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& About this Guide

This guide is provided to help anyone begin to understand:
This guide is intentionally neutral, favoring no particular ideological persuasion.

While notions for change often find their origin in very specific feelings or reactions to certain ideas or situations, most of the "good change" really comes down to information - good information - not merely "sound bytes" or political talking points but facts which can be confirmed, acknowledged, independently studied and questioned, and used as a foundation for any notion of improving ourselves and our community.

Strong critical thinking skills are absolutely necessary if you are to undertake any cause for change. In learning how to evaluate information - particularly claims and sources of information - you can strengthen your cause, proceeding with diligence, validity, and powerful purpose.

And, while public libraries are generally neutral in their mission to serve everyone, offering complete access to the full spectrum of ideas, public libraries are, in fact, advocates of democracy through free access to information: they can and should be used to gain new knowledge, which can then lead to greater understanding, more informed decisions, and heightened mindfulness of how things work and, perhaps more importantly, how things could be improved, personally and socially, through free and self-empowering access to information.

Only once we begin to understand our world - where we have been and what has been fought for, in terms of rights and freedoms and why - can we truly begin to contemplate social change, learning some crucial concepts and history so as not to repeat the mistakes of the past while achieving awareness essential to any realistic hopes for a better future, for ourselves and for others.

With that in mind, we invite you to explore this guide to learn about such things as...

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Civics 101
Key Concepts, Words to Know

Concepts + Overviews

Citizenship - Basics

From U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) - information for anyone interested in a quick overview / brush-up on U.S. government and citizenship:
Citizenship Rights and Responsibilities
A Promise of Freedom: An Introduction to U.S. History and Civics
Video. "This 12-minute film focuses on the history and founding of our nation and the important rights and responsibilities of U.S. citizenship."
Preparing for the Oath: U.S. History and Civics for Citizenship
"A web-based learning tool that supports aspiring citizens' efforts to prepare for the civics portion of the naturalization test. This interactive online resource presents videos and activities that showcase artifacts from the Smithsonian Institution's collections and exhibitions. Preparing for the Oath: U.S. History and Civics for Citizenship features the 100 questions and answers from the naturalization test; lesson plans to assist teachers with their classroom activities; a word list with definitions of terms; and the opportunity for users to test themselves. In addition, the script of each narration has been transcribed and is available for printing. Preparing for the Oath is a product of the National Museum of American History (NMAH) and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)."

Government - Basics

Ben's Guide to U.S. Government
"Ben's Guide to the U.S. Government... is designed to inform students, parents, and educators about the Federal Government, which issues the publications and information products disseminated by the GPO's Federal Depository Library Program." From the Government Publishing Office (GPO).
Federal Versus State Government
An explanation of the differences.
Branches of Government in New York State
From the NYS Senate.
The Citizen's Almanac
PDF. "Fundamental documents, symbols, and anthems of the United States." Includes Presidential and Historical Speeches and landmark Supreme Court decisions. From U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
Civics 101
Audio podcast. "What's the difference between the House and the Senate? How do congressional investigations work? What is Federalist X actually about? Civics 101 is the podcast refresher course on the basics of how our democracy works." From NPR, New Hampshire Public Radio.

See also these podcast links:
Constitutional Amendment Process
An overview of what is involved. From the U.S. National Archives.
CRS Annotated Constitution
Commentary and explanations with links to related information (Supreme Court, U.S. Code, and the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). From the Library of Congress' Congressional Research Services (CRS) and Cornell Legal Information Institute (LII).
Infographics - from USA.gov:
Branches of the U.S. Government
How a Bill Becomes a Law
How the U.S. Government Is Organized
How the Supreme Court Works
Government Departments and Agencies
A-Z index. From USA.gov.
Learn About the United States
PDF. "Study booklet containing short lessons based on each of the 100 civics questions and answers on the naturalization test." Very useful for anyone looking for a brief overview of U.S. Government basics. Answers are provided along with explanations. From U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
Locating a State Constitution: A Beginner's Guide
A guide to finding current and historic constitutions. From the Library of Congress.
Separation of Powers: An Overview
From National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL).
States' Rights
An explanatory article from Encyclopedia Britannica.
United States Government Manual
"As the official handbook of the Federal Government, The United States Government Manual provides information on the agencies of the legislative, judicial, and executive branches. It also includes information on quasi-official agencies; international organizations in which the United States participates; and boards, commissions, and committees. The Manual begins with reprints of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. A typical agency description includes a list of officials heading major operating units, a summary statement of the agency's purpose and role in the Federal Government, a brief history of the agency, including its legislative or executive authority, and a description of its programs and activities, and information, addresses, and phone numbers to help users locate detailed information on consumer activities, contracts and grants, employment, publications, and other matters of public interest." From the U.S. Government Publishing Office (GPO).

