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“My Dear Master”: An Enslaved Blacksmith’s Letters to a President

An unusual letter arrived in the mail for the Tennessee planter James K. Polk shortly after he won the 1844 presidential election. Written from Carrollton, Mississippi, and dated November 28, 1844, the letter began “My Dear Master” and was signed by “Blacksmith Harry.” Here’s what Harry wrote: Suffer your faithful survant Harry to say a […]

Adam Rothman on Working With the Library’s Unique Omar Ibn Said Collection

While Adam Rothman, Georgetown University history professor and former Distinguished Visiting Scholar at the Kluge Center, was at the Library, he had the opportunity to work on transcribing the Library of Congress’ Omar Ibn Said Collection, which was just released online. Ibn Said was an educated, wealthy man living in West Africa until he was […]

Watch: Drew Gilpin Faust’s Speech Accepting the Kluge Prize

On September 12, 2018, Drew Gilpin Faust – historian, former Harvard University president and author of the Bancroft Prize-winning book “This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War” – accepted the John W. Kluge Prize for Achievement in the Study of Humanity. In her acceptance speech, she made an impassioned case for the […]

Tahir Hemphill Looks Back on his Year at the Kluge Center

As Harissios Papamarkou Chair in Education Tahir Hemphill’s year at the John W. Kluge Center ends, he took the time to share his reflections on his experience with us at The Library of Congress. Hemphill’s capstone event, playtest, was a daylong social sculpture exploring the application of virtual and augmented reality to the humanities, education […]

The Oldest Idea in the World?

The association of directions with colors may be the oldest known set of philosophical ideas in the world, transmitted from ancient Asia to the Americas over 10,000 years ago. Obvious Concepts Some concepts come naturally to humans. In several ancient societies, the moon relates to a goddess, and logically so, for menstruation and lunar cycles […]

Can Big Data Save Us from Ourselves? A Conversation About Information, Democracy, and Dystopia

On a rainy day in late spring, a pan-Asian noodle restaurant on Pennsylvania Avenue offered the perfect nook for a spirited conversation about big data, algorithms, and the construction of our legal and social realities. Among those at the table with me were Martin Hilbert, who was a Kluge Distinguished Visiting Scholar and is Associate […]

What’s on Your Holiday Table? A Conversation About Health, Spirituality, Food, and Farming

I’m talking with three friends who think about, and work with, food, farming, and culture. Catherine Newell is a Larson Fellow who is studying how consumers use scientific concepts about food and diet to build a spiritual practice. Danille Christensen was a Kluge Fellow in 2016. As a folklorist, she investigates the social meanings of food practices and is writing about home […]

Emoji, Texting and Social Media: How Do They Impact Language?

I’m here with Dame Wendy Hall, Kluge Chair in Technology and Society, Regius Professor of Computer Science at the University of Southampton and early pioneer in web protocols; with Alexandre Loktionov, AHRC Fellow at the Kluge Center and an expert on hieroglyphic and cuneiform legal texts; and with Jessica Lingel, Kluge Fellow, assistant professor at […]

At the Crossroads of Health and Spirituality: An Interview with Joanne Braxton

The following is a guest post by Samira Mehta, Assistant Professor at Albright College and the 2015 David B. Larson Fellow in Health and Spirituality at The John W. Kluge Center. This is the first post of a two-part interview by two of our Larson Fellows. A graduate of Sarah Lawrence College and Yale University, […]