This guest post is by Lee Ann Potter, Director of Educational Outreach at the Library of Congress.
“What I did on my summer vacation” has been a favorite theme of back-to-school essays and posters for generations! This fall, the education team at the Library of Congress approached this staple assignment with a bit of a twist.
Rather than the standard prompt, we explored the Library of Congress’s online collections and connected the places we visited—and the activities we participated in—to a primary source in the online collections of the Library.
Cheryl Lederle: I visited family in Chattanooga earlier this summer. While there are plenty of primary sources about Chattanooga in the Library’s online collections, this map struck me for its unusual point of view, inviting close observation and speculation on why the cartographer chose that perspective. The Middle Tennessee and Chattanooga campaigns of June, July, August, and September 1863 offers a more traditional map for comparison.
Danna Bell-Russel: I’ve spent a lot of time driving between Baltimore and Alexandria this summer, and I’ve learned to accept that one can experience horrid traffic at any time of the day or night. I spent a part of nearly every day on some portion of I-395 and the George Washington Parkway. When I saw this aerial view of these two roads, I was struck by how empty they were.
Stephen Wesson: When my family and I visited Barcelona, we sometimes felt as if we were in an open-air museum of spectacular architecture. One of our favorites was Mies van der Rohe’s sleek, minimalist Barcelona Pavilion. I like this study drawing of the Pavilion by the American architect Paul Rudolph because it lets us see one architect’s work through the eyes of another.
Lee Ann Potter: My family and I spent a bit of time in Santa Fe, NM. Comparing the city of today with the city as it was represented on this Bird’s eye view map from 1882, quite a bit is familiar. I appreciate the fact that the Palace of the Governors and the Cathedral are still there, just as prominent today as they were more than 130 years ago.
Vivian Awumey: I spent time in Atlanta picking up and dropping off my son who is a junior at Morehouse College, the only all male, historically black college in the country. This photograph, taken by W.E.B. DuBois, shows the Morehouse campus as it looked in 1899 or 1890, about 30 years after its founding.
Meg Steele: My family spent a week in San Diego. We took a boat tour of the bay and learned about the historic Hotel del Coronado–still attracting vacationers and tourists to the area. This panoramic photo from the Library’s collections shows Coronado Tent City, a lower priced option for families who wanted to visit the beach, but couldn’t afford a hotel. The name doesn’t make it sound too attractive today, but it was taken in 1912, when a growing middle class and popularity of swimming as a leisure pursuit made seaside vacations more popular with more people and this image shows its many attractions.
Anne Savage: Reading is one of my greatest summer pleasures. Whether I’m reading blogs or books, it’s a great way to travel around the globe and into the lives of others. One book I reread every summer is Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh.
Kathy McGuigan: My sister and brother-in-law kindly open their South Carolina beach house to our family each summer on the Isle of Palms near Charleston. That area is new for us and we enjoy exploring the lowcountry and learning about its rich culture and history. Last summer a school librarian from Charleston was attending our Summer Teacher Insitute and did her project on the Hunley Submarine from the Civil War. I learned a ton from that educator and was inspired to unearth more about the Hunley. This article from 1916 will help you learn more too.
Now it’s your turn! What items from the collection relate to your summer adventures? Please share your stories—or share a link from the Library’s collections with us and we’ll try to guess where you went or what you did.