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Now See Hear! (Pretty Please)

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This post was co-written with Bryan Cornell and Karen Fishman.

We hope we can be forgiven the stern tone of this blog’s name, but we couldn’t resist the pun.

Blue Eagle (Fox, 1926)
The Blue Eagle (Fox, 1926)
Preserved by the NAVCC Film Lab

Welcome to the inaugural post of Now See Hear!, a blog devoted to sharing information about and content from the collections of the National Audio-Visual Conservation Center. The NAVCC exists in two geographic locales: the Packard Campus for Audio Visual Conservation in Culpeper, Virginia, and two research centers—one for recorded sound and the other for moving images—in the Library’s Madison Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. The NAVCC preserves and makes accessible more audiovisual content than any other archive in the world, and we’re very excited by the prospect of using this blog to share our riches with a wider audience.

Our ambition for Now See Hear! is limited only by our imaginations, which aren’t very limited at all. The blog will showcase collections, announce new acquisitions and projects, publicize our public programs and introduce you to our amazingly talented staff. We’ll highlight work of our audio, film and video preservation laboratories and contextualize an amazing variety of audiovisual content for your viewing/listening pleasure, including highlights from both the National Film and Recording Registries.

We’ll feature posts that focus on collections and resources of potential interest to K-12 educators and students, as well as information about us – whether related to reference, acquisition, storage, cataloging, preservation or technology.

It promises to be a lot of fun for us and, we trust, for you. Here are some appetizers to whet the palate:


“In Washington,” sung by Billy Murray, was written by Vincent Bryan with music by Gertrude Hoffmann, for the 1907 hit Broadway musical A Parisian Model. The show was produced by Florenz Ziegfield and starred Anna Held, French actress and comedienne.

Billy Murray
Popular singer
Billy Murray

Murray was perhaps the most prolific recording artist of the acoustic recording era. He was most famous for Irish dialect comic songs, but he could also handle ragtime and African American dialect material with ease, along with sentimental songs and Tin Pan Alley and Broadway material.





In 1939, the same year they released Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Columbia Pictures produced a series of shorts under the banner Washington Parade. Included were films about the White House, the Capitol, and us. “The Library of Congress” is a fascinating look at our institution, even if its numerous shots of ungloved hands pawing priceless books and pamphlets is a bit discomfiting (our practices are better now, promise). Preserved by our film laboratory from original 35mm nitrate picture and soundtrack camera negatives in the AFI/Columbia Collection, we’re delighted to present the film with the kind permission of Sony Pictures.

Comments (16)

  1. Congratulations!

  2. What fun! The movie is enlightening, but the song “In Washington” is just too funny! It shows that some things never change in Washington. I look forward to reading, listening, and watching much more in future.

  3. Wonderful! Thank you for starting an NAVCC blog and for posting some of the NAVCC’s audio and video treasures online.

  4. The Library of Congress was invaluable in my research of 1848 New Orleans, the year Walt Whitman graced our city with his presence and writings.

    Thank you to the many people who were of help to me there, and for their safeguarding of our historical literature.

    R. D. Hamann

  5. I am very envious of the staff members who get to peruse the LOC collection to pick and choose items for this blog! Congrats to all of you…Looking forward to some fun and interesting posts….

  6. I’m wondering if the copy of the Declaration of Independence shown in the 1939 film is the same one that is now on display at the National Archive. If so, it appears that there has been quite a bit of light damage to the document over the years.

    • Yes. It was transferred from the Library of Congress to the National Archives in 1952.

  7. Cue the lights! A wonderful addition to the LOC blogoscape!

  8. Wonderfull! Thank you. The Washington song is especially entertaining. Looking forward to more posts.

  9. Thanks for sharing the video! Great first post.

  10. Exciting launch! Thanks for the great curation. Checking this blog may become a daily ritual to replace coffee.

  11. Mike,
    Thanks for posting the film. I really enjoyed watching about what the Library was like in 1939.

  12. Glad this blog is finally up and running!

  13. I believe the Library of Congress IS our National Treasure, and this site promises to disclose gems and jewels for those of us who can only appreciate and enjoy LoC from a distance, and online. Thank you for the intelligent, witty and thoughtful choices and descriptive writing on this blog! This will be a pleasure to peruse!!

  14. Wonderful start, and a great way for the masses to gain a better understanding of the wealth and breadth of LOC Collections.
    Looking forward to future post.

  15. You’re off to an excellent start. My impression is that you will take your subject matter very seriously, but yourselves less so. That should make my visits both informative and enjoyable.

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