. He says the current interest in straw bale houses is a direct response to the problem of climate change.

David Lanfear owns an eco-friendly home building service in the United States called Bale on Bale Construction.

He says he laughed when some friends first told him about houses built of straw. But after doing his own research, he learned that building with straw bales makes a lot of sense. He has now helped to build more than ten straw bale houses and says the building material is becoming more widely accepted.

To build the houses, he fills a wood frame with tightly packed bales of straw. Next he coats the walls inside and out with layers of clay plaster. He says the common ideas about straw houses continue, including stories about the threat of fire. Mr. Lanfear says straw bale houses have done well when tested for fire resistance.   And he says his builders use the same building methods as traditional builders to keep out rain.

(01) Harry Potter spin-off


A long queue of girls waiting for their chance of stardom.
Thousands of young hopefuls stood in line in London for the chance to audition for a role in a Harry Potter spin-off movie.
(Competitor) “I’m really excited! It’s my dream come true to get this part!”
Warner Bros are looking for a girl to play the character Modesty in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. The lead role has gone to the Oscar-winning actor, Eddie Redmayne.
But the competition is fierce and many are leaving with just a certificate to remind them of the experience.

stardom – being famous
hopefuls – people who want to succeed at something (like get a part in a film)
dream come true – something that you wanted for a long time that has now happened
lead role  – main part in a movie or play
fierce (here) – very strong

(02) Notting Hill

One of the world’s largest street music festivals has taken place in London.
Around sixty bands in colourful costumes took part in the Notting Hill Carnival. Thirty-eight sound systems entertained the crowds.
Revellers at the annual event donned raincoats and held umbrellas as west London was hit by downpours.
More than a million people are believed to have attended the event across its two days.

costumes – clothes worn for a certain type of activity
sound systems  – electrical equipment used to play music, recordings and announcements
revellers – people at a party or celebration
donned – put on (clothes)
downpours – heavy rain showers

(03) Record-breaking royal 

A historic day that one of the UK’s biggest royal fans has been looking forward to.

Queen Elizabeth II has now overtaken Queen Victoria as the UK’s longest-serving monarch. Victoria was on the throne for 63 years, seven months and two days.
Margaret Tyler, the self-styled ‘queen of royal memorabilia’, has turned her house into a shrine to Britain’s royals.
Each room is dedicated to a member of the family. But Queen Elizabeth has two rooms all to herself.
overtaken –  one past
longest-serving  – person in a position for the most amount of time
self-styled – named by herself
memorabilia – objects collected which are connected to an event or person
shrine (here) – a place to pay respect to a person or institution

(04) Plastic art

An art studio with no brushes or paint.
Mbongeni Buthelezi uses strips of plastic melted and glued to the canvas for his portraits.
When the South African studied art he couldn’t afford to buy expensive materials. So he found an alternative and now produces this unique kind of art.
He collects plastic bags from the streets around his Johannesburg studio and has turned recycling into an art form.


melted -made soft or made into a liquid
canvas – thick and strong cotton cloth that artists paint on with oil paints
afford – have enough money
unique -(here) unusual and not made anywhere else
recycling – using waste materials again

(05) Snakes in a cafe

A relaxing place for a coffee… Or is it?
This cafe, which has just opened in Tokyo, is not for the faint-hearted.
Here you sip your drink in the company of 35 snakes.
None of them are venomous, meaning customers can get up close and personal with the reptiles.
The cafe’s owner says he’s interested in conservation, and hopes customers will realise the animals are worth saving, even though they often have a bad reputation.


not for the faint-hearted not suitable for people who are not brave or do not like to take risks
venomous contains poison
get up close and personal – be intimate with something
conservation – (here) the act of protecting wildlife
reputation – opinion people have of someone or something

(06) Underwater clean-up

It’s no ordinary day at the beach. These divers are in Cornwall, southwest England, not for the fun but to pick up rubbish.
An estimated 70% of the plastic which enters the sea sinks, according to the organisation Dive Against Debris. And much of it is not biodegradable.
This is a problem that stretches far beyond the UK. Eight million tonnes of plastic ends up in the world’s oceans every year, causing damage to this fragile ecosystem.

divers – people who swim underwater as a sport or for work
sinks – goes down below the water level
biodegradable – describes something that decays naturally
stretches – extends its reach further
ecosystem – all the living things in a particular area

(07) Surfing dogs

About 50 animals wearing life jackets took part in the annual dog surfing competition in San Diego.
They were eager to follow their owners to the water and looked pretty confident and skilled at keeping their balance on the surfboards.
The owners guarantee that their pets are safe and enjoying the ride. At least this dog seems happy.
The event raises money for the San Diego Humane Society and the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

top dog – (idiom) a dominant person in a group or in their field
life jackets – something you wear to make you float if you fall into water
eager – keen
balance – the ability to stay in the same position and not fall
guarantee – promise that something will happen

(08) Plant energy

Could your garden power your mobile phone?
Scientists at Cambridge University are investigating how plants can give us sustainable energy.
They do this by collecting electrons released naturally by plants and turning them into electricity. You can even create your own algae solar panel.
But a lot of work needs to be done to make the process more efficient.
(Original story: BBC Click)

power (verb) – provide energy to make something work
investigating – researching
sustainable energy – energy created from sources that will not run out, such as wind and the sun
electrons – tiny parts of atoms that move round the atom’s centre and have a negative electrical charge
solar panel – a piece of equipment that changes energy from the sun into electricity

(09) Grass phone

Do you want your mobile phone to stand out from the crowd?
Well, here’s a device that looks cool and is truly green – that’s because some of it is made out of grass.
Its case and internal components are made entirely from recycled, organic materials.
It’s hoped in the future this sustainable phone can be mass-produced – helping to reduce the number of mobiles that don’t get recycled.


to stand out from the crowd – to be different from everything else
device – piece of equipment used for a certain purpose
internal components – parts inside a piece of equipment that make it work
organic – coming from living things, not from chemicals
sustainable – not harming the environment, therefore able to continue for a long time

(10) A good year for smelly fruit

It may look delicious but this fruit’s pungent smell makes it an acquired taste.
Durians, the so-called “king of fruits”, are something of a national obsession in Singapore.
And 2015 is shaping up to be a very good year for durian lovers, with a bumper crop in neighbouring Malaysia.
That means prices are coming down and sales are going up – much to the delight of buyers and sellers alike.
That’s it from me. I’ll leave you with today’s words and phrases once again.


pungent – strong and unpleasant taste or smell
an acquired taste – something you start liking the more you try it
is shaping up – developing into
bumper crop – larger amount of fruit than normally grows
delight – great pleasure/ happiness

(11) New York’s view from the top

The Freedom Tower in New York. The tallest building in the western hemisphere is now open to visitors.
The history of the city flashes by on the 100-floor journey to the top.
The skyscraper replaces the World Trade Center, and many visitors will inevitably think of September 11th, 2001.
New York still feels the trauma of those events. But the opening of this landmark is part of the city’s ongoing recovery.


hemisphere – (here) half of the Earth
flashes by – appears for a short time and then disappears
inevitably – unavoidably
trauma – (here) shock caused by a deeply disturbing experience
landmark – a building or site which helps to identify a place

(12) Paris ‘love locks’ removed

It’s the end of the affair.
Attaching a ‘love lock’ to the Pont des Arts before throwing the key into the River Seine in
Paris has become a tourist tradition.
But the romantic gesture has turned into an eyesore and also a hazard. The bridge is
weighed down with nearly 50 tonnes of metal.
Last year, one section of the railings gave way.
The bridge has been closed as workers remove the locks.

tradition – (here) a way of acting and behaving which continues for a long time
eyesore – ugly sight in a public place
hazard – angerous thing
weighed down – (here) carried too much weight, felt heavy
gave way – collapsed

(13) Oil painting copy shop

Could this be the most important and expensive collection of masterpieces ever?
Actually no. In fact, it’s a workshop in Dafen in southern China where more than half of the world’s oil paintings are mass-produced.
Millions of replicas of Van Goghs, Monets, and Picassos are exported, generating billions in revenue for these painters who were once farmers or migrant workers.
But because of online competition, these artists are starting to concentrate on producing original pieces of art.

masterpieces – high quality and very valuable paintings
mass-produced – made cheaply and in very large numbers
replicas – exact copies
revenue – income or money
original – not a copy; the artist’s own work

(14) Monuments in Nepal reopen

The scene is one of devastation. But these monuments are now open again to the public.
According to the UN’s heritage body, Unesco, their state is precarious.
But the cash-strapped Nepalese government feels the need to kick-start tourism.
At least 740 monuments were damaged by two earthquakes less than two months ago, including centuries-old temples, monasteries and palaces.


devastation – large scale destruction, damage
heritage – something created in the past that still has historical importance to a particular society
precarious – unstable, in a state that can cause danger
cash-strapped – without enough money
kick-start – to activate

(15) Ivory protest

Beautiful ornaments from an ugly trade.
More than a ton of ivory has been taken to New York’s Times Square and destroyed as a protest.
Many of the items were confiscated from an antiques dealer in Philadelphia.
The international trade of ivory was made illegal in 1989 but officials say around 35,000 elephants are still being slaughtered in Africa every year.
The message is that traders’ profits should be crushed and people shouldn’t buy ivory.
(Note: 1 ton = 907.185 kg)


ornaments – objects used for their beauty, with no practical purpose
confiscated – items taken away by an authority
illegal – against the law
slaughtered – killed violently
crushed – (here) reduced dramatically; destroyed

(16) The secret of giraffes’ long legs

Sticking their necks out for scientific research.
These giraffes at a zoo near London are helping researchers find out just how their spindly legs work.
Experts are using special technology to measure the animals’ leg movements. They want to see if being tall is a help or a hindrance to moving around.
The scientists also hope to solve the evolutionary mystery of how these animals developed from their more modestly proportioned ancestors.

sticking their necks out (idiom) – taking a risk
spindly – long and thin
hindrance – something that can make it difficult for you to do something else
evolutionary – gradual process of change and development
modestly – proportioned smaller sized

(17) Fighting child marriage

Hadiqa Bashir is a 14 year old with a cause – she wants to end child marriage in her community.
After school, she goes to other neighbourhoods in Pakistan’s north-western Swat valley to raise awareness.
Such marriages are considered the norm for keeping land in the family or settling disputes.
It could take a long time for customs to change, but Hadiqa hopes that at least some of the girls can have a better future.


a cause – a principle people believe in and fight for
neighbourhoods – adjoined areas
to raise awareness – to make people know more about something
the norm – a behaviour considered acceptable in a situation
settling – resolving a dispute with a compromise

(18) Obstacle race in Germany

It looks like a marathon… But strong legs are just one of the requirements to succeed in the Strongman Run.
About 11,000 competitors scramble over mud and slide on water. Fancy dress is
The athletes even give each other a helping hand around the 23km Nurburgring racetrack in
Germany. This year’s winner did it in just over an hour and a half.


marathon – a running race of just over 42km (just over 26 miles)
requirements – conditions which are necessary
scramble – move quickly but with difficulty
slide – move easily over a surface
fancy dress – party clothes usually representing a particular thing or character

(19) Royal baby

A little baby with a big name. This is Charlotte Elizabeth Diana, the daughter of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
Elizabeth is a tribute to her great-grandmother, the British monarch.
The baby was also named after her paternal grandmother, the late Princess Diana.
The birth of the fourth in line to the British throne was marked by gun salutes.


a tribute to – an act done to show respect and admiration to someone
monarch – sovereign or ruler
named after – to be called the same as someone else
the late – the deceased
in line to – in a queue for something

(20) Return of the lynx

Elusive, shy and an excellent predator… but the lynx was hunted to extinction in Britain over 1,000 years ago.
Now, a conservation group plans to reintroduce the species to the wild. They say they aren’t dangerous to humans, and claim that with an overpopulation of deer, the lynx will help rebalance the ecosystem.
But first, they’ll have to convince farmers who think the animal would pose a threat to livestock.


elusive – difficult to find
predator – animal that hunts and eats other animals
ecosystem – all plants and animals in an area
pose a threat – could cause harm
livestock – farm animals

(21) Ivory smuggling

It’s an impressive haul.
Four tonnes of ivory, with a market value of $6m. Customs officials in Thailand say it’s the biggest seizure in the country’s history.
The elephant tusks were tracked from the Democratic Republic of Congo for two months.
Officials say they were being transported to Laos, from where they believed the ivory would be sold to customers across Asia.


haul – an amount of stolen or illegal items
market value – potential price of an item if it is sold
seizure – (here) act of capturing something using force
tusks – long and pointy teeth coming out of an elephant’s mouth
transported – taken from one place to another

(22) Playing ‘Harry Potter’

If you thought this was like a scene from the Harry Potter movies then you’d be right.
This castle in Poland has been transformed into a temporary college of wizardry.
Students from all over the world have flown in to do role play in this makeshift Hogwarts.
Now organisers want to cast a spell on potential investors. It’s so they can buy their own castle and make this a permanent attraction.


wizardry – the practice of magic; great skill in a particular area
role play – pretending to be another person in order to learn something
makeshift – improvised, pretend
cast a spell – say words which are supposed to have magical powers
investors – people who give money to commercial ventures in expectation of making a profit

(23) Giant Easter egg

Melted chocolate – now that’s a mouth-watering sight.
This chocolatier in the English county of Lincolnshire has been working hard to create big eggs in the run-up to Easter. But not this one – that one!
Over 100kg of chocolate was used to create the two-metre-tall egg.
But Jan Hensen knows it is too much even for his chocoholic clients. He says he’ll sell it in pieces to raise money for charity.

melted – something solid turned into liquid
mouth-watering – so delicious that it makes you salivate
in the run-up to – in the period leading to a particular event
chocoholic – someone addicted to chocolate
charity – a system of giving help, such as money, to people who don’t have enough for basic life

(24) Symbol of peace

It’s the temple that brought Londonderry together. On Saturday they burnt it down.
Catholics and Protestants have a long history of conflict in this Northern Irish city.
But volunteers from both communities came together to build the structure. Thousands left personal messages of peace inside.
Organisers say the fire symbolises letting go of the past.

temple – a building used to pray to god or gods
burnt it down – destroyed it with fire
conflict – a serious disagreement or argument between two or more groups
volunteers – people who offer to work without being paid
symbolises – represents an idea

(25) Can you see the light?

It looks like Philip is enjoying the lights. But doctors don’t know if he can see them at all.
A new type of therapy – called Lightscores – helps visually impaired children become more active.
Sensors are placed on different parts of his body. They trigger sounds as Philip moves. This helps his coordination and confidence. After just five minutes, he’s much more adventurous.

therapy – treatment for a physical or mental problem
visually impaired – not able to see well even with glasses
sensors – devices that react to light, heat or pressure
coordination – (here) the ability to control your body’s movements
adventurous – willing to try new things and take risks

(26) 3D paintings

Looking good in the picture…
This museum in the Philippines encourages visitors to become part of the exhibits.
The artwork is designed so that, when photographed from a specific angle, optical illusions are created.
The museum is the brainchild of a group of Korean artists and features over 100 3D paintings.

encourages – supports
exhibits – items shown in a museum or art gallery
artwork – a piece of art e.g. painting, sculpture
optical illusions –  visual deception
brainchild – creative idea

(27) Alternative Miss World

This is Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London, but what would the Bard make of this?
Both genders were competing for the title of Alternative Miss World. And they pushed the boat out with their costumes. How about a peacock for evening wear? Would an octopus do for swimwear?
This unusual contest was created about 40 years ago. Maybe the only real thing this event has in common with a beauty pageant is the emotional coronation.

the Bard – nickname given to the English poet, playwright and actor William Shakespeare
genders – the male and female sexes
pushed the boat out – idiom: spent a lot of money, or made a lot of effort
unusual – out of the ordinary
beauty pageant – a competition traditionally focused on the physical beauty of its contestants, which are usually women

(28) Parkour is here to stay

It’s not a sport yet. But it requires a lot of agility.
This is ‘freerunning’, also called Parkour, and it’s here to stay.
The practice of jumping through urban obstacles started in the streets in France and now is going mainstream in Britain.
The country’s first specialised academies have opened their doors, to encourage people to learn how to do it in a safe environment.
It’s estimated that 35,000 people practise ‘freerunning’ regularly.

agility – the physical ability to be fast and flexible
obstacles – (here) objects that the freerunners have to move around or over
going mainstream – becoming well-known and accepted
specialised – concentrating on a particular area
encourage – (here) provide good conditions for people to do a particular activity, so that more people will do it

(29) Puppet carnival in Thailand

They’ve come in droves to Bangkok.
Glove puppets, puppets on strings and even the odd wannabe celebrity puppet.
The Harmony World Puppet Carnival in Thailand has brought together more than 160 puppeteers from 80 countries.
The organisers are hoping to put on the most entertaining of events, with only a few strings attached.


in droves – in great numbers
wannabe – someone who hopes to be famous
puppeteers – artists who control dolls which perform in shows
put on – produce
a few strings attached – a few conditions

(30) Don’t look down!

The wonderful sight of Zimbabwe’s Victoria Falls.
Two daredevils trained for two years to make the 100-metre-long crossing on a slack line. German student Lukas Irmler and Austrian journalist Reinhard Kleindl are the first people ever to cross the gorge walking upright.
It might be a daring walk for many, but it’s just a hobby for these two and they managed to take it in their stride.


daredevils – people who enjoy the excitement of doing dangerous activities
gorge – a geographical feature which is made of a narrow passage with steep walls, usually with a stream running through it
daring – adventurous
hobby – a free-time activity that people do regularly
take (it) in their stride – to deal with problems and difficulties calmly

(31) A joke gone wrong

It seems like an ordinary motorsport event at Britain’s former Grand Prix track, Brands Hatch. But all is not as it should be…
(Commentary: “Why is there a Volkswagen Golf on the track?”)
As a prank, 22-year-old Jack Cottle drove his girlfriend’s car onto the circuit while a race was in progress.
Egged on by a friend, Cottle did one lap before pulling over.
Over two million people have watched it on YouTube.
But it’s no laughing matter: the judge sentenced Jack to eight months in prison to deter others.

prank – a trick that is supposed to be funny
egged on – encouraged
pulling over – a vehicle moving over to the side of the road and stopping
no laughing matter – very serious
to deter – to stop people from doing something by explaining the possible bad results

(32) Snow in the US

It might look like a scene from a Christmas card, but not for long. In the north-east of the US, hundreds of volunteers have joined the effort to clear the snow.
Many areas are bracing themselves for floods as temperatures begin to rise.
Several days of heavy snowfall have caused serious disruption in New York state.
In Michigan, this plane slid off the icy runway at Detroit Airport, shortly after landing.

volunteers – people who work of their own free will, expecting no payment for their work
clear – (here) get out of the way, remove
bracing themselves – preparing themselves (for something unpleasant)
disruption (here) interruption of daily activities like work and transport; disorder
slid – slipped, moved smoothly and quickly

(33) Stonehenge tunnel

The mysterious, prehistoric site of Stonehenge.
It’s captured the imagination of British people for centuries. Even today it’s the place to go for tourists and druids.
Now, there are controversial plans to build a tunnel under the Stonehenge area. It’s part of a big scheme to ease congestion.
The International Council on Monuments and Sites said it wants a solution that respects the value of this “unique” site.

prehistoric – describes the time before history was written down
captured the imagination – made people interested (in something)
druids – priests of an ancient religion followed in Britain, France and Ireland
controversial – (here) causing disagreement
to ease – to make a problem less severe or difficult

(34) The city with no street names

A city of three million people, with only a handful of street names.
No wonder trying to deliver a letter here is like looking for a needle in a haystack.
But this is changing, as the city of Cotonou, in Benin, is starting to name its streets and paint numbers on each house.
Residents hope this will help the city become better connected to the world and provide a boost for local businesses.


a handful – of a small number of
no wonder – it’s no surprise that
a needle in a haystack – something very hard to find
residents – people who live in a particular place
boost – an action that makes something better, happier or more successful

(35) Hunting for medals

In the shadows of Mount Kilimanjaro, warriors are warming up.
They’re competing in the Maasai Olympics.
The event was brought about to discourage the traditional practice of hunting, which has taken the local lion population to the brink of extinction.
The games will allow young men to showcase their skills and also preserve the big cats.


warming up – doing gentle exercise to prepare the body for physical activity
brought about – caused to happen
the brink of extinction – close to dying out
showcase – show their best qualities
big cats – large wild animals from the cat family, such as lions and tigers

(36) Spiderman Santa

Not something you see every day: Santa abseiling down a 100-metre-tall building in Berlin.
He claims he was retrieving a sack of presents which had fallen from his sleigh.
The mishap meant children got an early treat as Father Christmas climbed through a cafe window to hand out presents and sing an impromptu festive song.
All in a day’s work for Santa, who still had time to entertain crowds on the street, before heading off to prepare for Christmas Day.


abseiling – climbing down a rock or building holding onto a rope
sleigh – vehicle pulled by animals over snow
mishap – small accident or mistake
impromptu – not planned
all in a day’s work – used to say that something difficult or unpleasant is a usual part of someone’s job

(37) Not just for Christmas

Covered in baubles, they are the ultimate symbol of Christmas. But what happens when the party’s over?
In Cumbria in the UK, old Christmas trees are being put to good use.
Once drilled into the river banks, these branches help to reduce the force of the water.
It prevents erosion and reduces the risk of flooding. And so recycling means Christmas trees are not just for Christmas.

baubles – colourful balls traditionally attached to Christmas trees
put to good use – to make something useful through clever thinking and ability
banks – the two edges of a river where water meets land
erosion – gradual removal of soil and rocks by the effects of persistent wind and water
recycling – using again

(38) How many in the zoo?

One, two, three… It’s census time at London Zoo.
Zookeepers are kicking off the New Year with the mammoth task of counting every single animal. The zoo houses more than 750 different species.
For penguins, food is an incentive to show up for the count.
Monkeys are known to be clever animals. Here the question is: who’s counting who?

census – official count of the population
kicking off – starting
mammoth task – very big task
houses – gives a place to live
incentive – encouragement

(39) Desert snows

Is it a mirage? No, it really is snowing in the desert.
For the third year running, parts of Saudi Arabia have been blanketed.
This year has been particularly cold – sub-zero temperatures have forced shepherds and their camels into their tents to seek shelter.
But some people are enjoying the wintry weather. These men are certainly making the most of it.

mirage – something that looks real but is not really there
blanketed – covered
sub-zero temperatures – 
colder than 0° centigrade
to seek shelter – to look for somewhere safe
making the most of – using something while it lasts

(40) Rich and poor

The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer.
That’s what world leaders who are gathering for the start of the World Economic Forum are being told this week.
The charity Oxfam says that by 2015, 50% of the world’s wealth will be owned by the richest 1% of the population.
They say urgent action is needed to narrow the gap between the global elite and the other 99%.

world leaders – presidents, prime ministers and other important people
charity – an organisation that helps people in need
urgent action – serious steps that need to be taken to solve a problem
narrow the gap – to bring two things closer together
global elite – the small group of people with the most power and money around the world

(41) Guns in school

No, they’re not soldiers. These armed men are actually teachers. At this school in Pakistan, teachers have been told to carry guns in order to protect children. One is even acting as a sniper on the school roof. Many schools have taken this unusual step following a Taliban attack that killed over 130 pupils. This teacher says he would rather be carrying a pen.

armed – carrying guns or other weapons
in order to – with the aim or purpose of doing something
sniper – someone who shoots a gun from a hidden place
unusual step – an unexpected decision or action
pupils – school children

(42) Shining a light on the past

They might not look like much, but these are in fact texts from ancient Rome. Since their discovery 250 years ago, no one has been able to read the so-called Herculaneum scrolls. Open them, and they disintegrate. Now, scientists in France have made a breakthrough. By firing intense beams of light at the documents, they can see what is written inside. Experts are overjoyed.

ancient Rome – a society thousands of years ago in the area of Rome, now the capital of Italy
scrolls – long pieces of paper that were used for writing on and could be rolled up
disintegrate – to break apart into many small pieces
breakthrough – an important discovery after a long period of work
intense – very strong or powerful

(43) Flying food

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s a flying waiter.
Due to a lack of staff, restaurateurs in Singapore have started to use drones to get food from the kitchens to the diners.
The robots fly over the heads of customers on paths charted by a computer.
But are these foodies ready for service without the human touch?

restaurateurs – people who own or run restaurants
drones – unmanned flying machines
diners – people who eat in a restaurant
charted – planned or mapped out
the human touch – being friendly and warm to other people

(44) Battle of the Oranges

A battle is about to start in this northern Italian city.
And this is the ammunition. During the festival, hundreds of revellers pour into Ivrea to take part in the historic ‘Battle of the Oranges’.
The tradition is said to date back to a 12th century uprising against a tyrant.
Some 500 tonnes of juicy fruit are shipped from Sicily for the occasion.

ammunition – objects that are shot from a weapon
revellers – people taking part in a public party
uprising – rebellion against the people or group in power
tyrant – cruel and unfair leader
juicy – containing a lot of liquid; used for fruit

(45) The ‘No Cry’ onion

Does chopping these make you cry? This farmer in the south of England thinks he has the answer. Alastair Findlay has been developing a ‘No Tears’ onion for twenty years. Each season he has tasted hundreds of varieties to find the perfect flavour. The new hybrid has a milder taste and aroma than others. That’s good news for your eyes – and also your breath.

chopping – cutting into small pieces

varieties – different types of something

hybrid – new plant produced from two different types of plant aroma – nice smell from food or drink

breath -the air that comes out of your mouth

(46) British sea power

Six of the world’s first tidal lagoon power stations could be built on this bit of British coastline.
Plans have been announced to construct a number of giant man-made lakes which will trap incoming and outgoing tides.
The stations will harness the weight of the water to generate power.
Together they could make eight per cent of the UK’s electricity.


lagoon – an area of sea water separated from the sea by rocks, sand or a man-made barrier
incoming – moving towards
outgoing – leaving/moving away
harness – control something so you can use its power
generate – (here) make energy for

Seven Man-Made Wonders in the US

There are many natural wonders in the United States. Today, we take you to seven man-made wonders in America.Against the city’s gleaming spires,
Above the ships that ply the stream,
A bridge of haunting beauty stands –
Fulfillment of an artist’s dream.

That poem is about our first man-made wonder — the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City.  It extends more than 480 meters over the East River to connect the areas of Brooklyn and Manhattan.  A famous bridge builder David B. Steinman wrote the poem.  But he did not build the Brooklyn Bridge.

It was the dream of another man, John A. Roebling.  He was a member of the design team and became chief engineer of the building project in 1867.  Sadly, he became sick and died before work even started.  He had an accident when visiting the area where the bridge was to be built

Building began in 1870. It was very dangerous.  Few records were kept on such events.  But, historians say between 20 and 30 men died as a result of the building project.  Some died from falling off the bridge or from being struck by equipment.

Others died or were injured from working in the structures called caissons.  These lay deep below the surface of the Earth.  The workers would get a pressure sickness called the bends.

John Roebling’s son, Washington, was severely disabled by the bends. He had been named chief engineer of the Brooklyn Bridge project soon after his father died. Washington Roebling continued the work from his home after he was disabled.

The Brooklyn Bridge opened on May 24, 1883. At the time, it was the longest suspension bridge in the world.  It is still a beautiful structure.  The bridge has tens of thousands of suspension wires that spread many meters across and up and down to towers on each side.  From a distance the many wires look like the stringed musical instrument called the harp.  The center of the Brooklyn Bridge rises almost 40 meters above the East River.  It is one of the most famous and beloved New York City landmarks.Another bridge makes our list of the seven man-made wonders.  This one is in northern California.

The Golden Gate Bridge is named after the waterway it crosses.  The Golden Gate Strait lies between the Pacific Ocean and the San Francisco Bay.  The bridge over it links the city of San Francisco with Marin County.

Joseph Strauss was the chief engineer of the Golden Gate Bridge. Building began in 1933.  The bridge opened in 1937.  It is almost 1,300 meters long.  It was the longest suspension bridge in the world for almost 30 years.  Then, in 1964, the larger Verrazano Narrows bridge opened in New York City.

Joseph Strauss used newly developed protective equipment for the men who worked on the bridge.  These included a special safety net under the bridge. But still, 11 men were killed during construction

The color of the bridge, International Orange, is very important.  It was chosen partly because it is easier to see through the heavy fog that often covers San Francisco. Many people consider the Golden Gate Bridge the most beautiful bridge structure in the world.

Joseph Strauss wrote a poem about his bridge when the work was done.  Here is a part of “The Mighty Task is Done”:

At last the mighty task is done;
Resplendent in the western sun
The Bridge looms mountain high;
Its titan piers grip ocean floor,
Its great steel arms link shore with shore,
Its towers pierce the sky.Our next man-made wonder is as famous a landmark in the Midwest United States as the first two are on the East and West Coasts.  The Gateway Arch in Saint Louis, Missouri is the tallest freestanding monument in the nation.  The shiny, steel curve rises to almost 200 meters.  Below, the arch is exactly as wide as it is tall.

The famous Finnish American building designer, Eero Saarinen, designed the Gateway Arch during a national competition in the late 1940s.  However, building did not begin until February, 1963. It was completed in October, 1965.  Later a transport system was added to permit people to visit an observation area inside the top of the arch.

The Gateway Arch rises above the Mississippi River.  It was named in honor of Saint Louis, which was historically called “The Gateway to the West.”There is one place in America that almost everyone agrees is a man-made wonder: South Dakota’s Mount Rushmore

Giant faces of four great American presidents are cut into the rock near the top of Mount Rushmore in the Black Hills. Each face is about 18 meters high.

Sculptor Gutzon Borglum was chosen to create the Mount Rushmore memorial. It was completed in 1941, after 14 years.

Each president represents important values in America.  George Washington led the cause for independence.  Thomas Jefferson represented the belief in equality.  Abraham Lincoln ended slavery and saved the Union. And Theodore Roosevelt was a conservationist and symbol of the progressive spirit of America.We go next to one of the largest and most difficult structures ever built in the United States: Hoover Dam.  The dam is in the Black Canyon, near Las Vegas, Nevada.  It controls the water of the Colorado River and produces electric power.

Workers began to build Hoover Dam in 1931.  They finished in just five years.

More than 20,000 men worked on the project.  It was very dangerous.  Ninety-six workers were killed. Many others were injured.

The Hoover Dam is 221 meters tall. It weighs more than six and one half million tons.  At the time, it was the largest and tallest dam in the world. And it was one of the largest producers of electric power ever built.

Hoover Dam also created Lake Mead, the largest man-made lake in AmericaAnother man-made wonder of the United States was built long before the nation was established.  About 900 years ago, the Ancestral Puebloan people built villages high in the walls of canyons in Mesa Verde, Colorado. Six hundred cliff dwellings are now part of the Mesa Verde National Park.

Visitors can stand at the top of the mesas and look into the dwellings almost hidden in openings of the rock walls.  The Puebloan people cut small steps into the rock.  A series of such steps connected buildings containing hundreds of rooms.

The rock walls have protected the buildings from severe weather in the area.

So they remain mostly unchanged in the hundreds of years since they were built.Our final man-made wonder is in the northwestern city of Seattle, Washington.  The Space Needle was built as the central structure for the 1962 World’s Fair.

Edward Carlson designed the 184 meter tall structure.  The Space Needle has a wide base on the ground. It is narrow in the middle.  On top is a large ring-like structure.

The structure was meant to look like a “flying saucer,” a vehicle that was popular in science fiction space travel stories.  The saucer includes an observation area and eating place.  The restaurant slowly turns to provide visitors with a 360 degree view of Seattle.

Hoover Dam (Near Las Vegas, Nevada)

Today we tell about Hoover Dam. It was the largest and most difficult structure of its kind ever built when work started in 1931.Our report today about Hoover Dam must begin with the Colorado River. This river made the dam necessary. The Colorado River begins high in the Rocky Mountains. It begins slowly, during the dark months of winter. Heavy snow falls on the Rocky Mountains.

The snow is so deep in some areas that it will stay on the ground well into the hot days of summer. But the snow does melt. Ice cold water travels down the mountains and forms several rivers — the Gila River, the Green River, the Little Colorado, the San Juan, the Virgin and the Gunnison rivers.

These rivers link together and form the beginnings of the Colorado River. The Colorado River flows through, or provides water for, the states of Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada and California. Then it crosses the border into Mexico.

The Colorado River has always been extremely powerful. The river created the huge Grand Canyon. The violent water cut hundreds of meters deep into the desert floor of Arizona.  The Grand Canyon is proof of the power of this great river.

The Grand Canyon was cut into the desert floor beginning thousands of years ago.  But the power of this river has been demonstrated in more modern times.

Between 1905 and 1907, the Colorado River caused great amounts of flooding in parts of Arizona and California. Huge amounts of water ran into a low area in the dry, waterless desert that had once been an ancient lake. In two years of flooding, the Colorado River filled the ancient lake. That lake is called the Salton Sea. Today, it is about 56 kilometers long by 25 kilometers wide. It is even larger in years of heavy rain.

The flooding that created the Salton Sea also flooded homes, towns and farming areas. Many people were forced to flee their homes. Government leaders knew they had to do something to prevent such floods in the future.

In 1918, a man named Arthur Davis proposed building a dam to control the Colorado River. Mr. Davis was a government engineer. He said the dam should be built in an area called Boulder Canyon on the border between the states of Arizona and Nevada

Building the dam would not be a simple matter. The people of seven states and the people of Mexico needed and used the water of the Colorado River. Much of that area is desert land. Water is extremely important. Without water from the Colorado River, farming is not possible. Without water, life in the desert is not possible.

On November 24, 1922, officials signed a document in Santa Fe, New Mexico. That document is called the Colorado River Compact. The document tells how the seven states would share the water of the Colorado River. It was agreed this could be more easily done with the aid of a dam. Later an agreement was signed with Mexico to supply it with water from the Colorado River.The area chosen for the dam was called Black Canyon. The walls of Black Canyon rise almost 243 meters above the river. An ancient volcano formed the rock in Black Canyon. Engineers decided the rock would provide a good strong support for the proposed dam.

However, the area also presented problems. The nearest railroad was 60 kilometers away. There was no electric power. And, in the summer, the temperature in the desert in Black Canyon could reach as high as 48 degrees Celsius.

A great deal of work was done before operations started on the dam. Workers built a town called Boulder City to house employees working on the dam. They built a large road from Boulder City to the area of the dam. They built a railroad from a main line in Las Vegas, Nevada, to Boulder City. They built another railroad from Boulder City to the dam area. And they built a 350 kilometer power line from San Bernadino, California. This provided electric power to the area where the dam was being built.

The work on the dam began in April of 1931. Workers called “high scalers” were some of the first to begin building the dam. They were suspended from ropes as they used heavy air-powered hammers to break any loose rock away from the face of the canyon walls. When they could not use hammers, they used dynamite. One high scaler became very famous. His name was Arnold Parks. He caught another worker who had fallen off the top of the canyon.

Mr. Parks held the worker to the wall of the canyon until others came to help. Today, visitors can see a statue of the men who worked as high scalers to build Hoover Dam.

The high scalers worked on the sides of the canyon. Other workers dug huge tunnels deep in the floor of the canyon. This was done to permit the Colorado River to flow away from the construction area. This had to be done so the floor of the dam could be built.

On June 6, 1933, workers poured the first load of a building material called concrete. Men in two special factories worked day and night to make the concrete building material for the dam.

Huge equipment moved millions of tons of rock and sand. In the summer months, the terrible desert heat slowed the work but did not stop it. Men who worked at night on the dam suffered less, but the heat was still as high as 30 degrees Celsius.

Slowly the great dam began to rise from the floor of the canyon. From the canyon floor it reaches 221 meters high. Workers poured the last of the concrete on May 29, 1935.  They had used almost four million cubic meters of concrete in the dam. Workers also used more than 20 million kilograms of steel to strengthen the concrete in the dam.

The work was dangerous for the more than 5,000 men who worked on the structure. The extreme temperatures, falling objects and heavy equipment caused accidents. The workers were provided with medical care and two emergency vehicles to take them to a new hospital in Boulder City. However, 96 men lost their lives during the building of the great dam.

The companies building the dam had been given seven years to complete the work. They did it in only five. The dam was finished on March 1, 1936.

Other work now began. This work would make the dam into one of the largest producers of electric power ever built. The dam was built to control the powerful Colorado River. But it was also meant to use the river to produce large amounts of electric power.

Today, 17 huge machines use the river’s power to produce electric power. The states of Arizona and Nevada share the power. So do many cities in California, including Los Angeles, Burbank and Pasadena.When the Hoover Dam was finished in 1936, it was the largest dam in the world. It was also the tallest. And it was the largest power producer that used water power to make electricity. Today this is no longer true. Taller dams, larger dams and a few that produce more power have been created. But Hoover Dam is still a huge and interesting place.

Visitors to Hoover Dam drive on a small road that passes Lake Mead. They enter a special visitors’ center to learn about the dam and the men who built it. They ride high-speed elevators that go deep inside the dam. They see the huge machines that produce electric power.

