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Winter Readings and Season’s Greetings

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A group of readers sitting at a circular table under an ornately decorated domed ceiling
The Manuscript Division’s reading room as it once appeared in the Jefferson Building, ca. 1930-1940. Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress.

Reading is cozy in the wintertime. In 1989, anthropologist Rhoda Métraux, while sitting in a Vermont cabin built from a restored 1840s schoolhouse, looked out from her study window to find “lazy snowflakes drifting down, glinting because just before dusk the afternoon sun has broken through a cloud.” Surrounded by her “three big cats,” she kept the indoors warm with a wood stove burning big logs, some from her own trees.[1]

Books were everywhere. Métraux recommended reading the ones that “hold your interest and will take you away, quite regularly, from the problems you will be facing and struggling to understand.”[2]

We like reading in the wintertime too. Above is an image of our reading room when it was in the northwest pavilion of the Jefferson Building, and just a little more snug than it is today.

Season’s greetings from the Library of Congress Manuscript Division!

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[1] Rhoda Métraux, Christmas newsletter. December 1989, Filename: [WP].6, Digital ID: mss83228_164_005, Rhoda Métraux papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

[2] Rhoda Métraux to Stephen, July 26, 1987. Filename: LETR129, Digital ID: mss83228_164_001. Rhoda Métraux papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.


Comments (3)

  1. Look at the social distancing and sneeze guards for researchers!

    wishing you all great joy as the world reopens.

  2. Is this one of the corner rooms in the Jefferson building? Those rooms get so much light because of all the windows, and the painted decoration is so beautiful.

    • It is! During the 1930s, the Manuscript Division’s reading room was on the second floor of the Jefferson Building, in the northwest corner. (The post mistakenly identified that location as the northeast pavilion. I’ve just corrected it.) I believe the Waldseemuller Maps Exhibition is there now. You can see the building’s layout during the time the photo was taken on page 19 of the Library’s 1935 annual report, at this link.

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