Flickr Photos, Then and Now

A wonderfully innovative fan of the Library’s pilot project with Flickr photos decided to restage a World War II-era photo for the modern day, at the same exact location as the original. (The first thing you’ll notice, as the author points out, is that there are many more trees today.) It immediately reminded me of […]

Remember

Did you know that there is a “White House Commission on Remembrance“? The Commission, established by Public Law 106-579, has a 10-year mission to “sustain the American spirit through acts of remembrance on Memorial Day and throughout the year … institutionalize the National Moment of Remembrance … enhance the commemoration and understanding of Memorial Day […]

Library of Congress Acquires Spider-Man's 'Birth Certificate'

  Comic Book Guy of “The Simpsons” has been known to have a cardiac episode or two. But an acquisition the Library of Congress just made might give his heart its “worst episode ever.” (Apologies for borrowing the pun from that particular “episode.”) “Spider-senses” all around the Library were set tingling when we learned that […]

My First ‘Bloggiversary’

My, how time flies. If I weren’t back on Atkins, I might be tempted to track down a cupcake and a birthday candle, because today is the first anniversary of this blog. (It is also, not coincidentally, the 208th birthday of the Library of Congress, a milestone this blog itself will not reach until the […]

Can a Building Get Fan Mail?

I appreciate all of the email feedback I get, both the positive and, yes, even the negative constructive criticism. I got an email yesterday, however, that was too good not to share it in its entirety, with the author’s permission. And I swear we didn’t pay him to write this: I just visited the Library […]

Images of 'Hitler's Private Gallery' Now Online

There are probably few people about whom more words have been written than Adolf Hitler. But today the Library of Congress has helped add to the visual dimension surrounding one of the most reviled figures in history. You might have seen news a couple of weeks ago about a painting in Britain’s National Gallery. The […]

David McCullough’s Must-See Experience

If you traveled to Washington, D.C., and had time to see just one attraction, what would it be? The Capitol? The White House? Maybe the National Mall?

On Saturday, noted historian David McCullough, who was inducted as a “Living Legend,” said that our new exhibition “Creating the United States” — part of the new Library of Congress Experience — was tops on his list. The exact quote:

“I saw yesterday an exhibition which every American ought to see: ‘Creating the U.S.’ If visitors to this, our capital city, whether they’re from our own country or from abroad, were to see only one exhibition, one building, one place during their visit, seeing ‘Creating the U.S.’ would be the one to see.”

I shot some admittedly amateurish video at our April 12 grand opening festivities for the Experience, and I thought McCullough’s speech was what I just had to share first. (Sorry for the silhouette effect, though.) Hopefully, time permitting, more will follow.

UPDATE: A transcript of his full remarks follows the jump.

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To Thomas: Happy Birthday. From: Your Library.

Tomorrow we’re having a party. Maybe you’ve heard.

The Library of Congress is throwing open its bronze doors to the public for the first time since 1990 to celebrate the new Library of Congress Experience, a project for which I have run out of superlatives, so I will leave the descriptions to sources of less bias. (Those doors, entering directly into the spectacular Great Hall, will now be the main entrance to the Thomas Jefferson Building from the outside.)

We are celebrating Congress’s Library—everything that Congress has done to sustain this institution for 208 years, including not just financial support, but also the decision by the Congress to make the Library of Congress the nation’s copyright repository.

But there was also a singular act of Congress dating back nearly 200 years, a matter of some controversy at the time, that would forever change the course of the Library of Congress and our collecting philosophy. That is to say, after the British used the contents of the original Library to burn the Capitol in 1814, Congress the following year purchased the 6,487-volume personal library of Thomas Jefferson, which “recommenced” the Library and helped establish the “universal” nature of our collections.

This Sunday is Jefferson’s 265th birthday, but tomorrow his original Library goes back on display in stunning fashion in the building that bears his name, one important aspect of an Experience our visitors will never forget.

The Washington Post today ran a great story (front page!) about Thomas Jefferson’s library, and our own staff newsletter, The Library of Congress Gazette, examined the story behind Thomas Jefferson’s library in even greater detail, which I have reproduced in full after the jump, led by our crackerjack editor, Gail Fineberg.

One aspect of the story I’d like to underscore because of the viral nature of the Web: The Library, in a project funded by Jerry and Gene Jones, has spent several years reconstructing Jefferson’s library, roughly two-thirds of which perished in 1851 in yet another fire. We need to replace only about 300 of the 6,487 original titles, so insofar as this can be considered a plea to the rare-book blogosphere, well, that’s on the table.

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