Many visitors say they thought the name of the huge structure was Boulder Dam.  They are told that Hoover Dam is often called Boulder Dam. However, it is named after former President Herbert Hoover.

Before he was president, Mr. Hoover worked for many years to make the construction of the dam possible. It was officially named to honor him in 1947.

Mauna Kea Observatory (In Hawaii)

Today we tell about astronomy on Mauna Kea Observatory in the American state of Hawaii.Four thousand years ago, a volcano exploded in a far away area of the Pacific Ocean.  Today, the Mauna Kea volcano is inactive.  It is on the Big Island in the state of Hawaii. It is the highest mountain on any island in the world. It is also the highest mountain in the Pacific Ocean.  And it is one of the best places in the world to study the heavens.  This is because the air is clear, dry and generally free from pollution. Astronomers from around the world come to the Mauna Kea observatory to explore the universe.

Astronomers must compete for observation time on Mauna Kea.  But visitors are welcome anytime.  They must either walk up more than 4,000 kilometers to the top of the mountain.  Or they can join a guided vehicle tour that leaves from the Mauna Kea Visitors Center, about two-thirds of the way up the mountain.  Erik West is our guide for the trip up the mountain.

Mr. West says visitors who want to drive up the mountain must have a special kind of four-wheel-drive vehicle.  He also explains some health and safety issues because of the height of the mountain. Being at such a high elevation can affect people’s health.

Visitors must not have any heart or breathing problems. They must not have dived deep underwater in the past 24 hours. And visitors must be over the age of 16

Now we are ready to drive our vehicles up the mountain.  One behind the other, the cars follow a steep road during the 45 minute drive.  They drive over lava rock created by the volcano when it was active.

When we reach the top of the mountain, we get out of our vehicles.  We see a group of domed observatories that look like a garden of giant mushrooms.  The air up here is cool.  Mr. West warns that the air can make people sick because it has 40% less oxygen than at sea level.  He says it has different effects on people.  Some people feel light-headed, dizzy or sick to their stomachs.  If any people get so sick that they need oxygen, they must leave and go back down the mountain.The first large telescope was built on Mauna Kea in 1970.  Now there are 13 groups of observatories.  One of them is called SMA, or Submillimeter Array.  It includes eight different telescopes that operate together. Eleven countries and several universities are involved with the telescopes.  The biggest telescopes are the ten-meter Keck telescopes. Mr. West says telescopes keep getting bigger because astronomers want to be able to collect as much light as possible.

The Keck One and Keck Two are world’s largest optical and infrared telescopes.  Their mirrors are divided into 36 hexagonal parts. They work together as one piece of reflective glass.  During the day, Keck One is a sleeping giant of steel devices closed inside a protective covering.  The dome covering weighs about 700 tons.  It is about 30 meters to the top of the dome.  The whole mirror structure is about 24 meters tall

The real action begins at sundown.  The dome opens and starts rotating to where the astronomers need it.  The mirror rotates to the place where they will be observing

Throughout the night, the mirror moves to follow an object as it crosses the sky.  But the astronomers are not near the telescopes.  They are in the control room keeping warm.

Rolf Kudritzki works in the control room.  He is the director of the University of Hawaii’s Institute for Astronomy that operates the Mauna Kea Observatory.  Mr. Kudritzki says astronomers control each movement and device guiding these huge telescopes.  Astronomers study the information not by looking through the eyepiece of the telescope but from a desktop computer

Over the years, astronomers have made many important discoveries here.  They have discovered new moons around Jupiter.  They have taken pictures that help measure the expansion of the universe.  They have observed hundreds of small objects orbiting the Sun past the orbit of the planet Neptune.

Mr. Kudritzki says astronomers also look for signs of life in the universe beyond our solar system.  He noted that Mauna Kea telescopes recently discovered some of the planets orbiting distant stars.

Space telescopes, such as the Hubble, are different from land-based telescopes.  The Hubble works outside the earth’s atmosphere to capture finely detailed views of the universe.  But the small size of space telescopes limits their light-collecting power.  Mr. Kudritzki says land-based observatories can often provide more details about objects in the universe. These include the distance, size, mass and the chemicals that make up an object in space.

 He says that land-based observatories, like those on Mauna Kea, are in some ways better than space telescopes.  These observatories provide astronomers with less costly observing time and many different kinds of tools for observing objects in space.  He says the Mauna Kea observatories will continue to be a valuable addition to earth-orbiting telescopes for many years to come.Mauna Kea is important to astronomers who study the universe. But for Native Hawaiians, the mountain is a religious place. Mauna Kea is home to their most important gods. And it is the burial place of their ancestors.  Kealoha Pisciotta comes to Mauna Kea to worship her ancestors.  She leaves her car on the side of a road that leads to the top of the mountain.  Her friend, Paul Neves, blows a note from a conch shell to announce their arrival.  They ask permission from the mountain spirit to enter this holy place.

Kealoha Pisciotta looks at the setting sun.  She walks off the road to gather some stones.  She and Paul Neves begin placing the stones on top of each other to create a family shrine, a place where Hawaiians honor their ancestors.  She says all of their families connect here. It is the place where Hawaiians mark their beginning.

The Hawaiian tradition says Mauna Kea is the mountain of the gods. Tradition says Wakea, the sky father, and Papa, his wife, gave birth to the Hawaiian Islands on Mauna Kea.

Ms. Pisciotta says building on top of the mountain has harmed the land, polluted the water, and cut into the volcanic rock.  She says it also has violated the holiness of ancient burial grounds.  She says her historical family shrine was taken away and has never been recovered.

The Office of Mauna Kea Management was started in 2000.  It helps the University of Hawaii supervise the mountain as a science center and cultural center. Bill Stormont is director of the office. He says it seeks to balance the interests of astronomers, native Hawaiians and environmentalists. He says that it is important that the native Hawaiians have a voice in the future development of Mauna Kea.

Kealoha Pisciotta is among a group of Native Hawaiian activists who have taken legal action to halt a plan to build four to six small telescopes on the mountain.  The American space agency, NASA, supports the project.

 It says it will do little harm to the environment. Ms. Pisciotta does not dismiss the value of astronomy. She is a former telescope operator herself.  But she wants greater control over protecting her culture and traditions in the future.

She says she supports the idea that astronomy is necessary to search for life in the universe.  But she also believes that good science would want to protect traditions that are thousands of years old.

Visiting the Embassies of Washington, D.C.

Washington, D.C. is known for its many monuments, museums, and government buildings. It is also home to embassies from more than 170 countries.

Many of these diplomatic buildings around the city have interesting histories.  Some embassies are in large historical homes. Others were built more recently to represent the building design of their countries. Many embassies hold special cultural events. Join us as we travel the world by visiting the embassies of Washington.We start our tour in an area of Washington called Embassy Row. About 50 embassies are in this neighborhood.  Many are built along Massachusetts Avenue. Some embassies are in large houses built by wealthy Americans in the early 20th century.

TOUR GUIDE: “This is the Indonesian Embassy. And it was originally built by Mr. Walsh. Now Mr. Walsh came over from Ireland without a penny in his pocket and he went to Colorado and struck gold.”

That was the voice of Sonia Justl who gives tours for the company Washington Walks. On this tour you can learn about the interesting history of many old buildings before they became embassies.

For example, the Embassy of Uzbekistan is in a richly decorated home built in 1906 by a wealthy banker, Clarence Moore. But Mr. Moore did not live to enjoy his house for very long. He died on board the ship Titanic, which sank in 1912. This building served as the Canadian Embassy before Uzbekistan bought it in 1996.

However, sometimes there are problems with diplomatic ownership of historical buildings. Not all countries take good care of their buildings. For example, the embassy of the former Yugoslavia in this neighborhood is empty.  Two of Pakistan’s former diplomatic buildings have been empty for years. The buildings are slowly falling into disrepair.

Some countries, like Pakistan, build new modern embassies and leave behind their former buildings. Other countries have political or financial problems that take attention away from the condition of their embassies in Washington. People who live in this costly neighborhood are not happy that some of these buildings are falling apart. It is hard for city and federal officials to take action because embassies have extraterritorial status under international law.

Further up Massachusetts Avenue visitors can see larger and more recently built embassies. The designs are very different from each other. For example, the Turkish Embassy is a large three-level modern building covered in brown stone and brick. Detailed designs in iron cover the building’s tall windows. The Brazilian Embassy looks like a large box made of black glass.Some embassies are works of art.  For example, the Italian Embassy is near Massachusetts Avenue. This very modern building is made up of striking angular lines. It is covered in pink stone imported from Italy. When you walk into the main hallway, you can look up to see a huge glass dome ceiling. The embassy’s 18th century Italian art collection hangs in rooms that have very modern furniture and design.

Nearby, the Embassy of Finland looks like it is built out of blocks of glass.  Its design is modern, but it fits in nicely with the natural environment around it. A screen of plants covers part of the front of the building. Inside, visitors can look through large glass windows deep into the wooded areas of Rock Creek Park.

The Finnish Embassy holds many interesting exhibits. For example, four years ago the exhibit on the Finnish clothing and design company Marimekko was very popular.

While we are on the subject of Europe, let us go to another area of town to see a very new embassy. The Swedish Embassy is on the Potomac River in the neighborhood called Georgetown. It is in a building called the House of Sweden, which also contains an event center and corporate housing. The glass building is a good example of Swedish design. It is smooth, simple and very modern. Visitors can see exhibits on subjects such as cars, the environment and art and design.

Not far away, the Embassy of France is in a gated area off Reservoir Road. The embassy’s cultural center, La Maison Française, organizes many cultural events. For example, in June the center invited 30 local bands to celebrate the summer at its yearly music festival. This fall, the center will offer French movies as well as many concerts including baroque, classical and jazz music.

If you are very lucky, you might be invited to a party at the home of the French ambassador. This extraordinary home in the Kalorama neighborhood looks like a gothic palace. Organizations like the Washington Opera sometimes hold events in this beautiful house.  The ambassadors of Turkey and Italy also live in large historical homes that are famous for their building design and beauty.Last month, China opened a new embassy in the area of Washington called the International Center. C.C. Pei and L.C. Pei of Pei Partnership Architects designed the building. They are the sons of the famous Chinese-American architect I.M. Pei who also worked on the project. Measuring more than 10,000 square meters, this is one of the biggest diplomatic buildings in Washington. The Chinese government brought in hundreds of Chinese workers to build the huge project, which took three years to complete. C.C. Pei said the areas of plants around the embassy were influenced by Chinese and Western traditions to create a natural and calming design.

Several other embassies are in this area along International Drive and International Court. These include the embassies of Ghana, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Israel and Egypt.

In another area of Washington, the Mexican Cultural Institute is housed on Sixteenth Street.  It is in a large home built in 1910 by Emily MacVeagh. She was the wife of the American secretary of the treasury at that time. Today, the institute offers many musical and artistic events as part of the cultural side of the Mexican Embassy. For example, every November, the institute invites visitors to see a large altar made for the Day of the Dead festival. Last week, the Spanish guitarist Abraham Carmona played his music there.In May, many embassies took part in an event called Passport D.C., organized by the non-profit group Cultural Tourism D.C.  Embassies around town organized cultural activities and opened their doors to the public.  For example, at the Pakistani Embassy visitors could watch movies from that country.  The Japanese embassy set up a traditional teahouse and showed its lovely stone gardens. The Iraqi embassy invited the public to enjoy traditional Iraqi food and music. Cultural Tourism D.C. plans to hold the event again next year.

Embassies often are affected by international political events. For example, in 1991 the Iraqi ambassador in Washington left his post at the start of the Persian Gulf War. Now, Iraq has a new ambassador and a new embassy. The United States does not have official diplomatic ties with Cuba. So Cuban representation in Washington operates through the Swiss Embassy.

Embassies are often places where the public can express their opinions about a country’s actions or events. For example, in March, protestors demonstrated in front of the Chinese Embassy after Chinese police attacked Buddhist religious workers in Tibet.  When Britain’s Princess Diana died 11 years ago, people left flowers at the British Embassy to honor her.The closest diplomatic building to the offices of VOA is the Embassy of Canada. We visited an exhibit there called “Fifty Years of American Photojournalism.” It shows many photographs of important events in American history and culture. We also met with Carolyn Strauss, the cultural counselor of the embassy. She told us more about the exhibit.

CAROLYN STRAUSS: “We’re delighted because we think these images resonate very much with Americans as well as Canadians because they’re shared experiences through the last century of war, peace and conflict, and  world celebrities and leaders. “

Ms Strauss explained why cultural programs at embassies are so important.

CAROLYN STRAUSS: “Cultural events speak very much to a country’s values and project a nation as perhaps almost nothing else does. You can have political discussions and you can have trade discussions but culture really demonstrates what a culture’s values and iconic moments are all about.”

Some Popular Aquariums

For thousands of years, people have wanted to explore the world under the sea. Such activity was not possible until modern times. Today, divers can survive for hours underwater and photograph fish and other sea creatures.

Not everyone can swim with fish in the ocean. But they can enjoy underwater life in another way — by visiting an aquarium.Experts do not really know when people began keeping fish as pets. But they say that people have been interested in fish for thousands of years. Some say the ancient Sumerians were the first civilization to keep fish in ponds more than 4,000 years ago. The Chinese kept and studied carp and goldfish more than 1,000 years ago. The ancient Romans kept eels as pets. And the Greek philosopher Aristotle made what is believed to be the first known study of sea life, including sharks and dolphins.

Experts say that keeping fish at home in small water tanks called aquariums is extremely popular today. And everyone seems to enjoy visiting huge public aquariums that have opened around the world.

By the middle of the 1800s, science had shown that plants, fish and other sea creatures could survive together under water. So it was no longer necessary to change the water in a tank for fish to live there. This led to the building of the first public aquariums.

The first one opened in London, England in 1853. In the next 15 years, other aquariums opened in Europe and the United States. By 1928, there were about 45 public aquariums.

Today, millions of people visit aquariums in more than 30 countries. Steve Feldman is an official with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums in Silver Spring, Maryland. He says his organization has recognized and approved 41 aquariums in the United States. About 58 million people visit these places each year.

One of the most famous aquariums is in Monterey, California. Officials say the Monterey Bay Aquarium has been recognized as the finest aquarium in the United States. It is in a building that used to be a kind of factory called a cannery. This was where workers prepared fish and placed them in cans to be sold.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium shows visitors the underwater life in the bay. Scientists at the aquarium also study the animals and work to help many survive.

For example, the Monterey Bay Aquarium cared for 19 penguins from New Orleans, Louisiana. They were rescued after hurricane Katrina struck the area in 2005. These penguins were kept until they were ready to be returned to the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium also works to save the sea otter. Aquarium workers rescue lost or hurt young sea otters and prepare them to survive in the wild. The ones that cannot be released are kept in the aquarium and entertain visitors by swimming quickly and playing tricks in the water.

Visitors especially enjoy watching them play with objects in the water. When sea otters find new objects, they smell them, hold them, play with them and hit them against other hard objects. The otters hit their toys against the walls of the tank in front of the happy visitors.

At the center of the Monterey Bay Aquarium is a huge tank more than eight meters high. It is one of the tallest aquarium exhibits in the world.

The tank holds more than one million liters of seawater and many different kinds of fish. It also holds more than 100 kinds of plants. Officials say the tank was built in the center of the aquarium because it would get the most sunlight each day. All this sun helps the plants grow — about ten centimeters every day. An official says the Monterey Bay Aquarium was the first aquarium in the world to show a living kelp forest.

A kelp forest is a kind of ecosystem established around colonies of a seaweed plant called kelp. Kelp can extend between two and thirty meters or more from the sea floor to the surface of the water. These plants provide homes to many fish and other sea animals.

The aquarium is also an education center. Workers help visitors and especially children understand sea creatures and their importance in the world. Children and adults can see many sea creatures being fed and watch a movie about underwater life. They can even touch some of these creatures in small tide pools. Workers make sure visitors touch the rays, crabs and sea stars very carefully.One extremely large public aquarium opened in Atlanta, Georgia in 2005. The Georgia Aquarium says it is the largest in the world. It has more than 100,000 sea animals in 30 million liters of water. These include two whale sharks — the world’s largest fish.

The Georgia Aquarium is divided into 60 different environments called habitats. The largest holds more than 22 million liters of water. It was especially designed for the whale sharks and the thousands of other animals that live in the ocean. The second largest habitat was designed to copy the natural environment of beluga whales.

Building large public aquariums is very costly. Most of the money to build the Georgia Aquarium was provided by businessman Bernard Marcus. He and his wife gave 250 million dollars to help pay for the building. The total cost was 290 million dollars. Reports said that more than one million people visited the Georgia Aquarium in the first six months that it was open.Another aquarium re-opened in 2005 in Camden, New Jersey. The Adventure Aquarium first opened in 1992. It spent about 50 million dollars to expand its building and improve its exhibits.

Visitors can watch a hippopotamus in the West African River Experience area of the Adventure Aquarium. Reports say the Adventure Aquarium is the only one in the country that has two hippos.

One exciting area of the aquarium is the shark tunnel. Visitors can watch 26 dangerous creatures up close without fear. The tunnel is suspended in the middle of the shark tank.

Even more exciting for visitors is the chance to get in the water and swim with the sharks! Swimmers wear special clothes and must follow a few rules. For example, they must not make the sharks angry or make any quick movements. Swimming with the sharks costs more than 100 dollars.Another aquarium that provides education and adventures with sharks is the National Aquarium in Baltimore, Maryland. The Baltimore Aquarium has more than 10,000 sea animals. It opened in 1981.

Its shark adventure includes a tour with an expert to learn about these ancient creatures and how the aquarium workers feed and care for them. Children can even sleep near the sharks overnight. Children sleep in the viewing area as sharks sleep nearby, behind protective glass.

The National Aquarium in Baltimore also presents a dolphin show. It shows how young dolphins learn and develop the skills they need to survive.

Visiting the Beautiful Missions Along California’s Coast 

Today, we tell about the first attempts to settle what is now the western state of California.  These attempts began with Spanish settlers who built twenty-one Catholic churches called missions.  Our report is about those churches — the missions of California.

Our story begins in seventeen sixty-eight in Madrid, Spain.  The king of Spain, Charles the Third, had recently received reports that worried him.  The reports said Russian explorers were in the northern part of the territory called California.  Spain had claimed most of that area more than two hundred years earlier.  But Spain had no settlements in California. King Charles knew if the Russians began to settle the area, Spain might lose control of California forever.

King Charles decided the best way to keep the Spanish claim to California was to build settlements there.  California had good harbors for Spanish ships, good weather and good farmland.

King Charles decided to order the creation of a series of small farming communities along the Pacific Ocean coast of California.  The settlements would provide trade and grow into larger cities. Spanish citizens might want to settle there.  Then the Spanish claim to California would be safe.

But there was no one on the coast of California to begin the work.  King Charles and his advisors decided that the farming settlements would begin with churches called missions.  Missions were places where Roman Catholic religious leaders converted people to the Christian religion. They taught the religion to people who wanted to become members of the church.

King Charles decided Roman Catholic priests would build the missions and settlements with the help of Native American Indians.  The priests would teach the native people the Christian religion, the Spanish language and how to farm.

A religious group within the Catholic Church called the Franciscans would build the settlements.  The Franciscans chose a young priest named Junipero Serra to begin the work.

Many history experts say the Spanish government and the Catholic Church could not have chosen a better person for the task than Junipero Serra.

Junipero Serra was born in seventeen thirteen on the island of Mallorca, Spain.  After he became a Franciscan priest, he taught at a university in Mallorca.

Father Serra had always wanted to be a missionary.  In seventeen forty-nine he sailed to Mexico to begin his life as a missionary.  He spent several years studying the languages and customs of native people in Mexico.

In seventeen sixty-eight he was given the job of building the first of the California missions near the present day city of San Diego.

Mission San Diego de Alcala began on July sixteenth, seventeen sixty-nine.  But before the mission was completed, Father Serra decided to move it.  He did not like the way Spanish soldiers mistreated the Native Americans.  He wanted to keep them separate.  He moved the mission to an area that is still called Mission Valley.

The design of Mission San Diego de Alcala was similar to each of the missions that were built later.  There was a large church building.  A long wall formed a large square to the side and behind the church.  Large rooms inside and along the wall served as bedrooms, cooking areas, workshops, and classrooms.   Usually, the center of the large square was left open.  A garden with flowers was planted there.

Junipero Serra’s plan for the missions along the California coast was simple.  Each would be about the same distance from each other.  Members of the Franciscan religious group did not ride horses or travel in wagons. They walked.  The missions were built about one day’s long walk from each other.  This made it easier to travel, trade goods and share information.

The missions begin with San Diego de Alcala in the south.  They end with San Francisco Solano about one thousand fifty kilometers to the north.   In time, the road from mission San Diego de Alcala to mission San Francisco Solano was given a name.

The Spanish name is still used today.  It is “El Camino Real.” It means the “The Royal Highway” or “The King’s Highway.”   Most of that old road is now part of the California highway system.  Millions of people use the road every day as they drive from San Diego to San Francisco.

Many people have criticized the mission system of settlement because it changed the way of life for the Native Americans in California.   Critics say many Native Americans were forced to work at the missions.

They say many were forced to become members of the Christian religion.  And many were treated badly by Spanish soldiers and died because of mistreatment or disease.

However, other experts say that Junipero Serra demanded that the priests and soldiers treat the Native Americans with respect.  Many of the Native Americans accepted the Christian religion, learned to farm and helped the missions become valuable settlements.

Many other Native Americans did not.  Some did not want to change the way they lived so they moved away from the missions.  Many Native Americans believed they would be forced into a new way of life. In seventeen seventy-six, a group of Indians attacked the San Diego mission and burned it.  Eight months later, the mission was rebuilt where it still stands today.

King Charles’s plan was a success.  Settlements grew from the missions along the California coast.  Some of those along El Camino Real became major cities — San Diego, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, San Jose, and San Francisco, to name only a few.

Junipero Serra was responsible for building nine of the missions.  One of these was Mission San Carlos Borromeo del Rio Carmelo in the present city of Carmel.

It became his headquarters and the headquarters for all of the California missions.  In seventeen eighty-four, Junipero Serra died of tuberculosis at mission San Carlos.  He was buried in the floor of the Mission San Carlos Church.

The missions of California faced difficult times during the eighteen hundreds. In eighteen twenty-two, California became part of Mexico, which had just won its independence from Spain.  But the Mexican government could not pay the cost of keeping the missions.

In eighteen thirty-four, the Mexican government sold much of the mission land and some of the buildings.  Several missions remained part of the communities they helped to build. But many became little more than ruins.  Some of the land and the missions were returned to the Catholic Church.

In the eighteen forties, Mexico had trouble controlling the American settlers in California.  In eighteen forty-six, the settlers declared California a republic.  Less than two years later, the United States gained control of California during the Mexican War.

During this period, the Catholic Church tried to keep control of the missions.  They were only partly successful.  However, in eighteen sixty-three President Abraham Lincoln signed a law that said all twenty-one missions in California would be returned to the Catholic Church.  They have remained so ever since.

Today, the people of California consider the missions a treasure.  Eighteen of the twenty-one are still active Catholic churches.

All of the missions are museums that teach the early history of California.  Many visitors come to the missions to see the beautiful buildings.  Several of the missions have become famous.  One example is the Mission San Juan Capistrano.  It was planned and built by Junipero Serra.

Each year, on the same day, at almost the same hour, thousands of birds called swallows return to the mission.  They return from their winter homes thousands of kilometers to the south.  The swallows arrive on March nineteenth. They build nests and raise their young in the old mission.   They leave on October twenty-third.

The White House

In the United States, the third Monday in February is a federal holiday. Federal law calls it Washington’s Birthday, honoring the nation’s first president. But Americans now commonly know it as Presidents Day. And for this Presidents Day, or Washington’s Birthday, we tell you about the presidents’ home, the White House.George Washington supervised the building of the White House. Yet he and his wife, Martha, never had the chance to live there. It was completed after he left office in 1797.

Since then, America has had 42 other presidents. All of them have lived at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest, in Washington, D.C. George W. Bush and his wife, Laura, have lived there since 2001.

This November, Americans will elect a new president. The new first family will meet with White House employees after the election to plan for the move. Then the family will move in on January 20, 2009 — Inauguration Day.

The White House has an East Wing and a West Wing. The Oval Office, the large round room where the president works, is in the West Wing. The first family lives in the East Wing. The official home of the vice president is on the grounds of the Naval Observatory in Washington.

The White House has more than 130 rooms. It also has collections of more than 40,000 objects. Presidential families often find things in storage that they like when they move in. For example, Jimmy Carter’s children found a chair that Mary Todd Lincoln, the wife of President Abraham Lincoln, had bought.

First ladies have all added to the White House in some way. Jacqueline Kennedy, for example, created a colorful garden that is named in her honor.George Washington entered office in 1789. He had great hopes for the house he started. In 1790, he signed an act of Congress to create an area for the federal government in the District of Columbia, along the Potomac River. President Washington and the French city planner Pierre L’Enfant chose the land for the new presidential home.

A competition took place to find a designer. An architect named James Hoban entered a design similar to where the Irish Parliament meets, Leinster House in Dublin. Hoban was from Ireland. He won 500 dollars and a piece of land for his winning design.

Grayish white sandstone was chosen for the walls. Work started in 1792, while George Washington lived in Philadelphia.

America’s second president was John Adams. He and his wife, Abigail, were the first to live in the new home. They moved in on November 1, 1800. The house was not yet finished.

John and Abigail Adams lived in six rooms and used others to entertain guests. But they lived there for only four months.

John Adams lost re-election to Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson tried to finish work on the home. So did the next president, James Madison.

But in 1814, British forces invaded Washington. They burned the White House. President Madison’s wife, Dolly, tried to save valuable objects from the fire as she fled.

She rescued a painting of George Washington.  This famous portrait by Gilbert Stuart hangs in the White House to this day.

After the fire, James Hoban helped rebuild the house he had designed. During this time, it was painted white. Over the years, the White House has been enlarged and almost totally rebuilt.

One of the most recent projects was completed in July of 2007. Workers made about eight million dollars in improvements to the press briefing room. The work included a better look for television, new electrical system, better air conditioning and more comfortable seats. Some of the old ones were broken.

News organizations paid for part of the cost of the work. Reporters moved to temporary offices across the street from the White House while the press room was closed for almost a year.

The room is named in honor of former White House press secretary James Brady. He and President Ronald Reagan were shot and wounded by a man with mental problems outside a Washington hotel in 1981.

The press briefing room is built over Franklin Roosevelt’s old swimming pool. Polio disabled his legs, but President Roosevelt still swam. The pool was built in 1933.

Roosevelt was president from 1933 to 1945. The 32nd president led the nation through the end of the great economic depression and most of World War Two.

He was elected four times, more than any other president. He died in office. Today, the Twenty-second Amendment to the Constitution limits a person to being elected president twice.In 1961, Congress decided that furniture of historic and artistic value would always be White House property. In effect, Congress made the White House a museum.

As visitors enter the White House, they see pictures of past presidents on the walls.

In another hall on the same floor are paintings of first ladies. A room off this hallway contains a collection of fine dishes. Each presidency has added to this collection.

Wide marble steps lead to the next floor. It is called the State Floor. Presidents use rooms here for official duties and to entertain guests.

The largest room on the State Floor is the East Room. News conferences and music performances take place here. But this room has had other uses over the years.

Abigail Adams hung her family’s clothes to dry from the wash. Caroline Kennedy, the daughter of the 35th president, John F. Kennedy, rode her tricycle in the East Room.

Other rooms on the State Floor are named for their colors: the Blue Room, the Green Room and the Red Room. The president meets with diplomats and other guests in these rooms. They are also used for special events.

The 22nd president, Grover Cleveland, married Frances Folsom in the Blue Room in 1886. The Green Room held the body of President Abraham Lincoln’s son Willie, who died in 1862.

And the nineteenth president, Rutherford Hayes, took his oath of office in the Red Room in 1877 following a disputed election.

Nearby is the State Dining Room, where big events take place, like official dinners for visiting leaders. The Treaty Room on the second floor is used for meetings. Important documents have been signed there. At different times, this was the cabinet room or the president’s office.The next floor of the White House contains bedrooms for guests. One of these is the Lincoln Bedroom, named for the sixteenth president. But Abraham Lincoln never slept there.

Lincoln used the room as an office while he led the country through the Civil War in the 1869s. President Lincoln was murdered days after the war ended with the surrender of Robert E. Lee, the Southern general. John Wilkes Booth, a stage actor and supporter of the South, shot Lincoln at Ford’s Theatre, not far from the White House.

Over the years, presidents and other people have reported seeing Lincoln’s ghost or feeling his presence in the White House.

Long gone are the days when people could simply walk into the White House. In fact, the White House was closed to visitors temporarily after the terrorist attacks of September eleventh, 2001.

George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens (In Virginia)

George Washington won the Revolutionary War and was the first president of the United States. But can the man known as the father of his country still command attention?

This week on our program, we take you to a place where a lot of money has just been invested to make sure the answer is yes. That place is George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens in Virginia.George Washington lived in a number of homes as a boy and young man. But he spent most of his life at Mount Vernon, 24 kilometers to the south of the city of Washington.

He helped choose where to build the new capital city and the White House. Yet George Washington is the only president who never lived in the White House — it was completed after he left office. When he was president, New York City and, after that, Philadelphia served as the nation’s capital.

George Washington was born 275 years ago. His birthday is celebrated every year at his home and burial place at Mount Vernon.

The public is invited onto the grounds free of charge next Monday for ceremonies including military performances. The honor is fitting for a man who loved music and was the commander of the Continental Army.

Washington’s birthday became a federal holiday in 1885, long after his death. Today the holiday is observed on the third Monday in February and is commonly called Presidents Day.Entering Mount Vernon is like stepping back into the 18th century. It still looks much like when George Washington lived there with his wife, Martha.

Sheep still chew grass near the Potomac River. The animals are the same kind that grazed on the property when the Washingtons lived there. Farming also continues at Mount Vernon.

But Mount Vernon has recently gained many up-to-date things to see and do. About 110 million dollars in changes have been made over the past several years.

The new look was in reaction to concerns among the operators and supporters of Mount Vernon. They wondered especially if a visit there met the needs of today’s young people.

So the group that operates Mount Vernon used private donations to add two buildings and many new exhibits and films. The new buildings are the Ford Orientation Center and the Donald W. Reynolds Museum and Education Center. They were built mostly below ground. They opened last October.

Many Americans have an image of George Washington as a very serious older man. Artworks generally present him that way. But the additions to Mount Vernon present a younger and livelier George Washington.

A million visitors a year come through Mount Vernon, often with school groups. Wayne Howland has worked as a volunteer providing information to the public at Mount Vernon for many years. He says it will be interesting to see if the new additions make George Washington more meaningful to visiting students.

Visitors to the orientation Center are welcomed by a statue of George and Martha Washington, holding hands with two grandchildren. The entrance area is light and airy in the winter sunshine. Colorful glass windows present important times in Washington’s life.

Films are shown in two theaters. In one movie, television personality Pat Sajak talks about what to see and do at Mount Vernon. He also introduces a film called “We Fight to Be Free.”

It presents George Washington as a young and strong-willed revolutionary. He commands the army of the American colonies. He unites men, some of them half-starved and shoeless, to fight for freedom from British rule.

We also see him meeting his future wife, Martha Custis. Her first husband had died, leaving her with two children.

After the film, we walk over cobblestone paths to the main house at Mount Vernon. Guides describe what daily life was like in the long, white home on a hill overlooking the Potomac River.

As we look out from the back of the house, the Potomac shines blue in the winter sun. No boats are out on the icy river. The home seems to rest on the hill in perfect stillness.

The main house is three floors high. George Washington was responsible for much of the design. His office contains many of his books. This is where Washington planned the activities of the farms on his land.

George Washington owned African slaves, as did many other people. But even at that time, there was great debate about slavery. Washington ordered that his slaves be freed after he and his wife died. In his will, he left instructions for the care and education of some of his former slaves, and support and training for the children.

At the time of his death, Washington had more than 300 slaves. They provided much of the labor at Mount Vernon. Most were field workers, 60% of them women. The workday lasted from sunup to sundown, six days a week.

Mount Vernon has a gallery that deals with the slavery issue and a monument that honors the slaves.George and Martha Washington often invited friends for meals in the dining room at Mount Vernon. The Washingtons also provided sleeping rooms and food for travelers. Very few hotels existed then. So George and Martha Washington offered a place to stay for more than 600 visitors a year.

After visiting the main house, we stop at the Donald W. Reynolds Museum and Education Center. Here we meet a life-size George Washington made of wax. He is riding his horse, Blueskin.

A movie in the Reynolds Center tells us about his major battles. Our seats shake as cannons fire and smoke rises. White particles fall from above. “Snow!” calls out a child in the audience.

The museum shows about 500 objects from the Mount Vernon estate, the Revolutionary War and Washington’s presidency. Through exhibits and films, we learn about George Washington as a soldier and statesman, but also as a young boy, a land surveyor and a woodsman.

Visitors crowd around a glass container.  It holds Washington’s false teeth. They were made of hippopotamus ivory and human teeth. When he became president, he had only one of his own teeth left in his mouth.

Another popular exhibit is called “hands-on history.” Bitsy Unkle works at Mount Vernon. She explains the children’s clothing and toys in this room. She points to dolls made of cloth, and describes how children learning to read shaped the dolls into letters.BITSY UNKLE: “This is how children took these — it’s like a little rag doll. They have to form the alphabet, and that’s how children learned their letters in the 18th century.”After his victory in the Revolutionary War, some people wanted George Washington to be president for life. Or even king. But Washington said Americans had fought for freedom from such rulers.

He was elected president two times and served from 1789 to 1797. He was offered a third term, but he refused. He wanted to return to the life he had led at Mount Vernon before the war.

Yet George Washington did not get to enjoy a long retirement at Mount Vernon. He died there in 1799. Modern doctors believe he died of a severe infection. He was 67 years old.

He and his wife are buried at Mount Vernon. After Martha Washington died, Mount Vernon was given to other family members. By the eighteen fifties, the person who owned it did not have enough money to keep it in good condition. He offered to sell Mount Vernon to Virginia or to the federal government. Both said no.

Ford’s Theatre 

Today, we visit one of the most famous theaters in the United States. It is Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C.Ford’s Theatre is both a happy and sad place. It is happy because it brings music shows and other theater productions to Washington, D.C. Ford’s Theatre is also a sad place in American history. This is where the actor John Wilkes Booth assassinated President Abraham Lincoln.

Today, the theater is a living memorial to President Lincoln’s love for the performing arts. It is also a museum operated by the National Park Service.For a few minutes, we would like you to imagine that it is the evening of April fourteenth, eighteen-sixty-five. You are one of the one-thousand-seven-hundred men and women who have come to Ford’s Theatre tonight. You have come here to see a popular and funny play, “Our American Cousin.” The famous actress Laura Keene has brought her theater company to Washington to perform it.

The play will begin in a few minutes. People are walking into the theater to their seats. The inside is bright with candlelight. As we look towards the stage, we see something unusual.

To the right and above the stage is a special small area called the State Box. It contains seats that President Lincoln uses when he comes to the theater. For tonight’s performance, John Ford, the owner of the theater, has ordered that the State Box be decorated with flags. Near the bottom of the box and in the center is a painting of America’s first President, George Washington.

President Lincoln likes to go to the theater. But he has not had many chances to attend recently because the nation was involved in the Civil War. Five days earlier, however, the forces of the southern states surrendered to end the war. People in Washington are celebrating. Tonight the president and Missus Lincoln want to enjoy the funny play performed by Laura Keene and her company of actors.

President Lincoln arrives after the play has begun. The actors stop performing and the people in the theater stand and cheer. The band plays a song to honor the president. Minutes later the play continues.

President and Missus Lincoln have invited two guests to sit with them in the State Box. They are army Major Henry Rathbone and Clara Harris.

The play is funny and Mr. Lincoln laughs. He leans forward a little and places his hand on one of the flags to hold it down because it blocks his view of part of the stage.

The actor John Wilkes Booth enters the theater. He is there to kill the president. He strongly believes that killing Abraham Lincoln will stop the Union victory in the Civil War. He believes it might help the Southern states renew their efforts to fight the war.

The people who work in the theater know Booth well. He is also a friend of John Ford, the owner of the theater. No one stops Booth. He slowly walks up the stairs that circle to the right side of the theater. He stops for a minute and watches the play and then walks to the closed door of President Lincoln’s box.

Booth listens carefully to the words of the play. He knows it very well. He has chosen the exact moment in the play when the people watching will begin to laugh.

Booth quickly opens the door to the box, enters the small room and closes the door behind him. He reaches in his pocket and pulls out a small gun. He aims it at the president.

On the stage, Laura Keene and an actor are speaking lines from the play:

“I am aware, Mr. Trenchard, you are not used to the manners of good society, and that alone will excuse the impertinence of which you have been guilty.”


