Two Black seamstresses have left their mark on White House fashion history, as Elizabeth Keckley and Ann Lowe designed dresses for two of the nation’s most famous first ladies, Mary Todd Lincoln and Jacqueline Kennedy, respectively. Both designers developed their craft despite the brutal influences of slavery and Jim Crow segregation. This piece tells their stories.
Here's a handy guide to holiday stories that readers frequently turn to at the Library. Favorites include the tale of who invented Christmas tree lights, how Truman Capote wrote "A Christmas Memory" (the Library has his handwritten first draft) and how a Central American flowering plant became the favorite Christmas flower around the world.
Carl Sagan's dreams of space flight took root as a child as some of his enthusiastic artwork shows, particularly a drawing he called “The Evolution of Interstellar Flight.” It's in the Library's Seth MacFarlane Collection of the Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan Archive, composed of more than 595,000 items from throughout the astrophysicist's life.
Ernest Hemingway recorded more than four hours of personal stories, dictation and friends playing music at his home in Cuba during 1949-50 for his friend and future biographer A.E. Hotchner. Those recordings, part of the Library's Hotchner collection, show Hemingway at home with friends, but also how uncomfortable he was with the technology. The tapes have been used by multiple Hemingway biographers.
“The ‘Canary’ Murder Case,” by S. S. Van Dine, is the latest in the Library’s Crime Classics series. The publication gives readers a new look at an influential 1927 detective novel featuring the urbane detective Philo Vance.
Louise Glück, the poet whose often personal, always searching work won the Nobel Prize in 2020 and who served as the U.S. poet laureate for the Library in 2003-2004, has died at the age of 80. Here, we remember a night at the LIbrary in the spring of 1975, when she was a nervous young poet reading her work in an event at the Coolidge Auditorium.
Jimmy Buffett, whose iconic "Margaritaville" was inducted into the National Recording Registry this year, died yesterday at age 76. We interviewed him in March for the NRR. Here, we remember that conversation, his story of writing the song, his performance at the Library in 2008 and how his songs inspired the author long ago, even before Buffett was a star.
Novelist, short-story writer and essayist George Saunders was awarded the Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction Saturday evening in one of the final sessions of the 2023 National Book Festival, conferring a lifetime honor on a versatile writer whose most famous book cast one of Washington's most famous residents in a surreal light. Saunders' 2017 novel "Lincoln in the Bardo" took a fantastical look at the visit President Abraham Lincoln paid to his young son's tomb in a Georgetown cemetery one night in 1862.
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.