June 19, 2013
Want to bone up on the history you forgot from high school or maybe never learned? Fooling around on Facebook might be a valid option.
During the past year or so, a number of federal agencies have filled in the history on their Facebook timelines all the way back to the agency’s founding.
The White House made the first strike in the spring of 2012, filling out its Facebook history back to George Washington’s inauguration. Since then, other agencies have followed suit.
The State Department has taken the task most seriously, papering its timeline with articles from its Office of the Historian on diplomatic accomplishments, initiatives and ephemera.
State Department posts range from the Berlin Crisis and the U.S. effort to reconstruct Japan after World War II to lesser-known stories such as a clandestine 1919 visit to Soviet Russia by William Christian Bullitt, an American attaché to the Paris Peace Conference following World War I. Bullitt hoped to broker an agreement with the ruling Bolsheviks to end that nation’s civil war and allow the WWI allies to halt their blockade of that nation.
The Defense Department’s page is less ambitious but still well stocked with notable moments from Pentagon history such as President Truman’s 1952 establishment of the National Security Agency inside DOD and Eisenhower’s 1958 establishment of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency known as DARPA.
The Agriculture Department’s page is built more around interesting photos from department history than around major policies.
The Labor, Treasury and Justice departments have filled out their agencies' backstories more sparsely, but offer some great nuggets such as a 1976 musical commissioned by the Labor Department and the day the Bureau of Public Debt got its first computer.
As an added bonus, you can also decide which attorney general had the most awesome portrait and spot the occasional typed-too-fast blunder.
June 19, 2013