“Don’t know the manners of good society, eh? Well, I guess I know enough to turn you inside out, old gal — you sockdologizing old man-trap.”


President Lincoln died the next morning. Doctors could do nothing to save his life. Ford’s Theatre was immediately closed. For a few days, police held Mr. Ford while they investigated the murder of the president. John Wilkes Booth escaped Washington on horseback. But he was found twelve days later in Virginia. He was shot to death when he refused to surrender.

Three months later, Mr. Ford was preparing to reopen the theater. But the powerful Secretary of War Edwin Stanton placed troops outside the building and would not permit it to be opened. The government offered to pay Mr. Ford each month for the use of the theater. He had no choice but to accept the money.

In August, the War Department began work to change the theater into an office building. In less than one year, part of the held War Department information. Another part of the building was the Army Medical Museum. Still another part was the Library of Medicine. In eighteen-sixty-six, the government bought the building from Mr. Ford for one-hundred-thousand dollars.

In eighteen-ninety-three, a terrible accident took place in the building. Three floors fell down. Twenty-two government workers were killed. Sixty-eight were injured.

For many years after that, the government used the building as a storage area. In nineteen-thirty-two, it opened a small museum to honor President Lincoln. The National Park Service took control of the building.

As the years passed, many people thought it would be a good idea to rebuild the theater. They wanted it to look as it did the night President Lincoln was assassinated. They wanted to make the theater into a memorial to honor President Lincoln.

In nineteen-forty-six, a member of the United States Senate introduced legislation that called for rebuilding the theater. However, it was not until nineteen-sixty-four that Congress agreed to provide more than two-million dollars to rebuild the old theater.Rebuilding Ford’s Theatre was difficult. The building plans for the theater had been lost many years earlier. However, photographs greatly helped the rebuilding process. The police had taken many photographs of the theater and kept them as evidence during the investigation of President Lincoln’s murder.

These photographs included the stage, the president’s special box seats, and the seating area for the public. Many of these photographs were used to help rebuild the theater to make it look like it did on April fourteenth, eighteen-sixty-five.

The rebuilding effort began in January, nineteen-sixty-five — almost one-hundred years after President Lincoln’s death. It was finished in December, nineteen-sixty-seven.

The re-opening ceremony took place on January thirtieth, nineteen-sixty-eight. American actress Helen Hayes walked on to the stage of the newly reopened Ford’s Theatre. She was the first actress to stand on the stage since President Lincoln watched Laura Keene in the play, “Our American Cousin.”

Today, Ford’s Theatre is a popular place for visitors in Washington D.C. People on holiday come to see the famous theater. Many buses bring school children to the theater to learn about President Lincoln.

The small museum is under the theater. It shows the clothing Mr. Lincoln wore that night long ago. It has the small gun Booth used in the assassination and many photographs. It also has a likeness that was made in stone from President Lincoln’s face.

Visitors can walk into the main theater to see the stage. They can sit in a chair for a few minutes and look up at the State Box where President Lincoln sat. It is decorated with flags the way it was then. Near the bottom of the box, between the flags, is the painting of George Washington. Experts believe it is the same one that hung there the night of the assassination.

Many actors say Ford’s Theatre is a difficult place in which to perform. Most say they do not look at President Lincoln’s State Box when they are on stage. But the memory of what happened there is always present.

A new musical play is opening at Ford’s Theatre March twenty-fifth. “Children of Eden” will be performed at until June sixth. It is a funny play about family relationships. It includes many different kinds of music. It is not difficult to imagine that President Lincoln would have enjoyed a play like “Children of Eden.” He loved going to the theater.This program was written by Paul Thompson. It was produced by Mario Ritter. This is Steve Ember. And this is Faith Lapidus.

The Statue of Liberty

Later this week, Americans will celebrate the nation’s Independence Day. On July 4, 1776, colonial leaders approved the final Declaration of Independence for the United States.

This year, the city of New York will also celebrate the opening of part of an important symbol of America that has been closed to the public for the past eight years.The Statue of Liberty has stood in New York Harbor for more than 100 years. It was a gift from the people of France in 1884. Its full name is “Liberty Enlightening the World”.

The Statue of Liberty is 46 meters tall from its base. It is made mostly of copper. Throughout history, images of liberty have been represented as a woman. The statue is sometimes called “Lady Liberty.”

The Statue of Liberty’s face was created to look like the sculptor’s mother. Her right arm holds a torch with a flame high in the air. Her left arm holds a tablet with the date of the Declaration of Independence — July 4, 1776. On her head she wears a crown of seven points. Each is meant to represent the light of freedom as it shines on the seven seas and seven continents of the world.  Twenty-five windows in the crown represent gemstones found on Earth. A chain that represents oppression lies broken at her feet.

In 1903, a bronze plaque was placed on the inner wall of the statue’s support structure or pedestal. On it are words from the poem “The New Colossus” written by Emma Lazarus in 1883. The plaque represents the statue’s message of hope for people seeking freedom. These are some of its best known words:


Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!The United States and France have been friends and allies since the time of the American Revolution. France helped the American colonial armies defeat the British. The war officially ended in 1783. A few years later, the French rebelled against their king.

A French historian and political leader, Edouard-Rene Lefebvre de Laboulaye, had the idea for the statue. In 1865, he suggested that the French and the Americans build a monument together to celebrate freedom. Artist Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi immediately agreed to design it.

In 1875, the French established an organization to raise money for Bartholdi’s creation. Two years later, an American group was formed to raise money to pay for a pedestal to support the statue. American architect Richard Morris Hunt was chosen to design this support structure. It would stand 47 meters high.

In France, Bartholdi designed a very small statue. Then he built a series of larger copies. Workers created a wooden form covered with plaster for each part. Then they placed 300 pieces of copper on the forms. This copper skin was less than three centimeters thick.

The statue also needed a structure that could hold its weight of more than 200 tons. French engineer Alexandre Gustave Eiffel created this new technology. Later, he would build the famous Eiffel Tower in Paris.

Eiffel and others worked in Paris to produce a strong iron support system for the statue. The design also needed to permit the statue to move a little in strong winds.

France had wanted to give the statue to the United States on the one hundredth anniversary of the Declaration of Independence — July 4, 1876. But technical problems and lack of money delayed the project. France finally presented the statue to the United States in Paris in 1884. But the pedestal, being built in New York, was not finished. Not enough money had been given to complete the project.

The publisher of the New York World newspaper came to the rescue. Joseph Pulitzer used his newspaper to urge Americans to give more money to finish the pedestal. His efforts brought in another 100,000 dollars. And the pedestal was finished.

In France, workers separated the statue into 350 pieces, put them on a ship and sent them across the ocean. The statue arrived in New York in more than 200 wooden boxes. It took workers four months to put together the statue on the new pedestal. President Grover Cleveland officially accepted the statue in a ceremony on October 28, 1886. He said: “We will not forget that Liberty has here made her home; nor shall her chosen altar be neglected.”The Statue of Liberty became a symbol of hope for immigrants coming to the United States by ship from Europe. More than 12 million people passed the statue between 1892 and 1954 on their way to the immigration center on nearby Ellis Island.

More than 40% of Americans have an ancestor who passed through Ellis Island. Through the years, millions of people continued to visit the Statue of Liberty. A trip to New York City did not seem complete without it.

Still, the statue was old and becoming dangerous for visitors. In 1982, President Ronald Reagan asked businessman Lee Iacocca to lead a campaign to repair it. The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation raised about 100 million dollars in private money to do the work. The repairs included replacing the torch and covering it with 24 carat gold. On July 4, 1986, New York City celebrated a restored and re-opened Statue of Liberty.

Officials closed the Statue of Liberty following the terrorist attacks in New York on September 11, 2001. It remained closed until August, 2004. When it re-opened, visitors could only go onto the statue’s pedestal. But the Statue continued to attract visitors—more than three million a year.

This year, on July 4th, visitors once again will be able to climb inside the statue all the way to the top. It is not an easy thing to do. More than 350 steps lead to Lady Liberty’s crown. The National Park Service says it will limit the number of climbers to about 200 a day. No more than ten people will be able to go up at one time. At that rate, officials estimate that more than 100,000 people will be able to climb to the top each year.

But if you want to visit the newly opened Statue of Liberty, you must do it within the next two years. That is because the National Park Service plans to close it again for more repairs. Officials say the improvements could take as long as two years. But they say the work will make it possible to safely double the number of visitors permitted inside.The Statue of Liberty National Monument and Ellis Island is one of America’s national parks. It includes both Liberty Island, where the statue stands, and nearby Ellis Island, the former federal immigration processing center.

Officials at the center examined many of the immigrants who arrived by ship before they were permitted to enter the United States. The main building was restored and opened as a museum in 1990. The museum includes pictures, videos, interactive displays and recordings of immigrants who went through Ellis Island until it was closed in 1954.

One popular exhibit is the Immigrant Wall of Honor outside the main building. It honors all immigrants to the United States no matter where they entered the country. It now lists the names of more than 700,000 people. A new area of wall is being prepared for more names to be added.

An immigration history center on the island contains the ship records of passengers who entered through New York from 1892 through 1924. Those were the years of the great wave of European immigration, before the United States passed restrictive immigration laws.

The Color of Money: America’s Bureau of Engraving and Printing Produces Millions of Dollars a Day

And I’m Steve Ember. Today on our program, we visit the Bureau of Engraving and Printing in Washington, D.C. to hear how American dollars are made. In two thousand nine, the Bureau produced about twenty-six million bills a day.

Producing money requires both artistic and technological skills. Dollar bills are made so that they are interesting to look at but very hard to copy. In total, there are sixty-five separate steps required to make a dollar bill.Guided tours of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing are a popular activity for visitors to Washington, D.C. These trips are a good way to learn new and interesting facts about the history of money and its complex production methods. It is also exciting to stand in a room with millions of dollars flying through machines.

TOUR GUIDE: “All right, ladies and gentlemen, once again welcome to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. And this is where the color of money begins. The money making process begins when a yearly order sent by the Federal Reserve Board. That order will then be divided in half. Half will be done here in Washington, D.C. and the other half will be done in Fort Worth, Texas.”

Next, the Bureau orders special paper from the Crane Paper Company in the state of Massachusetts. The paper is actually cloth since it is seventy-five percent cotton and twenty-five percent linen.

This paper is made so that it can last a long time. And, it is made with details that make it hard to copy. For example, bills contain security threads. These narrow pieces of plastic are inside the paper and run along the width of the bill. This special paper is also made with very small blue and red fibers. Both of these designs make it very hard to copy.

The first step in production is called intaglio printing. This is done on high-speed presses using printing plates onto which images have been cut. Each plate receives a layer of ink, which gathers in the cut areas of the plate. Then, each piece of paper goes into the press to receive the printing plate. The machine forces about twenty tons of pressure onto the printing plate and paper. One side of a dollar bill is colored with green ink, while the other is printed in black. Each side must dry for about forty-eight hours.

The printing plate used in this process is created from hand-cut engravings called master-dies. Highly skilled artists called engravers copy images on soft steel to make the dies. There are separate dies for the different images on the bill, such as the picture of the president, the lettering and other designs.

After each master-die is copied, they are put together to make a printing plate that has thirty-two copies of the bill being printed. A master-die can last for many years. For example, the master-die with the picture of President Abraham Lincoln was made in the eighteen sixties. It was used again in two thousand eight to redesign the five-dollar bill.

Next, the large printed sheets are carefully examined to make sure there are no mistakes on any of the bills. This process used to be done by people. Now, computers do the work.

TOUR GUIDE: “OCIS is an acronym for Off-line Currency Inspection System and this is where the money from the last phase will be inspected. Now that blue box will take a picture to size of the sheets of the money and compare its cut, color and shape with the master image sent by the Federal Reserve Board. It will take that picture and break it down into over one million pixels. Every single last one has to be absolutely correct.”

In this part of production, the thirty-two bill sheets are cut into sheets of sixteen. In the next step, a series of identifying numbers and seals are added to the bills.

TOUR GUIDE: “And this is where the money from the last phase will be put to its final state. If you look to the left of the room, ladies and gentlemen, there is a tall machine with green ink at the top of it. That is the machine that will print your serial numbers, Federal Reserve seal and Treasury seal onto the money.”

The serial numbers on the money tell the order that the bills were printed. Other numbers and letters on the bill tell when the note was printed, what space on the printing plate the bill occupied and which Reserve Bank will issue the bill.

Once the money is printed, guillotine cutters separate the sheets into two notes, then into individual notes. The notes are organized in “bricks,” each of which contains forty one-hundred-note packages. The bricks then go to one of twelve Federal Reserve Districts, which then give the money to local banks. Ninety-five percent of the bills printed each year are used to replace money that is in circulation, or that has already been removed from circulation. The Federal Reserve decides when to release this new money into use.You may know that America’s first president, George Washington, is pictured on the one-dollar bill. But do you know whose face is on the two, five, ten, twenty, fifty and one hundred-dollar bills? They are, in order, President Thomas Jefferson, President Abraham Lincoln, Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton, President Andrew Jackson, President Ulysses Grant and statesman Benjamin Franklin.

During the tour, visitors can learn many facts about money. For example, the average life span of a one-dollar bill is twenty-one months. But a ten-dollar bill lasts only about eighteen months. The one hundred-dollar note lasts the longest, eighty-nine months.

One popular question that visitors ask is about the two-dollar bill. This bill is not made very often. This is because many Americans believe two-dollar bills are lucky, so they keep them. Two-dollar bills do not have to be manufactured often because they do not become damaged quickly like other bills.

People can send their damaged or torn bills to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. The Bureau will replace damaged bills with new bills. However, it is illegal to purposely damage United States currency in any way. Anyone found guilty of damaging American money can be fined or jailed.The Bureau of Engraving and Printing first began printing money in eighteen sixty-one. It operated in a room of the Treasury building. Two men and four women worked together there to place seals on money that was printed in other places by private companies.

Today, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing has over two thousand employees in its two printing centers in Washington and Texas.

The Treasury Department continually works to change the design of bills to make it difficult to copy. One method it uses is called microprinting. For example, what looks like a very thin line around the edge of a picture may actually be the words “The United States of America” in very small letters. Also, many bills now have color-shifting ink that looks like metallic paint. In the last five years, the ten, twenty and fifty-dollar bills have been redesigned. All the bills are mostly green. But other colors are added when they are redesigned.

The most recent note to be redesigned is the one hundred-dollar bill. This is the highest value bill currently made in the United States. More than ten years of research and development went into its new security features. They offer a simple way to make sure that a new one hundred-dollar note is real. For example, there is a blue ribbon woven into the front of the note.

If you tilt the note back and forth while looking at the blue ribbon, you will see bells on the note change to hundreds as they move. When you tilt the note back and forth, the bells and the hundreds move from side to side. If you tilt it from side to side, they move up and down.

There is also an image of a bell inside a copper-colored inkwell on the front of the note. Tilt the note to see the bell change from copper to green. This makes the bell seem to appear and disappear within the inkwell. There are several other security features in the redesigned one hundred-dollar bill.

Last month, the Federal Reserve Board announced a delay in releasing the new one-hundred dollar notes. The Bureau of Engraving and Printing identified a problem with creasing of the paper during printing. The new bills were supposed to be released February tenth, two thousand eleven. The Bureau is working to solve the problem.Our program was written by Dana Demange and Shelley Gollust. Our producer was Brianna Blake. I’m Barbara Klein.

Cape May, New Jersey

Welcome to THIS IS AMERICA. Many cities around the United States are proud to have historic buildings that are recognized by the federal government. But in the state of New Jersey, a whole city is listed as a national historic landmark.

The little city of Cape May lies at the end of a narrow piece of land with the Atlantic Ocean to the east and the Delaware Bay to the west. Now, Shirley Griffith and Steve Ember tell us all about Cape May as the city celebrates its four hundredth anniversary this year.



Cape May officials say their city is the oldest seaside holiday place in the United States. The first visitors were Native American Indians. The Indians spent summers hunting and fishing in the area. In 1620, the area was named by a Dutch ship captain, Cornelius Jacobsen Mey.

Twenty-five years later, settlers formed the first government of Cape May. The settlers were members of the Quaker religion. Other people came from the eastern New England states, New York state and Britain.


The first industry in Cape May was whaling. It was successful for many years. But as early as the middle 1700s, Cape May began to be known as a place to visit in the summer. Most people traveled to the area by boat. In the early 19th century steamboats came from the city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and from the nearby state of Delaware.

Steamboat travel led to a huge increase in visitors. More people began coming up to Cape May from the southern coastal states. The city had to deal with these large numbers of people. So, a new hotel was built right on the beach.

The Mount Vernon hotel was the largest in the world when it was built in 1853. However, it was only used for three years. The hotel was built of wood. Gas was used to light the building. This combination led to a huge fire that destroyed the hotel in 1856.



People still arrive at Cape May by boat. A ferry crosses the Delaware Bay from the town of Lewes Delaware to Cape May and back several times every day. The ferry takes people and their cars. A one-way trip takes about an hour.

Passengers on the ferry can see beautiful views. To the west is the Delaware Bay. To the east stretches the Atlantic Ocean. Leaving port, passengers can see two sets of sea walls built hundreds of meters from shore.

The walls are designed to protect the land from the powerful waves created by storms. The sea walls break the waves before the land does.

The two sea walls look very different. One was built by the hands of many men before there was industrial building equipment. The job was very difficult and dangerous. This early wall has a smooth and solid look.

The other wall was built during this century. Many machines were used to place the uneven rocks and other building materials together to form the wall. This wall may work as well and last as long but it is not as pleasing to look at as the one built by hand.


The first thing a passenger sees on the Cape May coast is the area’s famous lighthouse. The simple structure rises about 60 meters from the ground. It is in the Cape May Point State Park. Visitors can see the ocean, the bay and surrounding communities from the top of the lighthouse. However, the only way up is to climb almost 200 steps.

Cape May also has a sea wall. Passengers can see it as the ferry pulls into Cape May Port. This sea wall is built right into the hills of sand that make up the coast. The wall is made of equal-sized blocks of building material. The long, brownish red wall protects the white sand and coastal grasses from the sea.


When passengers leave the boat, they can drive their cars eight kilometers into Cape May. There is only one road into the city. In the summer, that road is filled with cars.

Hundreds of thousands of people visit Cape May each summer. Most of them bring cars. It can take more than one hour to drive from the ferry to the center of town. And, it can take more than another hour to find a place to park your car. However, the crowds of people in Cape May decrease as the fall season begins. The city is much slower and quieter throughout the fall and winter.



Other kinds of visitors come to Cape May in the fall. Tens of thousands of birds stop in the Cape May area on their flight south for the winter. The Cape is a great feeding and resting place for the birds.

Visitors can see bald eagles, peregrine falcons and ospreys. And many bird lovers come to watch the show. More than 200 kinds of songbirds also stop in Cape May on their way to Central and South America. Other beautiful creatures also fill the air in Cape May during the fall. Monarch butterflies stop to rest on their way south for the winter.

The state park protects many hectares of land for the birds and butterflies. However, people are welcome to come and observe the nature. Some people choose to walk alone. Others take part in group explorations led by bird experts. Bicycle trips through the park and surrounding nature areas are also popular.



There are several good ways to see the city of Cape May. There are bus and trolley rides through the city. There are also walking tours. Guides tell about the homes and businesses along the road. The guides also discuss the history of Cape May.

The main reason to go on these tours is to see the famous houses of Cape May. There are more than 600 houses of 19th century Victorian design in the city. The houses are made of wood. The borders on each part of the house have different edges. The edges are cut with extreme detail.

Some are wavy, or have a flowery style. Others have sharp points, rows of cut-out circles or designs like snowflakes.


Victorians used interesting colors as well as design. The true Victorian style of house requires many different colors of paint. The Victorians used one color for edging, another for the outside walls, another for decorative pieces connected to the house.

The Victorians liked colors linked to the fall season. Deep and dark reds, yellows and browns were popular. You see many such houses as you walk or ride through the streets of Cape May.

However, there are also many houses that are all white. Cape May guides say it became popular to use white paint in the 20th century. The general desire was for a more moderate style.


Among the hundreds of Victorian houses in Cape May are the houses that are called “Painted Ladies.” These houses have many different colors like traditional Victorians. However, these colors are intense pinks and purples or bright shades of green, yellow and blue. These different styles of house painting create some exciting streets to look at throughout the city.

Many of these late 19th century houses would not have been built had it not been for a major tragedy. In 1878, a huge fire began in Cape May. It burned for a day. The fire destroyed the center of the city. The city was left with few hotels. But summer homes for families became popular as a result.



In the 20th century, Cape May became a less popular place to visit for the summer. Cape May guides say it was costly to care for and repair summer homes near the sea. They say the increasingly common automobile made travel to other holiday places easier. There were not many visitors to Cape May for most of the last 80 years.

Then, in the 1970s, the city was given the National Historic Landmark award. Major rebuilding and repair projects began throughout Cape May. Small business owners came to the city. Many people bought and repaired the old houses. They turned the houses into special places for visitors to stay called bed-and-breakfasts. These B-and-Bs are extremely popular now.

Cape May now is as popular a summer holiday place as it was at the turn of the century. Maybe that is why the city’s saying is “Our Future Is Our Past.”

Charleston, South Carolina

Welcome to THIS IS AMERICA in VOA Special English. I’m Steve Ember with Shirley Griffith. This week, come along to one of the most beautiful and historic cities in the United States – Charleston, South Carolina. The Civil War began at its waterfront.

Charleston is on a piece of land in the southeastern United States that points like a finger to the Atlantic Ocean. Rivers flow by either side of the city. They are the Ashley and the Cooper rivers. The people of Charleston will smile and tell you the Ashley and the Cooper rivers join to form the Atlantic Ocean.

They know this is not true, but they like to tell the story anyway. It shows how proud the people of Charleston are of their city.Charleston has a very rich history. It is the only city in the United States that can claim to have defended itself from American Indians, fierce pirates, Spanish ships, French soldiers, and British forces. It was first in many things. Charleston had the first continual train service in the United States. It built the first museum and the first public flower garden in America.

And the first battle of the American Civil War took place on a very small but important island in its port. Charleston has some of the most beautiful and unusual homes in America. One critic has called Charleston the most friendly city in the United States. Charleston is all of these things and much more.

Plan your visit to Charleston for early spring, late autumn or the winter months. The citizens of Charleston will tell you their lovely city is not fun in the summer. It is extremely hot. The summer heat is important to the history of Charleston.

Early settlers owned huge farms called plantations. In the 1700s, these farms produced a plant called indigo which is used to make cloth the color blue. Many plantation owners forced slaves to do the work needed to grow indigo in the extreme heat. Slavery became important to the economy of Charleston. The plantations, indigo and slavery are part of the history of the city.At least three Indian tribes were living in the area that became Charleston when Spanish explorers arrived in 1521.The Spanish explorers, and later, French explorers tried to establish settlements near that area but none lasted. English settlers first came to the area in 1670. They established a town.

They called it Charles Town in honor of the English King, Charles the Second. The people of the city changed its name to Charleston in 1783.

Many people came to live in Charleston because it produced indigo and had a good port. The people who settled the area were hard working and independent. They considered themselves citizens of England. Still, they did not like some of the laws declared by the English government.

The colonists successfully defended their city many times in the early 1700s. They defended it against both French and Spanish forces, and against raids by Yamasee Indians and by pirates. In 1719, the citizens of Charleston rebelled against the group of English men who controlled their colony.

They wanted more self-government. Britain’s King George agreed. This change gave the people of Charleston a feeling of independence.

Charleston is still proud of its part in the war for independence. The city provided several political and military leaders during the American Revolution. British forces attacked it two times, but were defeated by the people of Charleston. The third time, the British captured the city and held it for more than a year.

Charleston continued to grow after the American colonists had won their independence from England. The new federal government knew that the city was important. Workers began building a strong base to guard Charleston in 1828. This base was on a small island in Charleston Harbor.

It was named Fort Sumter. It was designed to guard the city from any future enemy.

There were no thoughts of war or future enemies while Fort Sumter was being built. The plantations near Charleston had began to plant new crops like rice and cotton. With the help of slave labor, cotton became extremely important to the economy of Charleston and much of the South.

Many people in the northern United States began to think that slavery was very wrong, however. Slave owners in the South wanted things to remain as they had always been. They believed the federal government had no right to tell them what they could or could not do.

A national crisis began when Abraham Lincoln was elected president in 1860. The people of South Carolina believed he would try to end slavery by force. They voted to leave the United States. They were quickly followed by other southern states.

These southern states soon created the government of the Confederate States of America. Federal troops controlled Fort Sumter when South Carolina voted to leave the Union. The people of Charleston demanded the federal troops leave.

The Union commander refused. On the morning of April 12, 1861, a cannon was fired at Fort Sumter. It was the first shot of America’s long Civil War.Charleston suffered a lot of damage during the Civil War. Several major battles were fought there. Late in the war another battle for control of Fort Sumter continued for almost two years. Much of Charleston had been destroyed by the time the war ended.

Rebuilding the city was a long and slow process. The people of Charleston tried to save the historic buildings from the 1700s. They wanted to keep those buildings they felt were an important part of their city.

The huge plantations near Charleston were also in need of rebuilding. Many owners failed in their efforts because they could no longer use slave labor. Their farms became much smaller.

The historic buildings of Charleston were affected by weather as well as wars. Through the years, ocean storms have severely damaged the city. A major storm struck Charleston in September 1989. It killed 18 people and caused more than 3,000 million dollars in damage.

The huge storm had winds of more than 217 kilometers an hour. It caused high waves that severely flooded city streets.

The federal, state and city governments and individual citizens have spent millions of dollars to rebuild and repair historic areas. So in some places, Charleston looks a lot like it has for several hundred years.

In the center of the city are stores in small 100 year old buildings. The same family has owned one of the stores for almost 150 years.

Fine eating places throughout the city serve southern food. The people of Charleston will tell you they have some of the best eating places in the United States. Many visitors agree.

Beautiful, old buildings are a major reason thousands of people visit Charleston each year. One of the famous buildings is the Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon. It was built in the early 1700s. It was a jail that held the famous English pirate Stede Bonnet and his crew before they were hanged.

Several of the old plantation farms near Charleston also are open to visitors. One is called Boone Hall Plantation. It is still a working farm. Boone Hall Plantation looks much like it did before the American Civil War. It has been used as the setting for a number of movies and television programs about the American South and the Civil War.

From almost anywhere along the waterfront in Charleston, you can see a large American flag flying over the small island that still holds Fort Sumter. Most visitors go to the historic fort during their time in Charleston.

Several companies provide boat rides to the fort. Much of the fort was destroyed during the Civil War. But what remains of Fort Sumter is protected by the National Park Service. Park workers meet each boat and explain about the battles that took place.

Charleston has many interesting places to visit. However the people who live in the city really make it special. They are extremely friendly in a way that is part of the culture of the American south.

The people of Charleston continue to keep their city beautiful using modern technology to protect their historic past.Our program was written by Paul Thompson and produced by Lawan Davis. Internet users can read and listen to our reports at voaspecialenglish.com. With Shirley Griffith, I’m Steve Ember. Listen again next week for THIS IS AMERICA in VOA SpecialEnglish.

Chicago, Illinois

Welcome to THIS IS AMERICA in VOA Special English.  I’m Faith Lapidus. And I’m Steve Ember.

This week: some places to see in Chicago.Early last century, the poet Carl Sandburg described Chicago, Illinois, as the “City of the Big Shoulders.”  That still seems right.  Chicago does a lot of things in a big way.

For example, the city is a big transportation center in the Midwest for trains, trucks, ships and planes.

Manufacturing is one of the biggest industries in Chicago.

And Chicago has one of America’s busiest ports.  The city stretches for about 40 kilometers along the southwestern shore of Lake Michigan.  The Saint Lawrence Seaway opened in 1959.  It connects the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean.Chicago is big on music.  Visitors can find all kinds, from classical to hip-hop.  Some of the best places for jazz and blues are along Rush Street.

There are lots of things to see and hear in Chicago.

At the Art Institute of Chicago, people can see fine Asian art and much more.

At the Museum of Science and Industry, visitors crowd a working coal mine and a World War Two submarine.

At the Adler Planetarium, people see stars and learn about space.  And at the Shedd Aquarium, they see colorful fish and learn about life under the sea.

Not surprisingly Chicago has a lot of big buildings.  The two tallest are the Sears Tower and the John Hancock Building.

Many people take architectural tours around Chicago.  There are many interesting landmarks and building designs to see.

The Wrigley Building, near the Chicago River, opened in the early 1920s.  This office building is hard to miss.  It is bright white.

Downtown Chicago, the business center, is known as the Loop.  There are many offices and stores.  The Loop includes the financial district around LaSalle Street.  The financial district is home to the Chicago Board of Trade, the Chicago Stock Exchange and many banks.VOICE  TWO:

Another big thing to see, and feel, is the weather.  After all, another name for Chicago is the “Windy City.”  People turn their shoulders to the strong winds off Lake Michigan.  In winter, Chicago gets a lot of snow; in summer, the weather is hot and sticky.

Almost three million people live in Chicago.  Chicago is America’s third largest city, after New York and Los Angeles.  More than nine million people live in surrounding communities.

Over the years many immigrants have settled in Chicago.  Many of its people have ethnic roots in Poland, Germany, Ireland and Italy.  More recent immigrants have come from all over the world.

Today just under half the population of the city of Chicago is non-Hispanic white.  The city has large black and Hispanic populations.  Four percent of the people are Asian.

When people in Chicago want to be outdoors, one place to go is Millennium Park.  In this City of Big Shoulders, almost everything about Millennium Park is big.  It covers ten hectares.  It took almost nine years to finish.

Millennium Park is on Michigan Avenue near Lake Michigan.  It officially opened in 2004.  It cost 475 million dollars.

Millennium Park has gardens and places for music, dance and ice skating.  It also has one of the largest outdoor sculptures in the world.  Anish Kapoor of Britain created this work of public art.  It weighs one 110 tons.

A huge rounded form of shiny steel captures a looking-glass image of the Chicago skyline and the clouds above.  The sculpture is called “Cloud Gate.”

The Spanish artist Jaume Plensa designed the Crown Fountain in Millennium Park.  The fountain is surely one of the most unusual in the world.

The artist set a pool of water between two tall glass towers.  Video images appear on the towers.  The images are a series of pictures of nature and people’s faces.  The water appears to pour from their mouths.  The faces represent the many different people of Chicago.

Millennium Park has music in the Jay Pritzker Pavilion.  The architect Frank Gehry designed this modern-looking structure.  It can seat 4,000 people under its open-top steel ribbons.  There is also an area called the Great Lawn to listen to the music.  The sound system makes the music seem like it is coming from inside a concert hall.

The pavilion is a home for the Grant Park Music Festival.  Listen as the Grant Park Symphony plays “Julius Caesar: Symphonic Epilogue After Shakespeare,” Opus Twenty-eight, composed by Robert Kurka.
In warm weather, people eat outdoors in the McCormick Tribune Plaza and Ice Rink in Millennium Park.  In winter, skaters come out to enjoy the ice.

Visitors can also walk and ride bicycles in several areas of the plaza.

An indoor space has room for 300 bicycles.  There are also places where people who ride their bikes to work can clean up and change clothes.

Another part of Millennium Park is the Lurie Garden.  This one-hectare area is bordered by what is called the “Shoulder Hedge.”  Trees almost five meters tall form a living wall around the garden.

“Shoulder” in this case is meant to honor the poet Carl Sandburg.  One hundred thirty-eight kinds of plants grow in the Lurie Garden.

Many people enjoy the activities at Millennium Park.  But critics wonder why the city needed a park so big and costly.  They say the city should have spent the money instead on its more than 600 public schools.  They say it could have helped the poor.

Twenty-one percent of people in the city of Chicago were living below the poverty level in 2004.  The official poverty rate nationally that year was about 13%.

Other people say Millennium Park has improved the appearance of the area where it was built.  The mayor and many other city leaders believed a big park would bring more people, more homes and more businesses to the area.

Mayor Richard M. Daley is the son of former Chicago mayor Richard J. Daley.  The father is still remembered for his control over the local Democratic Party organization.  The city has not elected a Republican mayor since 1915.Another big development, the Chicago Cultural Center, stands across Michigan Avenue from Millennium Park.  It contains the city’s official Visitor Information Center.  It is also a showplace for the arts.

The building that now houses the cultural center was completed in 1897.  It held the first permanent collection of the Chicago Public Library.  It served as library headquarters until 1991.

There are white walls made of marble from Carrara, Italy.  And there are two Tiffany domes.  The bigger dome is one of the largest Tiffany designs in the world.  It rises almost 12 meters above the floor.

People say the restored Chicago Cultural Center looks like a home for kings and queens.  Some call it “the People’s Palace.”

Visitors can listen to all kinds of music at the Chicago Cultural Center.  For example, Monday through Friday, there are free LunchBreak Concerts.  Listen now to Middle Eastern music performed by Safwan Matni, a popular LunchBreak Concert guest artist.Dancers from Hubbard Street Two in Chicago have also performed at the Cultural Center.  Hubbard Street Two is a six-member dance group.  It trains promising dancers between the ages of 17 and 25.  They perform works by young choreographers.

Carl Sandburg would probably not have been surprised by big projects like the Chicago Cultural Center and Millennium Park.  The poet wrote: “Come and show me another city with lifted head singing so proud to be alive … “Our program was written by Jerilyn Watson and produced by Caty Weaver.  I’m Steve Ember.

And I’m Faith Lapidus.  Read and listen to our programs at voaspecialenglish.com.  And join us again next week for THIS IS AMERICA in VOA Special English.  We leave you with Frank Sinatra singing about “My Kind of Town.”


Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Welcome to THIS IS AMERICA in VOA Special English.  I’m Faith Lapidus. And I’m Steve Ember.

Today we travel to the mountains of Wyoming for a trip to Jackson Hole.

This beautiful valley was named after the 19th-century explorer and hunter David Jackson.  After he spent a winter in the area, his friends started to call it “Jackson’s Hole.”

The valley looks like a hole in the middle of the mountains that surround it.  Over time, the name stuck.Jackson Hole is about 48 kilometers long.  The valley includes the town of Jackson.  About 8,000 people live there.  The valley also includes the Grand Teton National Park and much of the Bridger-Teton National Forest.

Jackson Hole is a popular holiday place.  In the summer, people go there to ride horses, climb mountains, catch fish and take trips on the rivers and lakes.

Many visitors take a trip across the valley on the Snake River.  The Snake Indians once lived near this river.  It turns from side to side, like a snake on the move.

Some visitors bird-watch from sailboats.  One of the birds they can see is America’s national symbol, the bald eagle.  Other people go white-water rafting.  Rubber rafts carry them along the fastest parts of the river.  The water moves so fast, it becomes white with foam.

In the winter, people come to Jackson Hole to ski.  Jackson Hole Mountain Resort provides some of the best downhill skiing and snowboarding in the world.

And there are other kinds of skiing.  Some people skate ski; they speed across level snow.  Others enjoy the slower speed of cross-country skiing.

Some people go dog sledding in Jackson Hole.  They get on a sled and are pulled by a team of dogs through the snow.  This is one of the many ways to enjoy the extraordinary mountain views.

Some wealthy people have homes near the ski resort.  Other people stay in the many hotels nearby.  Some of these hotels are new and very costly.

In fact, the average sale price of a single-family home in Jackson Hole is more than one million dollars.Visitors to Jackson Hole have many shopping, dining and entertainment choices.

People can imagine they are in a town in the Old West.  At the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar, instead of chairs, they can sit on saddles as if riding a horse.  On some nights there are dance lessons.  People can learn the two-step, a kind of Western dance.

Or they can eat dinner and listen to live music at the Mangy Moose Saloon.  There, a large dead moose hangs from the ceiling.

At the Silver Dollar Bar, a long table is covered with more than 2,000 shiny silver dollars.  If you look carefully, you see that the coins are all from the year 1921.

Visitors can also enjoy an evening at the Jackson Hole Playhouse.  In the summer, actors perform musicals and other plays.  This brightly painted old theater is one of the oldest wood buildings in town.  It has been a popular entertainment place since the 1950s.

Some of the stores in Jackson Hole sell unusual things, like furniture made of deer antlers.  Antlers are the hard and bony points that grow on the heads of male deer.  These stores sell chairs, lights and other objects made from antlers.  They look more like pointy sculptures than furniture.

Many stores in Jackson Hole sell winter sports equipment and clothing.  Some sell cowboy clothing.  C.J. James owns the Jackson Hole Hat Company.  Her Web site describes the cowboy as a “symbol of American independence and strength.”

She will sell you a cowboy hat made to fit the exact size of your head.  There are many shapes, colors and materials to choose from.Some of the ways of the Old West cowboy are kept alive in Jackson Hole.  In the summer, visitors can go to a rodeo to see competitions based on traditional cowboy skills.  Some people say it is the truest of American sports.

