Acting Archivist of the United States Adrienne Thomas announced today the appointment of presidential historian Mark K. Updegrove as the new Director of the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum. His appointment is effective October 11, 2009.

(View full press release…)


Presidential historian Mark Updegrove, who will become Director of the LBJ Library & Museum on October 11, 2009, will serve as the Library’s fourth Director in its thirty-eight year history.

Updegrove is an award-winning author with over two decades of leadership experience within top media and communications organizations including Time, Newsweek, and Yahoo.

Often called on by the news media to offer commentary on the presidency, CNN has called Updegrove one of the “country’s best presidential historians.” Most recently, Updegrove was interviewed for a news story about President Barack Obama’s sliding poll numbers on ABC’s Good Morning America on September 2, 2009.

Updegrove is the author of two books relating to American presidents:

  • Published in January 2009, Baptism By Fire: Eight Presidents Who Took Office in Times of Crisis examines eight presidents who took office in times of unprecedented crisis, how they dealt the burdens they inherited, the role of character in their leadership, and the lessons those men provide for President Barack Obama.

“Memo to President Obama: Read this book.”
The Associated Press, January 2009

“Updegrove’s gallery of greats should instill hope and confidence in our future.”
The New York Times Book Review, January 20, 2009

  • Second Acts: Presidential Lives and Legacies After the White House, published in 2006, looks at the post-presidential lives of our modern presidents–Harry Truman through Bill Clinton–and includes exclusive interviews with former Presidents George H.W. Bush, Jimmy Carter, and Gerald Ford. The book was awarded ForeWord Magazine‘s “Book of the Year” Silver Medal Award for Political Science.

“A lively and highly readable review of [the] post-Oval Office years of the United States’ last nine former chief executive & entertaining and illuminating.”
The Washington Post, October 15, 2006

“Highly recommended.”
The Library Journal, July 6, 2006

Updegrove has also written feature articles for American Heritage, The Nation, Time, and Worth, and has contributed op-ed pieces for numerous national and regional newspapers and websites.

Additionally, he conceived and co-developed “Time and the Presidency,” a multi-media program featuring Time photographs of President Franklin Roosevelt through Clinton, along with reflections from Time‘s Hugh Sidey. The LBJ Library & Museum displayed the program’s traveling exhibit in 2000.

Updegrove has been Director of Business Development at Rawle Murdy, a private communications firm. He has also served as Vice President and Head of Sales and Operations at Yahoo! Canada; Vice President and Publisher of Nickelodeon Magazine and MTV Magazine; U. S. Publisher of Newsweek; and spent eleven years in several leadership roles at Time, Inc. including Los Angeles Manager of Time and President of Time Canada, Time’s Canadian edition and operation.

Updegrove graduated from the University of Maryland with a Bachelor of Arts in Economics in 1984. He and his wife, Evie, have two children, Charlie, 9, and Tallie, 3. The Updegrove family will be moving to Austin from Charleston, South Carolina.

Please join me in welcoming Mr. Updegrove and his family to the

LBJ Presidential Library and to Texas!

We have so many creative, talented people in the Texas Forums network, I would love to see some of our Dialogue and Deliberation friends submit their videos completing the statement, “Democracy is…”

Press release from The Democracy Video Challenge:

NEW YORK – September 15, 2009 – The Democracy Video Challenge, a global call to action celebrating democracy, launched its second annual competition today at the United Nations on International Democracy Day. Richard Engel, NBC News Chief Foreign Correspondent, served as Master of Ceremonies for the contest’s global launch. The Challenge again invites citizens from around the world to create video shorts (3minutes or less) that complete the phrase: “Democracy is…” in an effort to enhance the global dialogue on democracy.

“Art is meant to engage us, not merely distract us, and needs a robust democracy for it to thrive. Artists everywhere have a civic obligation to speak up fearlessly and courageously on issues, regardless of how difficult they might be,” said Mary Schmidt Campbell, Dean of the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University, a partner in the Democracy Video Challenge.

