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What’s in a Name?

The Adams Building is often a topic of blog posts at Inside Adams and I thought it was time for a post about the building’s various names.

When the Adams Building was opened to the public in 1939 it was called the Annex.  This was its name until 1976 when it was given a new one – the Thomas Jefferson Building. According to John Cole’s Encyclopedia of the Library of Congress, on Jefferson’s birthday (April 13), President Gerald R. Ford signed the bill into law that renamed the Annex to the Thomas Jefferson Building at a ceremony held at the Thomas Jefferson Memorial.

This new name was fitting, because the South Reading Room is a tribute to Thomas Jefferson and was referred to as the Thomas Jefferson Reading Room.  His image is captured in a lunette overlooking the reading room, and his quotes are included in murals dedicated to the themes of freedom, labor, education, and democratic government.

However, this name was short-lived.  A new name change was in the works with the completion of the Madison Building in 1980.  On June 13, 1980 Congress passed a law that changed the names of both of the older existing Library buildings – the main building was named the Thomas Jefferson Building, while our building became the John Adams Building after the 2nd president, John Adams, who signed the law  that established a library for Congress in 1800.

2 Comments

  1. Bárbara Herrnsdorf
    June 13, 2012 at 11:34 pm

    Thanks! I really enjoy reading the history and love your posts!

  2. Maggie
    June 14, 2012 at 8:37 am

    Interesting information
    Thank you very much

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