As a college librarian, I often hear stressed-out students searching for primary sources say, "I'll take anything." Don't settle for just anything. There is a treasury of primary source material available electronically. Peruse my selection of 200-plus primary source sites by conducting a keyword search, exploring the tag cloud at left, or browsing by historical era. You can also visit my Delicious and Diigo sites to review my bookmarks. Here's hoping you find what you're looking for.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Star Wars in Perspective (I mean the SDI, not Lucas’s masterpiece.)

On Thursday President Obama and Russian President Dmitri A. Medvedev signed a nuclear arms reduction pact. That agreement is expected to trim the two countries’ strategic nuclear arsenals to their lowest levels in 50 years. Today’s students weren’t around when growing stockpiles of nuclear weapons were front-page news. My guess is that some of those students know of Star Wars only as a series of sci-fi flicks, and not the strategic defense initiative proposed by President Reagan. The Cold War History Project, a digital archive created at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, contains a wide array of primary source documentation to help students better understand the Cold War. Among the items you’ll find are a letter sent by Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev to President Jimmy Carter. Written in 1977, shortly after President Carter assumed office, it reads in part…"under conditions when it is still not possible yet to achieve a halt to the arms race in the world, we cannot but take care about security of our country and our allies. Our defensive potential must be sufficient so that nobody will risk to attack us or threaten us with attack.” You can also find President Carter’s response, in which he wrote:
“How can we start a process which could widen our cooperation and simultaneously restrain and finally limit our rivalry. This rivalry--it is real, extremely expensive, and undeniable--can at any moment become very dangerous, which is why we must not allow it to develop without restraint. In my opinion, this demands, at least, first, work to widen where possible our coordinated efforts, especially in the area of limitation of nuclear weapons….”
This archive is searchable by keyword or you can browse by collection. The photo at right, showing presidents Obama and Medvedev at Thursday’s signing ceremony comes from DIPNOTE, the U.S. State Department's official blog.

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