Go deeper - see also:

Government - Catalog Subjects:

Law - Basics

Federal Statutes: A Beginner's Guide
From the Library of Congress.
Federal Statutes and Regulations
Learn about the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), the Federal Register, and the U.S. Code (USC). From the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI).
How Federal Laws Are Made
From USA.gov.
What's the Difference Between Laws and Regulations?
An explanation from FindLaw.com.
What Is Case Law?
An explanatory article from FindLaw.

Go deeper - see also:

Law - Catalog Subjects:

Documents + Speeches to Know

America's Historic Documents
From the U.S. National Archives (NARA):
Articles of Confederation
Civil Rights
The Constitution
Amendments to the Constitution (1-10: The Bill of Rights)
Amendments to the Constitution (11-27)
The Declaration of Independence
Emancipation Proclamation
Human Rights
Voting Rights Act
Women's Right to Vote
Important Speeches in U.S. History
From Infoplease. See also:
Famous Presidential Speeches
Top 100 American Speeches of the Twentieth Century
The Interactive Constitution
"In the Interactive Constitution, scholars from across the legal and philosophical spectrum interact with each other to explore the meaning of each provision of the Constitution. Here's how the Interactive process works: Scholars are selected with guidance from leaders of the American Constitution Society and the Federalist Society-two prominent constitutional law organizations that represent different viewpoints on the Constitution. Leaders of each organization recommend scholars to write about each provision of the Constitution. The pairs of scholars find common ground, writing a joint statement of what they agree upon about that provision's history and meaning. Then the scholars write individual statements describing their divergent views on that part of the Constitution." From the National Constitution Center, "first and only institution in America established by Congress to 'disseminate information about the United States Constitution on a nonpartisan basis in order to increase the awareness and understanding of the Constitution among the American people.'"
Our Documents: 100 Milestone Documents
Includes: Lee Resolution (1776), Declaration of Independence (1776), Articles of Confederation (1777), Treaty of Alliance with France (1778), Treaty of Paris (1783), Virginia Plan (1787), Northwest Ordinance (1787), Constitution of the United States (1787), Federalist Papers (1787-1788), Federal Judiciary Act (1789), Bill of Rights (1791), Alien and Sedition Acts (1798), Treaty of Ghent (1814), Monroe Doctrine (1823), Homestead Act (1862), Pacific Railway Act (1862), Emancipation Proclamation (1863), Gettysburg Address (1863), National Labor Relations Act (1935), Social Security Act (1935), United Nations Charter (1945), Truman Doctrine (1947), Marshall Plan (1948), Brown v. Board of Education (1954), Civil Rights Act (1964), Social Security Act Amendments (1965), Voting Rights Act (1965), and many more.
Primary Documents in American History
"This Web site provides links to materials digitized from the collections of the Library of Congress that supplement and enhance the study of these crucial documents." Browse by Section / Topic: 1775-1815 (The American Revolution and the New Nation), 1815-1860 (National Expansion and Reform), 1860-1877 (Civil War and Reconstruction), 1878-1920 (Gilded Age and Progressive Era). From the Library of Congress.
Supreme Court - Cases and Decisions
Thrall's directory of online resources.

Go deeper - see also:

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Words to Know

Basic Government Terms

Ben's Guide to the U.S. Government: Glossary
Basic concepts and definitions.
Glossary of Congressional Terms
"The following are terms that may appear in description of congressional records." From the U.S. House of Representatives.
U.S. Government and Politics Glossary
From SparkNotes.com.
U.S. Senate Glossary
From Senate.gov.

Election Terminology

Definitions of Common Voting and Election Terms
"Learn the meaning of common terms used in voting and elections." From USA.gov.
Glossary of Election Terminology
From the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC).
U.S. Election Glossary
From BBC.com.

Legal / Legislative Terms

Glossary of Legal Terms
From United States Courts.
Glossary of Legislative Terms
From the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL).
Legal Terms Glossary
From the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).
Legislative Glossary
"Brief explanations of legislative terms used throughout Congress.gov."

