Benny Seda-Galarza, a public affairs specialist in the Communications Office, is co-author of this post.The Maltz Jupiter Theatre production of “Disney Newsies: The Musical,” directed by Marcos Santana. Photo by Benjamin Rusnak.
For two long weeks in summer 1899, readers of the New York World and the New York Journal had to do without their daily papers. The reason: thousands of ragtag child newspaper sellers went on strike against the two largest newspapers in the country, shutting down distribution. They did so after publishing tycoons Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst raised wholesale prices of the newspapers by a dime, cutting into the newsies’ meager profits.
The strike is the subject of a 1992 Disney movie, “Newsies,” and a Tony Award-winning Disney musical that debuted on Broadway in 2012. This winter, “Newsies” premiered in South Florida at the Maltz Jupiter Theatre under the direction of Broadway veteran Marcos Santana—but with a twist. Santana cast several girl newsies in the play.Marcos Santana. Photo by Carlos Gonzalez.
Neither the movie nor the Broadway adaptation, by playwright Harvey Fierstein, includes a girl newsie. Santana added them to his production after researching child newspapers sellers at the turn of the 20th-century in the Library’s collections.
Santana is a choreographer, director, performer and theater arts...
The following is a guest post by Helena Zinkham, chief of the Library’s Prints and Photographs Division. It was first published on “Picture This,” the division’s blog.
It’s a remarkable achievement for any social media program to still be going strong after 10 years. But the most important part of the Flickr Commons is the opportunity to talk about pictures without the barriers of time and place.
A fantastic community of people who enjoy looking at old pictures has developed through the comments they exchange online. That communication can be as simple as flagging favorite photos, and a display of top favorites appears in a Flickr album and is also being featured on the Library of Congress home page this month.
Thank you for a rich and growing experience! You inspire the Prints and Photographs Division staff to keep diving deeper into our collections to share the pictures we love. Your subject expertise and impressive research skills also provide much-needed help to identify the many fascinating images that arrived at the Library with only one or two words of description.
New followers and history detectives are always welcome to take part in the Library’s Flickr photostream.A selection of the Library of Congress Flickr albums.
The albums selected above illustrate how successful “crowd sourcing” has been in adding descriptive information. You’ve sent us views of how places appear today for...
This is a guest post by Bryonna Head, a public affairs assistant in the Communications Office. It is reprinted from the January–February issue of LCM, the Library of Congress Magazine. The issue is available in its entirety online.
The Library’s local history and genealogy resources make it easier for African-Americans to explore their family histories.Reference librarian Ahmed Johnson helps Howard University student Carmen Crusoe research her family genealogy. Photo by Shawn Miller.
In the age of personal genetic testing and online genealogical research, Americans today are more interested than ever in discovering their own genesis, looking for a beginning that explains their now.
This awakening to family history is one the Library of Congress is well equipped to help, including for African-Americans seeking to better understand their roots.
For more than 200 years, the Library has amassed resources by and about African-Americans. In addition, the Library holds one of the foremost collections of U.S. and foreign genealogical and local historical publications in the world—more than 50,000 genealogies and 100,000 local histories. Many of those resources are available on the Library’s website. Others—including several free genealogical databases—can only be accessed on-site at the Library.
Genealogy is a journey, not a destination. A good place to begin that journey, of course, is interviewing older living relatives, then working backward through vital records, such as census records or birth, death and marriage certificates.
This is a guest post by Julie Miller, a historian in the Manuscript Division. It is published today to coincide with the anniversary of Alexander Hamilton’s birth: He was born on January 11, 1757.
In the mid-19th century John Church Hamilton, a son of Alexander and Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton, published an edition of his father’s papers, including a letter (volume 1, page 169) his father wrote to his mother on September 6, 1780, two months before their marriage. According to John Hamilton the letter is entirely about a battle of the Revolutionary War and begins: “Most people here are groaning under a very disagreeable piece of intelligence just come from the southward, that Gates has had a total defeat near Camden, in South Carolina.”
In the mid-20th century, Columbia University history professor Harold C. Syrett published the Hamilton papers again. In Syrett’s edition the same letter begins: “I wrote you My Dear Betsey a long letter or rather two long letters by your father.” The “disagreeable piece of intelligence” from South Carolina starts at paragraph two. Syrett also includes the end of the letter, excluded by John Hamilton, where Hamilton apologizes: “Pardon me my love for talking politics to you. What have we to do with any thing but love?” In a footnote, Syrett reveals something else that John Hamilton failed to mention: 14 lines of the first paragraph are so heavily crossed-out that he was unable to read them. Now we can.
When the Library of Congress recently...
