What’s New Online? Explore Recently Digitized Collections from the Library of Congress

Start off 2020 by exploring some of the new online collections from the Library of Congress. Here is a sampling of what’s new online.

Pass to allow John Nicolay access to Gettysburg, November 18, 1863

Image of Jubal Early

From pamphlet “Selling the Women’s Journal”

Delve into the papers of Lincoln’s secretary and biographer John G. Nicolay. Included in this collection are documents related to his work as Lincoln’s private secretary during the Civil War and his work on Lincoln’s biography. The collection also includes correspondence between Nicolay and Robert Todd Lincoln and other military and governmental leaders from Lincoln’s administration.

For a contrast to the papers of Nicolay, examine the papers of Jubal Anderson Early. Early was a Confederate army officer who also served in the Virginia State Legislature. Early’s papers include materials from his time at the United States Military Academy at West Point as well as diaries and other correspondence from throughout his life. The collection documents his military activities including his participation in the battles of Bull Run (1st battle), Williamsburg, Gettysburg, and the Shenandoah Valley Campaign of 1864.

The latest addition to presidential papers collections available online from the Library are the papers of James Garfield. This collection includes Garfield’s diaries and correspondence; his college notebooks; information on his military service and his governmental career; materials documenting his condition after he was shot; and tributes given after his death.

As the United States celebrates the anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, the Library has released the records of the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA). This collection documents the history of NAWSA as well as the work of other organizations involved in both the abolition and women’s rights movements.

As a complement to the NAWSA records, Library has also digitized the papers of Carrie Chapman Catt. Catt was president of NAWSA and also founded the International Women’s Suffrage Association. Her papers document her strategy to insure the passage of the 19th amendment and her work with other organizations toward this effort.

Both newcomers and longtime fans of the National Jukebox will be excited to visit the updated collection. Browse by genres, by artists, or by previous playlists. There is an updated version of Victrola Book of the Opera as well as essays on acoustical recording, phonograph advertising, and the uniquely designed Stroh violin.

We hope you will explore these new collections and let us know how you use them with your students.

Where Do You Go If You’ve Reached a Historical “Dead End”?

Where can you look if you think you’ve run out of information about a person or place? How can we encourage students to be persistent researching in the face of a “dead end”? And how do we equip students with the knowledge of databases and archives, so that when they run into a historical dead end, they know where to keep looking?

The Evolution of Walt Whitman’s “O Captain! My Captain!”

The Library of Congress houses the largest archival collection of Walt Whitman materials in the world, all of which have are now available online. Seeing portions of Whitman’s poems in various stages of composition reveals both his very active creative mind and his innovative ways of seeing the world and crafting poetic expressions.

Expanding Student Understanding of Slavery in America by Exploring an Arabic Muslim Slave Narrative

In the January-February 2019 issue of Social Education, the journal of the National Council for the Social Studies, our “Sources and Strategies” article discusses the Life of Omar ibn Said, the only known extant narrative written in Arabic by an enslaved person in the United States. Analyzing this unique manuscript provides students with an opportunity to expand their understanding of some of the people who were brought to the United States from Africa to be enslaved. How educated were they? What did they believe?

Sergeants Robert A. Pinn and William H. Thomas: African American Entrants in William O. Bourne’s Left-Handed Penmanship Contests, 1865-1867

In 1866, William O. Bourne organized a unique left-handed penmanship contest for Union veterans who had lost the use of their right hand. Veterans were encouraged to submit a letter they had written using their left hand and a total prize money of $1000.00 was offered. The Library of Congress holds the many of the entrants’ letters and other information on Bourne and the contest.

“When Johnny Comes Marching Home” Marches Across Time

Sometimes listeners are surprised to find a familiar tune lurking behind the lyrics of a new song. Songwriters may revisit and reuse existing compositions, hoping to catch a listener’s attention through something familiar. The Civil War era song “When Johnny Comes Marching Home” not only resembles an earlier song, but also inspired a number of parodies.