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Category: Geography and Maps Division

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

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.

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

The Islamic World Map of 1154

Posted by: Neely Tucker

In 1154, Arab Muslim geographer al-Idrisi, working at the behest of King Roger of Sicily, created a huge map of the known world. The map was more than 9 feet long and composed of 70 separate section maps. The Library preserves a 1928 recreation of this map.