Publication Date

September 1, 1990

Perspectives Section


Phi Beta Kappa Traces 200 Years

A new monograph, Phi Beta Kappa in American Life, published by Oxford University Press, chronicles the evolution of Phi Beta Kappa from its 1776 origins as a small literary fraternity at the College of William and Mary to a national honorary society with 240 chapters and more than 400,000 members. Authored by Richard Current, the monograph contains an “Afterword” by former Phi Beta Kappa and AHA President John Hope Franklin.

New Bill of Rights Exhibit from Pennsylvania

The Pennsylvania Humanities Council has developed an exhibit entitled “To Preserve These Rights” to honor the bicentennial of the Bill of Rights. The exhibit consists of twelve light-weight panels, each 24 by 37 inches mounted on three easy-to-assemble freestanding kiosks. The display was developed for use in schools, museums, libraries, and other public spaces. An eighty-page User’s Guide, featuring essays on each of the panels, lesson plans, a bibliography, a filmography, and suggestions for librarians. It is available to accompany the exhibit. The exhibit and Guide are $150.00 including shipping and handling. To order contact the Pennsylvania Humanities Council, 320 Walnut St., Suite 305, Philadelphia, PA 19106; (215) 925-1005.

One-Woman Play Celebrates Lou Henry Hoover

One of the most unusual and successful projects to emerge from the opening of the papers of Lou Henry Hoover has been a two-act, one-woman-play based on the First Lady’s diaries, unpublished manuscripts, and letters. Rebecca Christian, an Iowan journalist, was among the first researchers to mine the archival collection of 260,000 items that were opened to researchers in 1984. Her twenty-six page script blends an eclectic mixture of personal anecdotes with historical fact. Act One portrays Lou Hoover as a young mother in 1914 and Act Two on the night of her death, thirty years later, as the weary, reflective wife of an unpopular former President.

Actress Judy Hovland, who has performed the play for various audiences across the nation, wears authentic replicas of Lou Hoover’s clothes and jewelry, and in the beginning of Act Two, the audience is treated to the music of harpist Mildred Dilling. Dilling had been a frequent performer at the White House during the Hoover administration and it was determined that Lou Hoover had attended a Dilling concert the night of her death, the scene of Act Two. Twenty-six performances have been scheduled for 1990, and other performances will be added as funding becomes available. The Hoover Presidential Library Foundation has found this two-hour play an effective means of educating students and the general public on the life of Herbert and Lou Hoover and welcomes inquiries from historians and educators who would be interested in staging a performance. Contact: Tom Walsh, Executive Director, Hoover Presidential Library Association, P.O. Box 696, West Branch, IA 52358; (319) 643-5327.