Four Archival Picks for the Fourth of July


Bust out your speakers, sprawl out on a picnic blanket and enjoy these Fourth of July picks from the archive: 

1. I’ll have the gospel bird with a side of rabbit fries, please. Finding America through its food. America Eats: A Hidden Archive – The Kitchen Sisters

During the 1930s, the WPA sent dozens of journalists, including Zora Neale Hurston and Eudora Welty, all throughout the country to document how America’s immigrant communities shaped local culinary traditions. Although the program, entitled “America Eats,” was shut down at the outbreak of World War Two, in this piece, The Kitchen Sisters continue the grand legacy of national food reporting.

2. Independence Day on the eve of America’s entry into WWII.  FDR’s Fourth Of July Address (1941) – WWII Broadcasts 

President Franklin Roosevelt gives a Fourth of July address in Hyde Park, New York just months prior to America’s entry into WWII. Evidently already ramping up for U.S. participation, Roosevelt proclaims that “the fundamentals of [freedom established in] 1776 are being struck down abroad.” This is also the recording in which Roosevelt famously said:

… the United States will never survive as a happy and fertile oasis of liberty surrounded by a cruel desert of dictatorship.

3. Everybody has their own American dream, but some of us have to work a lot harder than others to enjoy their piece of it Coming to America – Snap Judgment

Host Glynn Washington invites you to “put on your sunglasses and open up the fire hydrants for Snap Judgment’s Fourth of July special; amazing stories about people making America their home.” One highlight: a second generation Chinese American growing up in rural Virginia starts receiving threatening letters from the KKK, signed “the Wizard.” After her non-English-speaking mother suggests she write back, she adopts “The Wizard” as her whimsical penpal, hoping to swap stickers and playground stories. 

4. How the Declaration of Independence inspired Lincoln’s Gettysburg address. Our Secret Constitution: How Lincoln Redefined American Democracy – Illinois Public Media: Focus 580

In this interview with Focus 580, Columbia Law professor George P. Fletcher claims Lincoln was more inspired by the Declaration of Independence than the Constitution, which he felt only preserved the rights of the propertied white male elite. You know that “four score and seven years ago” line in the Gettysburg Address? It doesn’t date back to the historic document you would expect.