Who is Elizabeth Alexander?

President Obama selected Elizabeth Alexander as the American Poet for his inauguration. Find out more about this American Poet using these resources:

Biography Resource Center – select the second result which reads Alexander, Elizabeth (American writer, 1962-)

Biography Reference Bank

Read the text of the poem delivered during the inauguration.

The Academy of American Poets Poetry


What Happens on Inauguration Day?

inaugural invite Step through a typical day for the president-elect, from the morning worship service to the nighttime Inaugural balls.



  For more information see the Spotlight on the Presidential Inauguration

President of a New Country – Lesson Plan Idea

January 20th is the historic inauguration of the first African American president of the United States. Barack Obama will become the 44th president along with Joe Biden as vice president, and the ceremony will be watched in person by an estimated four million people in Washington, D.C. and perhaps a billion more people around the world on TV and over the Internet.

Grades 9-12 Activity:

For a twist on Inauguration Day, when the new U.S. president and vice president are sworn in, have students become the “president” of a new, fictional country. To begin, give each student a copy of a CultureGrams World Edition country report, and have him or her read it before class.

Conduct an in-class discussion to help students draw connections between categories. Discuss how history or religion can impact economy, how land and climate might influence transportation, how general attitudes could affect visiting, etc.

Assign each student to create his or her own fictitious country of which he or she may choose to be the president. They must then write a CultureGrams report for that country. Inform students of the following rules:

Students need to follow the natural cause-and-effect principles in geography and history. Meaning, if a student creates a desert-like country, he or she cannot have an economy based on the production of tropical fruits. The student’s CultureGrams report for his or her fictitious country should include all of the same categories and subcategories as an actual CultureGrams report.

  • Have the students get together in smaller groups (about four to five per group) and have them analyze how their countries would get along. Which countries would trade with one another?
  • What political problems might arise? Which country would hold most of the resources? What alliances would develop and why?

As an extension activity, have the Social Studies and Language Arts teachers form a panel to judge the students’ CultureGrams reports based on writing and plausible connections between categories (i.e., plausible geography/history scenario). Post the winner on your school or library website.

Presidential Inaugurations

SIRS Knowledge Source President-elect Barack Obama will be inaugurated as the nation’s 44th president on January 20, an occasion steeped in over two centuries of American history and tradition.

On that day, he will take the oath of office, promising to “faithfully execute the office of President of the United States” and to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

That oath and other inaugural rituals, including an inaugural address, were established during the country’s first presidential inauguration of George Washington on April 30, 1789. While the significance of the day’s key events remain largely unchanged, the particulars of and the festivities surrounding the occasion have evolved.

In 1809, James Madison held the first inaugural ball. By 1841, the largely military parade had become a civic celebration including floats and bands. Warren G. Harding, in 1921, was the first president to ride in an automobile to his inauguration. Franklin D. Roosevelt began the tradition of attending a morning church service prior to inaugural events; also in 1933, the 20th Amendment was ratified, declaring that the President’s term of office shall begin on January 20 in the year following the election.

SIRS Knowledge Source® January’s Spotlight of the Month commemorates more than two centuries of presidential inaugurations, surveying past Inauguration Days and highlighting the inauguration of Barack Obama, themed “A New Birth of Freedom.” Articles and Web sites include:


1. Presidential Inaugurations

2. Election 2008 Timeline

3. The Obama Story: The Improbable Journey

4. Armed Forces Inaugural Committee Prepares to Welcome New President

5. Confident Reagan Takes Over


I Do Solemnly Swear | Presidential Inaugurations

Presidential Inaugurations Fun Facts

Did you know that nine U.S. presidents were quietly inaugurated following the death of their predecessors?

On August 23, 1923, after learning that President Warren G. Harding had died, Calvin Coolidge took the oath of office at his birthplace, a farmhouse in Plymouth, Vermont. Who administered the oath of office?

A. Former Vermont Governor Percival W. Clement
B. John Coolidge, Calvin’s father
C. United States Marshal A.V. Harvey
D. Vermont Governor Redfield Proctor Continue reading