The rodeo usually begins with a parade of cowboys and their horses.  Then comes the competition.  In one event, riders try to stay on a wild animal for eight seconds.  They ride wild horses and large bulls.  The animals try to throw the cowboys to the ground.  The cowboys try not to fall off.

In another event, the cowboy throws a rope around the neck of a young cow.  Then he tries to tie the rope around three of its legs.  The cowboy who does this in the shortest amount of time wins.

Visitors to Jackson Hole can experience different parts of cowboy life.  They can ride horses.  They can eat meals cooked outdoors over a fire.  In the summer, they can watch actors dressed as cowboys perform “The Shootout.”  This short Western play has been performed since the 1950s.

Arts and culture are important in Jackson Hole.  Each summer, musicians from around the country perform classical music at the Grand Teton Music Festival.

Musical guests also visit local schools while they are in town.

Each autumn, Jackson holds the Fall Arts Festival.  This event celebrates many examples of visual and performing arts.  It also provides many examples of fine local foods.

Visitors to Jackson Hole can explore the National Museum of Wildlife.  When this museum opened, it was located in the center of town.  But soon the museum space was not large enough to hold the art collection.

In 1994 the museum reopened in a new building made of stone.  It looks like a fortress built centuries ago.  The museum contains over 2,000 artworks showing nature and animals.

There are many paintings, photographs and sculptures of antelope, deer, birds, horses and other animals.  The museum says its art celebrates the powerful connection between animals and humans.

This art shows the natural beauty of the land and its creatures.  To see this beauty in real life, all you have to do is walk outside the museum.

The building sits on a hillside overlooking the National Elk Refuge.  The refuge contains the largest wintering population of elk in the world.  It had an estimated 7,000 elk this season.

The refuge has 10,000 hectares of land.  It was started in 1912 to help protect the local elk population.Six kilometers north of Jackson, Wyoming, is the Grand Teton National Park.  Congress created this park in 1929.  In the 1940s the wealthy John D. Rockefeller bought a great amount of land nearby.  Then he gave it to the federal government.

Both Rockefeller and the government added to the park later.  Today, the government controls about 97% of all the land in the Jackson Hole area.

The park is named for the Grand Teton Mountains.  These mountains rise directly from the floor of the valley.  They are part of the Rocky Mountains.  The Grand Tetons are about 4,000 meters high and 65 kilometers long.  Many artists have captured images of these beautiful mountains.

The Native Americans who lived in the area many years ago called the mountains Teewinot, meaning “many pinnacles.”

Fur trappers from Canada had their own idea of what the three largest mountains looked like.  These French-speaking hunters named them “les Trois Tetons” — “the Three Breasts.”

The Grand Teton Mountains were formed about ten million years ago.  This makes them some of the youngest mountains in North America.  The Appalachian Mountains in the eastern United States, for example, are about 200 million years old.

Many of the lakes around the Grand Tetons were formed millions of years ago by slow-moving sheets of ice.  Some small glaciers are still active in the mountains.

People come to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, from around the world to enjoy the best of cowboy and mountain culture.  If you ever go, just don’t forget your cowboy hat.Our program was written by Dana Demange and produced by Caty Weaver.  I’m Faith Lapidus.

And I’m Steve Ember.  Read and listen to our programs at voaspecialenglish.com.  And join us again next week for THIS IS AMERICA in VOA Special English.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Welcome to THIS IS AMERICA in VOA Special English. I’m Barbara Klein. And I’m Steve Ember.

This week on our program, we visit the historic center of Philadelphia.Philadelphia is a big city on the Delaware River in the northeastern state of Pennsylvania. It has about a million and a half people and is often called Philly.

The city was designed by William Penn. The Englishman and Quaker founded Pennsylvania in the 1680s. He chose the name Philadelphia which he interpreted to mean “city of brotherly love” in Greek.

Philadelphia holds an important place in American history. It served as the nation’s capital from 1785 to 1790. And earlier, it was the capital of the American colonies during most of the Revolutionary War against Britain.

Philadelphia became the central meeting place for the “Founding Fathers” who created the United States government. The buildings where they worked can be seen today in an area called the Old City, or Independence National Historical Park.

The main building is Independence Hall. That was where colonial leaders declared independence and later debated the creation of a government.A guide takes us into the room in Independence Hall where the Declaration of Independence was signed. The signing took place on July 4, 1776.

During the summer of 1787, the room had another important use. Delegates held a federal convention there and wrote the Constitution.

In the 1700s, Independence Hall was the Pennsylvania statehouse. Philadelphia was the capital of Pennsylvania at the time; today the capital is Harrisburg.

A bell was ordered for the building. But the bell cracked soon after it arrived from England. So in 1753, the bell was melted down for its metal and a new bell was made.

The new bell was rung many times for public announcements, including the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

In the 1830s, a group that was trying to ban slavery in the United States began calling it the Liberty Bell. On it are these words taken from the Bible: “Proclaim Liberty throughout the land unto all the inhabitants thereof.”

But in 1846 a crack appeared in the replacement bell. No one knows why it cracked. The Liberty Bell has not been rung since, but it remains an important national symbol.

The National Park Service says more than two million people visited Independence National Historical Park last year.

Across the street from the park is the National Liberty Museum. This museum has a collection of more than 90 paintings and sculptures. They represent the idea that liberty is a freedom that is easily violated.

The museum also celebrates more than 350 world heroes. One example is Jonas Salk, the American doctor who developed a polio vaccine. Another is Mother Theresa of Calcutta, who helped the poor and sick.Time for a meal. A few blocks from the Liberty Bell is the City Tavern. The restaurant serves food based on recipes as old as the nation itself. For example, there is beer brewed from a recipe developed by Thomas Jefferson, the third president, and his sweet potato biscuits.

In fact, the City Tavern is three years older than the United States. It was completed in 1773. Historians say it was considered the best restaurant in British North America.

When the nation was a year old, the first Independence Day celebration was held there on July 4, 1777.

And ten years later, after approving the Constitution, what did the delegates do? Tavern records show they went to the City Tavern for a meal.

Speaking of food, another good place to eat in Philadelphia is the Reading Terminal Market. It opened in 1892 with spaces for almost 800 sellers. Today, the huge building is filled with stores selling local farm products as well as seafood, clothing, jewelry and crafts from many countries.

One hundred thousand people a week visit the Reading Terminal Market.

Visitors can find all kinds of foods — including, of course, Philly cheesesteak. The city is known for these sandwiches made of thinly sliced meat covered with cheese. A cheesesteak is offered with onions and other toppings and served on a long roll.Now it is time to get back to the Visitor Center at Independence Park for a tour of Philadelphia on a Duck. This is a kind of vehicle that can drive on land or ride on water. Other cities also have these kinds of tours.

The 70-minute ride includes about 20 minutes on the Delaware River, which separates Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

As we travel through Philadelphia, the riders blow on duck noisemakers, like this.As we pass through Independence Park, our driver points out Carpenters’ Hall. That was where colonial delegates first gathered in 1774 to discuss their problems with British rule.

We also pass by the houses of important people during colonial times. One of these buildings was where Betsy Ross lived when tradition tells us she sewed the first United States flag.

Outside the historical area, the Duck passes by Elfreth’s Alley. This is one of the oldest streets in Philadelphia. It dates back to the beginning of the 1700s.

We also drive down South Street, a well-known area of shops and restaurants. The Orlons, a group from Philadelphia, had a hit in 1963 with a song called “South Street.”Finally, the Duck takes us back to the Visitor Center. We just have time to see the National Constitution Center. This privately operated museum opened in Philadelphia on July 4, 2003.

It was created to increase public recognition of the Constitution, its history and its importance today. The museum is near Independence Hall, where the document was written.

Visitors are presented with the idea that the most important part of American constitutional democracy is the individual citizen.

Children and adults can learn about the United States through interactive technology programs. For example, visitors can serve on a jury or decide cases as if they were on the Supreme Court.

The National Constitution Center also has a big room called Signers’ Hall. It looks like the room at Independence Hall where 39 delegates signed the Constitution on September seventeenth, 1787. Included among the delegates were George Washington, James Madison and Alexander Hamilton.

There are life-size statues of 42 delegates — the ones who signed the Constitution and three others who did not. American visitors have fun finding the delegates from their home states and having their pictures taken with them.

Nearby is a rare first public printing of the Constitution. The Pennsylvania Packet Constitution was published in a newspaper two days after the Constitution was signed in Independence Hall. A copy of the Constitution itself is on display at the National Archives in Washington.

The National Constitution Center is not just about political events in the past. On April 16th, Democratic presidential candidates Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton plan to be there for a debate. Six days later is the Pennsylvania primary election.

The city of Philadelphia has much to see, both historic and modern, but that’s all we have time for today. For anyone planning a visit, one place to get information on the Internet is gophila.com, spelled g-o-p-h-i-l-a, the official visitor site for Greater Philadelphia.Our program was written by Nancy Steinbach and produced by Caty Weaver. I’m Steve Ember. And I’m Barbara Klein. For transcripts, MP3s and podcasts of our programs, go to voaspecialenglish.com. Join us again next week for THIS IS AMERICA in VOA Special English.

Tombstone, Arizona

The United States has thousands of ghost towns. These are communities that once were successful but all the population moved to other places. Today on our program, we visit a town in the western state of Arizona that was saved from being a ghost town by a violent history. It is called Tombstone.The town that is now Tombstone, Arizona was first a mining camp. Silver miner Ed Schieffelin named the town. In 1877, Mr. Schieffelin was searching for silver in the Arizona territory. The area at the time was extremely dangerous. Apache Indians considered it to be their land and were all too ready to fight for it.

Ed Schieffelin used the army’s Camp Huachuca as a base for his search for silver. The soldiers there once asked him why he went out into Apache country every day. He answered: “To collect rocks.” One soldier then told him: “You keep fooling around out there amongst them Apaches and the only rock you’ll find will be your tombstone!” A tombstone is the stone that marks a person’s grave in a large burial place.

One day not long after, Ed Schieffelin finally did discover valuable silver ore in the area. He decided to call his claim “Tombstone” because of the soldier’s warning. Soon, people heard about his silver discovery and arrived in the area. Others found more silver and established other mines. And they used the name Tombstone for the town they built nearby.

The area around Tombstone became well known for its silver mines. And more people came to the town. Some were settlers, storekeepers and miners. But others were looking for easy money. These were gamblers and thieves who drank too much alcohol and settled their disagreements with their guns.

By the end of 1881, the town of Tombstone had a population of more than 5,000. It also had five local newspapers, at least two theaters, a courthouse, hotels and many local drinking places. And a gunfight had already taken place that would forever include Tombstone among the famous stories told about the American Wild West.That was called “The Gunfight at the O.K. Corral.”The famous gunfight took place on October 26, 1881 between the town’s top lawman, or marshal, and his deputies on one side and an outlaw group called the Cowboys on the other.

Stories from people who saw the fight led to newspaper reports, more stories, books and later movies and television shows. Not all these stories are exactly true. For example, the gunfight did not really take place in the O.K. Corral, but near it in a field just off a main street in town. Here is one generally accepted story.

The town marshal in Tombstone was Virgil Earp. His brothers, Wyatt and Morgan, also lived in the town. In fact, Wyatt was deputy city marshal, and Morgan had been named a special policeman. The Earps had a long-standing dispute with the Cowboys. They had tried to arrest group members in the past for crimes such as robbery and murder. Members of the group included Billy Claiborne, Ike Clanton, Billy Clanton, Tom McLaury and Frank McLaury.

On the day of the famous fight, those men were gathered near the O.K. Corral, an enclosed area used to keep horses and other animals. They were armed, in violation of a town ban against carrying guns. They were also drinking alcohol and threatening to kill the Earp brothers.

Virgil Earp decided that it was his duty to disarm them. His two brothers and a friend, the gunfighter Doc Holliday, went along to help. The four walked down the street toward the corral. Virgil Earp told the cowboys to surrender their weapons. Billy Claiborne ran away. And the fight began.

It did not last long. Historians say 32 shots were fired in the space of about 23 seconds. No one really knows who fired first. But Tom McLaury, Frank McLaury and Billy Clanton died of gunshot wounds. Virgil Earp, Morgan Earp and Doc Holliday were wounded but survived. Only Ike Clanton and Wyatt Earp were not hurt.

A 1993 movie called “Tombstone” is one of the most recent attempts to tell this story. Listen to its recreation of the famous fight. Sam Elliott is Virgil, Kurt Russell is Wyatt and Stephen Lang plays Ike Clanton.

Virgil: “We’re here to disarm you. Throw up your hands.”
Virgil: “Hold it. It’s not what I want.”
Wyatt: “Oh … my … God.”
Ike: “Please … please! Stop! No! No! Don’t shoot. I got no gun. Please. Don’t shoot me. I got no gun!”
Wyatt: “Ike … get to fightin’ or get away.”

The Earps and Doc Holliday were arrested for murder and tried in the courthouse. A judge decided they had acted within the law. Wyatt Earp spoke in his own defense at the trial. Here is part of the local newspaper’s report of what he said:


“I believed then, and I believe now … that these men … had formed a conspiracy to murder my brothers Morgan and Virgil and Doc Holliday and myself. I believe I would have been legally and morally justified in shooting any of them on sight, but I did not do so or attempt to do so; I sought no advantage. When I went as deputy marshal to help disarm and arrest them, I went as part of my duty and under the direction of my brother, the marshal.

“I did not intend to fight unless it became necessary in self-defense and in the performance of official duty. When Billy Clanton and Frank McLaury drew their pistols I knew it was a fight for life, and I drew and fired in defense of my own life and the lives of my brothers and Doc Holliday.”

Some people still dispute this. They say the Earps and Doc Holliday did not fire in self-defense, but used the law as an excuse for murder. Experts say one of the reasons the gunfight is so interesting to many people is that no one knows who shot first or why. But we do know that the violence between the Earps and the Cowboys did not end at the O.K. Corral.

Two more attempts to kill the Earp brothers took place after the famous fight. The first injured Virgil; the second killed Morgan. Wyatt, Doc Holliday and others decided to hunt down and kill those members of the Cowboys they felt were responsible.

Today, the gunfight at the O.K. Corral brings visitors from all over the world to the small town of Tombstone. The latest information from the Tombstone Chamber of Commerce says the town has a population of almost 1,800 people. But it welcomes between 100,000 and 400,000 visitors each year.

Every day at the O.K. Corral, actors recreate the famous gunfight. But other gunfighters are remembered in Tombstone, too. An outdoor restaurant called “Six Gun City” recreates some of the other real gunfights that took place in Tombstone.

For example, one recreation plays out the gunfight that killed Billy Claiborne, a member of the Cowboys gang who ran from the O.K. Corral. He was killed by gunfighter Frank Leslie on the main street in Tombstone. In fact, a marker near the spot tells what happened. It says: Buckskin Frank Leslie killed Billy Claiborne here on November 14, 1882.

Gunfighters and others who died in those early Tombstone years are buried in the local graveyard, Boot Hill. It was named Boot Hill because many of those buried there died violently, or, as the saying goes, “with their boots on.”

Burials there ended after 1884, but the cemetery was restored in the 1930s. Only a few headstones survive, but small metal signs mark the graves. Many simply say “unknown,” but others include short sayings. One that has been repeated many times says: Here Lies Lester Moore, Four Slugs from a Forty-four, No Les, No More.

People from all over the world visit Tombstone to experience a small part of the old American West. They want to imagine what it would have been like to live in a place like Tombstone. It does not really matter if all the old stories are true or not. The people of Tombstone are only too happy to welcome them to a place known as “the town too tough to die.”Our program was written by Nancy Steinbach and produced by Caty Weaver. Doug Johnson was our reader. I’m Barbara Klein. And I’m Bob Doughty. Join us again next week for THIS IS AMERICA in VOA Special English.

Washington DC: Visiting in the Autumn

Welcome to THIS IS AMERICA in VOA Special English. I’m Steve Ember. And I’m Barbara Klein.

Visitors to Washington, D.C., in the summer often want to stay inside air-conditioned museums. The cooler days of fall are a good time to explore the outdoors in and around the nation’s capital.

Autumn in Washington is our subject this week.Imagine that the calendar says it is fall and you have just arrived on a visit to Washington. The leaves on many of the trees have already begun to change color as they prepare to drop to the ground. Soon they will be gold and orange and red.

The summer crowds of visitors have thinned. Children are back in school, parents are back at work. Points of interest will be easier to photograph. There are fewer people to walk in front of your camera.

The weather should be more cooperative, too. Washington can get very hot and sticky in summertime. July and August are usually the warmest months. By October, you may need to wear a light jacket, especially after sunset.

There are tour companies that will take you around the city. Or you can ride public transportation, or rent a car or take taxis. There is plenty you can see just by walking around.

One place that might interest world travelers is the area of the city called Embassy Row. Washington has more than 170 diplomatic and consular offices. About one-third of them occupy Embassy Row. This area is between two streets named for states in New England: Massachusetts Avenue and Connecticut Avenue.

An embassy usually has two parts. The ambassador lives in the residence while embassy business takes place in the chancery.

Some of the finest embassies are along the part of Embassy Row near Dupont Circle. Six roads come together at the circle. A number of hotels and restaurants are also in this area.
Many diplomatic buildings in the capital once were the houses of wealthy Americans. A building that houses the Embassy of Indonesia, for example, was known for many years as the Walsh mansion.

Thomas Walsh had it built more than 100 years ago as a home for his family. The architect designed the mansion similar to a style popular at the time in Paris.

Thomas Walsh was born in Ireland. He came to the United States at the age of 19. He made a lot of money in the state of Colorado. There, he developed and owned one of the richest gold mines in the world.

Walsh’s daughter, Evalyn Walsh McLean, owned the Hope Diamond. She wore the huge jewel even though she had received warnings that it caused terrible things to happen. Some people saw proof of that in the fact that two of her children and her husband died before her.

Many big parties took place among the costly furnishings of the Walsh mansion. Wealthy and famous people visited the beautifully lighted house.

It was a center of Washington society until the 1930s. The house stood unoccupied for a while, then government agencies used it for offices.

During World War Two, the Red Cross made bandages in the house and also used the space to treat soldiers wounded overseas.

In the 1950s, Ali Sastroamidjojo bought the building for Indonesia. He served as the country’s first ambassador to the United States. About 30 years later, the old mansion was connected to a modern building that was added.

Today, some people attend Friday prayers at the Indonesian embassy. The embassy also offers educational courses.Traveling along Embassy Row, we pass a number of other embassies. One of the largest is the British Embassy. The grounds include two chancery buildings and a residence. The ambassador’s home looks like an English country house.

On the embassy grounds a bronze statue of Winston Churchill welcomes visitors and people passing by on the street.

Winston Churchill was Britain’s prime minister during World War Two. His statue shows him making a V-for-victory sign with one hand. The other hand holds a cane and a cigar.

Churchill stands with one foot on British land at the embassy and the other foot in Washington. This placement calls attention to the fact that his father was British and his mother was American. It also calls attention to the honorary United States citizenship that he was given.

Close to the British Embassy is the United States Naval Observatory. Astronomers use the observatory to study the positions and movements of the Earth, sun, moon and other objects in space.

The people who work at the Naval Observatory must also find time for another responsibility. They keep the Master Clock for the United States.

We see an electronic sign with red numbers near Massachusetts Avenue. The numbers change by the second. What time is it? Time to continue our tour.

Public tours of the Naval Observatory are available but they are limited.

There are several main buildings on the grounds on the Naval Observatory. One of these is a big white house. No, not the house where the president lives. This is the official home of the vice president.

Next, we leave Embassy Row and head for Washington’s historic Georgetown neighborhood along the Potomac River. In Georgetown we stop at a mansion that holds the Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection. Dumbarton Oaks is another fine place for an outdoor visit.

In 1944, delegates from the United States, Britain, the Soviet Union and China met at Dumbarton Oaks. World War Two was nearing its end. The purpose of the Dumbarton Oaks Conference was to talk about ways to secure a just and lasting peace in the world.

Meetings took place between August and October of 1944. The delegates talked about proposals for an international organization. Those talks led to the United Nations, which was established in 1945.

Today, however, it is not the history but the beauty of the gardens at Dumbarton Oaks that captures our attention.

The gardens offer peace in the middle of a busy city. There are flowers and trees along with pools and fountains of water. Something always seems to be in bloom here. Visitors have even seen roses in full flower in December at the start of winter.

Almost all of the sculptures in the garden were made from limestone from the state of Indiana in the Midwest.

Greenery and flowering bushes surround the Ornamental Pool in the gardens. A visitor has to resist the urge to jump in for a swim.Washington has many outdoor memorials and monuments around the National Mall area and throughout the city. But if a road trip out into the country interests you, then here is an idea.

One place to enjoy the beauty of nature in autumn is along Skyline Drive in Virginia. The road is about 140 kilometers from Washington, on the other side of the Potomac River. You can rent a car to get there, or go on a tour bus.

The trees are pretty even if they have not yet reached their full colors in the fall. Visitors may see deer walking in the road. Drivers have to be careful not to hit them. There is another reason not to drive too fast. The road is not very wide.

Skyline Drive is in Shenandoah National Park. The park is in the Virginia part of the Blue Ridge Mountains. In turn, the Blue Ridge Mountains are part of the Appalachian Mountains. The drive is along the top of the mountains.

Skyline Drive is the only road through Shenandoah. It passes through about 107 kilometers of the park.

The park has about 80 overlooks where you can pull your car off the road and enjoy a view of nature in all its autumn beauty.Our program was written by Jerilyn Watson and produced by Caty Weaver. I’m Barbara Klein.

And I’m Steve Ember. For more programs about American life, go to voaspecialenglish.com, where you can download transcripts and MP3 files. We will also have links if you would like to take a picture tour of the gardens at Dumbarton Oaks or see what the Indonesian embassy looks like. And we hope you can join us again next week for THIS IS AMERICA in VOA Special English.


Scotland through the rear-view mirror

The role of the parliament assessed

On 9 October 2004, Queen Elizabeth inaugurated the splendid new Scottish parliament building. Among the nation’s parliamentarians and civil servants, self-congratulation was somewhat muted by the fact that the project was two years late and had exceeded its first estimated cost of $40 million, by an extra $410 million. An official inquiry had found that there was no single person responsible for management of the project and its remarkable budgeting.

It was hoped that completion would enable a line to be drawn under this shaming episode, and that people would now focus on the positive aspects and future achievements of their still-new parliament. In its first four years it had done some notable things, particularly in the fields of social policy and education. Many people had expected it to behave as a kind of shadow of the Westminster parliament, particularly with the same political party in power both in Edinburg and in London. To the credit of the new Scottish Executive, it put forward distinctive policies in these areas, which were by no means the same as those pursued by the Labour government of Tony Blair.  The landmarks were the Land reform Bill of 2003, dealing with aspects of countryside management and access that had been neglected for more than a hundred years; the Act in 2002 banning hunting animals with dogs; and also in 2002 the repeal of Section 28 of the Local Government Act, as it related to Scotland. In 2000, the parliament had also resolved to provide free tuition to all Scottish students at Scottish universities. During that same year a Royal Commission on Care for the Elderly presented its report, recommending that free care should be provided for all. Pushed by their Liberal Democrat partners, a somewhat reluctant Scottish Labour Party endorsed the proposal, and legislation followed in 2001.

The Florida Keys (In Southern Florida)

Welcome to THIS IS AMERICA in VOA Special ENGLISH.  I’m Steve Ember. Today, Mary Tillotson and I welcome you to a group of islands that extends into the Atlantic Ocean from the southern state of Florida.

These islands are called the Florida Keys.  In Key West, a sign on a monument says “America Begins Here.”The first European to see the Florida Keys was Spanish explorer Ponce de Leon in the year 1513. He was searching for special water that would keep people young forever. But he did not find that special water, or any other water that people could drink.  Later, other Spanish explorers mapped the area as an aid to help their treasure ships return to Spain.

Many of the Keys still have Spanish names, like Islamorada, Bahia Honda and Key Vaca.  The word “Keys” comes from the Spanish word “cayos” meaning “little island.”  And many of the Florida Keys are little.  Hundreds of the islands are only pieces of sand that extend a few feet out of the water.  Many are only visited by sea birds.

Yet some of the Keys are big enough to support large numbers of people.  One of the most popular is Key West.  It is the farthest south of the Keys that can be reached by car.

A road extends southwest into the Florida Keys.  It is called Highway One.  It starts into the Keys from the state of Florida at a bridge that crosses the water to the island of Key Largo.

The road is narrow and the traffic is often slow as it travels through each of the small towns of the Keys.  Highway One is about 157 kilometers from Key Largo to its end in Key West.  It extends across many bridges between the islands.  The longest of these bridges is 11 kilometers long.  It is called Seven Mile Bridge and was completed in 1911.  At the time, it was considered one of the wonders of the world.  No bridge crossed as much open water.

It was a strong bridge, too. Seven Mile Bridge survived many storms, including one huge ocean storm that damaged the Keys in 1935. The first Seven Mile Bridge was replaced in 1982, but you can still see the old bridge, close to the new one.Today, the Florida Keys are a popular holiday area.  Many of the islands have beautiful white sand beaches.  Swimming and boating are major sports.  Visitors can pay to go on a boat for a fishing trip. They can catch many different kinds of fish including huge fish called sailfish or marlin.  People come from all over the world to fish in the Florida Keys.  In fact, the people who live on Islamorada Key claim their island is the “Sports Fishing Capital of the World.”

However, the people of other Keys say the fishing is just as good off their islands.

Visitors can ride on other kinds of boats in the Florida Keys.  Some are special party boats.  These go out for the day or during the night. There are food and drinks on these boats. They might also have bands or recorded music for dancing.

The music heard in the Florida Keys is unusual.  You can hear Cuban music. You can hear music of the Caribbean islands, old calypso music from deep in the Caribbean and reggae from Jamaica.  You can also hear a lot of music by American songwriter and singer Jimmy Buffet.  His music is a mix of American country and western, rock and the sounds of the Caribbean islands.  People who really like his music call themselves “Parrot Heads.”

It is now time to take a little trip.  Let us pretend we are traveling across the last bridge on Highway One to the island of Key West.  Our car radio is playing one of Jimmy Buffet’s most famous songs, “Margaritaville.”As we cross the bridge to Key West, we can see many boats.  Some are fishing boats you can use for the day.  Others belong to people who have sailed their boats here from many different places.

In the city, the houses are almost all painted white.  A few are pink or light blue.  Many houses are very old and very small.  Key West is a very old city.  Many of the buildings are more than 100 years old.

Many palm trees grow here.  Colorful flowers grow in front of many of the little houses. You can stay in a room in one of these houses for the night.  You can smell the ocean on the soft warm wind that blows across the island.

We drive past several streets and then come to Whitehead Street.  We turn left.  Very soon we come to the end of the street.  There is a monument here.  The sign says this is the southernmost part of the United States.  The sign says “American Begins Here.”  Beyond the sign is the ocean.

After taking a few photographs of the sign, we turn the car around and follow Whitehead Street to number nine-oh-seven.  This house belonged to the famous American writer Ernest Hemingway.  For a few dollars, you can see the inside of the house. Hemingway had many cats when he lived here.  He is gone, but the cats remain. Many are asleep on the beds or chairs.  They are used to seeing people walking through the old house.

After we leave the Hemingway house, we travel a little way to Green Street.  There is a private museum here we want to visit.  It is the Mel Fisher Maritime Heritage Society Museum.  The museum is named after treasure hunter Mel Fisher.  He discovered an old sunken Spanish treasure ship near Key West more than 20 years ago.

That ship was the Nuestra Senora de Atocha.  Visitors can see some of the ship’s treasure at the museum.  You can hold a huge, solid bar of gold worth many thousands of dollars.  You can put your hands through a hole in a clear, plastic box and hold the huge piece of gold. But the box is built so you can not turn the bar toward the hole.  You can not take the gold with you!

However, the museum store will sell you real Spanish coins that were found on the famous ship.  They are very costly.  Or you can buy a copy of a coin for much less money.

From Mel Fisher’s Museum, we walk the short distance to Mallory Square, the center of Key West’s historic area.  The square is famous for the Key West sunset celebration that is held each night if the weather is good.  It is really more famous for the unusual people and animals you can see here.  For example, you can see people sing or play music.  You can see cats perform tricks.  You can watch trained birds.  You can buy a hat.  Or just watch the beautiful sunset.

From Mallory Square we walk to Duval Street.  This is where we find many good eating and drinking places.  You can buy very good Cuban food. Cuba is only about 140 kilometers from Key West.  The Cuban influence can be strongly felt in the city.

Or maybe you want to eat seafood instead.  There are many good seafood restaurants. Singer Jimmy Buffet owns an eating place here, too.  It is the Margaritaville Café where you can get a good American cheeseburger.

You can also find drinking places that have bands.  Some bands play rock music. Some play music of the Caribbean.  Still others play country and western music.  There seems to be a kind of music for everyone.

There are many other businesses along Duval Street.  Many stores sell clothing. Some stores sell the works of local Key West artists. Duval Street is a lively area. There seems to be a party here until very late into the night.

There is much more to do and see in Key West.  You can take a high-speed boat trip for about an hour to the Dry Tortugas National Park.  A huge military fort was built there before the American Civil War.

You can rent an aircraft and take photographs of the beautiful Keys from the air.  You can learn to breathe under water using special equipment.  And, when your holiday is finished, you can drive slowly up Highway One, through the many other Florida Keys, stopping to enjoy each one on the way home.This program was written by Paul Thompson and produced by Cynthia Kirk and Caty Weaver.  I’m Steve Ember with Mary Tillotson.  Please join us again next week for another THIS IS AMERICA in VOA Special English.

Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket (In Massachusetts)

Welcome to THIS IS AMERICA in VOA Special English. I’m Barbara Klein.

This week on our program, we tell you about two islands in Massachusetts, in the New England area of the northeastern United States. Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket are popular places to visit, especially in the warmer months.

Both are known for their sailing and sunsets and fun things to do. Martha’s Vineyard is also known for its tall cliffs overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. The island is about 13 kilometers off the coast and is less than 260 square kilometers.

Homes designed like those of earlier times line the streets of Edgartown, Oak Bluffs and Vineyard Haven. These are the major towns on Martha’s Vineyard.

For most of the year, the population of Martha’s Vineyard is about 15,000. During the summer, more than 100,000 people crowd the island. And we do mean crowd. Look around and you might see some Hollywood stars and other faces of the rich and famous.

Some people arrive by boat, including a ship that carries passengers and cars. Others come by plane. Many visitors return year after year.

Now, we continue our story with Shirley Griffith and Rich Kleinfeldt as your travel guides.

The towns and the quieter country areas of Martha’s Vineyard all offer places to stay. Small hotels and homes for visitors on the island may not cost much. Other hotels cost hundreds of dollars per night. Some people save money by preparing their own food. Others eat in the many restaurants on the island.

Hungry visitors like the seafood at several famous eating places like the Black Dog Tavern in Vineyard Haven. And they can stop into small stores that sell sweets like ice cream and fudge candy.

During warm weather the Vineyard is a good place for many different activities. People can play golf or catch fish. They can ride in sailboats or motor boats. They can water ski and swim. They can take quiet walks along sandy beaches and among the thick green trees. They can take pictures of birds found around small areas of fresh water or on the old stone walls surrounding many farms.

Many families with children spend their summer holidays in Martha’s Vineyard. One of the popular places for families is the Flying Horses Carousel in Oak Bluffs. It is the oldest continually operated merry-go-round ride in the United States. The colorful wood horses that turn in a circle were created in 1876.

One of the best places for children and adults to swim is the Joseph A. Sylvia state beach. The water there is warmer and calmer than at some of the other Vineyard beaches.

Familes also enjoy the Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary where they can observe much of the island wildlife. People can walk through more than nine kilometers of fields, trees and wetlands to learn about the plants and animals on the island.

Almost 20% of the land on Martha’s Vineyard is protected from development. There are other wildlife areas to explore. A flat-topped boat called the On-Time Ferry takes people and cars to a nearby small island, Chappaquiddick.

Chappaquiddick has a white sand beach at the Cape Poge Wildlife Preserve. Many small birds make their homes in the grass on the edge of the sand.

Back on Martha’s Vineyard, visitors often take long walks at the foot of the colorful high edges of rock that line the water at Gay Head Cliffs. The white, yellow, red and brown colors of the cliffs deepen as the sun disappears.

People also sit on the beach and on rocks in the fishing village of Menemsha to watch the sunsets. As the sun goes down in the sky it paints yellow, red, and other colors on the clouds. Some people offer a kind of ceremony as they watch the sun disappear into the seas.

Fishing boats rise and fall with the waves. Bells sound to help guide the boats to land as darkness covers the water.

Many people who live all year on the island make their money from the sea. Some of the fishermen and farmers on the island today are related to the Europeans who settled the land centuries ago.

Historians say British mapmaker Bartholomew Gosnold first made a map of the island for the rulers of England in 1602. Gosnold is said to have named the island to honor his baby daughter, Martha.

The Vineyard part of the name came from the many wild grape vines Gosnold found on the island. Later, King Charles of England gave the island to businessman Thomas Mayhew of the Massachusetts Bay Colony.

The son of Thomas Mayhew established the first European settlement on the island in 1642 at Edgartown. The Wampanoag Indians taught the settlers to kill whales.

Men in Edgartown and Vineyard Haven earned their money by killing whales until the middle of the 19th century. Then, after the Civil War, visitors began to provide most of the islanders’ money.

In 1835, the Methodist Church held a group camp meeting in what was to become the town of Oak Bluffs. Some of the campers stayed on and built small homes.

By the middle of the 19th century, ships from the American mainland began bringing visitors to the island. Big hotels were built in the town near the edge of the water. Martha’s Vineyard was on its way to becoming the visitors’ center that it is today.Many summer visitors also travel to Nantucket, another island in the Atlantic near Massachusetts. They like this island for its beaches, its open land and its trees.

Nantucket is smaller than Martha’s Vineyard. It is about 50 kilometers from the Massachusetts coast. Its distance from the mainland causes some Nantucket citizens to say they are true islanders. The only town on Nantucket Island also is called Nantucket.

Artists often paint its waterfront and the small stores along it. But many visitors say the most interesting part of the town is the area of homes. The island is known for its small gray houses with roses growing on them. Signs on some of the houses say they were built as long ago as the 17th century.

The public may enter 14 historic homes now open as museums. Another museum, the Museum of Nantucket History, helps newly arrived mainlanders learn about the land and history of the island.

Humans are not the only visitors to Nantucket. More than 350 kinds of birds visit the island each summer. So people who like to watch birds return year after year.

Nature in general appeals to Nantucket visitors. Many plants and flowers grow wild in open areas of the island. Farmers also grow several kinds of berry fruits. Cranberries are a leading crop. Some people visit Nantucket in the autumn to watch the harvests of the red berries.

People who visit Nantucket enjoy water sports, walking and bicycle riding. They also catch fish for pleasure. Some Nantucket citizens earn money by fishing. Earning their living from the sea comes naturally to people who live on the island.

At one time, hunting for whales was the main job of people on Nantucket, just as it was on Martha’s Vineyard.

England gave Nantucket to Thomas Macy in 1659. Macy made an agreement with the Wampanoag Indians who lived there. Then he sold most of the land to shareholders. Settlers farmed the land. But farming on Nantucket did not succeed very well because the ground was so full of sand.

In 1690 an expert from the mainland taught sailors to catch small whales from boats very close to the land. Years later, strong winds forced a whaling boat further into the ocean. Sailors on that boat caught a sperm whale. That whale provided highly sought oil. Soon the Nantucket sailors were catching many sperm whales.

That accidental event made Nantucket a whaling center. However, whales in the seas near Nantucket died out over time. 19th century sailors from the island had to travel for years to catch whales.

Luckily, visitors had begun to provide earnings for Nantucket by the 1870s. But it was not until the 1960s that providing for visitors became the major industry on Nantucket.

Visitors today to both Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard enjoy almost everything about the islands — except other visitors. The crowds during the warm season can mean heavy traffic and long lines for services.

Yet, most visitors to Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket really enjoy their holidays there. They often say they feel they are escaping from the problems of daily life. And they leave with peaceful memories of watching the red sun disappear into the dark ocean waters around the islands.ANNOUNCER: Ours program was written by Jerilyn Watson and read by Shirley Griffith and Rich Kleinfeldt. I’m Barbara Klein. We hope you can join us again next week for THIS IS AMERICA in VOA Special English.

American Folklife Center: Preserving the Voices, Songs and Stories of Everyday People

We continue our series of reports about efforts to keep alive some traditional ways of doing things.  Today we tell about preserving stories, experiences and beliefs of everyday people.In the largest library in the world is a collection of voices.  Voices of people telling the stories about important events in their lives. Singing songs they sang as children. Explaining the ceremonies and celebrations of their families and communities.  This unusual collection is in the American Folklife Center, which is part of the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C

The Folklife Center was created to collect and preserve the traditional knowledge that is passed on to others by spoken word and custom.  The folklife collections include the folklore, cultural activities, traditional arts and personal histories of everyday people from the end of the 19th century to the present.

