February 17, 2012 — To mark Presidents Day, the Miller Center at the University of Virginia has launched "Presidential Classroom," an online resource to teach students about the U.S. presidency and government. The site includes exhibits and lesson plans on key moments in our nation's history that feature the center's unique materials, such as audio and transcripts of the secret White House tapes recorded by every president from Franklin Roosevelt to Richard Nixon.
"On this Presidents Day, students across the country will be learning about Washington, Lincoln and the other presidents who have led our country," said Gov. Gerald L. Baliles, director and CEO of the Miller Center.
"'Presidential Classroom' will be an invaluable resource for both these students and their teachers, providing them with unparalleled, in-depth materials about some of our country's most pivotal moments. History will come alive for those who log onto the site." Visitors to the site can hear John F. Kennedy telling his advisers that going to the moon is a top priority; calls from Air Force One as it traveled back to Washington following Kennedy's assassination; a conversation between Nixon and National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger about withdrawing from Vietnam; and many more historic moments. Many of the exhibits include biographical information and related documents. There are also lesson plans on these and other topics. New exhibits will be added regularly. Presidential Classroom also offers access to other Miller Center resources, including:
• Expert essays on all U.S. presidents, first ladies and cabinet officials;
• The most comprehensive presidential speech archive available online;
• Audio and transcripts of the secret White House tapes recorded by every president from Roosevelt to Nixon;
• Released oral-history interviews conducted by scholars on recent presidential administrations, including interviews with presidents, their closest advisers and members of their administrations;
• Videos of remarks by leading government officials, scholars, authors and journalists discussing policymaking as well as historical and current events.
Presidential Classroom was originally an organization that pioneered nonpartisan civic education through Washington-based programs beginning in 1969. It became affiliated with the Miller Center in November. Sharing a mission to promote nonpartisan civic education, the two organizations combined resources to create the new Presidential Classroom.
Presidential Classroom has introduced over 120,000 students to government, business, politics, advocacy organizations and citizenry. The new Presidential Classroom will allow these alumni to reconnect through the website and a new Facebook page.
The Miller Center will also create a small advisory group of scholars, journalists and representatives of Presidential Classroom to meet semi-annually to receive reports and review this work.
Additionally, the Miller Center will annually convene an in-depth civic education symposium for teachers in honor of John R. Sims Jr., founder of Presidential Classroom and a U.Va. alumnus.