Political Science / Politics Terms

Political Philosophy: Methodology
An in-depth academic article from the peer-reviewed Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy (IEP). Topics include: Political Schools of Thought, Liberalism, Conservatism, Socialism, Capitalism, Anarchism, Environmentalism, and more.
Political Science Terms and Concepts
From InfoPlease.com.
U.S. Government and Politics Glossary
From SparkNotes.com.
Vocabulary: Political Words
"If you can't tell a lame duck from a rubber chicken, here's a guide to help you understand the language of politics." From Scholastic.

Go deeper - see also:

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Where We've Been, Fights + Rights

Fights for Rights, Equality, Non-discrimination

Rights Movements

Civil Rights and American Indians: History and Law
From FindLaw.com.
Civil Rights Movement
Directory of resources listed in Middletown Thrall Library's Black History information guide.
LGBTQ Studies Research Guide
From the Library of Congress.
Women's Equality + Suffrage
Directory of resources listed in Middletown Thrall Library's Women's History information guide.

The U.S. Supreme Court

Supreme Court Landmarks
"Participate in interactive landmark Supreme Court cases that have shaped history and have an impact on law-abiding citizens today."
The United States Supreme Court:
The Court and Constitutional Interpretation
The Court and Its Procedures
Supreme Court Justices
Judicial Review
A brief overview provided by Scholastic.
Landmark Cases
Videos. Browse by Season and then Supreme Court case. "Landmark Cases explores the human stories and constitutional dramas behind some of the most significant and frequently cited decisions in the Supreme Court's history. Produced in partnership with the National Constitution Center, this series delves into cases that represent some of the tipping points in our nation's story and in our evolving understanding of rights in America." From C-SPAN.

Go deeper - see also:

Rights to Know

Americans with Disabilities Act
Law prohibiting discrimination against Americans with disabilities (physical and/or mental). Official information from ADA.gov. For a concise overview of the ADA, please see this U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) website: https://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/publications/fs-ada.cfm
The Declaration of Independence
A concise summary / overview from SparkNotes.com.
Explaining the Bill of Rights
A brief overview of the first ten Amendments to the U.S. Constitution (g. Freedom of Religion, Freedom of Speech, Freedom of the Press, Freedom of Assembly, etc.).
Federal Privacy Act
A brief overview provided by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)
"Since 1967, the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) has provided the public the right to request access to records from any federal agency."

See also:
Freedom of Information Law (FOIL)
From New York State, Dept. of State, Committee on Open Government.
Fundamental Rights
"A group of rights that have been recognized by the Supreme Court as requiring a high degree of protection from government encroachment." Overview from the Cornell Legal Information Institute (LII).
Housing and Tenant's Rights in New York State
From the New York State Attorney General.
Human Rights Watch
News and reports concerning international human rights issues. "Each year, Human Rights Watch publishes more than 100 reports and briefings on human rights conditions in some 90 countries, generating extensive coverage in local and international media. With the leverage this brings, Human Rights Watch meets with governments, the United Nations, regional groups like the African Union and the European Union, financial institutions, and corporations to press for changes in policy and practice that promote human rights and justice around the world." See also:
Human Rights Education website
"Resources for educators and students about how to defend dignity and equality at home and abroad."
Intellectual Property Rights - What Are They?
An overview from the World Trade Organization (WTO).
Miranda Rights
From FindLaw.com.
National Labor Relations Act (NLRA)
Concerning labor law, unfair labor practices, unions, collective bargaining, and related topics. Overview from the Cornell Legal Information Institute (LII).
Patients' Rights in New York State
From the New York State Department of Health. See also:
Patient Rights
From the American Medical Association (AMA) Code of Ethics.
Overview from the Cornell Legal Information Institute (LII).
Rights in America
"Explore the ways Americans have fought for, attained, and protected their rights." Fromc Docsteach.org.
Taxpayer Rights
Includes the Taxpayer Bill of Rights. From the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
Universal Declaration of Human Rights
From the United Nations (UN).
Victims' Rights
From the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).
Voting Rights Laws: A History
From the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).
Worker Rights and Protections
From the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

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How They Work, Running for Office

General Information about Elections

Directory of websites concerning federal, state and local elections in the United Staes including information on registering to vote.
Federal Voting Assistance Program
Voting help for Uniformed Service Members, their families, and Citizens living outside the United States.
New York State Board Of Elections - Register to Vote
Includes qualifications and links to downloadable forms.
Orange County Board of Elections - Voter Information
From the Orange County, New York website. See also their Orange County Polling Place locator.
Resources for Voters
"The public will find information about topics such as registering to vote and serving as a poll worker along with studies on how, where and when we vote." From U.S. Election Assistance Commission.
Vote Smart
Locate your candidates for both local and federal offices by entering your zip code, address or candidate name. Includes biographies, voting records, issue positions, campaign finance information and more.

