A New Look at America’s Insurgents and the King They Left Behind

Ffrom left: Oliver Urquhart Irvine, Librarian, Royal Library and Royal Archives; Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden; and Dr. Joanna Newman, Vice President and Vice Principal (International) King's College London sign MOU

From left: Oliver Urquhart Irvine, Librarian, Royal Library and Royal Archives; Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden; and Dr. Joanna Newman, Vice President and Vice Principal (International) King’s College London sign MOU. Photo by David Rice

King George III of England: wasn’t he the one effectively told by the feisty New World colonists to “Nix the tax, Rex?” When they turned Boston Harbor into the world’s largest teapot, it was to get the attention of a government back home in England headed by George III, a monarch they would eventually disown.

But a new collaboration between the United Kingdom institutions holding George’s papers and the Library of Congress, which preserves the papers of many of the United States’ seminal figures, may shed new light on this admittedly thorny relationship.

The Library of Congress holds the papers of many Founding Fathers (and Founding Mothers – women were well-represented in the early history of this nation, and left a record we can learn from today). Meanwhile, the letters, official edicts and other historical records of King George III reside in the United Kingdom, under the jurisdiction of the Royal Library and Royal Archives.

Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden today signed a memorandum of understanding with the Royal Library and King’s College London. The pact will provide personnel from the Library of Congress Digital Stewardship Residency program to aid in creating digital background information (“metadata”) for the papers of George III; it will also lay the groundwork for a special joint academic conference and a possible exhibition at the Library of Congress in 2020/2021, featuring materials of George III and such American figures as President George Washington.

The project is just one example of how the Library of Congress, under new Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden, is reaching out both nationally and internationally to forge new alliances. The goal of all this outreach is to make useful linkages and place assets online with all due speed.

Considering what we know about George Washington’s determination not to become, as leader of the new nation, a king by any other name, this promises to be a very interesting collaboration.

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