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Category: Geography and Maps Division

Painted illustration depicts the emperor, his crown prince and the royal family celebrating a joyous, nighttime Indian festival on the banks of a river with fireworks, music and feasting.

Library Treasures: New Gallery Shows Off Premier Holdings

Posted by: Neely Tucker

This June, the Library will open “Collecting Memories: Treasures from the Library of Congress,” an exhibition that explores the ways cultures preserve memory and shows off some of the Library's most valuable holdings. The exhibition is the first in the Library’s new David M. Rubenstein Treasures Gallery.

Library Acquires Rare Codex from Central Mexico

Posted by: Neely Tucker

Theft, fraud, harassment, withholding of payment — courts around the world hear these charges all the time. Yet, they’re far from modern. The Library’s newly acquired San Salvador Huejotzingo Codex, for example, documents a legal proceeding from 1571 in which Indigenous Nahuatl officials in central Mexico accused their village’s Spanish administrator of these very same …

Image of an ornate clock showing 2:05 with sculpted male figures sitting on each side of the clock face

Harjo, Library Honored by Native American Tribal Association

Posted by: Brett Zongker

The Association of Tribal Archives, Libraries, and Museums has presented one of its most significant awards to the Library and former U.S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo for “Living Nations, Living Words,” Harjo’s signature project during her 2019 to 2022 term. Harjo, the first Native American to hold the nation’s poet laureate position, was honored with …

Head and shoulders portrait of Ida B. Wells, based on a photograph. She's facing right, hair swept up in a bun, a stern expression on her face

Ida B. Wells, W.E.B. Du Bois, and the Maps of American Racism

Posted by: Wendi Maloney

Ida B. Wells was 30 years old in 1892, living in Memphis and working as a newspaper editor, when a mob lynched one of her friends. Distraught, the pioneering journalist set out to document the stories of lynching victims and disprove a commonly asserted justification — that the murders were a response to rape. Wells’ …

Image of an ornate clock showing 2:05 with sculpted male figures sitting on each side of the clock face

A Fond Farewell to John Hessler, LOC Polymath

Posted by: Wendi Maloney

Every institution has its institutions, and one of the Library’s is John Hessler, who will retire from the Geography and Map Division at the end of this month. He holds many titles, official and unofficial. One of the official ones is curator of the Jay I. Kislak Collection of the Archaeology & History of the …

Image of an ornate clock showing 2:05 with sculpted male figures sitting on each side of the clock face

Library of the Unexpected: Cocaine, Hair and…Wedding Cake?

Posted by: Neely Tucker

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.

Image of an ornate clock showing 2:05 with sculpted male figures sitting on each side of the clock face

The Genius of Cameroon’s Sultan Ibrahim Njoya

Posted by: Neely Tucker

The Library preserves some of the papers of Sultan Ibrahim Njoya, the visionary leader of the Bamum kingdom in modern-day Cameroon in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Njoya's royal family had ruled their region of the grasslands for hundreds of years. Under pressure from the colonial powers of Germany and then France, he created the first map of the kingdom, a language, an alphabet and a religion. He was a renowed patron of the arts, encouraging teachers, sculptors and artisans.

Image of an ornate clock showing 2:05 with sculpted male figures sitting on each side of the clock face

Pocket Globes: The Whole World in Your Hand

Posted by: Neely Tucker

The Library of Congress is now home to a huge collection of nearly 100 pocket globes -- miniature globes that were fashionable art objects from the 17th to 19th centuries, during the age of exploration. The globes, perhaps three inches in diameter, were made of everything from ivory to papier mache, some housed in expensive sharkskin boxes. The family and foundation of the late Jay I. Kislak donated 74 pocket globes to the Library recently, adding to the collector's prodigious donations to the Library's Geography and Map Division.