'Authorama' on the National Mall

The authors’ lineup for the National Book Festival on Saturday, Sept. 26 went public today–what star-power! Bestselling authors David Baldacci, John Grisham, John Irving, Julia Alvarez, Judy Blume, Ken Burns, Gwen Ifill, and Jodi Picoult–as well as celebrity chef Paula Deen–will be among scores of authors and illustrators presenting at the festival, organized and sponsored […]

Library Helped Finger Another 'Would-Be Assassin' Named Booth

Letter from Junius Brutus Booth to Andrew JacksonYou know how some of the best jobs are the ones where you learn something new every day? I definitely have one of those.

I was watching a new episode of History Detectives last night on PBS (one of the few shows to which I am hopelessly addicted). Tukufu Zuberi did a segment about a letter purportedly written by the father of John Wilkes Booth to President Andrew Jackson threatening to assassinate Old Hickory.

The piece turned up some interesting tidbits supporting the notion that at least thoughts of assassination ran in the Booth family, such as what appears to be a contemporaneous apology for the letter from Booth the elder to Jackson in a Philadelphia newspaper.

The Library of Congress in the past had done some pretty exhaustive work of which I was unaware that signals our letter’s authenticity. Quoting Barbara Bair of the Library’s Manuscript Division:

[A]ccording to research by an LC conservator who specializes in manuscripts [Mary Elizabeth (Betsy) Haude], and who has examined the letter, the paper used in the Junius Booth to Andrew Jackson letter of July 4, 1835, as evidenced by the watermarks (dove, and A KELTY), was that of the paper maker Anthony Kelty. He operated a paper mill from 1830-1840 on Buck Run, near Coatesville in East Fallowfield Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania. [The letter was dated July 4, 1835, and addressed from Philadelphia.]

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Is a Bad Economy Ever 'Good'?

It’s sometimes said that if you want a really steady income, become an undertaker. There’s no doubt right now that times are tough all over.  The news media is among the industries that have been hit especially hard–in this case, by factors including changing technology and news-consumption habits, but also by lower ad revenues from […]

Life in a Library 'Theme Park'

The Library of Congress acquires some 10,000 items a day for its collections. But many of our finest acquisitions are not bound between leather covers or captured on a reel of celluloid: They are the people who make our collections come alive, who unearth meaning and inspiration among our 653 miles of stacks. One such […]

Hey U, Tune In: The Library Is Now on iTunes U

Blog. Twitter. YouTube.  iTunes.  Yeah, we speak Web 2.0. You nation’s Library has millions of stories to tell, so we’re trying to tell them as many places and to as many people as possible–whether on our own website or elsewhere.  And now you can add another biggie to the list: iTunes U. For those who […]

New Teachers Site Is All 'Class'

Starting about two decades ago, the Library of Congress–under the direction of Librarian of Congress James Billington–began moving more ambitiously into the K-12 education space than it had previously. In 1990 the Library began a pilot program to distribute digital primary-source materials on CD-ROM to classrooms. The program, known as American Memory, has today blossomed […]

Souped-Up Chassis, More Horsepower

If you’ve visited this blog before, you might be doing a double-take. The Web Services team here at the Library (who are doing some simply amazing things) has given the blog a fresher look and new functionality. First, there’s a cleaner, more aesthetic look to it, and I like how the collections are now highlighted […]