The Library of Congress has unexpected items in its vast collections -- the contents of Lincoln's pockets when he was assassinated; cocaine used in a groundbreaking 19th-century surgery; a lock of Beethoven's hair; 3,000 year old cuneiform tablets from modern-day Iraq; Mesoamerican incense burners that are more than 2,000 years old; and a piece of Tom Thumb's wedding cake, now nearly 160 years old.
Civil War historian Elizabeth Leonard has written a number of books about the role of women on the battlefield and the social and political reverberations of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination. She's researched those books, including her soon-to-be-published title, “Benjamin Franklin Butler: A Noisy, Fearless Life,” in the Library’s Manuscript Division.
In this segment of a regular feature on authors who use the Library's collections, we interview Walter Stahr, a lawyer turned historian. His latest biography, published in 2022, is "Salmon P. Chase: Lincoln's Vital Rival," a look at the influential treasury secretary and later chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court during the mid 19th century.