What’s new online at the Library of Congress – Winter 2021/22

Interested in learning more about what’s new in the Library of Congress’ digital collections? The Signal will now be sharing out semi-regularly about new additions to publicly-available digital collections and we can’t wait to show off all the hard work from our colleagues from across the Library. Read on for a sample of what’s been added recently and some of our favorite highlights.


What’s new on loc.gov?

Motion Picture Copyright Descriptions Collection

The Motion Picture Copyright Descriptions Collection consists of forms, abstracts, plot summaries, dialogue and continuity scripts, press kits, publicity and other material, submitted for the purpose of enabling descriptive cataloging for motion pictures registered with the United States Copyright Office. This online presentation contains select descriptions of works with copyright dates prior to January 1, 1926. The descriptions vary widely in form and quality, from one-sentence summaries, to fuller treatments, publicity materials, and full scripts.

Rare Illustrated Children’s Books in Hebrew and Yiddish

The Library of Congress is home to a superb collection of rare children’s books and periodicals in Hebrew and Yiddish, among them the very first ever printed for children in these languages. This online presentation includes the five titles that have been determined to be in the public domain, and the remainder of the collection (still, or presumed to be, under copyright according to international law) is available onsite.

United States Congressional Serial Set

The Law Library of Congress and the Government Publishing Office are collaborating to digitize Serial Set documents published between the 15th (1817) and 103rd (1994) Congresses, thus making accessible two centuries’ worth of American legislative history. This initial release makes available the 290 volumes of the Serial Set from the 69th Congress (1925-1927). Subsequent releases will include document-level access to the collection and additional Congresses.

Pinelands Folklife Project 

The Pinelands Folklife Project collection represents the culmination of a three-year effort to identify and record the cultural traditions in and around the Pinelands National Reserve in the Pine Barrens region of southern New Jersey in the mid-1980s. The bulk of the collection consists of field documentation which examines the relationship between the local culture and the surrounding environment in a range of formats, including field notes and logs, sound recordings, graphic images, and moving images. This online presentation includes the majority of the sound recordings and photographs in this collection. Selected manuscripts include those materials created by the fieldworkers, such as audio and photo logs, field notes, and final reports. The remainder of the collection is available in the Folklife Reading Room at the Library of Congress.

Martorell collection

This “one of a kind” collection consists of 1,400 copyist music manuscripts believed to have once been owned by the family of Alonso Tomás Álvarez de Toledo y Silva (1835-1895), X Marqués de Martorell and his wife Genoveva Samaniego y Pando, VII Marquesa de Casa Pontejos. The largest subset of the Martorell collection includes 253 uniformly bound volumes comprising well over 1,100 full scores of excerpts predominantly from 18th-century operas. Contributions from close to ninety individual composers are included with Domenico Cimarosa being the most represented (130 works); and, while the majority of selections are by Italian composers, excerpts by Spanish (e.g., Manuel Espinosa de los Monteros), Portuguese (e.g., Marcos Antonio Portugal), and German (e.g., Johann Adolph Hasse) composers are interspersed throughout.

Sheet Music of the Musical Theater

Sheet Music of the Musical Theater is a collection of more than 16,000 pieces of sheet music published between 1880 and 1922. These songs, specified as “M1508” items in the Library’s classification system, were taken from musicals, revues and operettas primarily of the American and British stage. Composers and lyricists from the famous to the obscure can be found in this collection, and the songs portray the culture and history of more than 100 years ago in unique and valuable ways.

Blair family papers

The papers of the Blair family, a prominent nineteenth-century political family, consist of 471 folders, comprising 19,100 items, most of which were digitized from 49 reels of previously produced microfilm. Spanning the years 1744-1968, with the bulk dating from 1829 to 1892, the collection contains correspondence, memoranda, diaries, speeches, lectures, writings, legal files, financial records, military records, biographical and genealogical material, printed matter, photographs, and other papers of Blair family members. The collection principally documents the careers of patriarch Francis Preston Blair (1791-1876), journalist and presidential advisor, and his sons Francis Preston Blair (1821-1875), soldier and politician, generally identified as Frank P. Blair, and Montgomery Blair (1813-1883), lawyer and cabinet officer in the Lincoln administration.

Single Sheet Maps, Title Collection Folders

Finally, for something a little different, this online collection presents images of the Geography and Map Division’s Title Collection map descriptions, as written on each map object’s folder. The online collection is designed to help researchers identify potential materials of interest. Each folder is typically labelled with information such as the map’s location, date, scale, and creator or publisher–if known–and may also include descriptive notes or references to related materials. Currently, the material in this online collection is part of a pilot project and includes only a very small sample of descriptions for the overall Title Collection, focusing on holdings from the United States. Reference questions can be directed by patrons to the Division through the Ask-A-Librarian page or by visiting the Geography and Map reading room in order to determine what material meets their requirements.

