5 Fed. Hist. [i] (2013)

handle is hein.journals/fedhijrl5 and id is 1 raw text is: Editor's Note
Welcome to the 2013 edition of Federal History. This collection of research articles
is topically quite diverse and illustrates the journal's broad view of the history of
the federal government. In brief, that story is more than one of high politics
or the actions and policies of federal officials, military leaders, or the courts. It
also includes accounts of how popular movements, social and cultural changes,
localities, and economic crises shaped national policies, politics, and even
legislation. In that sense, federal history is not an isolated, specialized intellectual
endeavor, but an essential tool for probing and understanding the larger history
of our civilization.
We are pleased to feature the 2012 Roger R. TraskAward Lecture given by Raymond
W. Smock, Director of the Robert C. Byrd Center for Legislative Studies. After
tracing the contributions of federal historians over the past 80 years, he reminds
us of the unprecedented challenge of the current Digital Revolution, or Age of
Big Data, and also emphasizes that the content of records takes first priority. Now
more than ever, he stresses, only historians, with their ability to provide context,
can help with preservation decisions and then prepare histories of our government.
We must conquer this records challenge before it buries us.
We also start with Michael Brodhead's recounting of the work of the Army Corps
of Engineers' 1929-31 survey in Nicaragua for a possible second canal route, one
under consideration for decades. (The article first appeared in our 2012 online
edition.) It was a difficult expedition, reminiscent, Brodhead writes, of those to
the American West. His colorful account helps us understand the technical aspects
of their work and their interactions with Nicaraguans. Richard Fry shows how the
Black Lung Association (BLA), in the absence of support from the United Mine
Workers Union, conducted a grassroots campaign between 1969 and 1972 for
more effective legislation to protect and compensate miners suffering from black
lung disease. Their appeals for popular support, testimony before Congress, and
partnership with key lawmakers led to the passage of the Federal Black Lung Benefits
Act of 1972. John Sager examines the far-reaching public debate over universal
military training between 1945 and 1952, a debate that arose out of concern for
military preparedness in the early Cold War. The arguments by legislators, military
figures, and educators went to the core meaning of American citizenship and its

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