September 17, 1787 – Thirty-nine of our founding fathers, delegates of the Constitutional Convention, signed and put into effect the United States Constitution. The Constitution outlines the “checks and balances” of our three branches of government: Judicial, Executive, and Legislative. That was 233 years ago, and we continue to celebrate that achievement with Constitution Day on September 17, 2020.
The celebration first started in 1940, as the “I Am an American Day,” based on a resolution passed by Congress and President Franklin D. Roosevelt. It was observed on the third Sunday in May. In 1952, the name was changed to “Constitution Day” and moved to September 17th, to reflect the date it was originally signed back in 1787. In 2004, Congress again changed the name, to Constitution and Citizenship Day, to also honor those who have become US citizens.
With a presidential election approaching, now is an excellent time to learn about your rights as an American citizen, including the right to vote.
Constitution Day Resources
For brief general history, fun facts, and easy activity ideas, check out the website National Today and their page on Constitution Day. It is also a fun website to visit to search for holidays and celebrations by month or by topic.
If you want to dig a little deeper for more substantial information, then take a look at the United States Census Bureau’s page on Constitution Day. It may seem like an odd place to locate information about Constitution Day, but the writers of the constitution used population as the basis for sharing political power and the US Census Bureau provides a wide variety of activities, teaching guides, access to historical documents, and interactive maps centered around apportionment and voting trends.
The National Center for State Courts also provides a lot of useful resources, especially lesson plans discussing free speech topics for K-12 students. It links to the Bill of Rights Institute and the Constitution Center, both of which offer interactive student games, lesson plans, and tools to help students understand the freedoms that the constitution offers.
Citizenship Day Resources
For those wanting to explore citizenship or doing research on the topic, consult the US Citizenship and Immigration Services Resource Center. You can also find useful information on How to Apply for US Citizenship at USA.gov, which includes eligibility requirements, the naturalization process, and resources to help you study for the naturalization test. If you are already a citizen of the United States, try taking the test yourself by doing the Civics Practice Test in order to see how well you know your US history and government.
Exercise your right and VOTE!
Election Day is Tuesday, November 3, 2020. There is a lot of uncertainty this year with where and how to vote due to Covid-19, so prepare now. The deadline to register to vote online, to vote in person, and to vote by mail in Indiana is October 5th. The deadline to request a ballot by mail is October 22nd. Plan accordingly and if possible, take advantage of early voting, from October 6th through November 2nd but check for specific dates and hours, which may vary depending on where you live.
If you are a k-12 educator and you are wanting to get your students involved, check out Teaching Tolerance’s Future Voters Project. This is a project devoted to educating students on the importance of voting and to work on getting all eligible students registered to vote by the time they graduate high school.
Political Science Databases
As always, the library subscribes to several research databases that can provide peer reviewed articles on the topics of voting, US citizenship, American civil liberties, and other political science topics. You can locate these databases our Subject Guide for Political Science, Government, and Law at https://iue.libguides.com/db-subjects/PoliticalScience-Government.
One database to highlight from the subject guide is the Digital National Security Archive. It contains curated and indexed declassified government documents covering U.S. policy toward critical world events – including their military, intelligence, diplomatic and human rights dimensions – from 1945 to the present.
We also recommend ProQuest’s Political Science Database. This database gives users access to hundreds of leading political science, public policy, and international relations journals. It also includes thousands of recent full-text doctoral dissertations on political science topics, together with working papers, conference proceedings, country reports, policy papers and other sources.
Another important database in this subject guide is Nexis Uni, which features more than 15,000 news, business, and legal sources from LexisNexis—including U.S. Supreme Court decisions dating back to 1790.
The subject guide also has Opposing Viewpoints in Context, which consists of contextual information and opinions on hundreds of contemporary social issues and features continuously updated viewpoint articles, and topic overviews. We also have numerous databases focused on US historical, international, and current newspapers.
Not listed in the Political Science Subject Guide, is HeinOnline Academic. We currently have a 6-month trial of this database until February of 2021. HeinOnline Academic includes multidisciplinary content in more than 100 subject areas, including history, political science, criminal justice, religious studies, international relations, women’s studies, pre-law, and many more. With more historical content than any other database, HeinOnline provides access to 300+ years of information on political development and the complete history of the creation of government and legal systems around the world. HeinOnline can be found on the A-Z List at https://iue.libguides.com/A-ZList/H.
If you need any assistance in researching any of the topics mentioned here, just Ask US! email@example.com.