Creating Political Action Committees

FEC: Registering as a Political Action Committee
New York State: Committee Types

Running for Office

Federal Election Commission (Federal Offices)
Includes guides for candidates and committees and legal resources.
New York State Board of Elections (State and Local Offices)
Orange County Board of Elections (Local Offices)

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Taking Action
Advocacy, Gov. Contacts, Lobbying, Protests...

Comprehensive Websites

Community Toolbox
"The Community Tool Box is a free, online resource for those working to build healthier communities and bring about social change. It offers thousands of pages of tips and tools for taking action in communities." From the University of Kansas.
Planning to Win: The Just Enough Guide for Campaigns.
"If you are looking to win support for an issue, impact policy, or get a corporation or government body to change its policies, this guide is for you. This guide is designed to work best with issue campaigns, policy campaigns and corporate campaigns. It could also help you with another type of campaign, like fundraising or long-term perception change campaigns, but we chose to focus on the types of campaigns mentioned to make the tool more concise. However, it is not meant for marketing campaigns or those running for public office." From Spitfire Strategies and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

Advocating and Lobbying

Contacting Elected Officials and Representatives
Find Your Representative
From the U.S. House of Representatives
How to Contact U.S. Senators
From the U.S. Senate
How to Contact Your Elected Officials
From USA.gov
Local, State and Federal Elected Officials
Middletown Thrall Library directory of locally elected representatives.
A Citizen's Guide to Buying Political Access
A special report from The New York Times published Nov. 2014.
Elements of Lobbying Style
A good introduction to lobbying. Include 21 excellent pointers "to behaving effectively, and avoiding commonplace mistakes when lobbying." From EarthDesk at Pace University.
Everyday Advocacy Resources
"From advocacy toolkits and informative 'how to' sheets to recent opinion pieces and material about federal, state, and local lobbying laws, this section of our website provides resources to nonprofit leaders about ways to advance their missions through everyday advocacy." From the National Council of Nonprofits.
Lobbying Decisionmakers
Includes the what, when, why and how of lobbying. From the Community Toolbox at the University of Kansas.
Lobbying Ethics
Definition and information on the ethical aspects of lobbying. From Santa Clara University Markkula Center for Applied Ethics.
Lobbyist Regulation
"Lobbying a citizens' right to speak freely, to affect decisions and petition the government is a crucial right, and an important part of the legislative process. This right has also created an industry whose numbers have increased dramatically. A 2006 survey by the Center for Public Integrity put the number of paid lobbyists at state legislatures at near 40,000 and growing. State lobbying laws have sprung up in response to the proliferation of the third house and the influence that it exerts. The details of each state's lobbying laws differ markedly, so much so that nearly 50 different versions exist. There are common themes, however. All states define who is a lobbyist and what is lobbying, and all definitions reflect that lobbying is an attempt to influence government action. All states have lobbyist registration requirements, and all require lobbyists to report on their activities. In addition to tracking the above issues, the Center for Ethics in Government has information on lobbyist oversight entities, restrictions on the use of public funds for lobbying, lobbyist contingency fees, lobbyist identification, prohibitions against false statements and reports and legislators disclosure of lobbyist connections." From the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Resources for Advocacy and Government Relation Professionals
Includes webinars (online seminars) and downloadable PDFs. From CQ (formerly Congressional Quarterly). E-mail required for downloading PDFs. Please be sure to click/tap their "LOAD MORE" button several times to view additional resources.
Some article / PDF highlights:
Writing Letters to the Editor
Learn how to write and send effective print and e-mailed letters to editors of various media types, together with examples, that will gain both editorial and reader support. From the Community Toolbox at the University of Kansas.

Legislation - Making & Changing Laws

A Beginner's Guide to Legislative Drafting
An article from the Harvard Journal on Legislation.
Guide to Legislative Drafting
Although not meant for the public, this online guide to drafting federal legislation is helpful to anyone. Take a look at Approaching a Problem and the Quick Guide to Legislative Drafting (PDF) as well. From the U.S. House of Representatives: Office of the Legislative Counsel.
How to Change a Law Through the Democratic Process
An brief overview presentation on how anyone can work to change the law.

