Just in Time for the National Book Festival, it’s Leslie Jordan!

Leslie Jordan, the Emmy Award winning comic actor turned Instagram star turned author, brings his “How Y’all Doing?” to the National Book Festival. His short video riffs on being short, Southern and gay have charmed millions of viewers since he started posting them during the COVID-19 pandemic. The 67-year-old has more than 100 film and television credits, including turns on hit series such as “Will and Grace” and “American Horror Story.” He’s currently starring in “Call Me Kat” with Mayim Bialik.

25 Years Later, “Tuesdays with Morrie” Still Resonates

Mitch Albom, the sportswriter and novelist, sits down at the National Book Festival to talk about the 25th anniversary of “Tuesdays with Morrie,” his 1997 memoir that has sold more than 17 million copies, been turned into a movie and a stage play and been published in more than 45 countries. Albom has gone on to write a string of No. 1 bestselling novels, each drawing on religious faith and inspiration. His latest, “The Stranger in the Lifeboat,” was published late last year.

Tom Thumb’s Wedding Cake…Still at the Library, 159 Years Later

Among the oddest items in the Llibrary of Congress is a slice of cake from the glamorous wedding of General Tom Thumb (Charles Stratton) and Lavinia Warren, at New York’s Metropolitan Hotel in 1863. The wedding was the social event of the season, with thousands in attendance. Stratton was, at the time, a major star for promotor P.T. Barnum, drawing on his dimunitive height of 35 inches as an attraction. The Library still has the the slice of cake, now nearly 160 years old.

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

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.

Lamont Dozier, Legendary Motown Songwriter and National Recording Registry Member, Dies at 81

  Lamont Dozier, one third of Motown’s key hit-writing team, Holland-Dozier-Holland, has died at 81. It’s difficult to imagine the soundtrack of the 1960s without him. I chatted with him earlier this year, when the trio’s “Reach Out I’ll Be There,” was inducted into the 2022 class of the National Recording Registry. Here’s the story […]

W.E.B. DuBois and The Brownies’ Book

Writer, scholar and activist W.E.B. Du Bois recognized the need for young African Americans to see themselves and their concerns reflected in print. The Brownies’ Book, a monthly magazine for the “Children of the Sun … designed for all children, but especially for ours,” was his response. Du Bois aimed to instill and reinforce pride in Black youth and to help Black families as they raised children in a segregated and prejudiced world. The Library has digitical copies of each magazine online.

Bill Russell: In His Own Words

Bill Russell, the legendary basketball player and civil rights stalwart who died Sunday at the age of 88, filmed an unforgettable conversation for the Civil Rights History Project, an oral history production by the Library and the Smithsonian Museum of African American History, in 2013. It’s three hours and was conducted by Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Taylor Branch. What comes through strongest is the rock-solid voice of Bill Russell, American icon, who learned from his grandfather to “don’t take nothing from nobody.”

My Job: Rachel Wetzel

Rachel Wetzel works in the Library’s conservation lab, where she treats, assesses and preserves photos from across the Library, many of which are more than a century old. Many of these are torn, degraded, broken or otherwise damaged. They’re printed on a varity of surfaces with different chemical compositions. It’s a delicate job, as she often works on prints from the earliest days of photography.