The Democracy Video Challenge is a unique partnership comprising democracy, and youth organizations, the film and entertainment industry, academia, and the U.S. government. In its inaugural year, the Challenge attracted more than 900 videos from 95 countries around the world.

(read more and get the application forms and rules…)

When: Exhibit opens October 10, 2009
Exhibit runs through February 15, 2010 (Presidents Day)
Contact: Anne Wheeler, Communications Director
(O) 721-0216 (Cell) 731-2351 anne.wheeler@nara.gov

(Austin) – Our modern Presidents received educations and participated in school activities in ways as diverse as their backgrounds and political philosophies.

Through the records of the presidential libraries – archival material, museum objects, photographs, and audio-visual recordings – “School House to White House” gives visitors a new perspective on the presidency. The exhibit, prepared by the National Archives and Records Administration, charts the educational experiences of our Presidents from Herbert Hoover to Bill Clinton.

Whether in private school or public, whether growing up in a small town or a large city, each of our modern Presidents experienced a unique education that prepared him for leadership in the highest elected office in the land.

Lyndon Johnson
Johnson’s mother, Rebekah, taught the future President to read by the age of four and he attended public school in Johnson City, Texas. He enjoyed playing baseball and he participated in a two-person debate team that won the county title during his senior year of high school. Johnson attended Southwest Texas State Teachers College (now Texas State University) in San Marcos, Texas. Johnson, often called the “Teacher President”, taught school in South Texas and was also a high school debate coach. The federal education building in Washington, D. C. is named in his honor.

Highlights of LBJ memorabilia in the exhibit include:

– A letter sweater similar to one worn by LBJ as a college student at Southwest Texas State Teachers College

– 1930 graduation program from that College, the year LBJ was graduated.

– A letter written in 1927 from LBJ to his grandmother discussing his participation in the college debate team.

– The future President’s third-grade report card.

– A list of education-related bills passed during the Johnson Administration.

In this exhibit, visitors will learn which sports the presidents played, what kind of homework and grades the presidents were given, how classrooms were organized, family involvement in their learning experiences, and finally, that anyone can grow up to be President of the United States.

Exhibit Presidential facts you may not know:

– Herbert Hoover was the youngest member of the first class at Stanford University where he studied geology.

– Franklin Roosevelt managed the baseball team while a student at Harvard University.

– As a senior at Harvard University, John F. Kennedy wrote a thesis entitled “Appeasement at Munich”, which was later published as the book Why England Slept.

– Richard Nixon played violin, clarinet, saxophone, piano, and accordion.

-While a student at Yale University, George H. W. Bush was captain of the baseball team which played in the first two College World Series.Bush met the legendary Babe Ruth.

[update: corrected spelling of Scott Hefferman’s name. Sorry Scott!]

I am watching live streaming of the National Conference on Citizenship which will probably be archived on their website. The Case Foundation is sponsoring the live streaming of the conference and took this opportunity to debut their  Gear Up for Giving: Social Media Tutorials for Nonprofits initiative.

Click Daly is darling and this is a clever way to get a message out, but darling Daly took a hit from one of the panelists, Scott Hefferman of Meetup who said (good-naturedly as far as I could tell on a webstream), “I hate that puppet. We did not go from being content consumers to content producers. We are not content, we are people!”

The following is a free workshop offered by the City of Austin’s Cultural Arts Division

Presented by Barbara Schaffer Bacon/Animating Democracy

Date: Saturday, September 26, 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Location: Austin Community College, Highland Business Center, Room 201.0 Boardroom (5930 Middle Fiskville Road, Austin 78752)

Attendee Limit: 50

Price: FREE!

Knowing how to create meaningful civic engagement is becoming a required skill set in today’s world. This 6-hour interactive training will feature key concepts, principles, and practices of arts-based civic engagement opportunities through program design and community partnerships and how to facilitate meaningful civic dialogue opportunities.

