(The following is featured in the January/February 2016 issue of the Library of Congress Magazine, LCM. You can read the issue in its entirety here.)
Nearly 1.6 million people came to the Library of Congress in 2015 to conduct research in its 21 reading rooms on Capitol Hill. More than 60 million users visited the Library’s website last year to access Library resources. Here are some examples of what researchers found.
Film director Wes Anderson: “The Library of Congress’s Photochrom Print Collection includes commercially produced pictures showing views of Europe around the turn of the 20th century,” Anderson told “The Telegraph.” They’re black- and-white photographs that have been colorized. “What you see when you look at these pictures are landscapes and cityscapes, from all over the world. … A huge number of them are from the Austro-Hungarian Empire and Prussia. These pictures were a great inspiration for “The Grand Budapest Hotel.” Many of the old hotels in these photographs still exist as buildings. But none of them exist as the places they once were.”
Historian David McCullough: “I discovered my vocation here in the Library of Congress. I have done research on all my work at this great library. After seeing pictures of the 1889 flood in Johnstown, Pa., in the Library’s Prints and Photographs Division, I began writing my first history, ‘The Johnstown Flood’ (1968).” McCullough researched his latest book, “The Wright Brothers,” at the Library of Congress, where photographs and manuscript records of the aviation pioneers are housed. “I am more indebted to this great institution than I can say. It is the mother church of the library system in America.”
Historian Doris Kearns Goodwin: “For Teddy and Taft almost 90 percent of what I needed was at the Library of Congress” said Doris Kearns Goodwin about her 2013 book, “The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism.” Goodwin also spent years eviewing the Library’s collection of Lincoln papers for her 2006 book, “Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln,” from which the screenplay for the 2012 film “Lincoln” was adapted.
Musician, writer and actor Henry Rollins: “These people are all about collecting, databasing and preserving. I am in my element,” said Rollins about staff in the Library’s Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division. “We are having conversations about acid-free paper and Mylar L-sleeves! Be still, my fanatic heart. … A day of nonstop awe and inspiration. Whenever any great song or album gets lost in the ether, someone is deprived of the joy of hearing it, and the great effort of those who created and recorded the work is damaged. Thankfully, the fanatics are there to make sure the jam session never stops.”