See also Law - Basics


Contacting Elected Officials

Find Your Representative
The Find Your Representative feature allows the identification of members through zip codes. Representatives websites and contact information links are then displayed. From the United States House of Representatives.
How to Contact U.S. Senators
Find the best methods for contacting U.S. Senators. Also includes links to biographical profiles, senate statistics, and much more. From the United States Senate.
How to Contact Your Elected Officials
This web page, part of a comprehensive guide published by the U.S. Government, provides further information on contacting your federal, state, and locally elected officials.
Local Government Agencies
A compilation of resources for easily contacting state and locally elected officials. From Middletown Thrall Library.

Composing Written Correspondence to Officials

Building A Piece of Writing
"Good writers use various techniques to make sure that their writing holds together and reads well." Help for increasing the impact of a written statement. From OxfordDictionaries.com
How to Write a Letter to Congress
Provides more effective strategies for writing to members of congress. From Write Express.
So, you're going to write your Congressman? Good idea. Make it a good letter.
Tips from the International Downtown Association on addressing elected officials.
Tips For Writing Effective Letters To Elected Officials
A template and pointers for composing letters to elected officials. From the Corporation for National and Community Service.

Petitioning for Change

How To Start A Petition
"Petition writing isn't time-consuming or especially demanding. But there are a few do's and don'ts that will make your petition drive have more impact on its recipients." From Useful Community Development.org.
Petitions | Crowdfunding | Community: How to Use Change.org
Provides techniques for not only creating a winning petition, but also for sharing your petition and engaging your supporters. From Change.org.

Organizing a Demonstration

Know Your Rights: Demonstrations and Protests
This site's question and answer format provides guidelines on free speech and civil rights during demonstrations. From the American Civil Liberties Union.
Organizing Public Demonstrations
Besides explaining how and when to organize a public demonstration, this educational site provides additional information on the forms and goals of various types of demonstrations. From the Center for Community Health and Development at the University of Kansas.
Protest Laws by State
Provides key information on protest laws by state, "...including examples of demonstration permit procedures from key cities." From FindLaw.com.
Right To Peaceful Assembly
Reviews the protection the First Amendment affords of the right to conduct a peaceful public assembly. From the Law Library of Congress.
Seven Tips on How to Organize a Peaceful Protest
"Non violent protest is a cornerstone of democracy. Whether you are protesting the need to raise the minimum wage or to promote inclusion in divided societies, the persuasiveness of non violent demonstration can dramatically change public policy." From the McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies, University of Massachusetts.

For Further Consideration

Historic Persons
Mahatma Gandhi
Gandhi's Salt March, The Nonviolent Journey that Changed the World
Article from MSNBC.
How Mahatma Gandhi Changed Political Protest
Article from National Geographic. Free membership required to view article.
Salt March
Encyclopedia Britannica article.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
How Martin Luther King Jr. Took Inspiration From Gandhi on Nonviolence
Article from Biography.com.
The King Philosophy
"The King Philosophy includes the Triple Evils, Six Principles Of Nonviolence, Six Steps of Nonviolent Social Change and The Beloved Community." From The King Center.
Article from Standford University, The Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute
Why Martin Luther King Jr.'s Lessons About Peaceful Protests Are Still Relevant
Article from TIME.
Henry David Thoreau
Civil Disobedience
Encyclopedic entry.
Civil Disobedience
Wikipedia article. As always, please note their disclaimers.
On the Duty of Civil Disobedience
Text. See also this electronic audio book version.

International Center for Nonviolent Conflict
"Civil resistance movements - featuring tactics such as strikes, boycotts, mass demonstrations, acts of noncooperation, and many other nonviolent actions - are capturing the world's attention as never before. The International Center on Nonviolent Conflict (ICNC) focuses on how these movements can build their effectiveness and win rights, freedom, and justice."
See also: Civil Resistance
Definition with examples.
The Resource Center for Nonviolence: Nonviolent Action Campaigns
"The Resource Center for Nonviolence is a peace, justice and antiracism organization promoting the practice of nonviolent social change. Located in Santa Cruz, California, RCNV was founded in 1976. Our primary mission is to support the growth of nonviolent activists."

Other Websites
Glossary of Nonviolence
From The King Center.
Nonviolent Resistance Proves Potent Weapon
Article from Harvard Gazette/
Nonviolent Resistance
Wikipedia article. As always, please note their disclaimers.
Ten Nonviolent Protests
Article from TIME.

