Library in the News: February 2015 Edition

The Library’s big headline for February was the opening of the Rosa Park Collection to researchers on Feb. 4, which was also the birthday of the civil-rights icon.

“A cache of Parks’s papers set to be unveiled Tuesday at the Library of Congress portrays a battle-tested activist who had been steeped in the struggle against white violence since childhood,” wrote Michael E. Ruane of The Washington Post. “The trove, parts of which were unknown to historians, also shows Parks as a woman devoted to her family, especially to her mother and husband, Raymond, for whom she kept her hair in long braids even after he died.

“Her personal papers and keepsakes contain a much fuller story of the woman behind the movement,” wrote Laura Clark for

“But amid all the witness-to-history artifacts — a note after she’s had dinner with future Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, for instance, or her ID card for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference’s 1968 Poor People’s Campaign, or a copy of a 1999 letter she sent to Pope John Paul II after meeting him — is the ordinary, the everyday, the mundane,” wrote Todd Spangler for the Detroit Free Press. “It is made all the more remarkable for it being hers.”

Speaking with collection curator Adrienne Cannon was the New York Times.

“I think that she felt, perhaps, limited in a way by the iconic image of Rosa Parks as the woman who refused to give up her seat in the bus,” said Cannon. “This significance that she had in the public sphere did not fully describe who she was, and I think that she perhaps wanted us to know her true self.”

WUSA (local CBS) reporter Lesli Foster spoke with Senior Archivist Specialist Margaret McAleer.

“”We always think of her as the quiet seamstress. But in her writings, we see how very courageous she was,” said McAleer.

Also running broadcast pieces were ABC This Week and NPR All Things Considered.

CBS News online also ran a story, interviewing Maricia Battle, curator of photography for the new collection.

“‘Writing things down was a way of releasing some of that pressure,’ Battle said, noting Parks’ stress from her arrest, the subsequent unfolding of the Montgomery bus boycott, and losing her job as an assistant tailor at the Montgomery Fair department store. Parks held on to much of this writing – not to mention postcards, invitations, poll tax receipts, and handwritten recipes – throughout her life.”

A selection of items from the collection are on display at the Library through March 31.

Also on display this month is the original manuscript of Abraham Lincoln’s second inaugural address.

The Washington Post’s Michael Ruane got a sneak peak at the document in February in advance of the special exhibit.

“Experts at the library showed the two versions of the speech, explained Lincoln’s quirky composition style and spoke about the damage the documents have incurred over 150 years,” he reported. “Even in a library conservation lab, the experts were careful to limit the exposure to light, covering the documents with large sheets of paper before and after discussing them.”

In addition to receiving the Rosa Park’s collection, the Library also received the papers of American composer Marvin Hamlisch.

Running stories were Fine Books & Collections Magazine and

Here Comes the Sun: Seeing Omens in the Weather at Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inauguration

(The following is a guest post by Michelle Krowl, Civil War and Reconstruction Specialist in the Manuscript Division. To commemorate the 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address, for a limited time [March 4-7, 2015] the Library of Congress will display both the four-page manuscript copy and the reading copy of the address in the Great Hall […]

About That Cannon in My Basement —

A few years ago – around 2001, 2002 – I had a cannon in my basement in Rockville, Maryland. You could see it through the front windows, where it was aimed. I wondered if the mailman would report us to Homeland Security. It wasn’t a real one, but it was incredibly realistic and man-o’war-size (about […]

Pinteresting African American History

February is African American History Month, an annual celebration that has existed since 1926. This year’s theme, according to the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) is “A Century of Black Life, History and Culture.” This year also marks the centennial of ASALH, which was established in 1915 by Carter G. […]

American Ballet Theatre Exhibit Closes Saturday

The Library of Congress exhibition, “American Ballet Theatre: Touring the Globe for 75 Years,” closes this Saturday, so if you’re in town, make sure to visit. American Ballet Theatre (ABT), which celebrated its 75th anniversary in 2014, donated its archives of more than 50,000 items of visual and written documentation to the Library. The exhibition features […]

Instrumentally Yours

The late 19th century gave rise to some truly imaginative, public-minded Americans. We all know about the Thomas Edisons, the Henry Fords, the Garrett Morgans. But there were others who, while not household names today, lived very interesting lives and left behind fascinating legacies. Among these we find Dayton C. Miller, born on a farm […]

Inquiring Minds: The Document Man

Armed guards? Check. Secret rendezvous points? Check. Mysterious steel briefcase? Check. Sounds like a James Bond movie. But it’s just a day in the life of Christopher Woods, director of the National Conservation Service in Britain. By day, he’s a leading conservator in the field with more than 29 years experience working in the heritage […]

Highlighting the Holidays: Happy Hanukkah

In 2014, December 16 marked the first day of Hanukkah, the Jewish holiday commemorating the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem after its desecration by the forces of Antiochus IV. Also referred to as the Festival of Lights, Hanukkah recalls the event. According to the Talmud, a central text of Rabbinic Judaism, at the re-dedication […]

Highlighting the Holidays: Window Dressing

Over the Thanksgiving holiday, I spent several days in New York City. The holiday season was in full swing, with several holiday markets around town, lights and decorations adorning street posts and buildings and Rockefeller Center nearly completely decked out – the Christmas tree was up but not yet decorated. One of the things I […]

Curator’s Picks: Magna Carta’s Legal Legacy

(The following is an article in the November/December 2014 issue of LCM, the Library of Congress Magazine. The issue can be read in its entirety here.) Nathan Dorn, the Law Library’s curator of rare books, highlights five favorite pieces from the Library’s Magna Carta exhibition. Statutes of England “Intricate colored-pen work graces this 14th-century miniature […]