Here at the Law Library of Congress, we enjoy celebrating commemorative days, weeks, and holidays as it allows us to explore the collections we have at the Library and research new topics. National Library Week is an incredibly fun way to celebrate. Each year all across the United States, the important work of our libraries and librarians, and the endless way in which they serve our communities tirelessly are celebrated. The 2023 National Library Week theme is “There’s More to the Story.” Beyond our vast collection of stories, books, newspapers, diaries, and prints, – the Library of Congress offers access to concerts, movie nights, and instructional classes. This accessibility allows the Library to engage with the communities that surround iy through new and innovative initiatives, exhibits, and collection items. To celebrate National Library Week, I asked my colleagues to highlight their favorite collection item or service that the Law Library of Congress, the Library of Congress as a whole, or libraries, in general, have to offer.
Robert Brammer: The collection I want to highlight is the Bound Congressional Record on Congress.gov. Congress.gov continues to increase its coverage for the Bound Congressional Record, now providing coverage dating back to 1891. This collection allows a researcher to locate Congressional reactions to historic moments in American history, such as the moon landing.
Heather Casey: My favorite collection within the Law Library is the Foreign Legal Gazettes in the Law Library of Congress. I love this collection for several reasons. First, we do not really have a publication like a legal gazette in the U.S. legal system – I suppose an equivalent would be like combining the Code of Federal Regulations, the Federal Register, U.S. Statutes at Large, and U.S. Reports (the official reporter for the U.S. Supreme Court). Oftentimes, legal gazettes are the best primary source for laws, regulations, and decisions from governmental bodies and/or courts for a particular jurisdiction. So much information is contained within legal gazettes and there is a lot of variety regarding how gazettes are organized from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Secondly, I love that we are taking the time and effort to review our vast collection of legal gazettes and digitize items for public access. I think that really speaks to our mission as a library – to provide access to accurate information for our patrons.
Jennifer Davis: It’s hard to talk about just one collection or item; there are so many wonderful items we hold. I have written about two of them before, the laws and the Constitution of the Kingdom of Hawai’i. King Kamehameha III created a declaration of human rights in 1839, which was incorporated into the Constitution in 1840. The Civil Code was published in 1859; it was meant to provide the Hawaiian people with a legal framework. It also further established the Hawaiian Kingdom’s international reputation as a sovereign body with its own governance. Our copy, written in Hawaiian, has a chop of the original donor on the title page.
Nathan Dorn: In recent weeks, I have been working with the Law Library’s collection of Native American legal materials, and it is fascinating. The Law Library has collected a vast and comprehensive range of legal publications related to Native Americans that represent many nations, tribes, and jurisdictions. In particular, there are more than 400 publications in the Law Library’s rare books collection from this subject area. They include printed constitutions, statute books, publications of session laws, and resolutions of Native American governing bodies. Also among them are volumes of Indian Territory laws, collections of treaties, trials, and state and federal legal materials that have bearing on Native American communities. The materials in this sub-collection span in time from the 17th to the 21st century. The earliest printing of Native American laws in the collection is from 1826. The earliest modern Native American constitution appearing in the collection is from 1827. Many of the publications are printed in Native American languages.
Jennifer Gonzalez: My favorite collection added in the last year is the Century of Lawmaking. It may be one of our oldest online collections, digitized long before I worked here, but as it had to move over to our current platform, I was able to explore it like a new collection. At times working with this material from the first century of the United States was frustrating because rules and conventions changed from year to year, but this made it more intriguing to investigate and figure out. Look for more collections, improvements, and navigation aids on this in the future!
Kelly Goles: My favorite collection is Chronicling America, a database of historic newspapers and some digitized newspaper pages. It is fascinating to be able to read a newspaper from over 100 years ago. Before coming to the Library, I worked for my state’s association of funeral directors. The association was created in 1919 and in 2019 we had a gala for the 100th anniversary. It was quite fun to look at old articles about the association after learning so much about it during my time with them in their centennial year. I also learned that Maryland had a newspaper called Maryland Suffrage News which ran from 1912-1920 and was “the voice of the white women’s suffrage movement in Maryland since other general circulation newspapers such as the Baltimore Sun did not always publish or pay attention to news related to the suffrage campaign.” I love looking at the front covers which often featured political illustrations.
Taylor Gulatsi: One collection that I find incredibly interesting at the Library of Congress is the Veterans History Project (VHP). Featuring over 100,000 collection items, the VHP collects, preserves, and highlights firsthand narratives from U.S. military veterans. Not only are there pictures and videos within this collection but also letters and correspondences as well as interviews that have been conducted with veterans elaborating on their time in the service, their duty stations, and day-to-day life while on active duty. This project and collection offer access to different perspectives and first-hand accounts from the brave men and women who are willing to share their history and I find it incredibly fascinating. Additionally, if you or someone you know is a veteran that would like to be involved with the project, they accept submissions of content as well. For more information on how to get involved, please visit Veterans History Project: How to Participate.
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