Curator’s Picks: All That Jazz

(The following is an article from the March/April 2016 issue of the Library of Congress Magazine, LCM. You can read the issue in its entirety here.)

Music Division Curator Larry Appelbaum highlights items from the Library’s exhibition “Jazz Singers.”


No matter how many times I’ve seen this iconic portrait of Ms. Holiday by William P. Gottlieb, taken in 1947, I’m always struck by the way photographer William P. Gottlieb captured her beauty and spirit in the moment of creativity. It’s a profoundly revealing image that visually evokes the sound of one of our greatest singers.

William P. Gottlieb Collection, Music Division






The Music Division’s collections include 23 watercolors by writer, cartoonist and painter Stephen Longstreet (1907–2002). This drawing titled “Club Date Spot Light” is among his compelling images depicting various aspects of jazz culture.

Music Division









The Music Division recently acquired a cache pertaining to jazz trumpeter Chet Baker, including this chilling, undated, false-alarm suicide note detailing his descent into self-destruction. On May 13, 1988, Baker’s body was found on the sidewalk below his hotel room in Amsterdam. The exact circumstances of his death remain a mystery.

Chet Baker Collection, Music Division




In the Music Division’s Max Roach Collection, I was startled to find a 1980 typescript of an unpublished autobiography by singer Nina Simone in collaboration with her friend Mary Martin Niepold, titled “Between the Keys.

Max Roach Collection, Music Division






Screen Shot 2016-01-28 at 1.32.23 PMFITZGERALD AND ELLINGTON FILM CLIP

Of the many wonderful videos and film clips in the exhibition that illustrate jazz vocal artistry—including the Mills Brothers, Jimmy Rushing, Sarah Vaughan and Carmen McRae—my favorite is a rarely seen clip of Ella Fitzgerald with Duke Ellington from a 1959 Bell Telephone Hour television special. C’est magnifique!

Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division

WWI Exhibit Opens Next Month

An exhibition showing how American artists galvanized public interest in World War I will open Saturday, May 7 at the Library of Congress. “World War I: American Artists View the Great War” opens in the Graphic Arts Galleries featuring 25 fine prints, drawings, cartoons, posters and photographs drawn from the Library’s Prints and Photographs Division. An additional 70 photographs will […]

Jacob Riis Exhibition Opens Today

(The following story, written by Mark Hartsell, is featured in the Library of Congress staff newsletter, The Gazette.) Half the world, journalist Jacob Riis once said, doesn’t know how the other half lives, and it doesn’t know because it doesn’t care. Riis, a social reformer, author and newspaper reporter, used his work to make society […]

Pic of the Week: It’s Bloomin’ Time

This week marks the beginning of the National Cherry Blossom Festival, an annual event held in Washington, D.C. to commemorate the gift of some 3,000 Yoshino cherry trees given to the city in 1912 as a symbol of friendship between Japan and the United States. The grounds of the Library of Congress Thomas Jefferson Building are home […]

Library in the News: February 2016 Edition

In February, the Library added a host of resources to its offerings, both onsite and online. Early February, the Library debuted a new exhibition on “Jazz Singers,” which offers perspectives on the art of vocal jazz, featuring singers and song stylists from the 1920s to the present. The ArtsBeat blog of the New York Times called […]

New Online: Rosa Parks, Page Upgrades, Search Functionality

(The following is a guest post by William Kellum, manager in the Library’s Web Services Division.) In February, the Library of Congress added the Rosa Parks Papers to its digitized collections. The collection contains approximately 7,500 manuscripts and 2,500 photographs and is on loan to the Library for 10 years from the Howard G. Buffett […]

All This Jazz

(The following is a story written by Mark Hartsell, editor of the Library of Congress staff newsletter, The Gazette.) The human voice is music’s only pure instrument, jazz singer Nina Simone once wrote – it has notes no other instrument possesses. “It’s like being between the keys of a piano,” Simone wrote in a draft […]

Highlighting the Holidays: An Armenian “Three Magi” at the Library of Congress

(The following is a guest post by Levon Avdoyan, Armenian and Georgian area specialist in the African and Middle Eastern Division.) When I began working at the Library of Congress in 1992 as the Armenian and Georgian Area Specialist to the Near East Section of the African and Middle Eastern Division, it was as if […]

Rosanne Cash Curates a Carnegie Hall Exhibit with AFC

(The following post was written by Stephen Winick and originally appeared on Folklife Today, the blog of the American Folklife Center.) When Rosanne Cash, recognized by the Library as one of the most compelling figures in popular music, was asked to curate a series of concerts at Carnegie Hall in New York, she graciously brought […]

Library in the News: September 2015 Edition

In September, the Library of Congress had some big headlines – from the announcements of new collections to celebrating the 15th annual National Book Festival and the inaugural reading of the new poet laureate. The Library received a very special visitor and a very special book to add to its collections last month. During his […]