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Category: Civil War

Womens History Month: Filling in the (Almost) Lost World of Maggie Thompson

Posted by: Neely Tucker

Margaret Virginia “Maggie” Thompson spent most of her life in tiny Waynesburg, Pennsylvania, more than a century ago. When a Library genealogist came across Thompson's long-lost scrapbook recently, she set out to solve a mystery: Who were the other people pictured in her scrapbook?

John and Jacqueline Kennedy pose on a grassy lawn on their wedding day, her white gown flowing behind her

Black Dressmakers for First Ladies

Posted by: Neely Tucker

Two Black seamstresses have left their mark on White House fashion history, as Elizabeth Keckley and Ann Lowe designed dresses for two of the nation’s most famous first ladies, Mary Todd Lincoln and Jacqueline Kennedy, respectively. Both designers developed their craft despite the brutal influences of slavery and Jim Crow segregation. This piece tells their stories.

Douglas Brinkely and Carla Hayden, both seated, speak on stage, with an American flag in the background

“Books That Shaped America” Series Starts

Posted by: Neely Tucker

Some of the most important works by Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, Frederick Douglass, Willa Cather, Zora Neale Hurston and Cesar Chavez will be the focus of a new television series being produced by C-SPAN and the Library. The 10-part series — “Books That Shaped America” — starts on Sept. 18 and will examine 10 books …

Full portrait of a clean-cut young man, standing very erect and with a serious expression, in a photo studio.

John Phelan and the Sinking of the USS Oneida

Posted by: Neely Tucker

One of the LIbrary's genealogy specialists was struck by reading the elaborate inscription on a 19th-century cemetery marker in her hometown. It spurred deep research and an extensive Library research guide into the 1870 sinking of the USS Oneida, costing the lives of 115 sailors, including the young man whose memorial caused her to pause: John Phelan. This is his story.

Carla Hayden, at left, hands a crystal trophy to George Saunders, at right.

George Saunders Accepts the Library’s Prize for American Fiction

Posted by: Neely Tucker

Novelist, short-story writer and essayist George Saunders was awarded the Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction Saturday evening in one of the final sessions of the 2023 National Book Festival, conferring a lifetime honor on a versatile writer whose most famous book cast one of Washington's most famous residents in a surreal light. Saunders' 2017 novel "Lincoln in the Bardo" took a fantastical look at the visit President Abraham Lincoln paid to his young son's tomb in a Georgetown cemetery one night in 1862.

Head and shoulders sepia-toned photo of Rebecca Pomroy, facing front. She is middle aged, smiling, with white hair coiled into a bun on either side of her head

A Civil War Story: Rebecca Pomroy, Lincoln’s Nurse

Posted by: Neely Tucker

Rebecca Pomeroy, a Civil War nurse, was assigned to the White House in 1862 to help the grieving Lincoln family deal with the loss of their 11-year-old son, Willie, to typhoid fever. The story of her relationship with the Lincoln family is revealed in a collection of her papers, photographs are artifacts that are now preserved at the Library as part of the Liljenquist Family Collection of Civil War Photographs.

Black History Month, Day 1: A Petition for Justice Nearly 20 Yards Long

Posted by: Neely Tucker

This is a guest post by Michelle Krowl, a historian in the Manuscript Division. It appears in the Jan.-Feb. issue of the Library of Congress Magazine. In the wake of emancipation during the Civil War, African Americans submitted petitions to government entities in greater numbers than ever before to advocate for equal treatment before the law. …