Peggy Bulger is the director of the American Folklife Center.  She says the songs people sing, the stories they tell, the things they make are an important part of history.  So the Folklife Center contains a historical record of a people told in their own voices, not described by political leaders, professors or writers.

In 1976, the United States Congress passed a law that created the American Folklife Center to preserve and present the history of American folklife.  The materials in the Center are available to researchers at the Library of Congress and at the library’s Web site.  It also provides recordings, live performances, exhibits and publications.  And it trains people to do the collecting

More than four million objects are now in the collections of the American Folklife Center.  Most of them are in the biggest and oldest part of the Center, which is the Archive of Folk Culture.  It was established at the Library of Congress almost 80 years ago and was known for years as the Archive of American Folk Song.In 1928, the head of the Library of Congress decided that the library should collect American folk songs sung by people as they worked and played.  Robert Gordon was chosen to lead this project.  He had already decided his goal in life was to collect every American folk song.  He traveled around the country, recording people in their homes or communities.  The recordings were made on wax cylinders, a device that Thomas Edison invented in 1877.

When John and Alan Lomax took over the job in 1932, they began collecting more than music and song.  They recorded and documented personal histories.  These included what people cooked, the crafts they made, and the jokes and stories passed on from generation to generation by word of mouth.  This is the kind of information about everyday life that often disappears through the years

Peggy Bulger says experts in folklore, music, or culture travel around the country and the world to record folklife.  They work either as private individuals or for the Library of Congress or other federal and state agencies.  Many of them use equipment lent to them by the Library of Congress.  In return, the collectors give their sound and video recordings, research notes, papers, and photographs to the library’s collection

Through the years, the folklife collections have grown to include traditions and culture from every area of the United States.  You can find almost anything in the collections, including Native American song and dance music, ancient English story songs and cowboy poetry.  You can listen to the memories of ex-slaves, experiences of Italian-American wine makers and memories of boat makers in the state of MainePeggy Bulger says the materials in the Archive of Folk Culture are from almost every place in the world.  People who come from other countries to settle in the United States bring their folklore with them.  So the folklore and traditions of the immigrants become part of the collections – including those from Sudan, Cambodia, Vietnam, Bosnia and Latin America.  Ms. Bulger says the collections document the culture of the world as it exists today in the United States

The Archive of Folk Culture continues to grow.  Individuals who have made a career of collecting folklore material want their collections to go to the Library of Congress when they retire.  They want the materials to be preserved and made available to researchers in the future.  For example, Ms. Bulger says that next year a folklorist who documented women’s traditions in Afghanistan in the 1960s is giving his collection to the Folklife Center.

Peggy Bulger is excited about helping native groups record and save their own traditions and folklore.  Two members of the Masai tribe of Kenya will spend a week getting training at the Folklife Center.  Ms. Bulger says the Masai do not want outsiders coming in to document their sacred ceremonies and songs.  The Masai want to learn how to record and film themselves so they can be sure their traditions survive for future generations.  And they want to have control over the use of the recordings, keeping ceremonial traditions secret, but making other information available to outsiders.Bob Patrick is head of the Veterans History Project.  The idea for the project began when United States Representative Ron Kind of Wisconsin was at a family gathering.  His father and his uncle started talking about their experiences in war.  Representative Kind decided to make a video recording of them telling their stories to save for his children when they were older.  He decided then that the memories of all men and women who served in wars are important to record and preserve.

In the year 2000, Representative Kind introduced a bill in Congress to establish the Veterans History Project.  The bill passed with no opposition and was signed into law.  The main purpose of the project is to collect and preserve the remembrances of people who served in all wars.

Bob Patrick says the project now has more than 50,000 individual stories, including recordings or videos of veterans telling their stories about war.  The collections also include photographs, letters, and other personal materials. All the materials are kept in the American Folklife Center in the Library of Congress.  Some of them are available through the Web site.

Mr. Patrick says many organizations and individuals volunteer to make the recordings.  Retirement communities, veterans’ organizations, historical societies, libraries, and high school and college students are part of the project.  The most important volunteers are family members and friends who talk to the veterans about their lives and record their memories.  Mr. Patrick says that today’s technology makes that easy to do.  The Veterans History project Web site has suggestions to help people who do the recordings.Most new recordings in the American Folklife Center are in digital form, especially those made for the Veterans History Project and StoryCorps.  People being recorded now are asked to give permission for their information to be shared with others through the World Wide Web at www.loc.gov/folklife.  Peggy Bulger hopes that in the future more older materials will be available to researchers around the world.

Ms. Bulger says efforts by the Library of Congress to record and preserve dances, songs and stories help support traditional cultures.  These efforts help young people realize the knowledge of older people is valuable.  Every year, she says, more people recognize that folklife is an important part of the historical record.

Peggy Bulger says the recordings in the Archive of Folk Culture prove that voices are very powerful.  Listening to someone talk about his or her life gives you so much more information, she says, than just reading about it.  The growing collections of voices that are part of the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress are a lasting record of social and cultural life.  They are a record that is truly of, by and for the people.This program was written by Marilyn Rice Christiano and produced by Dana Demange.  I’m Barbara Klein.

Celebrity Museums

Welcome to THIS IS AMERICA in VOA Special English. I’m Steve Ember. And I’m Faith Lapidus.

This week on our program, we tell you about some celebrity museums.Some museums present the best of high culture. These are not the museums we are going to talk about today. We are going to explore places where people can learn about the lives of famous entertainers from the past.

We start with a museum that is not even very easy to find. It opened in 2004 in a building behind an office park and a food store near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Welcome to the Stoogeum. It honors the old comedy team the Three Stooges.Over the years there were more than three Stooges, but the best remembered team was Larry, Moe and Curly. The Three Stooges were popular in movies during the 1930s and forties. They were on television in the fifties and sixties.

They were known especially for their physical comedy — things like hitting each other over the head while caught in some bad situation.

Fans can relive the group’s history at the Stoogeum. About 50,000 photographs and articles written about the Three Stooges are on display. The museum also has about 20,000 other objects in its collection.

The Stoogeum is a public display of the personal collection of Gary Lassin. He began collecting items about the Three Stooges more than 25 years ago. That was after he met his future wife, Robin.

Gary Lassin always liked the Three Stooges. But his interest grew after he learned that Robin’s grandfather was the brother of Larry Fine — the Larry in Larry and Moe.

The Three Stooges got their start in the stage entertainment of the 1920s known as vaudeville. The museum collection follows them from there through TV appearances in the 1970s.

The collection include games, comic strips, comic book covers, theater posters, costumes, show scripts and an art gallery. The gallery has a room-size painting along with drawings of the Stooges made by famous artists. And the museum has an 85 seat theater that continually plays Three Stooges films.

People who want to visit the Stoogeum must make an appointment. Gary Lassin has a full time job, at a mail-order company. But there is no charge to see the collection. He just wants to share it with others.A museum in Branson, Missouri, honors Roy Rogers and his wife, Dale Evans. They entertained people for more than a half a century. Roy Rogers was called the King of the Cowboys. He sang and acted in cowboy movies beginning in the 1930s. He and Dale later had their own television show.

The museum includes western hats, boots and saddles; family photographs; letters and recordings; and items from their movies and TV shows.

A statue of Roy Rogers’ horse, Trigger, stands outside the museum. Inside the museum are mountings of Trigger; Dale Evans’ horse, Buttermilk; and their dog, a German shepherd named Bullet. These animals were among the most famous ever to appear in Hollywood movies.

The museum also has a cowboy-western show presented by Roy Rogers Junior. He talks about growing up with Roy and Dale. He also performs songs that his parents sang — like the one at the end of their TV show in the 1950s. Here are Roy Rogers and Dale Evans with “Happy Trails.”Another museum, this one in New York State, honors two other entertainers who were married to each other: Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. The Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Center is in Jamestown, New York, where she was born.

Lucy and Desi are best known for their weekly television series “I Love Lucy” in the 1950s. It was a situation comedy.

Plots often went like this: Lucy would get into some kind of trouble, often as a result of some attempt to break into show business. Her nightclub-entertainer husband, the Cuban-born Ricky (played by Desi) would get mad at her. Fred and Ethel, their friends who owned the building where they all lived, would get involved. And somehow there was always a funny ending.

The show has remained popular in repeats all these years. The museum says “I Love Lucy” has never been off the air in the United States since it was first broadcast in 1951. The show has appeared in 22 languages in more than 70 countries around the world.

Here is Desi Arnaz singing the words to the familiar theme song.The Lucy-Desi museum opened in 1996. It tells about the lives of the famous Hollywood couple. Included are stories told by some of Lucy’s childhood friends in Jamestown.

Also part of the center is the Desilu Playhouse. Desilu was the name of their production company. The playhouse has clothing from the show as well as some of the sets used in the filming. These include the couple’s New York apartment and the California hotel rooms where Lucy had some of her adventures.

Groups visiting the museum can hold parties on the set of the Tropicana nightclub where Ricky worked in the show. One of the songs he performed was “Babalu.”The city of Indiana, Pennsylvania, is home to a museum that honors a local resident who became a famous actor. James Maitland Stewart, better known as Jimmy Stewart, was born and raised in the community. His father’s hardware store had been in the family since the 1850s.

Jimmy Stewart appeared on stage and television, but he is best remembered for his work in the movies. He won an Academy Award for best actor in “The Philadelphia Story.” He also appeared in 79 other films — funny ones, sad ones, dramatic ones and musical ones. He even sang in the movie “Born To Dance.” The song is called “Easy To Love.”The Jimmy Stewart Museum is on the third floor of the Indiana Free Public Library. The library is across the street from the building that once was the hardware store owned by the Stewart family. A bronze statue of Jimmy Stewart is nearby, in front of the courthouse.

The museum tells the story of his life in relation to history and the development of the communications and entertainment industries. There is a lot to tell. The actor was also a fighter pilot during World War Two, and later rose to the rank of major general in the Air Force.

The museum displays some of the awards he received going as far back as when he was a Boy Scout. The museum says Jimmy Stewart’s life was an example of good character and citizenship. Many of his movies celebrated loyalty and love of family, values he learned as a child growing up in western Pennsylvania.Opening a celebrity museum can be risky from a business position.

In 2004, a man named David Loehr opened the James Dean Museum in the state of Indiana. He established it in Fairmount, the community where the actor grew up.

James Dean was a movie star in the 1950s. He was killed in a car crash in 1955 at the age of 24. He appeared in only three films –“East of Eden,” “Rebel Without a Cause” and “Giant.” Yet his fame has lived on all these years.

But not enough people came to see the museum. So David Loehr first moved it out of Fairmount, then finally closed it in 2006.

Still, the Fairmount Historical Museum has a James Dean collection, including his motorcycle.Our program was written by Nancy Steinbach and produced by Caty Weaver. I’m Faith Lapidus. And I’m Steve Ember. Join us again next week for THIS IS AMERICA in VOA Special English.

The Gettysburg National Military Park and the Gettysburg Museum and Visitor Center

Welcome to THIS IS AMERICA in VOA Special English. I’m Steve Ember. And I’m Barbara Klein.

This week on our program, we visit Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. This small town in the Northeast is one of the most important places in American history.Much of the area around Gettysburg still looks like it did in the 1860s, during the Civil War. We arrive in the middle of farming country. All around are fields of wheat, corn and other crops. Cows chew on grass under a warm morning sun.

Roads that pass through town lead to Baltimore, Washington and other cities. But 145 years ago this week, they served another purpose. They brought two opposing armies to Gettysburg.

One was the United States Army of the Potomac, commanded by General George Gordon Meade. The other was the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia led by General Robert E. Lee.

Lee and his troops had moved north into Pennsylvania from Virginia. There, they had won a series of battles. Now they were on the move to defeat Meade’s army.

Lee believed that a Southern victory on Northern soil would force a negotiated settlement of the war. This would mean independence for the Confederate states that were attempting to leave the Union.

The battle of Gettysburg began on July 1, 1863. More than 170,000 soldiers fought for three days. It was the largest battle ever fought in North America.

When it ended on July 3rd, more than 50,000 soldiers were dead, wounded or missing. Many more would die later from their wounds.

In the end, General Lee’s army lost the battle. The Civil War would continue for two more years. But Confederate hopes for independence were never again as high as they had been at Gettysburg.Soon after the great battle, people began to visit Gettysburg to try to understand what happened there. One of those visitors, on November 19, 1863, was President Abraham Lincoln. He was invited to help dedicate a cemetery for Union soldiers killed in the battle.

Lincoln spoke for just two minutes. The speech began this way:

READER: “Four score and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”

President Lincoln had never been satisfied with the reality of American life at that time. The Declaration of Independence in 1776 had declared all men equal. Yet in the South, and earlier in the North as well, black men and women were held as slaves.

In his address at Gettysburg, Lincoln described a new future for a nation that would be reunited. Our reader is Jim Tedder.

READER: “It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that for these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — “

This idea, a new birth of freedom after the Civil War, guides the newly built Gettysburg Museum and Visitor Center. It opened on April 14th at Gettysburg National Military Park.

April 14, 1865, was the day Lincoln was shot. He was killed by John Wilkes Booth, an actor from Maryland, just days after a Confederate surrender ended the war.Gettysburg National Military Park was established in 1895, 32-two years after the battle. Gettysburg is the most visited of the Civil War battlefields. Every year about two million people visit the park from around the country and the world.

Park officials say the new museum will better prepare visitors to see the battlefield through the soldiers’ eyes. The battlefield covers more than 2,400 hectares.

Visitors can find more than 1,300 outdoor sculptures around the battlefield. These are monuments and memorials placed by soldiers’ groups and state militias in areas where their troops fought.

Volunteer guides explain what happened in each area of the battlefield. A guide at the high ground called “Little Round Top” describes an action involving Union troops led by a general named Daniel Sickles.

GUIDE: “He sent some Maine infantry and some U.S. sharpshooters over there into the trees to the right of that tower. And they were out there looking for troops, for possible threats. They found ’em. They got into a fight with Confederate troops, but not the same ones who were going to be marching down here, not the 14,000 under a general named James Longstreet.”

One part of the new Gettysburg Museum and Visitor Center will not open to the public until September: a complete cyclorama painting. This kind of artwork surrounds the people looking at it.

The painting shows the final attack in the Battle of Gettysburg: Pickett’s Charge. George Pickett was a Confederate general. On July 3, 1863, he led a charge against stronger Union forces. It was a disaster for the Confederate soldiers.

The painting is 114 meters long. French painter Paul Philippoteaux and a team of 20 artists created it in 1864.

The cyclorama has always been one of the most popular parts of the Gettysburg experience. But the painting was in bad shape after all these years. So a restoration project began in 2003. The painting was cleaned and separated into its 14 parts, and later moved into the new center.

There, the original canvas was sewn onto new cloth made in China. Park service officials say China was one of the few countries able to produce cloth in the sizes needed. Then each part was hung and sewn together.

A team of cyclorama experts from Poland has been working on the project in Gettysburg since 2007.

Artists are now repairing the painting to make it look almost like new.Katie Lawhon, a spokeswoman for Gettysburg National Military Park, says the new museum and visitor center was built with four goals.

KATIE LAWHON: “One was to take better care of the artifacts and the archives of this park because Gettysburg has the largest publicly owned Civil War collection. We have over one million items, everything from soldiers’ diaries and uniforms to original maps of the battlefield and the documentation of the creation of the national cemetery in the park.

“The second goal is to take better care of the cyclorama painting. Number three was improve the museum experience for our visitors.

“The fourth and final goal is one that a lot of people find very compelling, which is [that] our facilities were not big enough. They weren’t wheelchair-accessible.  We had a lot of problems with them.  But one of the most serious problems we had with them is they were built on the Union army’s battle line. Where we had two buildings and two parking lots there was major battle action and we know over 970 soldiers were killed, wounded or captured where we had concrete asphalt and bricks. So this new building is two-thirds of a mile away and it’s close to but not on the battle line. And it’s going to allow us this fall to take out the old buildings and bring the battlefield back to the way it looked at the time of the fighting.”

Visits to the museum begin with a 22 minute film called “A New Birth of Freedom.” It provides historic background for the war, the battle and its effects as a turning point in the Civil War.

The museum has 11 galleries designed around the words of the Gettysburg Address. One gallery is called “Now We Are Met on a Great Battlefield of That War.” It explores what happened on each day of the Battle of Gettysburg.

Another gallery, “The Brave Men Living and Dead,” presents information about what happened after the fighting ended. It also tells about the effects of the battle on the town of Gettysburg.

The museum also has computers where visitors can research information about the battle.

The new Gettysburg Museum and Visitor Center is a joint project of the Gettysburg Foundation and the National Park Service. The foundation, a nonprofit educational group, raised the 107 million dollars that made it possible.

The foundation plans to own the center for 20 years, then donate the building and the land to the federal government.

The president of the foundation, Robert Wilburn, says Gettysburg is a reminder that Americans can come together as a nation even after the most divisive of conflicts. He calls it the place where America was saved.Our program was written by Nancy Steinbach and produced by Caty Weaver. I’m Steve Ember. And I’m Barbara Klein. Transcripts and MP3s of our programs are at voaspecialenglish.com. You can also find programs from THE MAKING OF A NATION, a weekly series all about American history. And join us again next week for THIS IS AMERICA in VOA Special English.

Lower East Side Tenement Museum Recreates Life in New York for Immigrants 100 Years Ago

And I’m Faith Lapidus with EXPLORATIONS in VOA Special English. Today, we tell about a museum in New York City. It celebrates the people from different nations who came to the United States to live many years ago.

The Lower East Side Tenement Museum is one of the smaller museums in New York. It lets visitors experience how early immigrants to the United States lived. The museum is a building at Ninety-Seven Orchard Street. It was built in eighteen sixty-three by a German immigrant named Lucas Glockner. He worked as a tailor making clothes before investing his money to develop a property.

His tenement building was one of many built in New York as a way to profit from the increasing demand for housing for immigrants.

The word “tenement” comes from a Latin word meaning “to hold.” A tenement building holds many rooms where different families lived.

The word is not used much anymore in the United States. When people use the word today, they mean an old crowded building where poor families live in terrible, unhealthy conditions. But in the eighteen hundreds, the word “tenement” simply meant a building in which many families lived.

Later, many immigrant families improved their living conditions by moving from the Lower East Side to other areas of New York. Some lived in the same kinds of buildings, but the living areas were cleaner and larger. They did not want to call them tenements, so they called them apartment buildings instead.

History experts say more than half the people in New York lived in tenements in eighteen sixty-three.

The building at Ninety-Seven Orchard Street shows the kind of spaces where families lived. The front room was the largest. It was the only one with a window. Behind it were a kitchen for cooking and a small bedroom for sleeping. The apartment had no running water, and no bathroom, toilet or shower.  There were six places where people left their body wastes in the back yard, next to the only place to get drinking water. Such unhealthy conditions led to the spread of disease.

Over the years, New York City officials passed laws to improve conditions in the tenements. The owners of Ninety-Seven Orchard Street placed gas lighting in the building in the eighteen nineties.

They added water and indoor toilets in nineteen-oh-five, and electric power in nineteen twenty-four. Then they refused to make any more improvements. They closed the building in nineteen thirty-five. In nineteen ninety-eight, the federal government declared the building a protected National Historic Place.

Museum officials researched the history of the building and its twenty apartments. They found more than two thousand objects that belonged to people who lived there. These include kitchen devices, medicine bottles, letters, newspapers, money and pieces of cloth. They also learned the histories of many of the seven thousand people from more than twenty countries who lived there. And they spoke with and recorded memories of people who lived at Ninety-Seven Orchard Street as children.

Museum officials used this information to re-create some of the apartments as they would have looked during different time periods in the building’s history.

These apartments are what people see when they visit the Lower East Side Tenement Museum. Let us join one of the guided visits. First we climb several flights of worn stairs.  It is a very hot day and we feel the heat in the dark, narrow hallway.

Now we enter the apartment of the Gumpertz family. They were Jews from Germany who lived here in the eighteen seventies.  On October seventh, eighteen seventy-four, Julius Gumpertz dressed for work, left the building and never returned. He left his wife Nathalie and their four children, ages eight months to seven years.

Mrs. Gumpertz was forced to support her children by making clothing in the apartment. She earned about eight dollars a week. This was enough to pay for the apartment each month and send her children to school. The apartment has a sewing machine and other tools similar to those Nathalie Gumpertz used in her work. She made the largest room into her workspace. That was where she saw people who wanted clothes made or repaired.

The next apartment we visit belonged to the Baldizzi family. They came from Italy and were Catholic. Adolfo Baldizzi, his wife Rosaria and their two children moved to Orchard Street in nineteen twenty-eight. Their daughter Josephine liked to help other people. Every Friday night she would turn on the lights in the nearby apartment of the Rosenthal family. The Rosenthals could not turn on the lights themselves because it was the start of the Jewish holy day and no work was permitted.

Here is a recording of Josephine Baldizzi. She tells how she felt each week when she saw Mrs. Rosenthal in the window motioning for her to come and turn on the lights:

JOSEPHINE BALDIZZI: “ It made me very proud to have to do that. I used to feel good that she chose me to do that job for her. And I can still see her till today—the vision of her in that window. It has never left my memory.”

Now we visit the apartment of the Rogarshevsky family of Lithuania. They moved to Ninety-Seven Orchard Street between nineteen-oh-seven and nineteen ten.

Abraham and Fannie Rogarshevsky had six children. Abraham developed the disease tuberculosis and died in nineteen eighteen.

Fannie Rogarshevsky was faced with the same problem as Nathalie Gumpertz. What could she do to support her family and continue to live in the apartment? She got the building owner to let her clean apartments and do other work in exchange for rent.

Mrs. Rogarshevsky stayed in this building and cleaned its rooms even after the other renters were forced out in nineteen thirty-five. She moved out of Ninety-Seven Orchard and into a nearby public housing project in nineteen forty-one.

Now we enter the apartment of the Levine family. They were Jews from Poland. Jennie and Harris Levine moved into the building in the early eighteen nineties. They lived there for more than ten years. During that time, Mrs. Levine gave birth to four children. Her husband and his workers produced clothing in the front room.

We see the room as it looked after the workers had gone home at the end of the day. We hear stories about the many immigrants who have worked in the clothing industry in New York.

Still another apartment is an example of living history. It belonged to the Confino family in nineteen sixteen. Abraham and Rachel Confino came to New York from Turkey. They were Sephardic Jews, people whose ancestors had been born in Spain, North Africa or Middle Eastern countries.

An actress who plays thirteen-year-old Victoria Confino welcomes us. She tells about Victoria’s experience living in the building. Here, she explains the language of Sephardic Jews, called Ladino, and sings part of a sad Ladino song:

VICTORIA CONFINO:“Oh, it’s a very mixed up language. It’s like a little bit Spanish…we call it Judeo Espagnol…and it’s a little bit Turkish, a little bit Hebrew…a lot of languages mixed up all together.”

Writer Jane Ziegelman recently published a book that explores food culture from the point of view of five families who lived at Ninety-Seven Orchard Street. Her book is called “97 Orchard: An Edible History of Five Immigrant Families in One New York Tenement.”

Jane Ziegelman explores the many food traditions that German, Irish, Italian and other immigrants brought with them to the United States. And she shows how these food traditions have influenced American cooking.

For example, Germans brought the tradition of pale beer to the United States. She also discusses a German restaurant in New York that served a meat dish known as “Hamburger steak.” This meal would evolve into what is now considered a truly American food, the hamburger.

Ms. Ziegelman suggests that the Irish were less protective of their food traditions. This is because they came from a country filled with poverty and the effects of failing potato harvests. She says Italians felt very strongly about the quality of their food. They were happy to pay more to have oils, dried vegetables and tomato products imported from their homeland.

Ms. Ziegelman also notes two foods that united Americans, whatever their nationality or social level: oysters and fruit pies.

Jane Ziegelman says from the nineteenth century on, immigrants would take difficult jobs that non-immigrants would not do. These include working as food sellers, beer brewers, bakers, butchers and restaurant servers. Her book helps show how important the hard work of immigrants was in feeding America.

The Marian Koshland Science Museum (In Washington, DC)

Today we tell about a new effort to help the public understand science.

“New tools help us see deeper into the nature of things. New discoveries lie before us.” These words help explain the purpose of the new Marian Koshland Science Museum in Washington, D.C. The museum is designed to help the public understand new scientific tools and discoveries.

The museum is small and different. It is created for people aged 13 and older. It uses modern technology to explain some complex science issues to the public. The exhibits explore the links between scientific research and everyday life.

The museum opened in April, 2004. It is part of the National Academy of Sciences, a private, non-profit organization. In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln signed a congressional charter making the National Academy of Sciences an independent adviser to the federal government. Today it is one of four organizations that advise the nation on issues of science, engineering and medicine. They publish more than 200 research studies each year for policy makers and citizens. The exhibits in the new science museum are based on these research reports.

The museum is named for a female scientist, Marian Koshland, who had been a member of the National Academy of Sciences for many years.

Erika Shugart (SHOE-gart) is deputy director of the Marian Koshland Science Museum. She says the idea of a new museum began with Daniel Koshland, a well-known biochemist. He wanted to honor his wife who died in 1997. Marian Koshland was molecular biologist and immunologist who had made important discoveries. She also was known for wanting to get young people interested in science. And she felt it was important to increase public understanding of science.

Ms. Shugart says that about six years ago, Mr. Koshland offered to give money to the National Academy of Sciences to support a project that would honor his wife. Many ideas were discussed. Mr. Koshland liked the idea of creating a new science museum. He and other members of the National Academy of Sciences looked at a number of science museums. They decided there was a need for a museum to present the latest scientific theories that are related to daily life.

Ms. Shugart says four goals were important in planning the Marian Koshland Science Museum. One was that the exhibits in the museum be based on research reports released by the National Academies. The museum creators also felt that any science issue being presented should be important now and for the future.

Another goal is that the subject of the exhibit be one that people disagree about in some way. And the museum planners wanted each exhibit to be based on scientific information that could be presented by modern technology in such a way that visitors have fun while learning.

So the new museum contains a lot of factual information presented in a bright, interactive way. There are films, games and video displays that are fun to use.

The museum space is divided into three areas. Visitors first see a film that explores the “Wonders of Science”. It shows some of the research that scientists are doing to unlock the mysteries of the universe.

The film shows scientists using telescopes to look deep in the universe beyond our world. They use microscopes to look deep into the smallest particles in our world. These tools helped scientists discover that the same rules that govern the structure and movements of atoms and plants also govern the structure and movements of stars and galaxies.

Nearby are areas where visitors can explore subjects in the film such as dark matter, dark energy and the shared properties of all things. Visitors can compare satellite images of the Earth’s lights taken at night in 1993 and in 2000. Many areas of the world are more brightly lit in the more recent images because of an increase in economic activity and energy use. There is also a difference in lights at night in North Korea and South Korea. And the lights increase in an area of the world such as Ukraine whose economy grew in the seven years after the first images were taken.

The second exhibit area in the new science museum is “Global Warming Facts and Our Future.” Visitors can find out facts about climate change including its natural and human causes. They also can see the possible future effects of global warming.

A large real-looking copy of a cow named Bessy is part of the exhibit. Cows eat a lot of grass and release a lot of methane gas. Scientists say methane is one of the biggest causes of the warming of the atmosphere. Nearby, a large wall display describes other causes of climate change. These include natural ones such as volcanoes and the activity of the sun. And there are human causes such as the burning of coal, gas and oil.

One part of the exhibit shows changes in temperature around the world during the last century. A large map lets visitors find out how the temperature changed in any area of the world. They can examine the tools scientists use to find recent and prehistoric changes in climate – including samples from trees, dirt, ice and coral.

Visitors can see how global warming affects different areas of the world. One possible result is a rise in sea levels because of melting ice. Scientists say it is possible that the sea level could rise from five centimeters to almost a meter in about 100 years. The exhibit shows possible effects of the resulting flooding on agriculture, animals and plants, water supply, human health and traditional cultures.

The third exhibit in the new Marian Koshland Science Museum is “Putting DNA to Work”. It shows ways that DNA, the genetic material of organisms, is being used today. Computer devices let visitors investigate how diseases are identified. These programs show how DNA research is helping protect public health by letting scientists quickly identify the virus responsible for a new disease. In 2003, scientists used a new scientific tool called a microarray to identify the virus family to which SARS belongs. They identified the virus family in just 24 hours.

Visitors also can learn how DNA information is used in criminal cases. For example, law enforcement agents use a system named CODIS to solve crimes. CODIS is the Combined DNA Index System. It is used by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. CODIS is based on the series of DNA markers in 13 places in the human genome, the map of the gene system in humans. It is used to prove if a suspect in a crime is guilty or innocent.

A visitor to the museum exhibit can compare DNA from three suspects of a crime to a DNA sample found where the crime took place. For two of the suspects, some of the series of DNA markers are the same as in the DNA sample found at the crime. For one suspect, the guilty one, all the DNA series are the same. Scientists say it is almost impossible that two different people would have the same DNA series in all 13 places used in CODIS.

The deputy director of the museum, Erika Shugart, says that visitors seem to have a rich experience even though the museum space is small. Many visitors praise the efforts of the Marian Koshland Science Museum to make science exciting and to show how science is related to daily life.

The museum also offers a number of public programs. One popular program is a scientific wine tasting where a climate expert explains how climate affects the taste of different wines.

The museum offers special visits for school groups of older students. Material on the museum’s Web site helps students prepare for their visit and to continue learning about the subjects in the exhibits.

People who cannot visit the real museum can experience it on the Internet. The museum’s exhibits and links to other science Web sites can be found at koshlandscience.org. That is k-o-s-h-l-a-n-d-s-c-i-e-n-c-e dot o-r-g.This program was written by Marilyn Christiano and directed by Mario Ritter. I’m Faith Lapidus.

The National Air And Space Museum’s Udvar-Hazy Center

Last month, the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum opened its new Steven F. Udvar-Hazy (OOD-var HAH-zee) Center in Virginia, near Washington, DC. Today we tell about this new museum for famous aircraft.The new Udvar-Hazy Center has been open for a little more than three weeks. However, it has already proven to be extremely popular. On December twenty-sixth, the road leading to the new museum was blocked with vehicles. Local television stations showed pictures of thousands of automobiles waiting their turn to enter the museum’s parking area. Some vehicles were turned away. There was not enough room. The parking area was full. The new center may prove to be as popular as the main Air and Space Museum in Washington.

The National Air and Space Museum is perhaps the most visited museum in the world. Almost ten-million people visit the museum ever year to see famous aircraft. They can see the Wright Brothers famous flyer. It was the first controllable aircraft to fly with an engine. It flew for the first time on December Seventeenth, nineteen-oh-three.

Visitors to the National Air and Space Museum can also see Charles Lindbergh’s airplane, “The Spirit of Saint Louis.” He became the first pilot to fly across the Atlantic Ocean alone and without stopping, from the United States to France. That flight took place in May of nineteen-twenty-seven.

Near the famous plane is an orange rocket plane that became the first aircraft to fly faster than the speed of sound. Pilot Chuck Yeager made that flight in nineteen-forty-seven. Visitors to the museum can even touch a small piece of the moon. It was brought back to Earth by American astronauts who walked on the moon.The main job of a museum is to keep and protect important objects from the past so they can be studied, examined and enjoyed in the future. Displaying these collected objects helps the public understand the importance of a museum’s work.

Finding room to keep a collection of aircraft has always been a problem for the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum. This museum only holds about ten percent of the aircraft it has collected over the years.

Another ten percent of the aircraft have been loaned to other museums. The other eighty percent have been kept in storage buildings for safekeeping. Some of them have been stored for as long as fifty years.

The opening of the Museum’s new Udvar-Hazy Center has changed this. As many as three-hundred aircraft will be placed on display in the new museum. More than eighty of them have already been placed in the building for the public to see.

The new center was named for Steven Udvar-Hazy. He came to the United States from Hungary. He became very successful in the aircraft industry. He became so successful that he gave the National Air and Space Museum sixty-five-million dollars to help build the new center.

Mr. Udvar-Hazy said he wanted to give something to America for the opportunities he found here. He also wanted to pass on his love of aviation to the people of the future.

Mr. Udvar-Hazy’s gift helped build the center. It did not pay the total cost. That is expected to be more than three-hundred-million dollars. This includes the design, construction and cost of moving the aircraft into the new center.

The largest of the new center’s several buildings is huge. It is thirty-one meters high, almost seventy-six meters wide, and three-hundred meters long.

Visitors can see and walk near the aircraft on three levels in the main building. They can walk near the largest aircraft on the museum’s floor. Smaller aircraft are hung from the ceiling. Visitors can examine them from several walkways that are about fifteen meters above the floor. They can see other aircraft that are hung near the ceiling. They can do this from walkways that are near the top of the building.

Computers at small information centers show close-up photographs of the aircraft. These photographs include pictures taken inside the aircraft. Visitors can use the computers to see the pilot’s controls, passenger areas and other parts of the inside of the aircraft. In the future, these pictures will be on the new museum’s computer link with the Internet.

All of the aircraft that will be on display are important to the history of flight. Some are huge. The largest aircraft in the collection was given to the museum only a few months ago. It is the Air France Concorde.

The plane landed at nearby Dulles International Airport on its last flight. It was pulled by a special vehicle to the museum.

The Concorde was one of the few passenger airplanes that could fly faster than the speed of sound. A Concorde flight from Paris, France to Washington, D-C usually took less than four hours.

The new center also has very small aircraft in the collection. One is the Boeing P-Twenty-Six-A Peashooter. The little Peashooter could hide under the wing of the Concorde. In fact, several of them could hide there.

The Peashooter was a military fighter plane. It was built in the early nineteen-thirties. It is also one of the most beautiful aircraft in the new center. Most military aircraft are not painted with bright colors. But the Peashooter has wings painted yellow-gold. The body is painted black with white strips down its side. The front is painted a shiny white.

The new Udvar-Hazy Center also holds the fastest aircraft every built. It is the Lockheed S-R-Seventy-One Blackbird. It looks like a rocket plane, but it is not. It has an aircraft jet engine, not a rocket engine. The military used the Blackbird to gather intelligence. It carried cameras, not guns. It used its great speed to fly away from danger.

The Blackbird is a large aircraft. It is painted with a dull black paint and looks like a bullet. In fact it is faster than many bullets. It could travel at three times the speed of sound.

That is about three-thousand-five-hundred-forty kilometers an hour. The last time a Blackbird flew was from Los Angeles, California to Dulles International Airport near the museum.

The United States Air Force flew it for the last time to deliver it to the Udvar-Hazy Center. That flight from California to Virginia took only one hour, four minutes and twenty seconds.

Many of the aircraft in the collection were built for military use. However, the museum is not a just a collection of military aircraft. Aviation experts say new flight technology has often been used first in the design of military aircraft. For example, the first jet was a military airplane. Civilian aircraft designers quickly used jet technology because jets are faster and cheaper.

An aircraft called the Dash-Eighty is a good example of military technology being used for civilian purposes. The Boeing Company built the aircraft. Its real name is the Boeing Three-Six-Seven—dash—Eighty.

It was designed as the first modern jet passenger aircraft. It first flew in July of nineteen-fifty-four. It does not look much different from aircraft used today by airlines around the world. Later, a similar aircraft was given the numbers Seven-Oh-Seven. The Seven-Oh-Seven was the first extremely successful passenger jet aircraft. It served as the first jet aircraft for many of the world’s passenger airlines. The Dash-Eighty looks very new, not fifty years old.National Air and Space Museum officials say they expect about three-million visitors a year to the new center. Many of these visitors will be school children. The center includes schoolrooms and will provide teachers with teaching materials.

One of the center’s goals will be to educate the children of the future about the importance of aviation.

Smithsonian officials recognize that it is difficult for many people to visit either of these two flight museums. In the near future, they hope to display photographs and information about all the aircraft on the Internet.

The National Museum of the American Indian (In Washington, DC)

Today we tell about how the new National Museum of the American Indian is educating the public.A large group of school children waits outside the doors of the new museum on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. They are loudly talking and laughing with their friends while they wait. Then the doors to the National Museum of the American Indian open.

The young students move past the security guards and walk around a metal wall. Suddenly they are very quiet. They are standing in a huge round space that is the center of the new building. Light from the sky pours in through a glass opening almost forty meters above them.

This is a space that quiets people. It expresses the American Indian respect for how the sky and the earth join to create the native universe. The sudden silence of the students is evidence they have begun to learn something about American Indians’ culture and beliefs. That is the goal of the new museum.The National Museum of the American Indian opened September twenty-first with a week-long celebration. On opening day, more than eighty thousand people gathered on the Mall to celebrate. About twenty-five thousand American Indians in their traditional clothes marched in the colorful Native Nations Procession. They represented five hundred tribes and Native communities from northern Canada to as far south as Chile in South America.

Congress created the NMAI as part of the Smithsonian Institution in nineteen eighty-nine. Planning began the next year to create the first national museum to honor Native Americans.