New Datasets & Transcriptions

Around 30 new dataset items were added to the Selected Datasets collection recently! Some highlights include 3 versions of the MARC Distribution Services Dataset, new volunteer transcription datasets from the By the People crowdsourced transcription program, and 10 datasets acquired through the LC Web Archiving program.

And check out the most recent 28,400+ volunteer & staff transcriptions from the By the People crowdsourced transcription program that have been brought back into the Library’s digital collections: Alan Lomax CollectionGeorge S. Patton DiariesJames A. Garfield Papers, and Walt Whitman!

New Open Access eBooks

Over 200 new open access titles added to the Library’s online collections. Some highlights include three issues of Two-Fisted Library Stories, “a zine anthology of fiction, comics, and art concerning libraries, library workers, and librarians,” as well as four issues of Two-Fisted Librarians - these works were donated to the Library by the authors. Books exploring music, theater, and poetry were also added to the collection this month, including The Values of Independent Hip-Hop in the Post-Golden Era : Hip-Hop’s RebelsSongs of the Empty Place : The Memorial Poetry of the Foi of the Southern Highlands Province of Papua New Guinea, and The Theatre of Shelley. And check out the titles about technology recently added to the collection, such as Intelligent Human Computer InteractionInformatics in the Future, and Social Media in Higher Education : Case Studies, Reflections and Analysis.

Additions to the Library’s Web Archives

Indian Political and Social Issues Web Archive

The Indian Political and Social Issues Web Archive is comprised of sites that follow the constantly changing scene of political and social issues in India, South Asia, and diasporic communities. Content includes individual journalists, news sources, online magazines, blogs, zines, governmental and non-governmental organizations, and international organizations.

Earth Day 2020 Web Archive

On April 22, 2020, we celebrated the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, with events and programs pivoting to the online environment due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The focus of this web archive is on digital actions and activities organized by environmental groups; college campuses; civic organizations; and city, state, and federal government.

Professional Organizations for Performing Arts Web Archive

The Professional Organizations for Performing Arts Web Archive contains websites and select social media to document professional networks in the performing arts over time. The collection items are those of professional, labor, and advocacy organizations at regional, national, and international levels. The websites in this collection represent the range of fields within the performing arts, including performance, publishing, scholarship, technology, education, advocacy, and labor organizing.

Computing Cultural Heritage in the Cloud: An Interview with Victoria Scheppele

We are delighted to introduce Victoria (Tori) Scheppele, a Library Technician in the Prints & Photographs Division who has joined us temporarily to work on the Computing Cultural Heritage in the Cloud (CCHC) initiative. The CCHC initiative is supported by a generous grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Centered in LC Labs, the project […]

Volunteer Vignette: It’s fun to figure out the puzzle!

In today’s post, Abby Shelton interviews a By the People volunteer, Maya, who has gone above and beyond! By the People is a crowdsourced transcription program launched in 2018 at the Library of Congress. Volunteer-created transcriptions are used to make digitized collections more accessible and discoverable on loc.gov. You can read our most recent Volunteer Vignette on the Signal here. Abby: What motivates […]

The Open Access Books Collection: Expanding Access and Building Connections

This is a guest post by Kristy Darby, a Digital Collections Specialist in the Digital Content Management Section at the Library of Congress. In March 2020, we first shared about the growing collection of open access e-books available on loc.gov. A lot has changed since then but, in particular, the Open Access Books Collection was […]

Library of Congress Digital Collections Strategy Published

The following is co-authored with Joe Puccio, the Library of Congress Collection Development Officer. Digital collections, and the work related to their acquisition, preservation and access, have become increasingly central to Library of Congress processes and our mission to serve Congress and the nation. For the last five years, in accordance with the Library of […]

Fun with File Formats

Today’s guest post is from Kate Murray, Marcus Nappier, and Liz Holdzkom of the Digital Collections Management & Services Division at the Library of Congress. Are you a file format fan? If you’re curious how to pronounce the still image format HEIF (spoiler alert: it rhymes with “beef”) or the difference between PDF/A-3 and PDF/A-4, […]

Annotation as Aesthetic: A Closing Interview with Innovator in Residence Courtney McClellan

2021 Innovator in Residence Courtney McClellan created Speculative Annotation, an experimental browser-based application that encourages students and teachers to have conversations with historic Library of Congress items through annotation and mark-making. McClellan is a research-based artist who lives in Atlanta, Georgia. With a subject focus on speech and civic engagement, McClellan works in a range […]

It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s a…derivative dataset!

This post describes a collaboration between LC Labs member Eileen J. Manchester and Peter DeCraene, the Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellow to answer the question: “what would it mean to treat a dataset as a primary source?”

Reflecting On a Year of Selected Datasets

Introduction The Selected Datasets Collection was publicly launched June 2020 as part of the Library’s ongoing efforts to support emerging data-driven styles of research. Since then, our initial offering of twenty datasets has grown to nearly 200 unique items, and we’ve continued to refine the technical workflows by which content is prepared and delivered to […]