Picture from Celebrate National Paper Clip Day with an Inspiring Documentary
Paper Clips tells the story of a group of students who find a unique way to study the Holocaust. Image ©2004 Arts Alliance America

Celebrate National Paper Clip Day with an Inspiring Documentary

If you are into office supplies then this Friday, May 29, is the perfect time to celebrate National Paperclip Day. Yes, even the lowly office supply item gets its own day of recognition. Samuel B. Fay filed for the first patent for a “bent wire paper clip” in 1867. There have since been over 50 other patents granted for similar designs. There’s no official designation for this unusual holiday, however the handy little paperclips likely deserves some recognition. After all it does more than just hold papers together.

In 1998 a Tennessee school principal Linda Hooper and her assistant David Smith embarked on a project to teach their predominantly white students about the magnitude of the lives lost in the Holocaust. Middle school students in Whitwell, Tennessee were asked to find something they could collect that was related to teh Holocaust. They discovered that Norwegian Johan Vaaler had created a loop of metal that his fellow countrymen wore on the lapels as a silent protest against Nazi occupation.

The students decided to collect 6 million paper clips to represent the Jews killed between 1939 and 1945. The students began by writing letters to family, friends and even celebrities asking for donations of the little office supply. The project progressed slowly at first but students eventually received over 25 thousand pieces of mail from actors, politicians and ordinary people around the world. (At last count they have collected over 30 million paper clips.)

A documentary titled Paper Clips tells the inspiring story of these educators and students who took on a massive project to help them visualize how many Jews were killed during Hitler’s reign. The film also shows how the project brings the community together as they all learn about the power of diversity, cooperation project and persistence in achieving a goal.

More details about the movies mentioned in this post…

Paper Clips

Paper Clips