Peace Corps Books In The Library Of Congress

Lawrence F. Lihosit (Honduras 1975-77) has started a campaign to get Peace Corps books into the Library of Congress.  Like all RPCVs, Larry is starting at the top to draw attention to his very good idea to save the history of the Peace Corps. Here’s his letter to President Obama on this issue. Lend your support. Write to the President. Here’s what Larry had to say:

President Barack Obama
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, D.C. 20500


June 21, 2009

Dear Mr. President:

If you want to read my Peace Corps’ firsthand experience book (South of the Frontera), you can’t. Don’t bother to look for it. It is out of print and even after nearly fifty years, the Peace Corps has not established a depository for books written by Americans who sacrificed. There is not even a shelf in the Washington offices.

How the heck did this happen? According to John Coyne, editor of Peace Corps Worldwide, Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs) now number almost 200,000 and collectively have published nearly 1,000 books. Most of these books were self-published. Imagine, young Americans volunteer to serve in poor countries for minimal wages, come home and earn money to publish books in accordance with Goal 3 of the Peace Corps. Then, they watch as their work evaporates.

Popular government sponsored programs are rare. During the first half of the twentieth century only two programs caught America’s imagination: the WPA and the CCC. Yet today we have very few firsthand accounts and our collective memory fades. During the latter half of the twentieth century NASA and the Peace Corps were equally popular. NASA has thousands of commercial books, many of which are included in the Library of Congress.

Most wise leaders are remembered for surrounding themselves with intellectuals while supporting the arts and learning. Why not be part of history, Mr. President? Thomas Jefferson’s Corps of Discovery journals, logs, samples, and gifts are kept in the Library of Congress. That’s where Returned Peace Corps Volunteer’s books should be as testament to the grand experiment of sending ambassadors of goodwill instead of armies. This is witness literature.         

During the month of September, 2011 there will be a series of activities in Washington D.C. to commemorate fifty years since the inception of the Peace Corps. You will probably be there. So will I, hawking books, giving lectures on self-publication, reading, and waving to you as I march by holding a flag from one of the many countries we serve. Why don’t you surprise us all and announce the beginning of a Peace Corps Special Collection at the Library of Congress? Some might caution about cost. The books will be donated, Mr. President.

 Thanking you in advance for your kind consideration,

Cordially yours,

Lawrence F. Lihosit

 CC: Honorable Senator Dianne Feinstein
        Honorable Nancy Pelosi
        James H. Billington, Library of Congress
        John Coyne, Peace Corps Worldwide
        Kevin Quigley, Natl. PC Assc.


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  • Lawrence

    Good idea….and in case the President doesn’t forward your letter to the Staff at LOC I can help. Last year, I conducted two tours of foreign Fulbright Scholars to the Library on behalf of the Fulbright Association and met many of the senior staff to which I can refer you idea.

    I also recommend you take a look at the LOC Vietnam History project, I always thought ex PCV’s could copy this good idea , and it could be organized through John Coyne’s Peace Corps Writers.
    The project was pushed by Senators Max Cleland ( Ga) and John McCain (Va) . We still have one Senator and six Congressman who could help as well.. suggest you put them on your copy list.

  • A Peace Corps Special Collection at the Library of Congress is a very good idea. While I have never visited it, I do know that there is a Peace Corps archival collection in the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston

    but those items, including my journal from Niger (74-76), cannot be accessed outside the library (to my knowledge). It would be great to have a way to circulate Peace Corps stories among those who lived them, as well as those who just want to know more about the Peace Corps experience. Thanks.

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