Interns Find Hidden Copyright Gems

Ever wonder what you might find if you had the opportunity to browse through some of the Library of Congress’s vast and long-forgotten copyright deposits?? (Since 1870, two copies of virtually every creative work published in America must be submitted to the Copyright Office, which is part of the Library of Congress.)

For the past few summers,? several interns have been charged with that very task, and inevitably there are some doozies among their discoveries.? Roughly 50 ?Junior Fellows,? about twice the number of last year (thanks to the generosity of the late Mrs. Jefferson Patterson and the James Madison Council, the Library?s private-sector advisory group), recently had the opportunity to show off the fruits of their summer-long labors.

After the jump I have included the full text of a story published today in the Library?s in-house newsletter, The Gazette.? (As an aside, the Associated Press recently ran a great story focusing on the 1902 play referred to below, about a fictitious woman president of the United States.)

Interns Find Mother Lode of Materials in Deposits
By Audrey Fischer

The Junior Fellows Summer Interns who mined the Library?s rich copyright and gift collections during their 10-week program celebrated their achievements with an Aug. 1 display of rare gems. From photographs and maps to sound recordings and sheet music, the items on display reflected the depth and breadth of American creativity housed, preserved and made accessible at the Library of Congress.

?This is their final exam,? quipped Karen Lloyd, the Library?s strategic planning officer and project manager for the Junior Fellows program.

Lloyd welcomed Librarian James H. Billington, who examined with great interest 200 previously uncataloged items that the interns displayed in the Members Room of the Thomas Jefferson Building. (Members of Congress also were invited to view the interns? discoveries that evening, during a special viewing of ?American Treasures of the Library of Congress,? which closed on Aug. 18 after a decade of exhibition.)

Each of the 14 Library divisions that hosted interns had its own table in the Members Room. With enthusiasm the interns discussed the items on display, which were just a small sampling of what they had unearthed during their summer tenure at the Library.

The Prints and Photographs Division took center stage with a pair of photographs that depicted the last days of Russian Emperor Nicholas II and members of the Romanoff family prior to their execution by the Bolsheviks in July 1918. M. Pierre Gilliard, a French tutor and friend of the imperial family, had taken the photographs and written a detailed synopsis of the hardships they suffered during their detention in Tobolsk, Siberia, before they were killed. A transcription of the synopsis accompanied the photos.

“Finding these was a chance discovery,” said Ian Meyers, a junior who is majoring in European studies and photography at Washington University in St. Louis, Mo. He discovered the uncataloged photographs in a box marked “Miscellaneous/Foreign.” Armed only with copyright registration numbers, Meyers and senior copyright specialist Frank Evina, adviser to the Junior Fellows working in the Copyright Office, searched copyright records and determined that 11 photographs had been copyrighted in 1921 by Underwood & Underwood as a series titled ?Last Days of the Romanoffs.? Seven of the images were cataloged in the Prints and Photographs Online Catalog (www.loc.gov/rr/print/catalog.html), but four were unaccounted for until Meyers found these two images ? one of the czar’s daughters, Grand Duchess Tatiana, transporting sod, and the other of the family in captivity. Two images are still at large.

The students and Evina framed facsimiles of the two recently discovered photographs and the transcript for presentation to Billington, a Russian scholar.

?This is an example of the power of discovering unexpected things in the Library?s collections,? the Librarian said.

Celeste Mitchell, a recent Baylor University graduate assigned to the Veterans History Project (VHP), came across an interesting collection of photos and articles pertaining to the famous ?V-J Day Kiss? photograph taken by Alfred Eisenstaedt on Aug. 15, 1945. George Mendonsa, one of many men claiming to be the kissing sailor in the photograph, donated to the VHP a collection of materials relating to the photo of the famous smooch, including a signed copy of the print, a recreation of the shot taken years later and a 1980s LIFE magazine article titled ?Who Is the Kissing Sailor?? A related item found by the interns preparing VHP material for digitization was a 2005 oral history interview with Greta Friedman, claiming to be the nurse who received the kiss.

Music and musical theater were prominent among this year?s finds. Music lovers Abigail Abisinito, a junior at the College of William and Mary, and Laura Rhoades, a sophomore at Virginia Tech, were pleasantly surprised when they stumbled upon a 7-inch acetate reel-to-reel recording of Judy Garland on the shelves at the new Packard Campus for Audio-Visual Conservation in Culpeper, Va., where the bulk of the Library?s Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Record Sound Division?s collection is now housed. The tape includes many recordings made in 1968, the year before Garland died. It also includes Garland?s first radio broadcast, in 1935 at the age of 12, singing ?Broadway Rhythm? on NBC?s ?The Shell Chateau Hour,? with an introduction by actor Wallace Beery.

Thanks to the work of interns Katelynn Chambers, Sarah McIntire and Lauren Schott, the Geography and Map Division soon will be able to make available online more than 1,000 maps. The team reviewed and edited an online database detailing the geographic coverage by more than 700,000 map sheets in the Sanborn Map Collection. Schott, a sophomore at Sarah Lawrence College, worked on scanning, processing and indexing the 180-sheet Carte De France, the first large-scale scientific mapping of France by the Cassini family between 1687 and 1793. Using special software, viewers will be able to zoom into specific sections of the map to see enlarged details.

As in past years, the interns found presidential material. While reviewing the contents of 63 boxes of copyright registration applications from 1898 through 1909, interns Elizabeth Delmage and Grant Hamming found an original 1903 copyright application and two photographs of John Singer Sargent?s official White House portrait of Theodore Roosevelt.

Alena Palevitz and Allison Curran, college English majors interning in the Manuscript Division, came across a 1902 copyright deposit manuscript for a musical titled ?An Extra Session: A Chimerical Satire on the Feasible Possibilities Which Woman May Attain a Hundred Years Hence.? Written by William D. Hall, the musical is set in the White House in the year 2002, with a woman president and her all-female cabinet. With a woman running for president in 2008, this century-old item was still among the most relevant items in the display.

Now in its third year, the Junior Fellows Summer Intern Program is a collaborative project of the U.S. Copyright Office, Library Services, the Office of Workforce Diversity, Human Resources Services and the Office of the Chief Financial Officer. The program, which is an extension of the Library?s Junior Fellows Program, is made possible through the generosity of the late Mrs. Jefferson Patterson, and the James Madison Council, the Library?s private-sector advisory group.

? Raquel Maya, an intern in the Library?s Public Affairs Office, contributed to this story.

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