  1. Richard West, a Southern Cheyenne, has been the director of the museum since nineteen ninety. Mr. West explains that Native Americans have had a continuing part in developing the design and goals of the museum and what it should show the public. Meetings were held for years with hundreds of Native people from North, Central and South America. They said that this museum should be different from other museums. They wanted the building to connect to the earth and its surroundings so it looked like it belongs on Indian land. And they urged that the voices and ideas of Native people be heard in all the displays and programs.

Their advice has been followed. The design of the building and its surroundings show its connection to nature. Colors, materials and forms that are found in American Indian lands are used outside and inside the building. Throughout the museum, the voices of Native people describe their world.

Mr. West says the museum was created to be a center for learning about the history and cultures of the native peoples of the Americas. He hopes visitors will leave the museum experience knowing that Indians are not just a part of history.

The National Museum of the American Indian has about eight hundred thousand objects in its collection. Most of them were collected by one man, American businessman George Gustav Heye (high). He spent the first fifty years of the last century gathering all kinds of American Indian objects that have great artistic, historic and cultural meaning.

The collection now is in three different buildings. Some of the objects are shown in the George Gustav Heye Center in New York City. Most of the collection is kept in the Cultural Resources Center in Suitland, Maryland, which opened in nineteen ninety-eight. This is also where people can do research.

The new museum in Washington, D.C. has about eight thousand objects in its exhibits. It also has space for educational activities, ceremonies and performances.Representatives of Native communities helped develop the three main exhibit areas in the new museum. One area is called Our Universes: Traditional Knowledge Shapes Our World. It shows the spiritual links between people and the natural world. And it shows how these links are honored in many different ceremonies throughout the year.

Eight Native communities are represented in the Our Universes area. Tessie Naranjo helped choose the objects and the theme of the Santa Clara Pueblo exhibit.

Mizz Naranjo says the goal is to help visitors understand how the Santa Clara people look at life. This is done, she explains, through storytelling, which is used throughout the museum. All tribal stories have a teaching purpose, she says. Stories express the values of each Native community and the way community members are connected to the universe.

So the Santa Clara exhibit tells about the importance of water, maize, and the four sacred mountains that surround the reservation in New Mexico. Visitors learn how young people in Santa Clara are taught to listen to older people and to honor the land.

Another major exhibit area is called Our Peoples: Giving Voice to Our Histories. It explores events that have shaped the lives of Native Americans since Europeans arrived in fourteen ninety-two. It shows how American Indians have struggled to save their traditions.

The third exhibit area is called Our Lives: Contemporary Life and Identities. It tries to answer the question of what is an American Indian. Visitors see objects, pictures, and films and hear spoken words. They learn about the difficulties native peoples face to survive economically, save their languages, and keep their culture and arts alive.

Genevieve Simermeyer, a member of the Osage tribe, is the school programs coordinator for the museum. She says the museum education office has developed three programs for different age groups of school children. Nine Native Americans act as tour guides or cultural interpreters. They meet school groups in the large open space. Then they take the students through different areas of the museum. They explain about some of the exhibits and answer questions.

Before a group of school children visits the museum, their teacher receives materials to help prepare them. The youngest children from ages five to eight explore the idea of old things and new things. At the museum they discover links between the past and present in American Indian life.

For groups of school children nine to eleven years old, the visit to the museum is about the cultural values of Native Americans. They explore how American Indians have dealt with change. Older children learn how modern issues such as borders and treaties have affected the culture, language and traditions of native peoples.

Mizz Simermeyer says the guided tours for school children are so popular they are already filled through May. But school groups can visit the museum without a guide. There are teaching materials to help them prepare for the visit.Storytelling takes place throughout the museum. There are short films that tell American Indian stories. Voices in some of the some exhibits tell stories that explain native beliefs. The cultural interpreters also tell stories.

Adults and children also enjoy the hands-on parts of the museum. Computer games and instructional devices that provide learning experiences are very popular. So are teaching boxes that contain objects that visitors can touch. For people who cannot get to the museum, education materials can be found on the Internet at AmericanIndian.si.edu.

Amy Drapeau (drah-poe) is a spokesperson for the National Museum of the American Indian. She says the education program helps the general public understand that American Indians are not just from the past and are not all the same. They live in many different places. They speak hundreds of different languages. And their traditions are very different.

Children who visit the museum seem to enjoy what they learn. You can hear their excited comments as they make discoveries for themselves. “Wow.” “Come look at this!” “I did not know that.”

Adults learn, too. A woman from Silver Spring, Maryland, says she learned that present day Native Americans still have traditions they know and value. She says that made her think about her own family traditions and what has happened to them. “The Museum of the American Indian,” she says ” is a powerful place.”This program was written by Marilyn Christiano. It was produced by Mario Ritter. I’m Steve Ember.

The National Museum of Natural History

Today we visit the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.”I’ll meet you by the elephant.” That comment is heard a lot in Washington, D.C. The elephant is in an unusual place. It is in the center of a large building on the grassy Mall area of the capital city. It is the first thing visitors see when they enter the National Museum of Natural History.

The African elephant was 50 years old when it died in Angola in 1955. It weighed eight tons. It was so large the hunter decided to give its remains to the Smithsonian Institution. Scientists at the National Museum of Natural History used the bones and skin to rebuild the elephant.

As you enter the museum, you see a huge elephant that appears to be walking across the grassy area where it once lived. Visitors of all ages stop to look up in wonder at its size. Then they walk around the elephant. They read facts about the animal, hear sounds of its natural environment and watch short films. This is what makes the Natural History museum so popular. Visitors learn about the natural world in many different ways.

The National Museum of Natural History is one of the most visited museums the world. From six million to nine million people visit the building every year. More than one million of them are international visitors. The visitors come to the museum to see many interesting things: Examples of huge ancient dinosaurs. Beautiful rare diamonds and other jewels. Live insects. Remains of creatures that lived in ancient seas. Ancient and present day mammals. Objects from African, Asian and Pacific cultures.

The museum has the largest collection of any natural history museum in the world. There are more than 125 million objects in its collection.

Scientists have been collecting these specimens for almost 200 years. The collection keeps growing as scientists working for the museum continue to explore and collect around the world.The National Museum of Natural History opened in 1910. It was the third museum to be created as part of the Smithsonian Institution. It is a center for the study of humans and their natural surroundings through history. So the museum’s collection includes specimens of animals, plants, rocks, ancient and present day organisms, and objects related to human development.

Through the years, how the collection is shown to the public has changed. The newest exhibit is about the history of mammals in the world. The purpose of the new Hall of Mammals is to show how all mammals, including humans, are related. Almost 300 mammals that look very life-like are shown in their different natural environments.

While seeing realistic- looking animals found in Africa, visitors hear sounds of a violent rainstorm around them. Adults look up on the wall to see a video of a giraffe, zebras and a hippo around a water hole. At the same time, children look down at the floor to see a video of what small animals are doing under ground.

Hans Sues is the associate director for Research and Collections. He is the chief scientist at the museum. Mr. Sues says the specimens collected through the years help scientists find out how animals and plant life developed. The scientists learn by using new technologies such as DNA research on the specimens. Or they learn by just being able to study older specimens.

For example, some fishermen and scientists were concerned about spots they found on sea animals called crabs. They wondered if human-made pollution caused the spots. So they looked at the museum’s specimens of crabs collected almost 100 years ago. Some of them had the same spots. This was evidence that the spots happened naturally.

No one can observe the changes in our natural world during hundreds of years. So the collections of the National Museum of Natural History, and other natural history museums, are the only way for scientists to observe these changes over time.Scientists working for the Natural History museum are doing research in 50 to 100 countries at any time. Mr. Sues says museum scientists have been almost every place on Earth. Through their research they continue to find new information about the natural world and its people, animals and plants.

For example, in 2003, a team of scientists explored the little known islands of Kula Ring, near New Guinea. They found three new kinds of fish, five new kinds of insects called damselflies, and 60 new kinds of water bugs.

Other museum scientists have made recent discoveries about the earliest history of the solar system, early man, and the continuing damage to coral reefs. Mr. Sues says there are many more discoveries to be made. This is because there is so much to learn about the 4,000 million years of this planet’s history.

Each year museum scientists report their research findings in more than 700 scientific publications. They report important discoveries to the public in newspapers, popular magazines and on television. Now, the huge worldwide expansion of the Internet is making it possible for people around the world to get this information.Millions of people who are unable to visit the National Museum of Natural History in Washington can see part of the museum’s collection on computers. In the future, museum officials hope to make it possible for people to use computers to explore all of the museum.

Robert Sullivan is associate director for Public Programs for the National Museum of Natural History. He says museum officials are excited about how the Internet is expanding the reach of the museum and what it can offer.

Mr. Sullivan says that for years museum officials have known that learning by doing is the best way to teach people. He says the new broadband computer technology will make that kind of learning possible. People will be able to take “virtual tours” of the museum. They will be able to use computers to walk through exhibits, move and measure objects, visit scientific laboratories and ask questions of scientists. Mr. Sullivan says the new Internet technology will let museum officials create a space to explore, not just offer pictures and words.

The Website of the National Museum of Natural History — www.mnh.si.edu –offers a lot of information. For example, you can go to the museum Web site to find out about the Earth and how it changes. By typing in “The Dynamic Earth”, you can read about how rocks tell the history of the Earth. You can see the famous jewel called the Hope Diamond. Soon you will be able to learn about volcanoes.

If you are interested in animals, you can go to the North American Mammals site. It is a guide to the living mammals of North America with detailed descriptions and images of more than 400 animals.

Or you can find out about Meriwether Lewis and William Clark. They explored the western part of the United States in the early 19th century. Computer users can follow the path the two explorers took and learn about the plants and animals they found.

The museum Web site is very popular with computer users and will become more so as it expands. Yet the real museum building will not be forgotten. Museum officials say a visit to the National Museum of Natural History will continue to be a family education experience.

They are developing new ways to make the exhibits provide a learning experience that works in many different ways. The next major change in the exhibit space is in progress now. Near the elephant, a large new exhibit is being built that will show why the ocean is important to understanding the natural world. Ocean Hall will open in 2008. It will use the newest technology to help people of all ages learn about life in the ocean. It will be one more way millions of visitors can have fun learning from the National Museum of Natural History.This program was written by Marilyn Christiano and produced by Mario Ritter. I’m Barbara Klein. And I’m Steve Ember. Join us again next week for EXPLORATIONS in VOA Special English.

National Cryptologic Museum 

Today we visit a small museum in the state of Maryland. It is called the National Cryptologic Museum. It is filled with information that was once very secret.The little National Cryptologic Museum is on the Fort George G. Meade military base near Washington, D.C. It tells the story of cryptology and the men and women who have worked in this unusual profession. The word cryptology comes from the Greek “kryptos logos.” It means “hidden word.” Cryptology is writing or communicating using secret methods to hide the meaning of your words.

The museum shows many pieces of equipment that were once used to make information secret. It also has equipment that was used in an effort to read secret information. One unusual example is a kind of bed covering called a quilt. Quilts are made by hand. They usually have a colorful design sewn on them. One special kind of quilt was used to pass on secret information.

In the early history of the United States, black people from Africa were used as slaves in the southern states. Slaves sewed quilts that had very unusual designs. These quilts really told stories. The quilts were made with designs that told slaves how to escape to freedom in the northern states.

The museum has an example that shows a design that represents the North Star. Slaves knew they had to travel from the South to the North to escape to freedom. The quilt tells a slave to follow the North Star. Other designs in the quilt represent roads and a small house.

History experts say about 60,000 slaves escaped to freedom during the period of slavery. The experts do not know how much the quilts really helped, but they did provide needed information for those trying to escape.

The Cryptologic Museum has several examples that show the importance of creating secret information, or trying to read secret information written by foreign nations. Secret information is also called code.

One of the most important displays at the museum shows American attempts to read Japanese military information codes during World War Two. The Japanese Navy used special machines to change their written information into secret codes. This coded information was then transmitted by radio to ships and bases. Much of this information contained secret military plans and orders.

The leaders of the Japanese Navy believed no one could read or understand the secret codes. They were wrong. An American Naval officer named Joseph Rochefort worked very hard to break the Japanese code. He did this in an effort to learn what the Japanese Navy was planning.

Mr. Rochefort did his work in a small building on the American naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. It was early in 1942. The American naval commander in the Pacific Ocean was Admiral Chester Nimitz. His forces were much smaller than the Japanese Naval forces. And the Japanese had been winning many victories.Joseph Rochefort had worked for several months to read the secret Japanese Naval code called J-N-Twenty-Five. If he could read enough of the code, Mr. Rochefort would be able to provide Admiral Nimitz with very valuable information. Admiral Nimitz could use this information to make the necessary decisions to plan for battle. By the early part of the year, Mr. Rochefort and the men who worked with him could read a little less than 20% of the Japanese J-N-Twenty-Five code.

From the beginning of 1942, the Japanese code carried information that discussed a place called “A-F.” Mr. Rochefort felt the Japanese were planning an important battle aimed at “A-F.”

But where was “A-F”? After several weeks, Mr. Rochefort and other naval experts told Admiral Nimitz that their best idea was that the “A-F” in the Japanese code was the American-held island of Midway.

Admiral Nimitz said he could not plan an attack or a defense based on only an idea. He needed more information.

The Navy experts decided to try a trick. They told the American military force on Midway to broadcast a false message. The message would say the island was having problems with its water-processing equipment. The message asked that fresh water be sent immediately to the island. This message was not sent in code.

Several days later, a Japanese radio broadcast in the J-N-Twenty-Five code said that “A-F” had little water.

Mr. Rochefort had the evidence he needed. “A-F” was now known to be the island of Midway. He also told Admiral Nimitz the Japanese would attack Midway on June 3rd.

Admiral Nimitz used this information to secretly move his small force to an area near Midway and wait for the Japanese Navy. The battle that followed was a huge American victory. History experts now say the Battle of Midway was the beginning of the American victory in the Pacific. That victory was possible because Joseph Rochefort learned to read enough of the Japanese code to discover the meaning of the two letters “A-F.”One American code has never been broken. Perhaps it never will. It was used in the Pacific during World War Two. For many years the government would not discuss this secret code. Listen for a moment to this very unusual code. Then you may understand why the Japanese military forces were never able to understand any of it.You may have guessed that the code is in the voice of a Native American. The man you just heard is singing a simple song in the Navajo language. Very few people outside the Navajo nation are able to speak any of their very difficult language.

At the beginning of World War Two, the United States Marine Corps asked members of the Navajo tribe to train as Code Talkers.

The Cryptologic Museum says about 400 Navajos served as Marine Corps Code Talkers during the war. They could take a sentence in English and change it into their language in about 20 seconds. A code machine at that time took about 30 minutes to do the same work.

The Navajo Code Talkers took part in every battle the Marines entered in the Pacific during World War Two. The Japanese were very skilled at breaking codes. But they were never able to understand any of what they called “The Marine Code.”

For many years after the war, the American public did not know about the valuable work done by the Marine Navajo Code Talkers. The United States government kept their work a secret and their language continued to be a valuable method of passing secret information.

The Cryptologic Museum has many pieces of mechanical and electric equipment used to change words into code. It also has almost as many examples of machines used to try to change code back into useful words.

Perhaps the most famous is a World War Two German code machine called the Enigma. The word “enigma” means a puzzle or a problem that is difficult to solve.

The German Enigma machine was used by the German military to pass orders and plans. The United States, Britain, and the government of Poland were all successful in learning to read information transmitted by the Enigma. It took thousands of people and cost millions of dollars to read the Enigma information. However, the time, effort and money resulted in a quicker end to the war against Nazi Germany.

The National Cryptologic Museum belongs to the United States National Security Agency. The agency is usually called the N.S.A. One of the N.S.A.’s many jobs is cryptography for the United States government. The work of the N.S.A. is not open to the public. However, the National Cryptologic Museum tells the story of the men and women who work at the N.S.A. long after their work is no longer secret.

Each part of the museum shows the value of this secret, difficult and demanding work. Visitors say it is really fun to see equipment and read documents that were once very important and very, very secret.This program was written by Paul Thompson. It was produced by Cynthia Kirk. I’m Steve Ember. And I’m Mary Tillotson. Join us again next week for EXPLORATIONS, a program in Special English on the Voice of America.

The Newseum: A Museum of News in Washington

This week on our program, we take a look at Washington’s newly opened museum of news, the Newseum.”There’s a big story breaking at the circus but nobody seems to know what’s going on. [Animal sounds.] O.K., rookie, it’s your job to get the story and scoop the competition. We know what happened, when and where. You need to find out who did it, how and why. Ask questions, get the facts and file the story with this P.D.A. as soon as you can. Now get going.”

So begins one of the many interactive games at the Newseum in Washington. This game, “Be a Reporter,” is played on a small screen in the Interactive Newsroom and Ethics Center.

This area of the Newseum also includes an activity called “Be a TV Reporter.” For an extra eight dollars, visitors can read the news in front of a camera. Afterward, they receive a picture of themselves and instructions about how to download a video of their performance.The Newseum opened on Pennsylvania Avenue, next to the Canadian Embassy, on April 11th. It was formerly located across the Potomac River from Washington. The Newseum opened in Arlington, Virginia, in 1997. But it closed in 2002 after a decision to move to a bigger space.

The newly built museum has 14 galleries, 15 theaters and 16 zillion video screens.

One of the galleries is the Berlin Wall Gallery. It tells the story of the four meter high concrete wall built in 1961. Communist East Germany built the wall to separate itself from democratic West Germany. The wall was torn down, and the two Germanies reunited, in 1989.

The gallery contains eight pieces of the Berlin Wall. It also includes a watch tower that stood not far from the “Checkpoint Charlie” crossing between east and west Berlin.

Three large screens in the gallery show three different movies about the history of news reporting on the Berlin Wall.

Another gallery tells the story of the al-Qaida terrorist attacks on New York and Washington on September 11, 2001.

The 9-11 gallery explores how the media covered the story of the attacks that killed almost 3,000 people.

SOUND: “The building is falling right now. People are running through the streets. Smoke is everywhere. People are filling all of Broadway.”

The Twin Towers, New York’s tallest buildings, collapsed after being struck by hijacked passenger planes.

In the center of the gallery is a burned and twisted part of the broadcast antenna that stood on the North Tower of the World Trade Center.

Also in the gallery is a damaged piece of the Pentagon, the Defense Department headquarters, which was also struck by a plane. And there is a piece of the fourth plane used in the attacks. Investigators found that the hijackers of United Flight Ninety-three crashed the plane in a Pennsylvania field after passengers revolted.

The gallery also has items from news photographer William Biggart. He was covering the attacks in New York City when the second tower collapsed and he was killed.

On the wall of the gallery are front pages from 127 newspapers reporting the attacks. The newspapers are from across the United States and 34 other nations.The Newseum has a newspaper gallery that changes daily. Copies of front pages are received electronically from more than 500 newspapers around the world. Eighty are printed for display. The others can be seen on touch screens.

A nearby gallery displays thousands of historic publications. The oldest is a clay brick from more than 3,000 years ago. The brick has cuneiform writing on it. The symbols tell about the building of a chapel in a temple of a Sumerian king.

Also in the Early News Gallery are reports on the Battle of Agincourt and the Salem witch trials. The battle took place in France in 1415; the handwritten news report appeared the following year. The Salem witch trials took place in Massachusetts in 1692.

The gallery describes the many ways news traveled before and after the arrival of the printing press in the 15th century. Included in the collection is a 19th century West African harp. It was played by musicians who sang about current events and spread gossip.

Among the displays about the history of news is one called “Can the Press Be Trusted?” It has examples of stories that were invented by reporters or told only one side of an issue. The display also deals with the use of unidentified sources, and the risk of mistakes when reporters try to be first with a story.

Another gallery at the Newseum presents photographs that have won Pulitzer Prizes. The display also includes recorded comments from some of the prize-winning photographers.

And the Newseum has a gallery to honor journalists who were killed doing their jobs. Glass panels in the Memorial Gallery list more than 1,800 names.

An independent group, the Freedom Forum, operates the Newseum. The group spent 100 million dollars to buy the land and 450 million dollars to build the new museum.

The Freedom Forum teaches people about the importance of free speech and a free press. On the outside of the Newseum are the words of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.

READER: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Inside the Newseum, a huge screen presents political and religious leaders, entertainers and reporters talking about those freedoms. Here is civil rights leader Martin Luther King Junior:

MARTIN LUTHER KING: “But somewhere I read… of the freedom of assembly. Somewhere I read… of the freedom of speech. Somewhere I read… of the freedom of the press. Somewhere I read that the greatness of America is the right to protest for rights.”Reporters received a media tour of the Newseum before opening day. One reporter called newspapers a dying industry and asked the chief executive officer, Charles Overby, why the Newseum gives them so much attention. The C.E.O. said the Newseum is about news and the changing delivery systems for reporting it.

The Newseum has a large gallery dealing with news in the digital age, including blogging and social networking sites. But the Internet, TV and Radio Gallery also presents broadcasts from the past.

One area of the gallery explores “instant news reporting,” sometimes called citizen journalism. The display includes comments from Virginia Tech graduate student Jamal Albarghouti. With his cell phone camera, he recorded nearby sounds of gunfire as a student killed 32 people last April 16th.

JAMAL ALBARGHOUTI: “I had no idea what the reaction would be when I downloaded this to CNN. I was just hoping no one would get very angry seeing it, and thank God that was the case and many people came to me and telling me thanks a lot. I didn’t think I was in a great danger. If I was in such a situation once again, probably I’ll do the same thing.”

Concerns about instant news are also discussed at the Newseum. Here are comments from a newspaper editor at the Roanoke Times in Virginia:

EDITOR: “We are trained professional journalists and we are going to be very cautious about what we put online because once it’s in the paper you can’t take it back. Ya know bloggers, maybe sometimes they don’t realize that, that little thought that just pops into their head, and they post it, and millions of people can see it online, and it can damage somebody’s reputation.  It can say somebody, ya know, he’s the guy, he’s the shooter, ah, you can’t take that back.”The newly opened Newseum in Washington, D.C., charges as much as 20 dollars for admission. Children six and younger are free. The nearby Smithsonian museums and the National Gallery of Art are free to all visitors. But Newseum officials note that those museums are publicly supported.

Almost 11,000 people toured the Newseum on opening day when admission was free. The Newseum calls itself the world’s most interactive museum. But some people wondered how a pricey museum will succeed, especially in difficult economic times, in a city with so many free attractions.

The president of the Newseum, Peter Pritchard, says the hunger for news and information has never been greater around the world.

The South Street Seaport Museum (In New York City)

Today we take you to visit another unusual museum in New York City, the South Street Seaport.On September 2, 1609, British Captain Henry Hudson was sailing along the east coast of North America.  He ordered his ship into the opening of a wide river.  Mr. Hudson was working for the Dutch East India Company.  He was looking for a way across North America from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean.  What he found was one of the best natural ports in North America.

Less than sixteen years later, settlers supported by the new Dutch West India Company arrived near the opening of the same river, now called the Hudson River.  They had come to stay.  They began building homes on the southern end of an island called Manhattan.  They also began building a port.  Forty years later, the Dutch gave up their claim to the area to the British.

The new British rulers named the area after James, the Duke of York.  The area became New York.  The British added to the small port.  The area began to grow quickly.  By the year seventeen forty-seven the people of the little port owned ninety-nine ships.

Less than twenty years later there were more than four hundred ships in the port.  The little city continued to grow very quickly.  Today, New York is the largest city in the United States and one of the largest in the world.

Early maps of Manhattan show a street across the southern end of Manhattan Island.  The settlers built a wall there as protection.  They named it Wall Street.  Another was named Water Street.  A third street was called Pearl.  The street closest to the water was named South Street.

Wall Street now is known around the world as the financial center of the United States.  South Street, Water Street and Pearl Street are still there, too.  It is within this area of Manhattan that some of the first European settlers tried to develop businesses in North America.  Today it is the home of the South Street Seaport Museum.If you say the word “museum” most people think of a large building that holds objects that are important to history.  The South Street Seaport Museum has such a building, but it includes much more.  The Museum is a group of buildings, streets, homes, businesses and eating places.  It also is a dock area for several ships that once sailed the oceans of the world.  The Museum is a continuing work that will not be completed for many years.

A visit to the South Street Seaport Museum should start at the corner of South Street and Fulton Street.  On this corner, you can see much of Fulton Street.  If you look across South Street you can see two huge sailing ships, the Peking and the Wavertree.  A little more than a hundred years ago, goods were carried around the world by thousands of huge ships powered by wind in their sails.  Today there are only a few such ships, including the two that belong to the Seaport Museum.


The South Street Seaport Museum used to share an area with the Fulton Fish Market, one of the largest markets of its kind in the world.  For more than one hundred eighty years, fresh fish from the market were bought, sold and transported to eating places all over the United States.  In November, two thousand five, the Fulton Fish Market moved from the South Street Seaport.  The fish market is now in a new, modern structure in the Bronx area of New York.

Most visitors to the South Street Seaport Museum come to see the ships.  The Peking is a huge sailing ship.  It is one of the largest sailing ships left from a time when these were the only ships on the seas.  It is more than one hundred two meters long.  It has four tall wood masts that hold up its many cloth sails.

The Peking looks very new.  It is not.  In fact, it is ninety years old.  It was made at the shipbuilding company of Blohm and Voss in Germany in nineteen eleven.  It took workers at the South Street Seaport Museum twelve years of very hard work to make the ship look new.

Next to the Peking is the Wavertree.  It is almost as large.  The Wavertree was built in the British port of Southampton.  It was built for the R.W. Leyland and Company of Liverpool.

The Leyland Company used it for many years to carry goods and some passengers from Britain to the United States.  It also carried goods to India, Australia, and South America.

A severe storm almost sank the Wavertree in nineteen ten near the coast of Cape Horn, at the end of South America.  The ship was kept in that area and used for storage for many years.

Officials of the South Street Museum found the Wavertree in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in nineteen sixty-six.  A year later, Museum officials decided to buy the old ship and take it to New York.

Workers began rebuilding the huge ship in nineteen seventy.  The work continues today.  Progress is extremely slow because of the cost and the amount of work needed to rebuild a ship the size of the Wavertree.  For example, workers had to re-build the three, tall wooden masts that hold the ship’s sails.  Each mast had to be built specially for the Wavertree.

The work is extremely hard.  It can also be very dangerous.  People who work on the masts often work many meters above the deck of the ship.

Sal Polisi is an artist.  All of his unusual art is cut out of wood.  Mr. Polisi is a wood carver.  He makes signs for the South Street Sea Port Museum.  He also makes woodcarvings for the Wavertree and the Peking.

Sailing ships like the Wavertree had a large woodcarving called a figurehead on the very front of the ship.  A figurehead helped identify a ship.  It could be a carving of an animal or a human or perhaps a bird.  The Wavertree’s figurehead is a woman.

Sal Polisi used a very small and very old photograph of the Wavertree to reproduce the figurehead.  It took several years to complete the huge statue of the woman.  It weighs more than three hundred sixty kilograms.The South Street Seaport Museum also repairs the many old buildings that are part of the museum.  The museum officials try to make them look as they did hundreds of years ago.

One good example of this kind of repair work is the museum’s Bowne and Company Stationers.  This building was home to a company of that name more than one hundred years ago.  Bowne Stationers printed paper documents such as tickets, timetables of trains and boats, and business papers.  The museum repaired the building and printing now continues in it.

Today, computers control most printing.  At the museum’s Bowne and Company printing shop, all of the printing is done the same way it was done a hundred or more years ago.  The workers use hand operated machinery that produces specially printed materials.  Visitors can have the museum shop print something just for them.

A woman and man who are about to get married can get the Bowne and Company Stationers to print their wedding announcements.  The little shop produces unusual and beautiful work.

Officials of the South Street Seaport Museum are busy repairing a large group of buildings called Schermerhorn Row.  A family with that name first owned the buildings more than two hundred years ago.  The buildings will be the home of a museum show called “World Port New York.”

“World Port New York” will have objects that belonged to the first humans that lived in the area.  It will show the early development of the area by the first settlers.

 The new part of the museum will show drawings and pictures of the South Street buildings and ship docking area, as they looked more than one hundred years ago.  It will show how the little port helped the great city of New York develop into an important center of world trade.

The oldest buildings of the new “World Port New York” show have a long and interesting history.  The oldest was built in seventeen twenty-six.  Many people have lived in some of the buildings.  Other buildings have sheltered businesses, hotels and eating places.  They have been used to store goods brought by ships from all over the world.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City

Today we travel to New York City to visit one of the most famous museums in the world. The Metropolitan Museum of Art collection covers five thousand years of human culture from all over the world. The museum, also known as the Met, was created in 1870 by a group of businessmen, artists and thinkers. Their goal was to create a leading museum that would bring art and art education to the American people.

We start our visit on Fifth Avenue at Eighty-Second Street and climb up the huge number of steps of the Metropolitan Museum of Art to enter its Great Hall.

In this huge room with tall ceilings visitors can pick up a map and decide what area of the museum they want to explore. It is a hard decision as there are more than two million works of art. Let us begin with the collection of Greek and Roman Art.

We look closely at a marble statue of a “kouros”, or young man that was made over two thousand five hundred years ago. It is one of the earliest known marble statues of a human from the Greek area of Attica. The man is standing very straight, with his left leg slightly forward. His form is made up of smooth lines and geometric forms. The statue was found on the grave of a young nobleman from Athens.

To see how Greek art evolved, you can look at a statue made about a hundred years later. The bronze statue is a male diskos thrower. But the artistic style is very different from the earlier statue. This work is extremely detailed and life-like.  It shows careful attention to how the body’s muscles work.

The Met’s Egyptian art collection takes us even further back in time. One object is a brightly painted coffin that is nearly four thousand years old. It once held the body of a person named Khnumnakht. The painted drawings and writings tell about gods of death and rebirth. There are many other examples of funeral art such as statues, coffins, and jewelry to protect the dead.

It takes an entire room to house one important object in this department. The Temple of Dendur is over two thousand years old. It is one of many religious buildings that ruler Augustus Caesar of Rome had built to honor Egyptian gods. This temple honors the goddess Isis. The temple once stood about eighty kilometers south of the Egyptian city of Aswan. Egypt gave it to the United States in 1965.

Visitors can choose to see many other kinds of artworks. There are treasures of ancient and current art from Asia, Africa, the Pacific islands and Central and South America. There is also an entire department for musical instruments and for historical clothing.

The Met’s medieval art collection centers on works made in Western Europe from the fourth to the early 16th century. This area of the museum has the feel of a church. Many objects came from Christian religious centers. For example, there are stained glass windows from European churches and many objects used in religious ceremonies.

A group of 16th century warriors on horseback welcomes you in the Equestrian Court.  The warriors and horses are wearing finely made steel armor. Owning such protective armor helped show a ruler’s wealth and power. The armor also showed the extreme skills of a country’s best artisans. One protective head covering from Japan dates to the fifth century. The iron and copper helmet was probably used for ceremonies. There are also two Japanese swords, one long and one short, that were made in the fourteen hundreds.

It would take a day just to explore the Met’s large collection of European paintings. The paintings hanging in these large rooms give a lesson in the history of art over hundreds of years.

There are many Italian paintings of religious stories. But one is especially important. The Italian artist Duccio painted his “Madonna and Child” in thirteen hundred. His painting had a huge influence on later European art. Earlier paintings showed Mary and Jesus in an impersonal and severe way. But Duccio chose to show the very human and emotional interaction between Mary and Jesus.

The Spanish painter Diego Rodríguez de Silva y Velazquez made an interesting painting of his assistant in 1650. The artist captured Juan de Pareja’s intense look with great skill. When this painting was first shown to the public, one critic wrote that all other works were paintings, but this one represented truth.

One well known work by the French painter Jean Antoine Watteau shows a man in a garden playing a musical instrument. The colorful painting is called “Mezzetin.” This artist is most famous for painting sensual actors and dancers. He was influenced by Italian theater traditions of the late 1600s.

The English painter J.M.W. Turner painted “Venice, from the Porch of Madonna della Salute” around 1835. His specialty was representing the effect of light on an environment with color and loose brushstrokes.

Turner’s awareness of changing light would also interest a group of 19th century artists known as the Impressionists. The Met’s collection of Impressionist works includes paintings by Claude Monet, Camille Pissarro and Auguste Renoir.

The area of the museum known as the American Wing contains fine examples of American art, sculpture, glass, silver and other design objects. There are also twenty historical rooms which show different periods of American building and furniture design. 
The Samuel Hart Room, originally in Ipswich, Massachusetts, dates to about 1680. The room has white plaster walls with large ancient pieces of dark wood. It has very little light and very low ceilings. The room was used for cooking, eating and sleeping.

One area of the American Wing contains thousands of objects in storage. In most museums, storage areas are not open to the public. But here, the many objects are stored behind glass so the public can explore the Met’s rich collection of historical objects.

Some paintings that are part of the American Wing tell about important historical events. One of these is “Washington Crossing the Delaware” painted by Emanuel Leutze in 1851. It shows George Washington and his soldiers during an important event of the American Revolution.

Others are portraits of individuals. John Singer Sargent’s painting known as “Madame X” was disputed when it was shown in 1884. The painting is of a wealthy American woman who lived in France. She was famous for her beauty. Madame Pierre Gautreau is wearing a low-cut black dress that shows off her pale skin. Mr. Sargent considered this his best work.

One unusual painting finished in 1819 takes up a whole room. Artist John Vanderlyn created a panoramic painting of the gardens and palace of Versailles in France. The painting hangs in a circular room and completely surrounds visitors standing in the middle of the space. The circular painting was first shown in a circular building in downtown New York.

Another area of the museum is named after a major donor, the Robert Lehman Wing. Upon his death, Mr. Lehman left the museum over three thousand works of art. Museum organizers set up the collection so that the rooms look like Mr. Lehman’s apartment in New York. The many Italian and Northern European paintings hang in rooms with wall and floor coverings, lamps, and furniture.

So far, the works we have looked at are from the past. But the Met also has an excellent modern art collection. For example, you can see Spanish-born painter Pablo Picasso’s colorful work “Reading at a Table.” The artist uses curving shapes and waving lines to represent his lover as she reads.

“Cow’s Skull: Red, White and Blue” is a well known work by American artist Georgia O’Keefe. She often painted animal bones because of their interesting shapes and simple beauty.

We end our visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art on the museum’s Roof Garden. Here, visitors can sit and enjoy the views of New York City after a long day learning about art from around the world.

Betty Friedan, 1921-2006: A Leader in the Modern Women’s Rights Movement

Betty Friedan is often called the mother of the modern women’s liberation movement.  Her famous book, “The Feminine Mystique,” changed America.  Some people say it changed the world.  It has been called one of the most influential nonfiction books of the twentieth century.

Friedan re-awakened the feminist movement in the United States.  That movement had helped women gain the right to vote in the nineteen twenties.  Modern feminists disagree about how to describe themselves and their movement.  But activists say men and women should have equal chances for economic, social and intellectual satisfaction in life.

Fifty years ago, life for women in the United States was very different from today.  Very few parents urged their daughters to become lawyers or doctors or professors. Female workers doing the same jobs as men earned much less money.  Women often lost their jobs when they had a baby.  There were few child care centers for working parents.

Betty Friedan once spoke to ABC television about her support for sharing responsibility for the care of children:

“If child-rearing was considered the responsibility of women and men or women and men and society, then we really could pull up our skirts and declare victory and move on.”

Betty Friedan was born Betty Goldstein in nineteen twenty-one in Peoria, Illinois.  Her immigrant father worked as a jeweler.  Her mother left her job with a local newspaper to stay home with her family.

Betty attended Smith College in Northhampton, Massachusetts. It was one of the country’s best colleges for women. She finished her studies in psychology in nineteen forty-two.

After college she attended the University of California at Berkeley to continue her studies.  But her boyfriend at the time did not want her to get an advanced degree in psychology. He apparently felt threatened by her success.  So Betty left California and her boyfriend.  She moved to New York City and worked as a reporter and editor for labor union newspapers.

In nineteen forty-seven, Betty Goldstein married Carl Friedan, a theater director who later became an advertising executive.  They had a child, the first of three.  The Friedans were to remain married until nineteen sixty-nine.

When Betty Friedan became pregnant for the second time, she was dismissed from her job at the newspaper.  After that she worked as an independent reporter for magazines.  But her editors often rejected her attempts to write about subjects outside the traditional interests of women.

In nineteen fifty-seven, Friedan started research that was to have far-reaching results.  Her class at Smith College was to gather for the fifteenth anniversary of their graduation. Friedan prepared an opinion study for the women.  She sent questions to the women about their lives. Most who took part in the study did not work outside their homes.

Friedan was not completely satisfied with her life. She thought that her former college classmates might also be dissatisfied.  She was right.  Friedan thought these intelligent women could give a lot to society if they had another identity besides being homemakers.