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For Further Exploration
Books, Databases, Multimedia, News, Organizations...

Please select a subtopic:

Books       Other Resources (Databases, Multimedia, News, Organizations...)

Books: Inspirational + Informative Reads
Fiction + Nonfiction Titles & Authors

You can use these select works of fiction and nonfiction to explore - or experience -
literary and historic perspectives and struggles for fairness, rights, regulations,
democracy, freedoms, personal and cultural empowerment, truth, and equality.

Title links lead to search results in the Thrall / RCLS library catalog,
where you can check on availability and/or reserve items.

Author name links enable you explore multiple titles in the catalog by that author.

Some books are available as RCLS/OverDrive eBooks and/or eAudioBooks and are marked as such.

Certain literary classics noted with "Project Gutenberg," "LibriVox," etc. links can be read online.

Classic + Contemporary Fiction + by Theme

Bureaucracy, Power
The Castle - Franz Kafka
Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
Lord of the Flies - William Golding
Also in:

Dystopian Societies
Animal Farm - George Orwell
Also in:
Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
Also in:
Fahrenheit 451 - Ray Bradbury
Also in:
The Giver - Lois Lowry
Also in:
The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood
Also in:
The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins
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It Can't Happen Here - Sinclair Lewis
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1984 - George Orwell
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Ready Player One - Ernest Cline
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Holocaust, Genocide
The Book Thief - Markus Zusak
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The Librarian of Auschwitz - Antonio Iturbe
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Milkweed - Jerry Spinelli
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The Paris Architect - Charles Belfoure
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Schindler's List - Thomas Keneally
We Were the Lucky Ones - Georgia Hunter
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Immigrant Experiences
Americanah - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Also in:
Call It Sleep - Henry Roth
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The House on Mango Street - Sandra Cisneros
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How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents - Julia Alvarez
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The Joy Luck Club - Amy Tan
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The Namesake - Jhumpa Lahiri
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Interpreter of Maladies - Jhumpa Lahiri
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What Is the What - Dave Eggers
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Ostracism, Fitting in, & Social Acceptance
(see also Racism below)
The Bluest Eye - Toni Morrison
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The Crucible - Arthur Miller
Also in:
Flowers for Algernon - Daniel Keyes
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Girl in Translation - Jean Kwok
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The Lacuna - Barbara Kingsolver
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Racism, Segregation, Slavery, Equality
(see also Ostracism above)
The Color Purple - Alice Walker
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The Help - Kathryn Stockett
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Invisible Man - Ralph Ellison
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A Raisin in the Sun - Lorraine Hansberry
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Roots - Alex Haley
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Things Fall Apart - Chinua Achebe
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To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
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Social Injustice
(see also Racism above)
The Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
Also in:

War, War-torn Lives
All Quiet on the Western Front - Erich Maria Remarque
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The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
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A Separate Peace - John Knowles
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Slaughterhouse-Five - Kurt Vonnegut
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A Thousand Splendid Suns - Khaled Hosseini
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Nonfiction - Classics + Notable Works by Theme

African-American History
The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. - Martin Luther King, Jr.
Also in:
Letter from the Birmingham Jail - Martin Luther King Jr.
Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass - Frederick Douglass
Also in:
Notes of a Native Son - James Baldwin
Also in:
Race Matters - Cornel West

American History
(see also Government below)
Founding Mothers: The Women Who Raised Our Nation - Cokie Roberts
Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong - James W. Loewen
A People's History of the United States - Howard Zinn
Also in:
Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln - Doris Kearns Goodwin
Also in:

Civil Disobedience + Protests
Gandhi on Non-Violence: Selected Texts from Mohandas K. Gandhi's Non-Violence in Peace and War - Thomas Merton
The Protest Singer: An Intimate Portrait of Pete Seeger - Alec Wilkinson
Also in:
This Is an Uprising: How Nonviolent Revolt Is Shaping the Twenty-First Century - Mark Engler

Civil Rights, Human Rights
(see also Women's Rights below)
A Call to Conscience: The Landmark Speeches of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. - Clayborne Carson
Also in:
The Crusades of Cesar Chavez: A Biography - Miriam Pawel
Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide - Nicholas D. Kristof
Also in:
A More Beautiful and Terrible History: The Uses and Misuses of Civil Rights History - Jeanne Theoharis
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When We Rise: My Life in the Movement - Cleve Jones
Also in:

