Madeleine Albright: A Life of Courage and Commitment

Madeleine Albright, the first female Secretary of State, died today in Washington.

She was 84. The cause was cancer, her family said in a statement.

Albright, who donated her papers to the Library in 2014, was a key figure in the administration of Bill Clinton, serving first as ambassador to the United Nations and then as Secretary of State during his second term. Her no-nonsense foreign policy was informed by her childhood experiences as her family fled from her native Czechoslovakia, first running from the Nazi regime of Germany and then the Communists from Russia. Her family came to the U.S. in 1948.

After her trailblazing career as a public servant, she wrote several bestselling books, including “Madam Secretary: A Memoir,” “Fascism: A Warning,” and “Hell and Other Destinations: A 21st-Century Memoir.” She was at the National Book Festival in 2020. In an interview with David Rubenstein, she mused that she was irritated, if not angered, by women who did not support one another: “There is a special place in hell for women who don’t support each other,” she said.

She was never out of touch with world events, writing an op-ed in the New York Times in late February, warning about Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s decision to mass troops on the border of Ukraine. The piece is vintage Albright, mixing her role in world affairs with her unapologetically blunt viewpoint.

“Should he invade,” she wrote, “it will be a historic error.”

She is remembered fondly at the Library, where she toured her collection in the Manuscript Division in 2020, chatting with the staff and posing for photographs.

“Madeleine Albright shined on the world stage as a symbol of peace & diplomacy,” Carla Hayden, the Librarian of Congress, said in a statement. “As the first female Secretary of State she was a trailblazer and role model. Her memory will live on at the Library of Congress where we are honored to be custodians of her papers.”

Free to Use and Reuse: The Photographs of Bernard Gotfryd

The photographs of Bernard Gotfryd, now free for anyone to use from the Library’s collections, are a remarkable resource of late 20th-century American pop-culture and political life, as he was a Newsweek staff photographer based in New York for three decades. He was also a Holocaust survivor who wrote about the experience with grace and courage.

Roman Totenberg: A Symphony of a Life

Roman Totenberg’s papers at the Library tell the story of his amazing 101-year life. Born in Poland in 1911, he was a child prodigy on the violin, playing street corners in Russia to help his family survive famine. He returned to Poland, became a star while a teenager, eventually fled the Holocaust and became one of the 20th century’s greatest violinists, living the rest of his life in the United States. He was as renowned as a teacher as he was a performer, and his three children — Nina, Amy, Jill — each went on to prominent careers.