Top of page

Category: Preservation and Conservation

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

Hair! At the Library? Yes, and Lots of It

Posted by: Neely Tucker

One of the Library's most unusual holdings is hair -- lots of it. The Library has locks and tresses and strands from people in the arts such as Ludwig van Beethoven, Walt Whitman and Edna St. Vincent Millay; presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Quincy Adams, James Madison and Ulysses S. Grant; and any number of famous women, including Lucy Webb Hayes (first lady and spouse of President Rutherford B. Hayes); Confederate spy Antonia Ford Willard; Clare Boothe Luce and unidentified hair from Clara Barton’s diary. Nearly all of the hair stems from the 18th and 19th centuries, in the era before photographs were common and lockets of hair were seen as tokens that could be anything from romantic to momentous.

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

Toy Theaters: 19th Century Home Entertainment

Posted by: Wendi Maloney

The Library has dozens of 19th century animated toy theaters that were wildly popular in Europe and the United States, displaying dashing stories of pirates, undersea adventures, magic and adventure. Conservators have been painstakingly mending damage caused by historical use, making sure researchers can draw insights from the theaters for years to come.

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

The Rolling Stones, Hell’s Angels and Altamont: A New View

Posted by: Neely Tucker

The National Audio-Visual Conservation Center has found a never-before-seen home movie of the infamous Altamont Free Concert in 1969, during which a member of the Hell's Angels killed a member of the audience. The incident became a cultural turning point of the era.