To encourage citizen engagement and transparency, the answer in this administration seems to be contests.
A recent blog headline reads Obama Has Gone Contest Crazy, and after yesterday’s Jeopardy! contest at the National Archives, Archivist of the United States, David Ferriero is a believer in using them as an engagement tool.
“We’re certainly going to repeat what we did yesterday. I’d like to make it an annual event,” which Ferriero said was “a great way for us to promote the collections and let people know what we have here, the richness of the records we’re responsible for.”
The January 6th episode of Jeopardy!, in part taped at the Archives, was screened and then a game was played where contestants vied for a trip to the prize vault, also known as the Archives gift shop.
For yesterday’s challenge, said Ferriero, there were five categories: National Archives Building, Presidential Libraries, Discovering the Civil War, America’s Milestone Documents and Women in the Archives.
He said 181 people were on hand yesterday afternoon, “including a nice group of 8th graders from Ohio” for “Archives Jeopardy!”
The Final Jeopardy! Answer, said Ferriero, was “On the morning of December 21st, 1970, this Army veteran personally delivered this letter to the White House offering his services to Richard Nixon in the War on Drugs.”
During the game, Ferriero said the Archives “had the letter itself on American Airlines stationery” to show to audience members.
The question, of course is, “Who is Elvis Presley?”
Ferriero adds the famous photo of Presley and the President is “the most popular item in our gift shop”.
You might want to remember that for next year’s competition. Ferriero said that “based on yesterday’s success,” he would do it all over again. “I in fact promised the audience, all 181 of them. ‘see you next year!'”