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Category: Manuscripts

Black and white photo of several men, some in military uniform, inspecting a pile of ashes

Oppenheimer: The Library’s Collection Chronicles His Life

Posted by: Neely Tucker

The stunningly complete, intellectually voracious files of J. Robert Oppenheimer, father of the atomic bomb, are preserved at the Library. The files fill more than 300 boxes that occupy a line of files that would stretch, if stacked end to end, more than 120 feet. That’s not including more than 70 boxes of research files compiled over 20 years by Martin J. Sherwin for his part of the Pulitzer Prize-winning biography, “American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer.” (Kai Bird shared the Pulitzer as a co-writer.) Those stretch another 27 feet. The files tell his epic life story in granular detail.

The Ketubah, An Ornate Jewish Marriage Tradition

Posted by: Neely Tucker

No Jewish marriage is complete without a ketubah, a traditional legal document introduced during the wedding ceremony. The ketubah not only legitimizes the marriage but, following Jewish law, also spells out the groom’s financial and conjugal obligations to his bride during their life journey. The Library holds 11 of these ornate, beautiful traditional documents, spanning centuries and many nations.

Paul Newman, Marilyn Monroe, Harry Belafonte: A Star-Studded Day at the Actors Studio

Posted by: Neely Tucker

The Lee Strasberg papers, held in the Manuscript Division, provide a unique glimpse into his Actors Studio, which created the influential style of Method Acting. In 1955, attendees signed in by hand, giving a snapshot of a galaxy of stars at work and producing a collector's dream of celebrity autographs: Paul Newman, Marilyn Monroe, Harry Belafonte, Eva Marie Saint, Patricia Neal, Rod Steiger, Geraldine Page and Eli Wallach, among many others.

Georges ?? poses with an African statue and a copy of "" against a black background, creating a striking image

Researcher Story: Georges Adéagbo and Abraham Lincoln

Posted by: Wendi Maloney

This winter, President Lincoln's Cottage in Washington, D.C., exhibited "Create to Free Yourselves: Abraham Lincoln and the History of Freeing Slaves in America," an installation by Georges Adéagbo. In creating it, Adéagbo visited the Library's Manuscript Division to research Lincoln's words and handwriting. Born in Benin, educated in Cote I and France, Adéagbo works internationally. Here, he talks about how he created the Lincoln project.

Sepia-toned portrait of Oscar Wilde, seated. He's wearing a heavy coat, holds a cane in right hand and rests his left hand against his face in a pensive gesture

LGBTQ+ at the LOC!

Posted by: Neely Tucker

The Library's collections encompassing LGBTQ+ material spans centuries, inlucding unique holdings on world famous figures as well as the lives of every day people. Oscar WIlde, Frances Benjamin Johnston, Alvin Ailey, Leonard Bernstein and silent screen star Alla Nazimova are just some of the major names and collections represented here. Laws that either target or protect gay people are also preserved. This essay explores the range and the depth of the stories these collections reveal.

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. …

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

Lakota “Winter Count” Artistry

Posted by: Mark Hartsell

The winter counts created by some Native American peoples chronicle centuries of their history in pictures: battles fought, treaties struck, buffalo hunts, meteor showers, droughts, famines, epidemics. The counts — painted mostly on buffalo hides until the species was hunted to nearextinction in the late 19th century — served as a way for tribes of …