This is a guest post by Julie Miller, a historian in the Manuscript Division.
Shelly Smith, head of the Library’s Book Conservation Section, prepares a page of James Madison’s notes on the 1787 Constitutional Convention for scanning. Photo by Shawn Miller.
When the Constitutional Convention met in Philadelphia in 1787, James Madison, then a delegate from Virginia, later fourth president of the United States, took it upon himself to take notes. Later, as documented in the introduction to “Records of the Federal Convention,” Madison remembered how he “chose a seat in front of the presiding member, with the other members, on my right and left hand. In this favorable position for hearing all that passed I noted in terms legible and in abbreviations and marks intelligible to myself what was read from the Chair or spoken by the members; and losing not a moment unnecessarily between the adjournment and reassembling of the Convention I was enabled to write out my daily notes during the session or within a few finishing days after its close.”
Those notes—more than 600 pages in Madison’s tiny, neat handwriting—are in the James Madison Papers in the Manuscript Division at the Library of Congress. The Library has long made them available to scholars and the public, first on microfilm, and then online. Now, for the first time, the Library is making available online high-resolution color images of the notes that reflect modern standards for publication.
To see a published edition of the notes, consult “Records of the Federal Convention,” cited above, which was edited by Max Farrand and published in 1911. Part of the Library of Congress Law Library’s “Century of Lawmaking” website, “Records” includes Madison’s notes.
This is a guest post by Beverly W. Brannan, curator of photography in the Prints and Photographs Division. When the Prints and Photographs Division acquired the collection of Howard University law professor William Henry Richards in 2013, a 1912 campaign flyer included in the collection aroused my curiosity. It promoted the candidacy of George Henry […]
This is a guest post by Anne Holmes. It was first published on “From the Catbird Seat,” the blog of the Library’s Poetry and Literature Center. This month, high schools across the country are now about halfway through the academic year. At the Poetry and Literature Center, we are marking this milestone with help from […]
This is a guest post by Ryan Reft, a historian in the Manuscript Division. “Interpreters were brought from everywhere to instruct our men in the French methods of warfare because be it known that everything American was taken from us except our uniform.” —Noble Sissle, 369th “Harlem Hell Fighters” Regiment The Library of Congress exhibition Echoes […]
The Library of Congress is delighted to launch online in time for African-American History Month the William A. Gladstone Afro-American Military Collection, consisting of about 500 items. Gladstone was a historian and author of books about black Civil War troops. The collection spans the years 1773 to 1987, with the bulk of the material dating […]
This is a guest post by Michelle Krowl, a historian in the Manuscript Division. “There is no wish nearer my heart than that you should become an amiable & intelligent woman,” Senator James Buchanan of Pennsylvania wrote to his niece and ward, Harriet Lane, on February 16, 1842. “You can render yourself very dear to […]
The Library of Congress is delighted to report that a composition it co-commissioned won a 2018 Grammy Award: Jennifer Higdon, acclaimed composer of contemporary classical music, accepted the award in Madison Square Garden in New York on January 28 for “Viola Concerto.” The Library co-commissioned the work from Higdon with the Curtis Institute of Music, […]
The following is a guest post by Catalina Gomez, a reference librarian in the Hispanic Division, and Adam Silvia, an assistant curator of photography in the Prints and Photographs Division. This past year, photography enthusiasts celebrated the 100-year anniversary of the birth of Leo Matiz (1917–98), one of the best photographers in Latin America in […]
This is a guest post by digital library specialist Elizabeth Gettins. Thomas W. Strong was a New York City publisher of popular lithographs and the self-proclaimed “oldest manufacturer of valentines in America.” It seems only fitting that he manufactured countless valentines as St. Valentinus, for whom the holiday is named, since “valens” means “strong” in […]
In this post, historians from the Library and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture highlight how collection items shed light on the black experience. The post is reprinted from the January–February issue of LCM, the Library of Congress Magazine. The entire issue is available online. Adrienne Cannon is the Afro-American history […]