Friedan completed more studies. She talked to other women across the country.  She met with experts about the questions and answers.  She combined this research with observations and examples from her own life.  The result was her book, “The Feminine Mystique,” published in nineteen sixty-three.

The book attacked the popular idea of the time that women could only find satisfaction through being married, having children and taking care of their home. Friedan believed that women wanted more from life than just to please their husbands and children.

The book said women suffered from feelings of lack of worth. Friedan said this was because the women depended on their husbands for economic, emotional and intellectual support.

“The Feminine Mystique” was a huge success.  It has sold more than three million copies.  It was reprinted in a number of other languages.   The book helped change the lives of women in America. More women began working outside the home. More women also began studying traditionally male subjects like law, medicine and engineering.

Betty Friedan expressed the dissatisfaction of some American women during the middle of the twentieth century. But she also made many men feel threatened. Later, critics said her book only dealt with the problems of white, educated, wealthy, married women. It did not study the problems of poor white women, single women or minorities.

In nineteen sixty-six, Betty Friedan helped establish NOW, the National Organization for Women.  She served as its first president.  She led campaigns to end unfair treatment of women seeking jobs.

Friedan also worked on other issues.  She wanted women to have the choice to end their pregnancies.  She wanted to create child-care centers for working parents. She wanted women to take part in social and political change.  Betty Friedan once spoke about her great hopes for women in the nineteen seventies:

“Liberating ourselves, we will then become a major political force, perhaps the biggest political force for basic social and political change in America in the seventies.”

Betty Friedan led a huge demonstration in New York City for women’s rights. Demonstrations were also held in other cities.   A half-million women took part in the Women’s Strike for Equality on August twenty-sixth, nineteen seventy.  The day marked the fiftieth anniversary of American women gaining the right to vote.

A year after the march, Friedan helped establish the National Women’s Political Caucus.  She said the group got started “to make policy, not coffee.”  She said America needed more women in public office if women were to gain equal treatment.

Friedan wanted a national guarantee of that equal treatment. She worked tirelessly to get Congress and the states to approve an amendment to the United States Constitution that would provide equal rights for women.

The House of Representatives approved this Equal Rights Amendment in nineteen seventy-one. The Senate approved it the following year. Thirty-eight of the fifty state legislatures were required to approve the amendment.  Congress set a time limit of seven years for the states to approve it. This was extended to June thirtieth, nineteen eighty-two.  However, only thirty-five states approved the amendment by the deadline so it never went into effect.

The defeat of the E.R.A. was a sad event for Betty Friedan, NOW and other activists.

In nineteen eighty-one, Betty Friedan wrote about the condition of the women’s movement.  Her book was called “The Second Stage.”  Friedan wrote that the time for huge demonstrations and other such events had passed.  She urged the movement to try to increase its influence on American political life.

Some younger members of the movement denounced her as too conservative.

As she grew older, Friedan studied conditions for older Americans.  She wrote a book called “The Fountain of Age” in nineteen ninety-three. She wrote that society often dismisses old people as no longer important or useful. Friedan’s last book was published in two thousand.  She was almost eighty years old at the time.  Its title was “Life So Far.”

Betty Friedan died on February fourth, two thousand six.  It was her eighty-fifth birthday. Betty Friedan once told a television reporter how she wanted to be remembered:

“She helps make it better for women to feel good about being women, and therefore she helped make it possible for women to more freely love men.”

Cesar Chavez

Today we tell about one of the great labor activists, Cesar Chavez. He organized the first successful farm workers union in American history.

Cesar Chavez was born on a small farm near Yuma, Arizona in 1927. In the late 19th century, Cesario Chavez, Cesar’s grandfather, had started the Chavez family farm after escaping slavery on a Mexican farm. Cesar Chavez spent his earliest years on this farm. When he was ten years old, however, the economic conditions of the Great Depression forced his parents to give up the family farm. He then became a migrant farm worker along with the rest of his family.

The Chavez family joined thousands of other farm workers who traveled around the state of California to harvest crops for farm owners. They traveled from place to place to harvest grapes, lettuce, beets and many other crops. They worked very hard and received little pay. These migrant workers had no permanent homes. They lived in dirty, crowded camps. They had no bathrooms, electricity or running water. Like the Chavez family, most of them came from Mexico.

Because his family traveled from place to place, Cesar Chavez attended more than thirty schools as a child. He learned to read and write from his grandmother.

Mama Tella also taught him about the Catholic religion. Religion later became an important tool for Mr. Chavez. He used religion to organize Mexican farm workers who were Catholic.

Cesar’s mother, Juana, taught him much about the importance of leading a non-violent life. His mother was one of the greatest influences on his use of non-violent methods to organize farm workers. His other influences were the Indian activist Mahatma Gandhi and American civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Junior.

Mr. Chavez said his real education began when he met the Catholic leader Father Donald McDonnell. Cesar Chavez learned about the economics of farm workers from the priest. He also learned about Gandhi’s nonviolent political actions as well as those of other great nonviolent leaders throughout history.

In 1948, Mr. Chavez married Helena Fabela whom he met while working in the grape fields in central California. They settled in Sal Si Puedes. Later, while Mr. Chavez worked for little or no money to organize farm workers, his wife harvested crops. In order to support their eight children, she worked under the same bad conditions that Mr. Chavez was fighting against.

There were other important influences in his life. In 1952, Mr. Chavez met Fred Ross, an organizer with a workers’ rights group called the Community Service Organization. Mr. Chavez called Mr. Ross the best organizer he ever met. Mr. Ross explained how poor people could build power. Mr. Chavez agreed to work for the Community Service Organization.

Mr. Chavez worked for the organization for about ten years. During that time, he helped more than 500,000 Latino citizens to vote. He also gained old-age retirement money for 50,000 Mexican immigrants. He served as the organization’s national director.

However, in 1962, he left the organization. He wanted to do more to help farm workers receive higher pay and better working conditions. He left his well paid job to start organizing farm workers into a union.

Mr. Chavez’s work affected many people. For example, the father of Mexican-American musician Zack de la Rocha spent time working as an art director for Mr. Chavez. Much of the political music of de la Rocha’s group, Rage Against the Machine, was about workers’ rights, like this song, “Bomb Track.”

It took Mr. Chavez and Delores Huerta, another former CSO organizer, three years of hard work to build the National Farm Workers Association. Mr. Chavez traveled from town to town to bring in new members. He held small meetings at workers’ houses to build support.The California-based organization held its first strike in 1965.The National Farm Workers Association became nationally known when it supported a strike against grape growers.The group joined a strike organized by Filipino workers of the Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee.

Mr. Chavez knew that those who acted non-violently against violent action would gain popular support. Mr. Chavez asked that the strikers remain non-violent even though the farm owners and their supporters sometimes used violence.

One month after the strike began, the group began to boycott grapes. They decided to direct their action against one company, the Schenley Corporation.The union followed grape trucks and demonstrated wherever the grapes were taken. Later, union members and Filipino workers began a 25 day march from Delano to Sacramento, California, to gain support for the boycott.

Schenley later signed a labor agreement with the National Farm Workers Association.It was the first such agreement between farm workers and growers in the United States.

The union then began demonstrating against the Di Giorgio Corporation. It was one of the largest grape growers in California. Di Giorgio held a vote and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters was chosen to represent the farm workers. But an investigation proved that the company and the Teamsters had cheated in the election.

Another vote was held. Cesar Chavez agreed to combine his union with another and the United Farm Workers Organizing Committee was formed. The farm workers elected Mr. Chavez’s union to represent them.Di Giorgio soon signed a labor agreement with the union.

Mr. Chavez often went for long periods without food to protest the conditions under which the farm workers were forced to do their jobs. Mr. Chavez went on his first hunger strike, or fast, in 1968. He did not eat for 25 days. He was called a hero for taking this kind of personal action to support the farm workers.

The union then took action against Giumarra Vineyards Corporation, the largest producer of table grapes in the United States. It organized a boycott against the company’s products.The boycott extended to all California table grapes. By 1970, the company agreed to sign contracts. A number of other growers did as well. By this time the grape strike had lasted for five years. It was the longest strike and boycott in United States labor history. Cesar Chavez had built a nationwide coalition of support among unions, church groups, students, minorities and other Americans.

By 1973, the union had changed its name to the United Farm Workers of America. It called for another national boycott against grape growers as relations again became tense. By 1975, a reported 17 million Americans were refusing to buy non-union grapes.The union’s hard work helped in getting the Agricultural Labor Relations Act passed in California, under Governor Jerry Brown. It was the first law in the nation that protected the rights of farm workers.

By the 1980s, the UFW had helped tens of thousands of farm workers gain higher pay, medical care, retirement benefits and better working and living conditions.But relations between workers and growers in California worsened under a new state government. Boycotts were again organized against the grape industry.In 1988, at the age of sixty-one, Mr. Chavez began another hunger strike. That fast lasted for thirty-six days and almost killed him. The fast was to protest the poisoning of grape workers and their children by the dangerous chemicals growers used to kill insects.

In 1984 Cesar Chavez made this speech, predicting the future success of his efforts for Latinos.

CESAR CHAVEZ: “Like the other immigrant groups, the day will come when we win the economic and political rewards which are in keeping with our numbers in society. The day will come when the politicians will do the right thing for our people out of political necessity and not out of charity or idealism.”

Cesar Chavez died in 1993 at the age of sixty-six. More than 40,000 people attended his funeral.

A year later, President Clinton awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor in the United States.

The United Farm Workers Union still fights for the rights of farm workers throughout the United States. Many schools, streets, parks, libraries and other public buildings have been named after Cesar Chavez. The great labor leader always believed in the words “Si se puede”: It can be done.

Frederick Douglass, 1818-1895: He Fought for Freedom and Equality for African-Americans

I’m Shirley Griffith. And I’m Steve Ember with PEOPLE IN AMERICA in VOA Special English.  Today we tell about Frederick Douglass.  He was born a slave, but later became one of America’s greatest leaders. He was an activist, a writer, a powerful speaker and an advisor to President Abraham Lincoln.

Frederick Douglass suffered severe physical and mental abuse during his many years as a slave.  He dreamed of one day learning to read and being free.  He believed knowledge would lead the way to freedom.  Douglass wrote several books about his life as a slave.  In eighteen forty-five he wrote “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave.” It became an immediate best seller and remains popular today.

Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey was born around eighteen eighteen in Tuckahoe, Maryland, near the Chesapeake Bay.  Many slaves lived on large farms owned by white people.  Each plantation was like a small village owned by one family who lived in a large house on the property.

Frederick and his mother, Harriet Bailey, were slaves on a huge plantation owned by Colonel Edward Lloyd. Their slave owner was a white man named Captain Aaron Anthony. Frederick knew very little about his father, except that he was a white man.  Many believed Captain Anthony was his father.

Frederick did not know his mother well.  Harriet Bailey was sent to work on another plantation when Frederick was very young.  She was able to visit him only a few times.  She died when Frederick was about seven years old.

Frederick then lived with his grandparents, Betsey and Isaac Bailey.  He said that his grandparents had a loving home and were respected by other slaves in the area.  Because of this, he did not realize at first that someone owned him and the others—that they were slaves.

It was not unusual for African-American families to be separated, often never seeing each other again.  Slaves were not treated as human beings.  Slave owners bought and traded them as if they were animals or property.  Frederick had to leave his grandparents’ home when he was six years old.  He later wrote about that day. He said being forced to leave was one of the most painful experiences in his life.  He said he began to understand the evil and oppressive system of slavery.

In eighteen twenty-six, Frederick was sent to work for Hugh Auld, in Baltimore, Maryland.  Mr. Auld’s wife, Sophia, was very kind to Frederick.  She treated him as if he were a member of her family.  Mrs. Auld soon began to teach Frederick to read.  Her husband became extremely angry and ordered her to stop immediately.  Slaves were denied education.  Mr. Auld said if slaves could read they would rebel and run away.

Sophia Auld stopped teaching Frederick to read.  But he learned to read from white boys he met in the city.  The boys also told Frederick he had the right to be free.

Mr. Auld sent Frederick to work for a poor farmer, Edward Covey, who beat him often. In eighteen thirty-six, Frederick made an attempt to escape.  But he failed and was arrested.  He was sent back to the home of Hugh and Sophia Auld home in Baltimore.

He met and fell in love with a free black woman named Anna Murray.  Ms. Murray had a job cleaning other people’s homes.  She gave Frederick money to help him escape by getting on a train to New York City.

“My free life began on the third of September, eighteen thirty-eight.  On the morning of the fourth of that month, I found myself in the big city of New York, a free man.  For the moment the dreams of my youth and the hopes of my manhood where completely fulfilled.  The bonds that held me to “old master” were broken.  No man now had the right to call me his slave or try to control me.”

When Frederick Bailey reached New York he changed his name to Frederick Douglass to hide his identity from slave capturers.  Anna Murray joined him and they were married.   They settled in New Bedford, Massachusetts and had five children.

Frederick Douglass became one of the most important leaders of the abolitionist movement to end slavery in the United States.

In eighteen forty-one, he attended the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society meeting in Nantucket, Massachusetts.  Douglass was unexpectedly asked to give a speech to describe his experiences as a slave.  He had not prepared a speech but he spoke to the huge gathering of people anyway.  Most of the supporters were white.  He spoke with great emotion in a deep and powerful voice.  The crowd praised him.

After that speech, The Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society asked Douglass to travel to cities throughout the North.  He continued to tell about his cruel and oppressive life as a slave.  He told how slave owners beat slaves everyday.  How slaves were given very little food to eat.  How they worked all day in the fields during dangerously hot weather.  How they slept on cold floors and had very little clothing.

Many who heard his story challenged its truthfulness.  They refused to believe that Frederick Douglass was ever a slave.  Instead, they thought he was an educated man who created the entire story.

In eighteen forty-four, Douglass began writing his life’s story.  “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave” was published the following year.  He later published expanded versions of his book.

Frederick Douglass wrote his first book partly to prove that he had lived through the horrible situations he described in his speeches.  He was asked to speak at the Independence Day celebration in Rochester, New York in eighteen fifty-two.  He noted the differences of how blacks and whites considered Independence Day.

“The purpose of this celebration is the Fourth of July.  It is the birthday of your National Independence, and of your political freedom… This Fourth of July is yours, not mine.  You may celebrate.  I must mourn…What, to the American slave, is your Fourth of July?  I answer:  a day that reveals to him more than all other days in the year, the horrible discrimination and punishment to which he is the everyday victim…There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices, more shocking and bloody, than are the people of these United States at this very hour.”

In eighteen sixty-one the American Civil War began.  Frederick Douglass and many others saw slavery as the cause of the war.  Douglass wanted blacks to be permitted to join the Union Army.  However, Northern whites, including President Abraham Lincoln, were against it.  They said black soldiers would harm the spirit of white soldiers.  They believed black soldiers were not intelligent.

Two years later, blacks were permitted to join the Union Army, but they were not treated as soldiers.  Although they showed bravery they were given less important jobs.  Douglass met with President Lincoln in Washington to discuss the issue.  Douglass urge that black soldiers be treated equal to white soldiers. Although President Lincoln agreed, he said there could be no immediate change.

In eighteen sixty-five, the Civil War ended.  The Union forces had defeated the South.  A few months later President Lincoln was killed.  And later that year, slavery was ended.

Frederick Douglass went on to hold several positions in the government, including United States Marshall of the District of Columbia.  He never stopped his efforts to gain equality for all people.  Historians say Douglass gave two thousand speeches and wrote thousands of articles and letters. His work as an activist also included women’s rights.  On February twentieth, eighteen ninety-five, he gave a speech at the National Council of Women.  Later that day, he returned to his home in Washington and died of heart failure at the age of seventy-eight.

Frederick Douglass ended his “book My Bondage, My Freedom” with these words:

“I shall labor in the future as I have labored in the past, to work for the honorable, social, religious, and intellectual position of the free colored people; while Heaven lends me ability, to use my voice, my pen or my vote to support the great and most important work of the complete and unconditional freedom of my entire race.”

Jane Jacobs, 1916-2006: Her Activism Helped Shape the Look and Feel of Cities

Today we tell about Jane Jacobs. She was an activist for improving cities.

Jane Jacobs was an activist, writer, moral thinker and economist. She believed cities should be densely populated and full of different kinds of people and activities. She believed in the value of natural growth and big open spaces.

She opposed the kind of city planning that involves big development and urban renewal projects that tear down old communities. She was also a critic of public planning officials who were unwilling to compromise.

Jacobs helped lead fights to save neighborhoods and local communities within cities. She helped stop major highways from being built, first in New York City and later in Toronto, Canada.

Developers and city planners often criticized her ideas. Yet, many urban planning experts agree that her work helped shape modern thinking about cities.

Jane Butzner was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania, in 1916. Her father was a doctor. Her mother was a former teacher and nurse. After graduating from high school, Jane took an unpaid position at the Scranton Tribune newspaper. A year later she left Scranton for New York City.

During her first several years in the city she held many kinds of jobs. One job was to write about workers in the city. She said these experiences gave her a better idea about what working in the city was like.

As a young woman, Jacobs had many interests, including economics, law, science and politics. Her higher education was brief, however. She studied for just two years at Columbia University in New York. Jacobs did not complete her college education, but she did become an excellent writer and editor. While working as a writer for the Office of War Information she met a building designer named Robert Jacobs.

In 1944, they married. They later had three children. Her husband’s work led to her interest in the monthly magazine, Architectural Forum. Jacobs became a top editor for the publication.

Experts have described Jacobs as a writer who wrote well, but not often. She is best known for her book “The Death and Life of Great American Cities.” The book was published in 1961. It is still widely read today by both city planning professionals and the general public.

Experts say “The Death and Life of Great American Cities” is the most influential book written about city planning in the twentieth century.

In the book, Jacobs criticized the urban renewal projects of the 1950s. She believed these policies destroyed existing inner-city communities and their economies.

She also thought that modern planning policies separated communities and created unnatural city areas. Jacobs described the nature of cities – their streets and parks, the different cultures represented by citizens and the safety of a well-planned city. Safety was an important issue in big cities that had high rates of crime.

Jacobs wrote that peace on the streets of cities is not kept mainly by the police even though police are necessary. It is kept by a system of controls among the people themselves. She believed the problem of insecurity cannot be solved by spreading people out more thinly.

Jacobs argued that a well-used city street is safer than an empty street. Safety, she argued, is guaranteed by people who watch the streets every day because they use the streets every day.

“The Death and Life of Great American Cities” became a guide for neighborhood organizers and the people who Jacobs called “foot people.” These are citizens who perform their everyday jobs on foot. They walk to stores and to work. They walk to eating places, theaters, parks, gardens and sports stadiums. They are not who Jacobs called “car people” – those who drive their cars everywhere.

Jane Jacobs also believed that buildings of different sizes, kinds and condition should exist together. She pointed to several communities as models of excellence. These include Georgetown in Washington, D.C.; the North End in Boston, Massachusetts; Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Telegraph Hill in San Francisco, California.

She also supported mixed-use buildings as a way to increase social interaction. Such buildings have stores and offices on the ground floor. People live on the upper floors. Mixed-use buildings are a lot more common in American cities than in the suburban areas around them.

Jane Jacobs also noted New York City’s Greenwich Village as an example of an exciting city community. This is one of the communities that was saved, in part at least, because of her writings and activism. In 1962, Jacobs headed a committee to stop the development of a highway through Lower Manhattan in New York City. The expressway would have cut right through Greenwich Village and the popular SoHo area.

Influential New York City developer Robert Moses proposed the plan. But huge public protests in 1964 led the city government to reject it. Jacobs’ book, “The Death and Life of Great American Cities” helped influence public opinion against the expressway.

In 1969, Jacobs moved to the Canadian city of Toronto where she lived for the rest of her life. Part of her reason for leaving the United States was because she opposed the United States involvement in the war in Vietnam. At that time, she had two sons almost old enough to be called for duty. Jacobs continued to be a community activist in Toronto.

She was involved in a campaign to stop the Spadina Expressway through Toronto. This highway would have permitted people living in suburban areas outside Toronto to travel into and out of the city easily.

Jacobs organized citizens against the Spadina Expressway and the politicians who supported it. One of her most important issues was this question: “Are we building cities for people or for cars?”

Today, experts say Toronto is one of only a few major cities in North America to have successfully kept a large number of neighborhoods in its downtown area. Many experts believe this is because of the anti-Spadina movement led by Jane Jacobs.

Jane Jacobs spent her life studying cities. She wrote seven books on urban planning, the economy of cities, and issues of commerce and politics. Her last book, published in 2004, was “Dark Age Ahead.” In it, Jacobs described several major values that she believed were threatened in the United States and Canada. These included community and family, higher education, science and technology and a government responsive to citizens’ needs.

In “Dark Age Ahead,” Jacobs argued that Western society could be threatened if changes were not made immediately. She said that people were losing important values that helped families succeed.

In “Dark Age Ahead,” Jacobs also criticized how political decision-making is influenced by economics. Governments, she said, have become more interested in wealthy interest groups than the needs of the citizens. Jacobs also warned against a culture that prevents people from preventing the destruction of resources upon which all citizens depend.

Jane Jacobs had her critics.   Many of them argued that her ideas failed to represent the reality of city politics, which land developers and politicians often control. Others argued that Jacobs had little sympathy for people who want a lifestyle different from the one she proposed.

Still, many urban planning experts say her ideas shaped modern thinking about cities. She has had a major influenced on those who design buildings and towns that aim to increase social interaction among citizens.

Jane Jacobs died in 2006 in Toronto at the age of 89. Her family released a statement on her death. It said: “What’s important is not that she died but that she lived, and that her life’s work has greatly influenced the way we think. Please remember her by reading her books and implementing her ideas.”

Five Labor Leaders Who Improved Conditions for American Workers

Welcome to PEOPLE IN AMERICA in VOA Special English. At the beginning of the twentieth century, American laborers often worked long hours for little pay. Many worked under extremely dangerous conditions. About five hundred thousand workers, however, had joined groups called labor unions, hoping to improve their situation.

Today, Rich Kleinfeldt and Sarah Long tell about five labor leaders who worked to improve conditions for American workers.

In nineteen hundred, the largest national organization of labor unions was the American Federation of Labor. Its head was Samuel Gompers. Gompers had moved to New York with his parents when he was thirteen years old. He was twenty-four when he began working for the local union of cigar makers. He worked for the labor movement for sixty years.

Samuel Gompers had helped create the A.F.L. in the late eighteen eighties. He led the organization for all but one year until his death in nineteen twenty-four. Gompers defined the purpose of the labor movement in America. He also established the method used to solve labor disputes.

Gompers thought unions should work only to increase wages, improve work conditions and stop unfair treatment of workers. He called his method pure and simple unionism.

Samuel Gompers sought immediate change for workers. He used group actions such as strikes as a way to try to force company owners to negotiate.

Gompers was criticized for going to social events with industry leaders, and for compromising too easily with employers. But Gompers believed such actions helped his main goal. He believed if workers were respected, their employers would want to make working conditions better.

Under the leadership of Samuel Gompers, the labor movement won its first small gains. For example, the federal government recognized the right of workers to organize. That happened when union representatives were part of the National War Labor Board during World War One.

John L. Lewis expanded the American labor movement with a campaign he called organizing the unorganized. Lewis was the head of the United Mine Workers of America. He also was the vice-president of the A.F.L.

In nineteen thirty-five, Lewis formed the Committee for Industrial Organization within the A.F.L. He wanted the C.I.O. to organize workers in mass production industries, such as automobile industry. The A.F.L. mainly organized unions of workers who had the same skills. But Lewis believed skilled and unskilled workers in the same industry should be organized into the same union.

Congress passed the National Labor Relations Act in nineteen thirty-five. It gave workers the legal right to join unions and to negotiate with employers. John L. Lewis thought it was the right time to press the large industries to recognize workers’ rights.

The A.F.L., however, decided not to support such action and expelled the unions that belonged to the C.I.O. In nineteen thirty-six, the C.I.O. began operating as another national labor organization. Lewis was its leader.

John L. Lewis was an extremely colorful and effective speaker. He had worked as a coal miner and could relate to the most terrible conditions workers faced. More than three million workers joined the C.I.O. in its first year as a separate organization. For the first time, labor won many strikes and permanent improvements in workers conditions.

For many years, presidents, members of Congress, and business leaders considered John L. Lewis the voice of labor. And, American workers saw Lewis as their hero. By the nineteen fifties, the labor movement an established part of American life.

Walter Reuther was the vice president of the C.I.O. under Lewis, and became its president in nineteen fifty-two. Reuther believed unions had a social responsibility. His ideas were partly influenced by his German father who was a socialist.

Walter Reuther was trained to make tools to cut metal. He joined the United Automobile Workers union when it first formed in nineteen thirty-five.

Walter Reuther was president of the United Auto Workers for twenty-three years beginning in nineteen forty-six. He shaped the U.A.W. into one of the most militant and forward-looking unions. He held strikes to gain increased wages for workers, but, at the same time, he expected workers to increase their rate of production. He was the first to link pay raises to productivity increases. Reuther also was greatly concerned about civil rights and the environment.

In nineteen fifty-five, Reuther helped the A.F.L. and C.I.O. re-join as one organization.

Reuther’s ideas were recognized worldwide. But they also brought him enemies. He survived three murder attempts. He said: “You have to make up your mind whether you are willing to accept things as they are or whether you are willing to try to change them.”

  1. Philip Randolph is known for combining the labor and civil rights movements. Randolph became involved with unions in nineteen-twenty-five. A group of black workers on passenger trains asked him to organize a union, the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters.

Randolph was not a laborer. He was the college educated son of a minister. He published a socialist magazine in New York City. He was known as a fighter for black rights. Randolph strongly believed that economic conditions affected rights and power for African Americans.

For twelve years, Randolph fought the Pullman Company that employed the passenger train workers. In nineteen thirty-five, Pullman finally agreed to negotiate with the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters. Two years later, the porters’ union signed the first labor agreement between a company and a black union.

  1. Philip Randolph led the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters for forty-three years. In nineteen fifty-seven he became vice president of the A.F.L.-C.I.O.

Randolph used large group protests to change work conditions. He planned marches on the capital in Washington to protest the unequal treatment of black workers by the government.

In nineteen sixty-three, Randolph planned the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. At this huge peaceful gathering, civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Junior made his famous “I have a dream” speech. Within a year the civil rights amendment passed guaranteeing equal rights for blacks and other minorities.

Cesar Chavez created the first farmers union in nineteen sixty-two. That union later became the United Farm Workers of America.

Farm workers had been considered too difficult to organize. They worked during growing seasons. Many farm workers did not speak English or were in the country illegally. Farm workers earned only a few dollars each hour. They often lived in mud shelters and had no waste removal systems. Many farm workers were children.

Cesar Chavez went to school for only eight years. But he read a lot. He was greatly influenced by the ideas of famous supporters of non-violence such as Indian leader Mahatma Gandhi. Chavez led his workers on marches for better pay and conditions. Workers walked hundreds of miles carrying cloth banners with the Spanish words “Viva la Causa” — long live our cause.

Cesar Chavez created a new strike method called a boycott. People refused to buy products of a company accused of treating farm workers badly. Chavez also publicized the dangers of some farm chemicals. Cesar Chavez improved the conditions of farm workers by making their mistreatment a national issue.

Union membership has dropped sharply since its highpoint in the nineteen forties. Yet conditions for American workers continue to improve as employers realize that treating their workers well is good for business. The efforts of leaders of the American labor movement during the past one hundred years continue to improve the lives of millions of workers.

Margaret Sanger, 1883-1966: She Led the Fight for Birth Control for Women

I’m Shirley Griffith. And I’m Sarah Long with the VOA Special English Program, PEOPLE IN AMERICA.  Today, we tell about one of the leaders of the birth control movement, Margaret Sanger.

Many women today have the freedom to decide when they will have children, if they want them.  Until about fifty years ago, women spent most of their adult lives having children, year after year.  This changed because of efforts by activists like Margaret Sanger.  She believed that a safe and sure method of preventing pregnancy was a necessary condition for women’s freedom.  She also believed birth control was necessary for human progress.

Margaret Sanger was considered a rebel in the early nineteen hundreds.

The woman who changed other women’s lives was born in eighteen eighty-three in the eastern state of New York.  Her parents were Michael and Anne Higgins.

Margaret wrote several books about her life.  She wrote that her father taught her to question everything.  She said he taught her to be an independent thinker.

Margaret said that watching her mother suffer from having too many children made her feel strongly about birth control.  Her mother died at forty-eight years of age after eighteen pregnancies.  She was always tired and sick.  Margaret had to care for her mother and her ten surviving brothers and sisters.  This experience led her to become a nurse.

Margaret Higgins worked in the poor areas of New York City.  Most people there had recently arrived in the United States from Europe.  Margaret saw the suffering of hundreds of women who tried to end their pregnancies in illegal and harmful ways.  She realized that this was not just a health problem.  These women suffered because of their low position in society.

Margaret saw that not having control over one’s body led to problems that were passed on from mother to daughter and through the family for years.  She said she became tired of cures that did not solve the real problem.  Instead, she wanted to change the whole life of a mother.

In nineteen-oh-two, Margaret married William Sanger.  They had three children.  Margaret compared her own middle-class life to that of the poor people she worked among.  This increased her desire to deal with economic and social issues.  At this time, Margaret Sanger became involved in the liberal political culture of an area of New York City known as Greenwich Village.  Sanger became a labor union organizer.  She learned methods of protest and propaganda, which she used in her birth control activism.

Sanger traveled to Paris, France, in nineteen thirteen, to research European methods of birth control.  She also met with members of Socialist political groups who influenced her birth control policies.  She returned to the United States prepared to change women’s lives.

At first, Margaret Sanger sought the support of leaders of the women’s movement, members of the Socialist party, and the medical profession.  But she wrote that they told her to wait until women were permitted to vote.  She decided to continue working alone.

One of Margaret Sanger’s first important political acts was to publish a monthly newspaper called The Woman Rebel.  She designed it.  She wrote for it.  And she paid for it.  The newspaper called for women to reject the traditional woman’s position.  The first copy was published in March, nineteen fourteen.  The Woman Rebel was an angry paper that discussed disputed and sometimes illegal subjects.  These included labor problems, marriage, the sex business, and revolution.

Sanger had an immediate goal.  She wanted to change laws that prevented birth control education and sending birth control devices through the mail.

The Woman Rebel became well known in New York and elsewhere. Laws at that time banned the mailing of materials considered morally bad.  This included any form of birth control information.  The law was known as the Comstock Act.  Officials ordered Sanger to stop sending out her newspaper.

Sanger instead wrote another birth control document called Family Limitation.  The document included detailed descriptions of birth control methods.  In August, nineteen fourteen, Margaret Sanger was charged with violating the Comstock Act.

Margaret faced a prison sentence of as many as forty-five years if found guilty.  She fled to Europe to escape the trial.  She asked friends to release thousands of copies of Family Limitation.  The document quickly spread among women across the United States.  It started a public debate about birth control.  The charges against Sanger also increased public interest in her and in women’s issues.

Once again, Margaret Sanger used her time in Europe to research birth control methods.  After about a year, she decided to return to the United States to face trial.  She wanted to use the trial to speak out about the need for reproductive freedom for women.

While Sanger was preparing for her trial, her five-year-old daughter, Peggy, died of pneumonia.  The death made Sanger feel very weak and guilty.  However, the death greatly increased public support for Sanger and the issue of birth control.  The many reports in the media caused the United States government to dismiss charges against her.

Margaret Sanger continued to oppose the Comstock Act by opening the first birth control center in the United States.  It opened in Brownsville, New York in nineteen sixteen.  Sanger’s sister, Ethel Byrne, and a language expert helped her.  One hundred women came to the birth control center on the first day.  After about a week, police arrested the three women, but later released them.  Sanger immediately re-opened the health center, and was arrested again.  The women were tried the next year.  Sanger was sentenced to thirty days in jail.

With some support from women’s groups, Sanger started a new magazine, the Birth Control Review.  In nineteen twenty-one, she organized the first American birth control conference.  The conference led to the creation of the American Birth Control League.  It was established to provide education, legal reform and research for better birth control.  The group opened a birth control center in the United States in nineteen twenty-three.  Many centers that opened later across the country copied this one.

Sanger was president of the American Birth Control League until nineteen twenty-eight.  In the nineteen thirties she helped win a judicial decision that permitted American doctors to give out information about birth control.

Historians say Margaret Sanger changed her methods of political action during and after the nineteen twenties.  She stopped using direct opposition and illegal acts.  She even sought support from her former opponents.

Later, Sanger joined supporters of eugenics.  This is the study of human improvement by genetic control.  Extremists among that group believe that disabled, weak or “undesirable” human beings should not be born.  Historians say Sanger supported eugenicists only as a way to gain her birth control goals.  She later said she was wrong in supporting eugenics.  But she still is criticized for these statements.

Even though Margaret Sanger changed her methods, she continued her efforts for birth control.  In nineteen forty-two, she helped form the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.  It became a major national health organization after World War Two.

Margaret Sanger moved into areas of international activism.  Her efforts led to the creation of the International Planned Parenthood Federation.  It was formed in nineteen fifty-two after an international conference in Bombay, India.  Sanger was one of its first presidents.

The organization was aimed at increasing the acceptance of family planning around the world.  Almost every country in the world is now a member of the international group.

Margaret Sanger lived to see the end of the Comstock Act and the invention of birth control medicine.  She died in nineteen sixty-six in Tucson, Arizona.  She was an important part of what has been called one of the most life-changing political movements of the Twentieth Century.

Martin Luther King, Jr., 1929-1968: He Used Non-Violence and Civil Disobedience to Gain Equal Rights for Black Americans

Today, Warren Scheer and Shep O’Neal begin the story of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Junior.

It all started on a bus. A black woman was returning home from work after a long hard day. She sat near the front of the bus because she was tired and her legs hurt. But the bus belonged to the city of Montgomery in the southern state of Alabama. And the year was nineteen fifty-five.

In those days, black people could sit only in the back of the bus. So the driver ordered the woman to give up her seat. But the woman refused, and she was arrested.

Incidents like this had happened before. But no one had ever spoken out against such treatment of blacks. This time, however, a young black preacher organized a protest. He called on all black citizens to stop riding the buses in Montgomery until the laws were changed. The name of the young preacher was Martin Luther King. He led the protest movement to end injustice in the Montgomery city bus system. The protest became known as the Montgomery bus boycott. The protest marked the beginning of the civil rights movement in the United States.

This is the story of Martin Luther King, and his part in the early days of the civil rights movement.

Martin Luther King was born in Atlanta, Georgia, in nineteen twenty-nine. He was born into a religious family.

Martin’s father was a preacher at a Baptist church. And his mother came from a family with strong ties to the Baptist religion.

In nineteen twenty-nine, Atlanta was one of the wealthiest cities in the southern part of the United States. Many black families came to the city in search of a better life. There was less racial tension between blacks and whites in Atlanta than in other southern cities. But Atlanta still had laws designed to keep black people separate from whites.

The laws of racial separation existed all over the southern part of the United States. They forced blacks to attend separate schools and live in separate areas of a city. Blacks did not have the same rights as white people, and were often poorer and less educated.

Martin Luther King did not know about racial separation when he was young. But as he grew older, he soon saw that blacks were not treated equally.

One day Martin and his father went out to buy shoes. They entered a shoe store owned by a white businessman.

The businessman sold shoes to all people. But he had a rule that blacks could not buy shoes in the front part of the store. He ordered Martin’s father to obey the rule. Martin never forgot his father’s angry answer:

“If you do not sell shoes to black people at the front of the store, you will not sell shoes to us at all. “

Such incidents, however, were rare during Martin’s early life. Instead, he led the life of a normal boy. Martin liked to learn, and he passed through school very quickly. He was only fifteen when he was ready to enter the university. The university, called Morehouse College, was in Atlanta. Morehouse College was one of the few universities in the South where black students could study.

It was at the university that Martin decided to become a preacher. At the same time, he also discovered he had a gift for public speaking.

He soon was able to test his gifts. One Sunday, Martin’s father asked him to preach at his church. When Martin arrived, the church members were surprised to see such a young man getting ready to speak to them. But they were more surprised to find themselves deeply moved by the words of young Martin Luther King.

A church member once described him: “The boy seemed much older than his years. He understood life and its problems.”

Martin seemed wise to others because of his studies at the university. He carefully read the works of Mahatma Gandhi, the Indian leader and thinker. Martin also studied the books of the American philosopher, Henry David Thoreau. Both men wrote about ways to fight injustice. Gandhi had led his people to freedom by peacefully refusing to obey unjust laws. He taught his followers never to use violence. Thoreau also urged people to disobey laws that were not just, and to be willing to go to prison for their beliefs.

As he studied, Martin thought he had found the answer for his people. The ideas of Gandhi and Thoreau — non-violence and civil disobedience — could be used together to win equal rights for black Americans. Martin knew, then, that his decision to become a preacher was right. He believed that as a preacher he could spread the ideas of Gandhi and Thoreau. Years later he said:

“My university studies gave me the basic truths I now believe. I discovered the idea of humanity’s oneness and the dignity and value of all human character. “

Martin continued his studies in religion for almost ten years. When he was twenty-two, he moved north to study in Boston.