Government + Political Science / Philosophy
(see also American History above)
Two Treatises of Government - John Locke
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Holocaust + Genocide
Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning - Timothy Snyder
Also in:
The Diary of a Young Girl - Anne Frank
Also in:
Man's Search for Meaning - Viktor E. Frankl
Also in:
Night - Elie Wiesel
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Immigrant Experiences
Angela's Ashes - Frank McCourt
Also in:
Call Me American - Abdi Nor Iftin
Also in:
City of Dreams - Tyler Anbinder
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Funny in Farsi - Firoozeh Dumas
The Girl Who Smiled Beads - Clemantine Wamariya
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Strength in What Remains - Tracy Kidder
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The Warmth of Other Suns - Isabel Wilkerson
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Where the Wind Leads - Vinh Chung
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Native American
Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West - Dee Brown
Also in:
The Earth Is Weeping: The Epic Story of the Indian Wars for the American West - Peter Cozzens
Also in:
Trail of Tears - John Ehle

Between the World and Me - Ta-Nehisi Coates
Also in:
The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America - Richard Rothstein
Also in:
The Color of Water - James McBride
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The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks about Race - Jesmyn Ward
Also in:
Long Walk to Freedom - Nelson Mandela
Ordinary Light - Tracy K. Smith
Also in:
Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America - Ibram X. Kendi
Also in:
Trace: Memory, History, Race, and the American Landscape - Lauret Savoy
Also in:

Woman's Rights, Feminism
The Beauty Myth - Naomi Wolf
The Feminine Mystique - Betty Friedan
I Am Malala - Malala Yousafzai
Also in:
In Praise of Difficult Women - Karen Karbo
Also in:
A Room of One's Own - Virginia Woolf
Also in:
The Second Sex - Simone de Beauvoir
We Should All Be Feminists - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Also in:
The Woman's Hour: The Great Fight to Win the Vote - Elaine Weiss
Also in:

Other Online Resources

Databases     News     Multimedia     Organizations    

Databases + Encyclopedias

Available to members of Middletown Thrall Library.

Academic OneFile & General OneFile
Find articles on any topic in journals, newspapers, and other periodical publications.
Biography Databases
Information on notable and historical persons from around the world. Available to members of Thrall.
Community Organizations Database
Basic contact information for community organizations located within (or serving citizens in) Orange County, NY. You can search by keyword or browse. From Middletown Thrall Library.
History Databases
Explore American and World History in depth. Includes American Immigration, Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual/Transgender Events, Great Events from History, Milestone Documents in American History, as well as these series: American Decades (1900-1999; 2000-) ("provides fresh insight into the decade's most important events, people, and issues"), and This Is Who We Were ("explores American life from the 1880s to the 1980s").
Know Your World
From one simple interface you can investigate major ideas, places, persons, and events - past and present - without typing! Just select something, specifying what to search, and press "go." Instantly locate articles within our subscription databases and online encyclopedias - or easily identify related items (books, DVDs, etc.) in our library system. You can also follow our guide links to locate potentially informative websites or quickly access our Ask a Librarian service to inquire further on any topic!
Multicultutral Databases + Encyclopedias
Explore cultures across the world and throughout history.
New Dictionary of the History of Ideas
"What are the origins of the concepts under which we organize societies, create institutions and think about our lives? Where did the concept of God or equal rights or democracy come from? How does one idea influence another? Such questions fuel debates, speeches, papers and assignments in history classes, school speaking competitions, ethics classes and more."
Newspaper Databases
Research current and historic events. Includes The New York Times (current + historic, back to 1857).
Opposing Viewpoints in Context
This database can be used to explore a variety of "pro" (for) and "con" (against) viewpoints on numerous topics. Browse or search for an issue and view full text articles to learn more about different positions, controversies, arguments, disagreements, and similar opinions shared by scholars and experts. Articles come from magazines, academic journals, newspapers, primary source documents, government documents, and other sources.
Social + Economic Issues
Explore InfoTrac Collections (which include Diversity Studies, Environmental Studies, Gender Studies, among others), The Reference Shelf (which explores topics such as Campaign Trends, Immigration, Privacy Rights, and Race), World News Digest (" seven decades of news from the renowned Facts On File World News Digest in print") and more.
Worldmark Encyclopedia of Cultures and Daily Life
"Five volumes, organized for quick reference by continent, cover history, politics, customs, religion, education, human rights issues, teen life and much more for culture groups such as Kurds, Amish, Germans and more than 500 others. Each entry is written and reviewed by subject experts who have in-depth knowledge of a particular world culture and the skill to translate their knowledge in terms that students can understand. The Encyclopedia also gives students a visual learning experience with more than 250 photographs. And, a glossary of terms offers quick reference for difficult or foreign terms."
More General Research Databases + Encyclopedias


