Nathan Dorn is the curator of the rare books collection at the Law Library of Congress. He builds the Library's holdings of centuries of legal texts from many nations, including early methods of legal procedures to unusual subjects such as witchcraft and miracles.
After the Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, the delegates spread the word as quickly as possible by publishing it on a broadside sheet and delivering it throughout the Colonies. Copies of the Dunlap Broadside (named after the printer) are now extremely rare, with only about two dozen copies known to surive. The Library has two, one of which belonged to George Washington.
Nestled in the archives of the Daniel A.P. Murray Collection is a short, 1864 account of the remarkable life of Hannah Carson. “Glorying in Tribulation: A Brief Memoir of Hannah Carson, For Thirteen Years Deprived of the Use of All Her Limbs,” is testament to how a severely disabled Black woman became an inspiration to the Christian community, both white and black, in Philadelphia before and during the Civil War.
Susan B. Anthony annotated her copy of a Harriet Tubman biography with a brief note about the day the two larger-than-life women met at a social gathering at the dawn of a new century. Anthony was clearly delighted, underlining Tubman's name each time she wrote it.
It's Bloomsday, the annual celebration of James Joyce's landmark modernist masterpiece, "Ulysses." Published 101 years ago, Joyce's book famously examines one day — June 16, 1904 — in the life of Leopold Bloom of Dublin, Ireland. The Library has some of the most extraordinary copies of the book ever printed, inducing a custom-made copy with a cover made of calfskin; an explanation of the book's convoluted symbolism by Joyce himself; and a full-color anatomical chart of the human body, annotated to show how body parts correspond to specific chapters in the book.
Mark Dimunation has displayed his love for rare books in print, onstage and on television since he was appointed chief of the Rare Book and Special Collections Division at the Library — the largest collection of rare books in North America — a quarter of a century ago, in 1998. He retires this week, telling stories about great books and great personalities he's come across during his tenure.
This is a guest post by Emily Moore, assistant curator of the Aramont Library. What is a book, exactly? Is it an object, made of paper and ink? Is it a portal to a different reality, an embodiment of memory or a method of communicating across space and time? Can it be art? “Making the …
Monica Varner is collections manager for the Rare Book and Special Collections Division.This article appeared in the Library’s Gazette. Tell us about your background. I grew up in Arlington, Virginia, and went to H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program (“Hippie High”) before heading down to Lynchburg, Virginia, to study art history at Randolph College. During college, I spent a …