25 Years of LOC.gov

What does the Library of Congress website have in common with Justin Bieber, Harry Styles, Amazon.com, the TV show “Friends” and Netscape’s first web browser? Give up? They were all born 25 years ago. (If you had other guesses share them in the comments!)

We debuted our website at the American Library Association (ALA) annual conference in Miami on June 22, 1994. By the way, the ALA conference is in Washington, D.C. this week and today we expect thousands of attendees to visit the Library!

Since the launch of loc.gov we have put more of the Library online including U.S. federal legislative information, vital services from the U.S. Copyright Office and millions of items from our collections. It’s hard to pick highlights, but here goes:

Just this year, online additions include the Omar Ibn Said Collection, featuring the only known extant narrative written in Arabic by an enslaved person in the U.S., thousands more public domain books, a collection of rare Persian language materials, the 2016 U.S. Election Web Archive, content exploring women’s suffrage including the papers of Carrie Chapman Catt, a new exhibition and crowdsourcing campaign.

We publish recordings of hundreds of events we host every year. Our curators tell great stories on our blogs and many of those stories are about how you use the Library.

We now receive two million visits each week to Library websites.

Even before the debut of our site in 1994, the Library was connecting with users via the Internet using Gopher, TELNET and File Transfer Protocol (FTP). The loc.gov domain was registered in 1990. Tom Littlejohn, an information technology specialist (who thankfully still works here), sent the first loc.gov e-mail in September 1990.

This is a test message to attempt the first mail message from lc to the outside world via the Internet.
First loc.gov e-mail sent September 7, 1990. Do you know what your first e-mail was?

Nowadays, you don’t have to e-mail Tom if you need help. We have a whole crew of people standing by to answer your questions. You can also connect with us on social media.

Thank You, Web Archives

Our web archives allowed me to pull together this trip down memory lane of previous versions of the loc.gov home page. You can explore the history of thousands of websites thanks to our web archiving program. Do you remember any of these loc.gov looks from the past? Click on the image to explore the web archive.

June 16, 1997

Very early web archives didn’t consistently capture image content. As you can see, this has improved over the years.

Screenshot of loc.gov home page on June 16, 1997


May 5, 1999

We were getting ready for the Library’s bicentennial.

Screenshot of loc.gov home page on May 5, 1999


June 3, 2001

Screenshot of loc.gov home page on June 3, 2001


November 13, 2002

Note that part of the current Web Archive banner appears in the upper right of this screenshot.

Screenshot of loc.gov home page on November 13, 2002


April 19, 2005

Screenshot of loc.gov home page on April 19, 2005


July 20, 2008

Screenshot of loc.gov home page on July 20, 2008


July 29, 2010

Screenshot of loc.gov home page on July 29, 2010


December 21, 2012

Screenshot of loc.gov home page on December 21, 2012


October 1, 2014

Screenshot of loc.gov home page on October 1, 2014


February 14, 2018

Screenshot of loc.gov home page on February 14, 2018


June 20, 2019

No archive yet for this version of the website!

Screenshot of loc.gov home page on June 19, 2019


Whew, that was a long trip. Thanks for taking it with us. I’m not making any predictions about what this timeline will look like in another 25 years, or how we’ll be communicating with each other, but you can!

Subscribe to the blog— it’s free! — and the largest library in world history will send cool stories straight to your inbox.

New Online: Educating the Public about Education

This is a guest post by Amanda Reichenbach about a new American Archive of Public Broadcasting (AAPB) collection covering education reporting on public television. The AAPB is a collaboration between the Library of Congress and the Boston public broadcaster WGBH. Reichenbach worked on the release while interning last summer at the Library’s John W. Kluge […]

New Online: Occupational Culture of Home Health-Care Workers

This post by Stephanie Hall of the American Folklife Center was first published on the center’s blog, “Folklife Today.” An important new oral history collection documenting the lives and careers of home health-care workers in Oregon is now available on the Library of Congress’ website. The American Folklife Center recently announced the release of “Taking […]

Omar Ibn Said: Conserving a One-of-a-Kind Manuscript

This is a guest post by Sylvia Albro, a senior paper conservator in the Conservation Division. Earlier this month, the Library released online the Omar Ibn Said Collection, including Ibn Said’s autobiography, the only known extant autobiography written in Arabic by an enslaved person in the United States. A wealthy and educated man, Ibn Said […]

Omar Ibn Said: Transcribing Documents from the Unique Collection

This is a guest post by Adam Rothman, a professor of history at Georgetown University and an expert on the history of slavery and abolition in the Atlantic world. Last fall, he was a distinguished visiting scholar at the Library’s John W. Kluge Center. Here Rothman writes about the Omar Ibn Said Collection, which the […]

New Online: Rare Autobiography by Enslaved West African Scholar

This is a guest post by Mary-Jane Deeb, chief of the African and Middle Eastern Division. In the summer of 2017, the African and Middle Eastern Division of the Library of Congress acquired a collection of unique documents, some dating back to the 1830s. Although the documents are not very old by Library standards — […]

New Online: Circus Workers Folklife Project

This is a guest post by Stephen Winick of the American Folklife Center. It was first published on the center’s blog, Folklife Today. A companion post about circus life in Hugo, Oklahoma, is available here. The American Folklife Center (AFC) is delighted to announce the online presentation of an important new oral history collection documenting […]

Native American Heritage Month: Bringing Native Voices to Light

On June 4 in the Madison Building’s West Dining Room, Dwayne Tomah of the Passamaquoddy Tribe of Maine stood to sing a tribal war song at a celebration organized by the American Folklife Center. It was an emotional moment for Tomah — the song hadn’t been performed publicly in 128 years. He was able to […]