Participants will have the opportunity to share projects in progress or that have potential in their communities, as well as to troubleshoot planning and project roadblocks with colleagues. Animating Democracy’s Barbara Schaffer Bacon will work closely with Austin’s community arts sector to tailor the program to participants’ specific needs.

Presenter: Barbara Schaffer Bacon currently co-directs the Animating Democracy Initiative (http://www.americansforthearts.org/animatingdemocracy/), a program of Americans for the Arts, Institute for Community Development and the Arts, funded by the Ford Foundation. Launched in fall 1999, Animating Democracy’s purpose is to foster artistic activity that encourages civic dialogue on important contemporary issues. Barbara draws upon the experience of dozens of artists and cultural organizations that have participated in Animating Democracy as well as other field activity. A national consultant since 1990, her work, together with partner Pam Korza, includes program design and evaluation for state and local arts agencies and private foundations nationally.

This event is presented in partnership with the University of Texas College of Fine Arts, UT Performing Arts Center, UT Humanities Institute, UT Performance as Public Practice program in the Department of Theatre and Dance. Thank you to Austin Community College Division of Arts and Humanities for providing the workshop space!

Click here to REGISTER NOW!

Attendees: In order to shape the workshop to your specific needs

Barbara has developed the following survey. Please fill it out after registering for the workshop.

Click Here to take survey!

For more information call 512-974-7860.

In July, the Secretary of Health and Human Services announced that the federal government expects to initiate a voluntary fall vaccination program against the 2009 H1N1 flu virus. The CDC will help state and local health organizations develop the vaccination program and are working to decide the scope of the program for vaccinating Americans against the novel H1N1 pandemic influenza virus.

In this web-based dialogue the public will discuss, deliberate, and offer input as the CDC considers whether to take a “full-throttle” or a “go-easy” approach to mass vaccination, or a moderate approach somewhere in-between?

WebDialogue registrants are expected to participate on both days of the two-day dialogue. They must be willing to complete a pre- and post-knowledge survey, respond to a poll on the second day, and provide feedback through an evaluation at the conclusion of the dialogue.

Register to participate! Select a dialogue and click on the link below:

South by Southwest (“South by” if you’ve ever attended or SXSW when you type it) began in 1987 in Austin as a Music Conference and Festival attended by 700 people. Since then, it has grown to over 12,000 registrants and now includes a film and interactive component that draws 17,000 participants. (History of SXSW)

For the last two years, I have been one of those who jumped into the fray of the interactive sessions and this year I’m working on the front end to encourage and promote sessions that look at online deliberation, community engagement, technology and democracy, and open government. Fortunately, Tim Bonnemann, Founder and CEO of Intellitics is making that job easier for me by identifying the sessions that look appropriate for the Texas Forums network.

Since SXSW is a very democratic experience, 30% of the decision about what sessions are offered is influenced by the votes and comments using the SXSW panel picker. You can check out the Interactive Sessions and vote here, or just follow Tim’s advice below!


From Tim–

The SXSW 2010 “panel picker” launched yesterday.  You can vote for my panel proposal here (requires login):

14 Ways to Make Online Citizen Participation Work
Using the web to engage citizens in public decision making is becoming increasingly
popular. However,  most online tools are not equipped to support the right processes.
This panel of public participation experts will share 14 tips how you can get results
despite these shortcomings and still make your citizens happy!


And while you’re at it, here are a few potentially related sessions that caught my eye so far:

Community Consensus (Not!) and Online Democracy’s Loose Ends

Get Naked: Online Citizen Deliberative Dialogue

Crowdsourcing Urban Renewal: Designing for Technologically Mediated Change

Taking the Friction out of Civic Engagement With Open Government & API’s

If you haven’t visited the First Lady’s Gallery lately, now is the time to make your way over to the LBJ Library to see the new photo mural that the museum staff just installed. I’m so glad that I’ll be in working from the LBJ Library in Austin tomorrow. The Gallery will be my first stop!

