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.

Robert Cornelius and the First Selfie

Robert Cornelius, a Philadelphia photographer, is believed to have taken the world’s first self-portrait — the first selfie — in 1839. The Library, which already had the world’s large collection of his work, in December acquired a donation from Cornelius’ great-great-grand-daughter, Sarah Bodine, of more of his photographic materials. Preservationists are now at work on the new donation.

Library of the Unexpected: Cocaine, Hair and…Wedding Cake?

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.

A New Vision for an Inspiring Location

Plans for a new renovation to the Library’s Thomas Jefferson Building, designed to offer more members of the public access to the Library’s inspiring architecture and comprehensive collections, include an oculus; a circular glass window that will allow visitors to look up to the dome from the orientation center below the Main Reading Room, where visitors will begin their Library journey.

Ada Limón, the Nation’s New Poet Laureate

Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden today announced that Ada Limon will serve as the nation’s 24th Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry for 2022-2023. She is the author of six poetry collections and is the recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the New York Foundation for the Arts, the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center and the Kentucky Foundation for Women.

The Neil Simon Collection: Now Playing at the Library of Congress

The Library now has the papers and collected works of Neil Simon, the most commercially successful playwright in American history and one of the most honored. “Barefoot in the Park,” “The Odd Couple,” “The Sunshine Boys,” “Biloxi Blues,” “Plaza Suite,” “Lost in Yonkers.” By the time he died at age 91 in 2018, he his career included 28 Broadway plays, five musicals, 11 original screenplays and 14 film adaptations of his own work. The Library’s collection includes more than 180 titled works that Simon began, many of them completed but never published or produced.