Pic of the Week: Uncovering Hidden Text in Documents

Photo by Shawn Miller.

Middle- and high-school students visited the Library’s Preservation Research and Testing Division on May 9 as part of hands-on pilot program focusing on preservation science. Here, alongside Library scientists, the students use the Library’s hyperspectral camera system to discover concealed writing in documents.

For the past decade, the Library has relied on increasingly sophisticated hyperspectral imaging technology to elicit a trove of information the human eye cannot detect from manuscripts, maps and other artifacts. Imaging involves digitally photographing an object at multiple wavelengths spanning the ultraviolet through the visible and into the near-infrared. Discrete components in an object—inks, glues, parchment—respond in unique ways to the different wavelengths. So at one wavelength, one ink may almost melt away, revealing another ink below.

The Preservation Research and Testing Division is conducting its pilot with the Library’s Educational Outreach Office. The goal is to introduce students to preservation science and its importance to protecting cultural and historical heritage within the Library’s collections. In the fall, the program will be offered on a monthly basis.

For the story behind how the Library used hyperspectral imaging to detect hidden text in a 1780 love letter from early American statesman Alexander Hamilton to his future wife, Elizabeth Schuyler, read this blog post.

Inquiring Minds: Songwriter Finds Inspiration in Library’s Digital Newspapers

Rob Williams first used the Library’s digital newspaper collections more than a decade ago as a high-school teacher of U.S. history in Powhatan County, Virginia, near Richmond. Today, he’s a recording artist—he released his third album, “An Hour Before Daylight,” in October. But he still draws inspiration from the same online resources that captivated his […]

Trending: Start the School Year with the Library of Congress

This is a guest post by Stephen Wesson of the Education Outreach Program. As educators return to the nation’s classrooms and school libraries, we are delighted to launch another year of teaching ideas and discovery at loc.gov/teachers and Teaching with the Library of Congress! The Library’s K–12 education program supports teachers and school librarians in […]

New Online: Iconic Recordings, Presidential Papers and a Civil War Diary

The following is a guest post by William Kellum, manager in the Library’s Web Services Division.  Since the last installment in this blog series, published in mid-March, quite a few new offerings have been added to the Library’s website. Women’s History Month March was Women’s History Month, and we updated the site we maintain in collaboration […]

Pic of the Week: Women in Science

Eighteen fifth-graders from Hendley Elementary School in Washington, D.C., visited the Library’s Young Readers Center this week to test the scientific method under the direction of Dr. Svetlana Kotliarova, a cancer researcher who is now a scientific review officer at the National Institutes of Health. She talked about her difficult childhood in Ufa, Russia, her […]

Join the (Twitter) Party!

(The following is a guest post by Guy Lamolinara, communications officer in the Center for the Book at the Library of Congress.) The Library of Congress Literacy Awards program is having a party. The party is on Twitter and it will recognize the importance of promoting literacy and all those individuals and organizations dedicated to […]

“Roots” – Celebrating the 40th Anniversary of an African-American Saga

(The following post is written by Ahmed Johnson, African American genealogy specialist in the Library’s Humanities and Social Sciences Division.) I’d like to begin with a story – a personal story. I remember being in a sociology class at Hampton University and discussing the government’s unfulfilled promise, in the aftermath of the Civil War, to […]

Freud Collection: The Opening of the Eissler Interviews

(The following post is by Louis Rose, executive director of the Sigmund Freud Archives since 2015. It is the last of three weekly guest blogs by current and former executive directors of the Sigmund Freud Archives (SFA), an independent organization founded in 1951 to collect and preserve for scholarly use Sigmund Freud’s personal papers. The […]

Rare Book of the Month: W.E.B. Du Bois’ Brownies

(This is a guest post by Elizabeth Gettins of the Library’s Digital Conversion Team.) This month’s rare book honors William Edward Burghardt (W.E.B.) Du Bois, born Feb. 23, 1868. It features one of his most beloved creations, The Brownies’ Book, a serial published in 1920 and 1921. It is digitally presented here—22 back-to-back chronological issues. […]