SOURCE: ConSource

August 30, 2007 08:08 ET

Constitutional Sources Project to Launch Fully-Indexed Free Online Library of Constitutional Source Documents at ConSource.Org

Lynne Cheney, Senator Reid and Justice Breyer Teach Students About the Constitution on Constitution Day, September 17

WASHINGTON, DC--(Marketwire - August 30, 2007) - The Constitutional Sources Project, a non-profit organization based in Washington, D.C., will partner with the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia to launch ConSource.org, the only free fully-indexed online library of constitutional sources, on Constitution Day, September 17, the 220th anniversary of the signing of the U.S. Constitution.

To celebrate, author and historian Lynne Cheney, wife of Vice President Dick Cheney, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer will teach a nationwide audience of students about the Constitution via webcast from three separate venues using documents accessible on www.ConSource.org.

In partnering with The Constitutional Sources Project, the National Constitution Center will kick off its annual Constitution Day celebration with the ConSource launch. The day also includes the induction of Elizabeth Eckford -- one of the students who integrated Little Rock, Arkansas's Central High School in 1957 -- into a permanent exhibit honoring 100 people who shaped Constitutional history.

"ConSource is a remarkable resource," said Joe Torsella, President and CEO of the National Constitution Center. "We are delighted to be part of a project that makes available to all -- students and adults alike -- historic documents that can connect them to our nation's constitutional heritage."

Silhouetted by Independence Hall, Mrs. Cheney will teach the story of the Constitution to sixth-graders from Independence Charter School, live from the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, Constitution Day morning.

"Without the Constitution, America was weak and divided," Mrs. Cheney said. "With it, we have become a great and mighty nation. Our children deserve to know the story of this amazing document."

Senator Reid will join the launch via broadcast from the United States Capitol, where he will teach a group of eighth-graders from Frost Middle School and Wooton High School in Maryland about the constitutional role of Congress.

"The Constitution is a living document that remains very relevant to our day-to-day work in Congress," said Senator Reid. "In bringing to light documents that explain the Constitution, ConSource is providing a valuable service to students, scholars, and public officials alike."

Justice Breyer, who recently wrote "Active Liberty: Interpreting Our Democratic Constitution" for teenagers and college students, will also join the launch via broadcast from Harvard Law School. He'll be teaching City Year's youth leadership programs, Young Heroes and City Heroes, as well as Beacon Academy students and alumni about constitutional review.

"I see this project and say thank you!" said Justice Breyer. "This fine tool will be useful to all Americans, but especially here at the Court and in similar courts across the country. The more information we have to interpret the Constitution, the better."

The Constitutional Sources Project began in February 2005 with the mission to create the first complete, reliable, easy-to-use and fully searchable online database of original source materials for the United States Constitution so that scholars, educators, lawyers, judges, and government personnel could have free remote access to them.

"This mission was inspired, in part, by James Madison's vision for creating the 'best history' of the country (see footnote below)," said Lorianne Updike, co-founder, president & executive director of ConSource. "I had to travel two thousands miles just to see the transcriptions of the documents I needed to publish a paper on Thomas Jefferson's 'wall of separation between church and state' letter. Without the 'best history' of the Constitution's creation, we cannot effectively study, teach, interpret, or apply the document that has changed our every day lives, the country and the world over."

The project currently houses approximately 1,000 of the most important source documents of the Constitution, including all of James Madison's handwritten notes of the Constitutional Convention and the very first digital collection of the original Federalist Papers. The website has various social networking capabilities and uses wiki technology so that individuals and institutions can upload content and interpretive materials and help the project to transcribe, proofread, and index source materials.

"There is something powerful about seeing the original handwriting of those who authored these documents; it brings the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and the founders of our remaining 17 amendments to life," said Ms. Updike.

On September 17, visit www.ConSource.org to search digitized and indexed versions of Constitution-related documents previously archived in 90 separate locations across the country. The ConSource public launch is sponsored by Davis, Polk & Wardwell, UPS, and Verizon.

About The Constitutional Sources Project

Founded in May of 2005, The Constitutional Sources Project is creating the first, comprehensive, online library of fully-indexed Constitution-related source materials and providing it to "We the People" for free at www.ConSource.org. Full access to the site and collections will be available on Constitution Day, September 17, 2007. This new medium will give the Founders, Reconstructionists, and original Feminists voices in the classroom and courtroom, providing everyone from the sixth grader to the Supreme Court justice with the best history of the Constitution. Collections include James Madison's Notes of the Constitutional Convention, The Federalist Papers, the Anti and Pro-Federalist Papers, State Ratification Debates for seven states, the Bill of Rights' Legislative History and personal letters detailing the workings behind-the-scenes during ratification and the passage of the Bill of Rights called the Founders' Papers.

About the National Constitution Center

The National Constitution Center, located at 525 Arch St. on Philadelphia's Independence Mall, is an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing public understanding of the U.S. Constitution and the ideas and values it represents. The Center serves as a museum, an education center, and a forum for debate on constitutional issues. The museum dramatically tells the story of the Constitution from Revolutionary times to the present through more than 100 interactive, multimedia exhibits, film, photographs, text, sculpture and artifacts, and features a powerful, award-winning theatrical performance, "Freedom Rising." The Center also houses the Annenberg Center for Education and Outreach, which serves as the hub for national constitutional education. Also, as a nonpartisan forum for constitutional discourse, the Center presents -- without endorsement -- programs that contain diverse viewpoints on a broad range of issues. For more information, call 215.409.6700 or visit www.constitutioncenter.org.

Footnote Reference

It has been the misfortune of history that a personal knowledge and an impartial judgment of things rarely meet in the historian. The best history of our Country, therefore, must be the fruit of contributions bequeathed by contemporary actors and witnesses to successors who will make an unbiased use of them. And if the abundance and authenticity of the materials which still exist in the private as well as public repositories among us should descend to hands capable of doing justice to them, the American History may be expected to contain more truth, and lessons, certainly not less valuable, than those of any Country or age. James Madison to Edward Everett (Mar. 19, 1823) in 3 Letters and Other Writings of James Madison 308-09 (Philadelphia, 1855) (emphasis added).

Contact Information

  • Contact:

    Amber Henrie
    Coltrin & Associates for ConSource
    (212) 221-1616
    Email Contact

    Jennifer Webb
    Coltrin & Associates for ConSource
    (801) 350-9412
    Email Contact