Videos. Their mission is "To provide C-SPAN's audience access to the live gavel-to-gavel proceedings of the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, and to other forums where public policy is discussed, debated and decided - all without editing, commentary or analysis and with a balanced presentation of points of view."
PBS NewsHour: Government & Civics
Videos examining current events, government policies, and developments, domestically and worldwide.
TED Talks (Videos)
Freedom Rising
"From the Arab Spring to the emerging democracies of Eastern Europe, a new generation of freedom fighters - entrepreneurs, journalists, activists - shares powerful stories of resistance against dictatorships and oppression."
How to Turn the Political Conversation Around
"Insightful talks that can help improve political debate so that we can build toward a better society."
A Playbook to Understanding Power
"These talks highlight the reasons we as citizens should understand and challenge the powers that be."
Plug into Your Power!
"There are more ways to be civically engaged besides voting. Tap into your inner activist with these talks about inspiring change in your community."
The Power of the Individual Voice
"It only takes one voice to create change. Be inspired to take action through these talks by brave and passionate individuals."
Talks on Democracy
International speakers address fighting for and preserving democracy around the world.
Talks to Help You Understand Social Justice
"Want to join the fight for equality? A starter pack of TED Talks for those looking to understand the basics of social justice."


Current Interests Center
A directory to worldwide news by topic. From Middletown Thrall Library.
Pew Research Center
News, trends, data, in-depth reports. "Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping the world. We conduct public opinion polling, demographic research, content analysis and other data-driven social science research. We do not take policy positions."
"The Mission: To expose abuses of power and betrayals of the public trust by government, business, and other institutions, using the moral force of investigative journalism to spur reform through the sustained spotlighting of wrongdoing. ProPublica is an independent, nonprofit newsroom that produces investigative journalism with moral force. We dig deep into important issues, shining a light on abuses of power and betrayals of public trust - and we stick with those issues as long as it takes to hold power to account."


American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)
"For almost 100 years, the ACLU has worked to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed by the Constitution and laws of the United States."
Anti-Defamation League: Fighting Anti-Semitism and Hate
"We are activists, educators and experts. We fight anti-Semitism and all forms of hate."
Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF)
"The Electronic Frontier Foundation is the leading nonprofit organization defending civil liberties in the digital world. Founded in 1990, EFF champions user privacy, free expression, and innovation through impact litigation, policy analysis, grassroots activism, and technology development. We work to ensure that rights and freedoms are enhanced and protected as our use of technology grows."
Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
"Working to protect consumers by preventing anticompetitive, deceptive, and unfair business practices, enhancing informed consumer choice and public understanding of the competitive process, and accomplishing this without unduly burdening legitimate business activity."
Human Rights Watch (HRW)
"Human Rights Watch is a nonprofit, nongovernmental human rights organization made up of roughly 400 staff members around the globe. Its staff consists of human rights professionals including country experts, lawyers, journalists, and academics of diverse backgrounds and nationalities. Established in 1978, Human Rights Watch is known for its accurate fact-finding, impartial reporting, effective use of media, and targeted advocacy, often in partnership with local human rights groups. Each year, Human Rights Watch publishes more than 100 reports and briefings on human rights conditions in some 90 countries, generating extensive coverage in local and international media. With the leverage this brings, Human Rights Watch meets with governments, the United Nations, regional groups like the African Union and the European Union, financial institutions, and corporations to press for changes in policy and practice that promote human rights and justice around the world."
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)
"The mission of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is to ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate race-based discrimination."
"Nonpartisan, independent and nonprofit, the Center for Responsive Politics is the nation's premier research group tracking money in U.S. politics and its effect on elections and public policy."
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)
"The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) represents the world's commitment to universal ideals of human dignity. We have a unique mandate from the international community to promote and protect all human rights."
Sunlight Foundation
"The Sunlight Foundation is a national, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that uses civic technologies, open data, policy analysis and journalism to make our government and politics more accountable and transparent to all."
Vote Smart
"Vote Smart's mission is to provide free, factual, unbiased information on candidates and elected officials to ALL Americans."

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