It was in Boston that Martin met Coretta Scott, the woman who later became his wife.

Martin always had been very popular with the girls in his hometown. His brother once said that Martin “never had one girlfriend for more than a year”.

But Martin felt Coretta Scott was different. The first time he saw her Martin said: “You have everything I have ever wanted in a wife. “

Coretta was surprised at his words. But she felt that Martin was serious and honest. A short time later, they were married. Martin soon finished his studies in Boston, and received a doctorate degree in religion. The young preacher then was offered a job at a church in Montgomery, Alabama.

Martin Luther King and his wife were happy in Montgomery. Their first child was born. Martin’s work at the church was going well. He became involved in a number of activities to help the poor. And the members of his church spoke highly of their new preacher. Coretta remembered their life as simple and without worries.

Then, a black woman, Rosa Parks, was arrested for sitting in the white part of a Montgomery city bus. And Martin Luther King organized a protest against the Montgomery bus system.

Martin believed it was very important for the bus boycott to succeed — more important even than his own life.  But he worried about his ability to lead such an important campaign. He was only twenty-six years old. He prayed to God for help and believed that God answered his prayers.

Martin knew that his actions and his speeches would be important for the civil rights movement. But he was faced with a serious problem. He asked: “How can I make my people militant enough to win our goals, while keeping peace within the movement. “

The answer came to him from the teachings of Gandhi and Thoreau. In his first speech as a leader, Martin said:

“We must seek to show we are right through peaceful, not violent means. Love must be the ideal guiding our actions. If we protest bravely, and yet with pride and Christian love, then future historians will say:

“There lived a great people, a black people, who gave new hope to civilization. “

With these words, a new movement was born. It was non-violent and peaceful. But victory was far from sure, and many difficult days of struggle lay ahead.

Molly Brown, 1867-1932: A Social and Political Activist Who Survived the Titanic

Margaret Brown was a social and political activist in the formative years of the modern American West. Her biggest claim to fame was surviving the Titanic. This week on our program, we tell the story of the woman remembered as “The Unsinkable Molly Brown.”

Margaret Brown lived an interesting life, but not all the stories about her are true. For example, a Denver newspaper reporter named Gene Fowler wrote that she survived a tornado as a baby, refused to attend school and chewed tobacco.

Fowler wrote about Brown and others in his book “Timber Line,” published after her death in 1932.

Kristen Iversen is an English professor and author of “Molly Brown: Unraveling the Myth.” She says the stories did contain some truth, though, which is that Brown went West to follow a dream and that dream came true.

In the 1964 movie “The Unsinkable Molly Brown” she was played by Debbie Reynolds.

The nickname “Molly” was largely a Hollywood invention, says her biographer. Kristen Iversen says Brown did not like it. The name “Molly” was often used as an insult for an Irish girl, and nobody in her own life called her that.

She was known as Maggie in her hometown of Hannibal, Missouri. She was born Margaret Tobin in 1867, two years after the Civil War ended. Her Irish-born parents had socially progressive beliefs.

At that time, American women could not own property or vote. They did not get much education. And they rarely traveled far by themselves. But during her lifetime much of that changed.

In 1886, Maggie Tobin left home for the town of Leadville, Colorado, to join a sister and brother who already lived there. Leadville had gold, silver and copper mines. At that time it was one of the fastest growing places in the country.

She sewed carpets and curtains for a local dry goods company.

She is shown singing in a barroom in both the movie and 1960 Broadway musical “The Unsinkable Molly Brown.”

Here is biographer Kristen Iversen.

KRISTEN IVERSEN: “She did have a great sense of humor. She enjoyed being around people. But she was very serious, very motivated, very hard working type of person and really a kind of good Catholic girl her entire life. And that barroom saloon girl image is pretty different from the kind of person she really was. So one thing the myth does is it really diminishes that aspect of her life.”

The story of her life became linked to romantic ideas about gold mining in the American West and the dream of getting rich quick.

In 1886 Maggie Tobin married James Joseph Brown, J.J. for short. He was 31 years old; she was 19. He was a mine manager in Leadville who developed a way to safely mine for gold deeper than before.

The popular story is that J.J. got rich soon after they married. Kristen Iversen says he did become rich, but not until they had been married for seven years and had two children.

In 1894 the Browns bought a house in Denver, Colorado. The popular story is that rich families in Denver society did not accept them because they had been poor and lacked education.

Kristen Iversen says Denver’s most conservative social club did exclude them for a time. But she says the Browns were a big part of Denver society. Margaret became involved in social and political events, hosting dinners to raise money for charities.

She traveled around the world and sent her children to school in France. She learned foreign languages and took college classes. She also began to speak out for progressive causes.

She worked toward social change through the womens reform movement. She raised money for schools and the poor. And she worked with a judge in Denver to establish the first court in the country to deal only with young people.

In 1912 Margaret Brown was a passenger on the Titanic on its first and only trip. The huge ship hit an iceberg and sank in the North Atlantic. More than 1,500 people died, while just over 700 survived.

Brown was played by Kathy Bates in James Cameron’s “Titanic.” In this scene, she tries to get the other women in her lifeboat to go back and rescue people from the water.

MOLLY BROWN: “C’mon girls, grab an oar, let’s go!”

CREWMAN: “Are you out of your mind? We’re in the middle of the North Atlantic. Now do you people want to live, or do you want to die?”

MOLLY BROWN: “I don’t understand a one of ya. What’s the matter with ya? It’s your men out there. Theres plenty of room for more.”

CREWMAN: “And there’ll be one less on this boat if you don’t shut that hole in your face.”

In real life, Brown is credited with keeping people’s spirits up in the lifeboat until they were rescued by another ship, the Carpathia.

Later, she raised money to help poor immigrant women who had been passengers on the lower levels of the Titanic. She also raised money for the crew of the Carpathia. She became president of the Titanic Survivors Club and helped build a memorial in Washington.

So who started calling her “unsinkable?” Some say she described herself that way after the disaster. Kristen Iversen says that is not true. She says a Denver newspaper reporter first called her the unsinkable Mrs. Brown in a story. The New York Times called her the heroine of the Titanic.

KRISTEN IVERSEN: “The thing about the Titanic experience, what happened with the Titanic experience and the recognition she got from the New York Times in particular was that it gave her a platform from which to talk about some of the political and social issues –miners rights, womens rights, the development of the juvenile court system, that sort of thing. It gave her an international platform to talk about some of those things.”

She actively worked for the right of women to vote in federal elections. Colorado gave women the right to vote in 1893, but that did not happen nationally until 1920. Brown ran for Congress twice in the early 1900s but lost both times.

The popular story of Molly Brown is that she was on the Titanic returning home to a happy life with her husband. In reality, their marriage had already failed.

Kristen Iversen says one of their major problems was that Brown was socially progressive and her husband was not.

KRISTEN IVERSEN: “He felt that a womans name — and she wrote about his — that a womans name should appear in the newspaper when she married and when she died. And Margaret Tobin Brown liked to see her name in the newspaper for a lot of reasons.”

The couple never legally divorced because of their Catholic faith, but they did sign a separation agreement. J.J. Brown died in 1922.

During World War One, Margaret Brown went to France to help with the American medical ambulance system. She earned the French Legion of Honor for her work with the American Committee of Devastated France.

In the last years of her life, she traveled and performed on the stage. She also studied and taught acting. In 1929 she received the Palm of the Academy, a French honor, in recognition of her work in dramatic arts.

Margaret Brown died in 1932 while staying at the famous Barbizon Hotel in New York City. She was sixty-five years old. The discovery of a brain cancer after her death explained the severe headaches in the final years of her life.

In 1970, the city of Denver bought the house where she had lived. Each year about 50,000 people visit the Molly Brown House. They learn how a wealthy American family lived at the start of the 20th century. And they learn about the real Molly Brown.

To biographer Kristen Iversen, Brown represents other women who also worked for social progress but whose lives “are invisible to history.” So what lesson is there to learn from the myth of “The Unsinkable Molly Brown?”

KRISTEN IVERSEN: “I think the story in some ways tells us what we want to think of ourselves as an American. That is, this kind of pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps, that with enough determination and hard work that you can transcend limitations of money or class or gender. And thats part of the myth and I think thats also part of the reality of her story.

“So its a very inspirational story. There are so many aspects of the myth that are not true. Yet I think the myth story itself speaks to her spirit and speaks to some of the ways we like to think of ourselves as Americans.”

Rosa Parks, 1913-2005: Mother of the American Civil Rights Movement

I’m Pat Bodnar. And I’m Steve Ember with PEOPLE IN AMERICA in VOA Special English.  Today, we tell about Rosa Parks, who has been called the mother of the American civil rights movement.

Until the nineteen sixties, black people in many parts of the United States did not have the same civil rights as white people. Laws in the American South kept the two races separate.  These laws forced black people to attend separate schools, live in separate areas of a city and sit in separate areas on a bus.

On December first, nineteen fifty-five, in the southern city of Montgomery, Alabama, a forty-two year old black woman got on a city bus. The law at that time required black people seated in one area of the bus to give up their seats to white people who wanted them.  The woman refused to do this and was arrested.

This act of peaceful disobedience started protests in Montgomery that led to legal changes in minority rights in the United States.  The woman who started it was Rosa Parks.  Today, we tell her story.

She was born Rosa Louise McCauley in nineteen-thirteen in Tuskegee, Alabama.  She attended local schools until she was eleven years old. Then she was sent to school in Montgomery.  She left high school early to care for her sick grandmother, then to care for her mother.  She did not finish high school until she was twenty-one.

Rosa married Raymond Parks in nineteen thirty-two.  He was a barber who cut men’s hair.  He was also a civil rights activist.  Together, they worked for the local group of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.  In nineteen forty-three, Mrs. Parks became an officer in the group and later its youth leader.

Rosa Parks was a seamstress in Montgomery.  She worked sewing clothes from the nineteen thirties until nineteen fifty-five. Then she became a representation of freedom for millions of African-Americans.

In much of the American South in the nineteen fifties, the first rows of seats on city buses were for white people only. Black people sat in the back of the bus. Both groups could sit in a middle area.  However, black people sitting in that part of the bus were expected to leave their seats if a white person wanted to sit there.

Rosa Parks and three other black people were seated in the middle area of the bus when a white person got on the bus and wanted a seat.  The bus driver demanded that all four black people leave their seats so the white person would not have to sit next to any of them.  The three other blacks got up, but Mrs. Parks refused.  She was arrested.

Some popular stories about that incident include the statement that Rosa Parks refused to leave her seat because her feet were tired.  But she herself said in later years that this was false.  What she was really tired of, she said, was accepting unequal treatment.  She explained later that this seemed to be the place for her to stop being pushed around and to find out what human rights she had, if any.

A group of black activist women in Montgomery was known as the Women’s Political Council.  The group was working to oppose the mistreatment of black bus passengers.  Blacks had been arrested and even killed for violating orders from bus drivers.  Rosa Parks was not the first black person to refuse to give up a seat on the bus for a white person.  But black groups in Montgomery considered her to be the right citizen around whom to build a protest because she was one of the finest citizens of the city.

The women’s group immediately called for all blacks in the city to refuse to ride on city buses on the day of Mrs. Parks’s trial, Monday, December fifth. The result was that forty thousand people walked and used other transportation on that day.

That night, at meetings throughout the city, blacks in Montgomery agreed to continue to boycott the city buses until their mistreatment stopped.

They also demanded that the city hire black bus drivers and that anyone be permitted to sit in the middle of the bus and not have to get up for anyone else.

The Montgomery bus boycott continued for three hundred eighty-one days. It was led by local black leader E.D. Nixon and a young black minister, Martin Luther King, Junior. Similar protests were held in other southern cities. Finally, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled on Mrs. Parks’s case.  It made racial separation illegal on city buses.  That decision came on November thirteenth, nineteen fifty-six, almost a year after Mrs. Parks’s arrest.  The boycott in Montgomery ended the day after the court order arrived, December twentieth.

Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, Junior had started a movement of non-violent protest in the South.  That movement changed civil rights in the United States forever.  Martin Luther King became its famous spokesman, but he did not live to see many of the results of his work. Rosa Parks did.

Life became increasingly difficult for Rosa Parks and her family after the bus boycott.

She was dismissed from her job and could not find another. So the Parks family left Montgomery.  They moved first to Virginia, then to Detroit, Michigan.  Mrs. Parks worked as a seamstress until nineteen sixty-five.  Then, Michigan Representative John Conyers gave her a job working in his congressional office in Detroit.  She retired from that job in nineteen eighty-eight.

Through the years, Rosa Parks continued to work for the NAACP and appeared at civil rights events. She was a quiet woman and often seemed uneasy with her fame.  But she said that she wanted to help people, especially young people, to make useful lives for themselves and to help others.      In nineteen eighty-seven, she founded the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self-Development to improve the lives of black children.

Rosa Parks received two of the nation’s highest honors for her civil rights activism.  In nineteen ninety-six, President Clinton honored her with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.  And in nineteen ninety-nine, she received the Congressional Gold Medal of Honor.

In her later years, Rosa Parks was often asked how much relations between the races had improved since the civil rights laws were passed in the nineteen sixties.  She thought there was still a long way to go. Yet she remained the face of the movement for racial equality in the United States.

Rosa Parks died on October twenty-fourth, two thousand five. She was ninety-two years old. Her body lay in honor in the United States Capitol building in Washington.  She was the first American woman to be so honored.  Thirty thousand people walked silently past her body to show their respect.

Representative Conyers spoke about what this woman of quiet strength meant to the nation.  He said: “There are very few people who can say their actions and conduct changed the face of the nation.  Rosa Parks is one of those individuals.”

Rosa Parks meant a lot to many Americans. Four thousand people attended her funeral in Detroit, Michigan.  Among them were former President Bill Clinton, his wife Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, the Reverend Jesse Jackson, and Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan.

President Clinton spoke about remembering the separation of the races on buses in the South when he was a boy.  He said that Rosa Parks helped to set all Americans free.  He said the world knows of her because of a single act of bravery that struck a deadly blow to racial hatred.

Earlier, the religious official of the United States Senate spoke about her at a memorial service in Washington.  He said Rosa Parks’s bravery serves as an example of the power of small acts.  And the Reverend Jesse Jackson commented in a statement about what her small act of bravery meant for African-American people.  He said that on that bus in nineteen fifty-five, “She sat down in order that we might stand up… and she opened the doors on the long journey to freedom.”

Samuel Gompers, 1850-1924: ‘The Grand Old Man of Labor’

I’m Phoebe Zimmerman. And I’m Steve Ember with the VOA Special English Program, PEOPLE IN AMERICA.  Today we tell about one of the country’s greatest labor leaders, Samuel Gompers.

Samuel Gompers was born in London, England in eighteen fifty.  His parents were poor people who had moved to England from the Netherlands to seek a better life.  Sam was a very good student. However, when he was ten years old, he was forced to quit school and go to work to help feed the family.  He was the oldest of five sons.  Like his father, Sam became a tobacco cigar maker. He liked the cigar-making industry because it had a group of members.   During meetings, workers could talk about their problems.  This is where young Sam began to develop an interest in labor issues.

But life was difficult for the Gompers family in London, even with both Sam and his father working.   They soon decided to move to the United States to again try to make a better life for themselves.  In eighteen sixty-three, the Gompers family got on a ship and sailed across the Atlantic Ocean.  Seven weeks later, the ship arrived in New York City.  The Gompers settled in a poor part of New York where many immigrants lived.

Sam soon learned that life in America was not easy.  At that time, most people worked many hours each day for little money.  They worked making goods in factories.  Often these factories had poor working conditions.  New York was known for these so-called “sweatshops.”  Whole families, including young children, worked fourteen hours a day in sweatshops for just enough money to stay alive.

Sam hated the sweatshops and refused to work there.  Instead, he and his father became cigar makers again.  Soon Sam joined the Cigarmakers International Union.  In those days, labor unions were not strong or permanent.  They did little to help workers in their struggle for better working conditions and a better life.  Sam believed this needed to change.

Sam Gompers was married at the age of seventeen. He became a father one year later. He earned a living making cigars in shops around New York City.  Employers recognized him as a skilled and valuable worker.  The men he worked with recognized him as an effective labor activist.

Sam also became a student of socialism.  In eighteen seventy-three, he started working for an old German socialist, David Hirsch.   Most of Mr. Hirsch’s workers were also socialists from Germany.  These men became Samuel Gompers’ teachers.  They taught him much about trade unions.

One teacher was Karl Laurrell, who had been the leader in Europe of the International Workingman’s Association.  Mr. Laurrell taught Sam Gompers what labor unity meant.  He also taught him about “collective bargaining.”  This is how representatives of labor groups meet with the people they work for and negotiate an agreement.  For example, labor and management might negotiate for more money, fewer hours and cleaner working places for workers.

In time, Samuel Gompers used his knowledge of labor issues to help cigar makers throughout New York form a single, representative union.  It was called the Cigarmakers’ Local Number One Hundred Forty-Four.  Each cigar shop in New York had its own small union that elected a representative to sit on the council of a larger union. In eighteen seventy-five, this council elected Mr. Gompers as president of Cigarmakers’ Local Number One Hundred Forty-Four.

The union’s constitution was like the constitution of a democratic government.  All people in the union had a representative voice.  Experts say the organizing of Cigarmakers’ Local Number One Hundred Forty-Four was the beginning of the American labor movement.

Sam Gompers believed that one day all working men and women could belong to organized trade unions.  He believed workers should not be forced to sell their labor at too low a price.   He also believed each person must have the power to improve his or her own life.  A person can get this power by joining with others in a union.  He believed a democratic trade union can speak and act for all its workers.  This is the same way a democratic government speaks for the people because voters elect officials to represent them.

Labor organizations began to grow stronger in America during the late nineteenth century.   At the same time, Sam Gompers started to speak of new ideas.  He dreamed of bringing all trade unions together into one big, nation-wide organization that could speak with one voice for workers throughout the country.

In eighteen eighty-one, Mr. Gompers was sent as the delegate of the cigar makers union to a conference of unions.  The delegates agreed to organize an alliance called the Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions of the United States and Canada.  The alliance held yearly meeting of national union and local labor councils.  It was designed to educate the public on worker issues, prepare labor-related legislation, and pressure Congress to approve such bills.  Sam Gompers was an officer in the alliance for five years.

During that time, he worked for several measures to improve the lives of workers and children.  These included proposals to reduce the work day to eight hours, limit child labor and require children to attend school. He soon learned, however, that the alliance of unions had neither the money nor the power to do much more than talk about these issues.  So, in eighteen eighty-six, Sam Gompers helped organize a new union for all labor unions.  It was called the American Federation of Labor.

Sam Gompers was elected president of the American Federation of Labor in eighteen eighty-six. He held that position, except for one year, for thirty-eight years until he died. In eighteen ninety, the A.F.L. represented two hundred fifty thousand workers.  Two years later, the number had grown to more than one million workers.  Under his leadership, the A.F.L. grew from a few struggling labor unions to become the major organization within the labor movement in the United States.

As leader of the A.F.L. Mr. Gompers had enemies both within and outside the labor movement.  Some opponents believed Mr. Gompers was more interested in personal power than in improving the rights of workers. They believed his ideas about strikes and collective bargaining could not stop big business.  They believed the American Federation of Labor was a conservative organization designed to serve skilled workers only.

Other opponents considered Sam Gompers a foreign-born troublemaker who wanted to destroy property rights.   At the same time, opponents in industry and business feared that the labor leader was demanding too much for workers.  They said his talk violated the law, and that he excited workers and urged them to strike.

Sam Gompers was not troubled by any of these attacks.  He argued that because there was freedom of speech in America, he would not be afraid to speak freely.  He said that no one hated strikes more than he did because workers suffered the most in a strike.  However, he said that in a democracy, strikes were necessary.  After a strike, he said, businessmen and workers understood each other better and this was good for the nation.   He said: “I hope the day will never come when the workers surrender their right to strike.”

Sam Gompers also had an interest in international labor issues.  At the end of World War One, he attended the Versailles Treaty negotiations.  He was helpful in creating the International Labor Organization under the League of Nations. He also supported trade unionism in Mexico.

Samuel Gompers died in nineteen twenty-four.  He is remembered as “the grand old man of labor.”  He worked during his whole life for one cause – improving the rights of workers.  He led the fight for shorter working hours, higher pay, safe and clean working conditions and democracy in the workplace.

In nineteen fifty-five, the American Federation of Labor joined with the Congress of Industrial Organization to form the A.F.L.-C.I.O.   This organization has become an influential part of American economic and political life.  It has also helped improve the lives of millions of American workers.

Susan B. Anthony, 1820-1906:  She Led the Fight to Gain Equal Rights for Women, Including the Right to Vote

In the eighteen fifties, women in the United States began to try to gain the same rights as men. One woman was a leader in the campaign to gain women the right to vote. I’m Stan Busby. And I’m Shirley Griffith. Today we tell about a fighter for rights for women, Susan B. Anthony.

In seventeen seventy-six, a new nation declared its freedom from Britain. The Declaration of Independence was the document written to express the reasons for seeking that freedom. It stated that all men were created equal. It said that all men had the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Not every citizen of the new United States of America had one important right, however. That was the right to vote. At first, the only people permitted to vote in the United States were white men who owned property and could read. By eighteen sixty, most white male citizens over the age of twenty-one had the right to vote.

The Fourteenth and Fifteenth amendments to the Constitution gave black male citizens the right to vote. These amendments were passed in eighteen sixty-eight and eighteen seventy.

Women were not really full citizens in America in the eighteen hundreds. They had no economic independence.

For example, everything a woman owned when she got married belonged to her husband. If a married woman worked, the money she made belonged to her husband. In addition, women had no political power. They did not have the right to vote.

In the eighteen fifties, women organized in an effort to gain voting rights. Their campaign was called the women’s suffrage movement. Suffrage means the right to vote. American women sought to gain that right for more than seventy years.

One of the leaders of the movement was Susan B. Anthony of Massachusetts. Miss Anthony was a teacher. She believed that women needed economic and personal independence. She also believed that there was no hope for social improvement in the United States until women were given the same rights as men. The rights included the right to vote in public elections.

Susan B. Anthony was born in eighteen twenty. Her parents were members of the Quaker religion. She became one, too. The Quakers believed that the rights of women should be honored. They were the first religious group where women shared the leadership with men.

As a young woman, Susan had strong beliefs about justice and equality for women and for black people. And she was quick to speak out against what she believed was not just.

Many young men wanted to marry her. But she could not consider marrying a man who was not as intelligent as she. She once said: “I can never understand why intelligent girls should want to marry fools just to get married. Many are willing to do so. But I am not. “

She did meet some young men who were intelligent. But it always seemed that they expected women to be their servants, not their equals.

Susan B. Anthony became a school teacher in New York state. She realized that women could never become full citizens without some political power. They could never get such power until they got the right to vote. She went from town to town in New York state trying to get women interested in their right to vote. But they did not seem interested. Miss Anthony felt this was because women were not able to do anything for themselves. They had no money or property of their own. The struggle seemed long and hard. She said:

“As I went from town to town, I understood more and more the evil we must fight. The evil is that women cannot change anything as long as they must depend on men for their very lives. Women cannot change anything until they themselves are independent. They cannot be free until they have the legal right to own property and to keep the money they make by working.”

Miss Anthony went to every city, town and village in New York state. She organized meetings in schools, churches, and public places. Everywhere she went, she carried pamphlets urging rights for women.

She urged the lawmakers of New York to change the state law and give women the right to own property. Her campaign in New York failed at that time. But elsewhere the struggle for women’s rights was making progress.

In eighteen fifty-one, Susan B. Anthony met Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Mrs. Stanton also supported equal rights for women. Mrs. Stanton had many children. She needed to remain at home to raise her large family. Miss Anthony, however, was not married. She was free to travel, to speak, and to organize for the women’s rights movement. The two women cooperated in leading the fight to gain rights for women in the United States.

Their first important success came in eighteen sixty when New York finally approved a married woman’s law. For the first time in New York, a married woman could own property. And, she had a right to the money she was paid for work she did.

At last, Miss Anthony’s campaign was beginning to show results. The campaign spread to other states.

The end of the American Civil War in eighteen sixty-five freed Negroes from slavery. Susan B. Anthony felt that there was still much to be done to get full freedom — for Negroes and also for women. She began to campaign for the right for Negroes and women to vote.

The Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was approved in eighteen sixty-eight. It gave Negro men the right to vote. But it did not give women the right to vote.

Susan B. Anthony led efforts to have voting rights for women included in the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution. Her efforts were not successful. Then Miss Anthony decided to test the legal basis of the Fourteenth Amendment. She did this during the presidential election of eighteen seventy-two.

On election day, Miss Anthony led a group of women to vote in Rochester, New York. Two weeks later, Miss Anthony was arrested. She was charged with voting although she had no legal right to do so.

Before her trial, Susan B. Anthony traveled around New York state. She spoke to many groups about the injustice of denying women the right to vote. She said:

“Our democratic, republican government is based on the idea that every person shall have a voice and a vote in making the laws and putting them to work. It is we, the people — all the people — not just white men or men only, who formed this nation. We formed it to get liberty not just for half of us — not just for half of our children — but for all, for women as well as men.

“Is the right to vote a necessary right of citizens? To my mind, it is a most important right. Without it, all other rights are nothing. “

Susan B. Anthony was tried and found guilty of violating the law. She was ordered to pay one hundred dollars as a punishment. She said the law was wrong. She refused to pay.

Miss Anthony then led efforts to gain voting rights for women through a new amendment to the Constitution. She traveled across the country to campaign for such an amendment until she was seventy-five years old. In nineteen-oh-four, she spoke to a committee of the United States Senate for the last time. The committee was discussing the proposal for an amendment to the Constitution giving women the right to vote. She knew the victory would come. But she also knew it would not come while she was alive.

Susan B. Anthony died in nineteen-oh-six at the age of eighty-six. Thirteen years later, in nineteen nineteen, Congress passed the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution. The amendment stated that the right to vote shall not be denied because of a person’s sex.

The amendment had to be approved by three-fourths of the states. It won final approval on August twenty-sixth, nineteen twenty. It was called the Anthony Amendment, to honor Susan B. Anthony.

W.E.B. Du Bois, 1868-1963: He Fought for Civil Rights for Black People

I’m Steve Ember. And I’m Sarah Long with the VOA Special English program PEOPLE IN AMERICA.  Today we tell about W.E.B. Du Bois.  He was an African-American writer, teacher and protest leader.

William Edward Burghardt Du Bois fought for civil rights for black people in the United States.  During the nineteen twenties and nineteen thirties, he was the person most responsible for the changes in conditions for black PEOPLE IN AMERICAn society.  He also was responsible for changes in the way they thought about themselves.

William Du Bois was the son of free blacks who lived in a northern state.  His mother was Mary Burghardt.  His father was Alfred Du Bois.  His parents had never been slaves.  Nor were their parents.  William was born into this free and independent African-American family in eighteen sixty-eight in Great Barrington, Massachusetts.

William’s mother felt that ability and hard work would lead to success.  She urged him to seek an excellent education.  In the early part of the century, it was not easy for most black people to get a good education.  But William had a good experience in school.  His intelligence earned him the respect of other students.  He moved quickly through school.

It was in those years in school that William Du Bois learned what he later called the secret of his success.  His secret, he said, was to go to bed every night at ten o’clock.

After high school, William decided to attend Fisk University, a college for black students in Nashville, Tennessee.  He thought that going to school in a southern state would help him learn more about the life of most black Americans.  Most black people lived in the South in those days.

He soon felt the effects of racial prejudice.  He found that poor, uneducated white people judged themselves better than he was because they were white and he was black.  From that time on, William Du Bois opposed all kinds of racial prejudice.  He never missed a chance to express his opinions about race relations.

William Du Bois went to excellent colleges, Harvard University in Massachusetts and the University of Berlin in Germany.  He received his doctorate degree in history from Harvard in eighteen ninety-five.

His book, “The Philadelphia Negro: A Social Study,” was published four years later.  It was the first study of a black community in the United States.  He became a professor of economics and history at Atlanta University in eighteen ninety-seven.  He remained there until nineteen ten.

William Du Bois had believed that education and knowledge could help solve the race problem.  But racial prejudice in the United States was causing violence.  Mobs of whites killed blacks.  Laws provided for separation of the races.  Race riots were common.

The situation in the country made Mr. Du Bois believe that social change could happen only through protest.

Mr. Du Bois’s belief in the need for protest clashed with the ideas of the most influential black leader of the time, Booker T. Washington.

Mr. Washington urged black people to accept unfair treatment for a time.  He said they would improve their condition through hard work and economic gain.  He believed that in this way blacks would win the respect of whites.

Mr. Du Bois attacked this way of thinking in his famous book, “The Souls of Black Folk.”  The book was a collection of separate pieces he had written.  It was published in nineteen-oh-three.

In the very beginning of “The Souls of Black Folk” he expressed the reason he felt the book was important:

“Herein lie buried many things which if read with patience may show the strange meaning of being black here at the dawning of the Twentieth Century.  This meaning is not without interest to you, Gentle Reader; for the problem of the Twentieth Century is the problem of the color line. “

Later in the book, Mr. Du Bois explained the struggle blacks, or Negroes as they then were called, faced in America:

“One ever feels his twoness — an American, a Negro: two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideas in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder.  … He simply wishes to make it possible for a man to be both a Negro and an American, without being cursed and spit upon by his fellows, without having the doors of opportunity closed roughly in his face.”

W.E.B. Du Bois charged that Booker Washington’s plan would not free blacks from oppression, but would continue it.  The dispute between the two leaders divided blacks into two groups – the “conservative” supporters of Mr. Washington and his “extremist” opponents.

In nineteen-oh-five, Mr. Du Bois established the Niagara Movement to oppose Mr. Washington.  He and other black leaders called for complete political, civil and social rights for black Americans.

The organization did not last long.  Disputes among its members and a campaign against it by Booker T. Washington kept it from growing.  Yet the Niagara Movement led to the creation in nineteen-oh-nine of an organization that would last: the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.  Mr. Du Bois became director of research for the organization.  He also became editor of the N.A.A.C.P. magazine, “The Crisis.”

W.E.B. Du Bois felt that it was good for blacks to be linked through culture and spirit to the home of their ancestors.  Throughout his life he was active in the Pan-African movement.  Pan-Africanism was the belief that all people who came from Africa had common interests and should work together in their struggle for freedom.

Mr. Du Bois believed black Americans should support independence for African nations that were European colonies.  He believed that once African nations were free of European control they could be markets for products and services made by black Americans.

He believed that blacks should develop a separate “group economy.”  A separate market system, he said, could be a weapon for fighting economic injustice against blacks and for improving their poor living conditions.

Mr. Du Bois also called for the development of black literature and art.  He urged the readers of the N.A.A.C.P. magazine, “The Crisis,” to see beauty in black.

In nineteen thirty-four, W. E. B. Du Bois resigned from his position at “The Crisis” magazine.  It was during the severe economic depression in the United States.  He charged that the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People supported the interests of successful blacks.  He said the organization was not concerned with the problems of poorer blacks.

Mr. Du Bois returned to Atlanta University, where he had taught before.  He remained there as a professor for the next ten years.  During this period, he wrote about his involvement in both the African and the African-American struggles for freedom.

In nineteen forty-four, Mr. Du Bois returned to the N.A.A.C.P. in a research position.  Four years later he left after another disagreement with the organization.  He became more and more concerned about politics.  He wrote:

“As…a citizen of the world as well as of the United States of America, I claim the right to know and think and tell the truth as I see it.  I believe in Socialism as well as Democracy.  I believe in Communism wherever and whenever men are wise and good enough to achieve it; but I do not believe that all nations will achieve it in the same way or at the same time.  I despise men and nations which judge human beings by their color, religious beliefs or income. … I hate War.”

In nineteen fifty, W. E. B. Du Bois became an official of the Peace Information Center.  The organization made public the work other nations were doing to support peace in the world.

The United States government accused the group of supporting the Soviet Union and charged its officials with acting as foreign agents.  A federal judge found Mr. Du Bois not guilty.  But most Americans continued to consider him a criminal.  He was treated as if he did not exist.

In nineteen sixty-one, at the age of ninety-two, Mr. Du Bois joined the Communist party of the United States.  Then he and his second wife moved to Ghana in West Africa.  He gave up his American citizenship a year later.  He died in Ghana on August twenty-seventh, nineteen sixty-three.

His death was announced the next day to a huge crowd in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.  Hundreds of thousands of blacks and whites had gathered for the March on Washington to seek improved civil rights in the United States.  W. E. B. Du Bois had helped make that march possible.

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Здесь другой мир, другая система обучения… сильное впечатление сложилось..очень рекомендую…все оригинально….. уроки неповторимые и интересные…


Правильный выбор - всегда залог большого успеха. Примите свежее решение. We would like everybody to take these english crash courses in order to make some progress, and recommend to stay around here since one can obtain good education. Yours faithful. Bekzat and Aidana


Не только я, но и многие познали что такое истинный английский…..не знаю, что сказать ……. у меня нет слов…Благодарен…… по профессии моряк…… We’ll have European countries sea cruise coming spring


Вы можете ознакомиться со содержательными оригинальными программами. Я бы посоветовала всем алматийнцам получить углубленное образование именно здесь. Лучше приходите и сами ощутите что такое настоящий английский. Всем привет из Соединенных штатов. I'd like to express my thankness to this crash school owing to which I succeeded everywhere. Best regards. I'm greatefull. Altynai.


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Насколько мне известно, что настоящий курс проверен практикой преподавания годами. Очень понравилось. Тактика ведения уроков, подача материалов, проверка уровня знания и проведение экзаменов устно и письменно - все это хорошо организовано, а также профессионально. В данное время совершенствуюсь свое знание английского, в т.ч. произношение. Всем удачи!

АНЖЕЛА, 16 лет

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БАЛШЕКЕР, 65 лет

Я биолог. Эффективный метод усвоения английского языка основан на упражнениях, разработанных автором. Я сама прошла эти курсы и скажу, что метод дает отличный результат. Он эффективен. This is the efficiency English course I’ve ever taken,…good luck! BAKYT


Я очень долго ходила на разные курсы английского языка и дошла до уровня upper-intermediate, но так и не могла свободно говорить. А здесь я поняла в чем мои проблемы и улучшила свой английский. I’ve not known of this course for a long time, but owing to it I have good progress nowadays. So I’d like to thank my teacher for making me speak fluently. The USA, BOSTON, ANEL

Ахлима и Куаныш

Хотим выразить слова благодарности…..We are grateful! Объясняются уроки здесь доходчиво…Для получения качественного знания мы советуем курсы от Golden Harvest Ltd. The best! The teacher always does his best!


Ағылшын тілі қазақша жетік түсіндірілетін жалғыз ғана оқу орны өте жақсы……көп нәрсе үйрендік… мұндай сабақты көруіміз алғаш рет.. We’ve already got chance to get a job. We’re very thankful for teachers’ occupational work.


Мен Golden Harvest ағылшын тілін тереңдетіп оқыту орталығына келгелі, тілді қалай оқып үйрену керектігін түсіндім. Осы уақытқа дейін басқа да курстарға барған едім, бірақ тек бергі жағын оқып жүргеніме көз жеткіздім. Ержан - өз ісінің нағыз маманы, өте ұқыпты, әрі еңбекқор ұстаз. Егер сіз ағылшын тілін жетік меңгергіңіз келсе, онда осы курсты таңдаңыз!


Я посещаю курсы английского уже месяц и хотела дать свой отзыв. За такой достаточно короткий период времени преподаватель успел обьяснить максимальное количество информации, так как изначально цель стояла именно такая. Дает даже информацию о которой никогда не слышала. Так же человек по общению приятный. В совокупности всех факторов могу порекомендовать данного преподавателя.


До успеха еще далеко, но первые шаги уже сделаны, а они самые тяжёлые.Мне нравится, как построен процесс обучения. За одно занятие мы успеваем узнать много нового. Все занятия разные, интерактивные и динамичные.Наш преподаватель Ержан Айдарханулы очень доброжелательный,внимательный и отзывчивый.Спасибо за возможность учиться в Golden Harvest.


Менің ағылшын тілін үйреніп жүргеніме біраз жыл болды. Golden Harvest барғалы, ағылшын тілінің дұрыс үйрену методикасын қолданып біраз жетістіктерге қол жеткіздім. Ержан ағай өз ісінің маманы. Ұқыпты, қатал және талабы жоғары.


Сәлем достар. Қазақстан, соның ішінде Алматы қаласындағы ең тамаша ағылшын курсы. Бәрі тамаша, терең білім алуға лайықты оқу орнында оқып жатқаныма өте қуаныштымын. It is worth studying here and obtaining higher education in english grammar. Visiting this school is only pleasure for everyone I think and so do surrounding people. Best regards,


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