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Article: Jack Miller Center Unveils New Civics Library

By Mike Sabo

Will this presidential election be the most important in American history?

Article by Mike Sabo originally published by RealClearEducation and made available via RealClearWire.

“Knowledge will forever govern ignorance; and a people who means to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power knowledge gives,” wrote James Madison. The success of the American experiment in self-government depends on an informed, united citizenry that is engaged in public life.

ContextUS is the Jack Miller Center’s newly published, free online library that provides citizens with the content to gain that necessary civic knowledge. This state-of-the-art resource gives teachers, students, and scholars access to more than 700 core texts of the American political tradition, paired with the most up-to-date technology in library science, to transmit a civic education in self-government to the next generation of Americans.

The library gives visitors unlimited access to a wide range of primary sources, which span from the books of the Old Testament to the speeches of Frederick Douglass. Visitors can also read quality translations and commentaries by which they can participate in the ongoing process of studying, learning from, and preserving our republican way of life.

The library’s treasure trove of documents is organized by subject matter, historical topic, and author. Subjects covered include citizenship, foreign policy, and elections, and the featured topics include colonial self-government, the age of Jefferson, and the antebellum period. Visitors can also see in the right-hand column daily trending topics and learn how they can support JMC’s overall civic efforts.

“ContextUS makes our founding ideas and texts easy to explore and engage with,” says JMC president Hans Zeiger. “These texts and ideas have always been in conversation with one another. Now anyone can explore those connections, see how scholars would approach it … Teachers and students have shown great enthusiasm for this tool, and we’re eager to get it into classrooms.”

As Zeiger notes, this comprehensive, living library gives teachers the ability to create and share lesson plans and use its sizable collection of resources during classroom teaching and discussion. Scholars can utilize this civic archive to build research outlines and do intensive topical research across the entire range of documents in the collection. And students can engage with the minds of the greatest statesmen and thinkers of the Western tradition as they explore primary sources.

The library’s interactive tools truly set the resource apart. Users have the ability to search keywords and concepts (with a built-in engine that learns as visitors utilize this function), compare texts, and annotate documents – all on a user-friendly platform. In order to encourage collaboration among educators, JMC pioneered the creation of a unique feature – “sheets,” which allows teachers to integrate texts, excerpts, and quotes into lesson plans, along with images, videos, and audio files. Sheets created by master teachers, well-known historians, and public scholars will be available for all to use.

Moving forward, the library will serve as the cornerstone of JMC’s teacher programs. JMC will also invite its network of 1,000 professors and teachers to use the library in the classroom and to train K-12 teachers on how to use core texts more effectively in student instruction.

In its next phase of development, the library will add 500 documents on topics including the Gilded Age, the two World Wars, the Great Depression, and the civil rights era; integrate these new works with the existing library; digitize rare texts; and forge partnerships with other civic organizations.

The end goal of the ContextUS library is to ensure that the American idea remains alive in the hearts and minds of citizens. Through its myriad resources, the library “invites new users to engage with this rich textual tradition,” Zeiger says, “and establish thousands of links between texts to tell the story of America.”

By Mike Sabo – This article was originally published by RealClearEducation and made available via RealClearWire.


Deneen Borelli

Deneen Borelli is the author of Blacklash: How Obama and the Left are Driving Americans to the Government Plantation. Deneen is a contributor with Newsmax Broadcasting. She is a former Fox News contributor and has appeared regularly on “Hannity,” “Fox & Friends,” “Your World with Neil Cavuto,” and “America’s Newsroom.” She has also appeared on Fox Business Network programs “Making Money with Charles Payne,” “The Evening Edit with Liz MacDonald,” and “Cavuto: Coast to Coast.” Previously, Deneen appeared on MSNBC, CNN, the BBC and C-SPAN. In addition to television, Deneen co-hosted radio programs on the SiriusXM Patriot channel with her husband Tom. Recently, Deneen co-hosted the Reigniting Liberty podcast with Tom. Deneen is a frequent speaker at political events, including the FreedomWorks 9.12.2009 March on D.C. which drew a crowd estimated at over 800,000 people. Deneen is also an Ambassador with, a social media platform that promotes free speech, and with the America First Policy Institute (AFPI) which advances policies that put Americans first. Deneen testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Natural Resources in May 2011 and before the Ohio House Public Utilities Committee in December 2011. Previously, Deneen was a host, Outreach Director with overseeing its outreach program, a Project 21 Senior Fellow, and Manager of Media Relations with the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE). Prior to joining CORE, Deneen worked at Philip Morris USA for 20 years. During her corporate career at Philip Morris she worked in various positions, her last as Project Management Coordinator in the Information Management department where she was responsible for the department’s mandated quality processes, communications, sales information and database management. Deneen began her Philip Morris career as a secretary and advanced to positions of increasing responsibilities. Deneen worked full-time and attended classes at night for 11 years to earn her B.A. in Managerial Marketing from Pace University, New York City. Deneen served on the Board of Trustees with The Opportunity Charter School in Harlem, New York. She appeared in educational videos for children, worked as a runway fashion model, and auditioned for television commercials. Her interests include ancient history, pistol target shooting, photography, and volunteering at her church. Deneen currently resides in Connecticut with her husband Tom.

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