On July 16, 2009 I participated in a virtual conference on Stakeholder Engagement co-sponsored by Public Decisions and Learning Times and held in Second Life on Squirrel Island. Here is the schedule of the day. The session included a small group deliberation on the topic, “Facing the Challenges of Climate Change: A Guide for Citizen Thought and Action” using a discussion guide prepared by Public Agenda. I was one of the “deliberators” on stage.

I have to admit that I was rather surprised at how smoothly the day went. My head has been spinning with possibilities.

One idea is to use Second Life to demonstrate a deliberative forum.

It is almost universally accepted in the National Issues Forums world that people attending the training sessions (called Public Policy Institutes) have to experience a forum to really understand deliberation. But the experience isn’t always a smashing success. Participants (because they are all attending the training to learn about public deliberation) are likely to be pre-disposed to speak more civilly, hold similar values and perspectives, and be less likely to engage in bad behavior than a passionate, strong-willed, opinionated, closed-minded person. (I haven’t actually seen a lot of bad behavior in the forums that I have moderated, but the Gadfly Hall of Fame – compliments of Pete Peterson of Common Sense California – would indicate that it is possible!)

Role playing different parts usually comes off silly and rarely adds to the experience. The role player usually finds it difficult to remain in character and their performance becomes a parody of different perspectives. They state opinions that they don’t really hold and then giggle or engage in some other behavior that lets you know they are not being authentic. Plus, they become labeled as “that guy” and spend the remainder of the training session overcoming the impression.  But Second Life could actually provide an opportunity for a staged deliberative forum. People could literally take on a different avatar that they could discard after the forum. The limited body language could actually be a benefit. It’s something I’m playing with.

In the meantime, I’m in conversation with Learning Times and Public Decisions about an international Stakeholder Engagement Online Conference.

Save the date and stay tuned.

2-4 March 2010
Presented by PublicDecisions and Learning Times

Showcasing best practices for stakeholder engagement . . . Demonstrating leading edge tools . . . Highlighting emerging technologies.

[edited 8.7.09 to correct typos I made to Carolyn’s letter. Sorry, Carolyn!]

Carolyn Lipka from West Windsor-Plainsboro High School, North, in New Jersey, one of our researchers who worked with Barbara Cline, received 1st place in the National History Day senior individual documentary category for her documentary:  “Legislation By Johnson:  Man and Moment.”  She received a gold medal and the History Channel Prize of $5,000.00; she has sent us a DVD of her documentary.

It’s easy to see why she won! Unfortunately, copyright laws prohibit me from posting her winning video, but trust me when I say that her documentary is a testimony to the importance of this event and the LBJ Library’s annual participation every February. Check out the extensive resources made available by the LBJ Library’s Education Specialist who does a yeoman’s job every year as host of the Central Texas Region History Day Competition!

Here are some snippets from her letter to LBJ Library Archivist Barbara Cline notifying her about winning the prize.

In my time at the LBJ Library I learned more than in the entirety of my other research.  I was afforded the opportunity to interview Luci Johnson; I was granted access to innumerable boxes of original archives, including daily diaries and oral histories.  One of my favorite things to do while I was there was looking through the extensive collection of political cartoons…”

“The taped conversations of Lyndon Johnson are a truly unique resource, but one which can be overwhelming.  Your assistance, in particular, helped me make sense of the voluminous recordings.  They wound up forming a vital part of my documentary.  My experience working with a generous and extremely knowledgeable staff of dedicated archivists such as your self gave me a great appreciation for the work of the LBJ Library…

“Because I am now aware of the great and important work of the Library, I plan on making a contribution to the LBJ Library.  I have used many research facilities over the past several years, and I came away from the LBJ Library with a feeling of gratitude that I was able to experience it.”

“I really appreciate all that you have done for my project, and I hope you enjoy ten minutes all about the immensely complex, fascinating giant that was Lyndon Johnson.”

Congratulations Carolyn. Please come back anytime and keep making those documentaries. We expect to hear more great things from you in the future!

Anyone else out there want to use our resources to tell a story? Check out our resources for researchers.