Teachers and filmmakers have long relied on primary sources to make history come alive. Ben West, director, performer and musical theater historian, is also drawn to them—but with a novel purpose. He is using unpublished manuscripts, papers of Broadway authors, copyright records and more to tell the story of the American musical—through a musical.
His production, “Show Time! The First 100 Years of the American Musical,” blends live music, performance and narrative to explore the way musicals evolved from the mid-1800s through 1999 alongside social and artistic changes. To develop the show, West visited more than 20 archives in states across the country, including the Library of Congress, whose collections he began consulting in 2009.
West’s directing credits include “Unsung Carolyn Leigh” for Lincoln Center’s American Songbook; “Gatsby: The Songs in Concert”; “Make Mine Manhattan”; and “The Fig Leaves Are Falling.” On Broadway, he was assistant director and dramaturg for “Old Acquaintance”; assistant producer for “August: Osage County” and “The Homecoming”; and production assistant for “Talk Radio.” Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts recognized West in 2017 with its Martin E. Segal Award for emerging artists.
“Show Time!” will premiere at the Theatre at Saint Peter’s in New York on September 13. Two companion pieces will follow in 2019 and 2020: “45 Minutes from Coontown,” a celebration of black musical theater, and “68 Ways to Go,” about...
This is a guest post by Megan Harris, a librarian with the Veterans History Project. It is one of four profiles that make up “Veterans on the Homefront,” published in the November–December 2017 issue of LCM, the Library of Congress Magazine. This profile recounts the way in which Tracy Sugarman was affected by his time in uniform.A detail from a Sugarman watercolor showing sailors aboard a ship in Normandy in September 1944. Tracy Sugarman at his desk.
As a young Navy officer arriving in Normandy on D-Day, Tracy Sugarman brought with him a few secret weapons: a sketchpad, pen and watercolor paints. Throughout his service overseas, Sugarman—a trained artist and aspiring illustrator—had been busy documenting what he saw in the form of quick but evocative sketches, which he then sent home to his new bride, June. By the time he reached France, drawing became not only a form of communication with his wife, but also a way to cope with the horrors of war.
Art, he said in his 2003 Veterans History Project oral history interview, was “a way to come to terms with getting through a bad time. If I could put it on paper, I could deal with it.”
After the war, art became his...
“Be-bop is a way of phrasing and accenting. The accent is on the up beat. Instead of OO-bah, it’s oo-BAH. Different chords, too. And lots of flatted 5ths and 9ths. There’s lots more to it. But just now I can’t think of what.”
—Dizzy Gillespie, Sept. 10, 1947, Down BeatDizzy Gillespie, 1947. Photograph by William P. Gottlieb.
Dizzy Gillespie—trumpeter, composer, bandleader—made an enormous mark on jazz and modern music, playing up until the day he died on Jan. 6, 1993—25 years ago this coming Saturday. Among his contributions, Gillespie was a pioneer of Be-bop, a form of modern jazz he created with pianist Thelonious Monk, drummer Kenny Clarke, guitarist Charlie Christian and alto saxophonist Charlie “Yardbird” Parker.
In the 1940s, Dizzy and his collaborators often gathered at Minton’s Playhouse in Harlem for after-hours jam sessions. The Three Deuces, the Troubador and the Famous Door were other popular clubs in the area, alternately called “Swing Lane” or “Be-Bop Alley,” or simply “The Street.”
The scene is well documented in the Library’s William P. Gottlieb Collection, made up of more than 1,600 photographs of celebrated jazz artists, including Gillespie. The Library acquired the collection in 1995; it entered the public domain in 2010 under the terms of the purchase agreement with Gottlieb.
This is a guest post by Michelle Krowl, a historian in the Manuscript Division.Artist Jean Louis Gerome Ferris’s interpretation of Abraham Lincoln speaking at a flag-raising ceremony.
Imagine you can hear Abraham Lincoln speaking the words from his famous Second Inaugural Address: “With malice toward none; with charity for all.” What voice did you supply for Lincoln? Was it a resonant baritone, or a high-pitched tenor?
While many people expect that Lincoln must have had a deep, stentorian tone, Lincoln’s true voice was high pitched and reedy. It was this voice that Daniel Day-Lewis used to portray Abraham Lincoln in the 2012 film “Lincoln,” and which provides a close approximation of the real Abraham Lincoln’s voice.
A number of Lincoln’s contemporaries left accounts of his voice and speaking style. Journalist Horace White described Lincoln as having “a thin tenor, or rather falsetto, voice, almost as high-pitched as a boatswain’s whistle.” Others described it as “shrill” and “sharp,” which the New York Herald noted in February 1860 had “a frequent tendency to dwindle into a shrill and unpleasant sound.” For most listeners, however, the power of Lincoln’s words soon outweighed any discordant note in his delivery.Excerpt from “The Presidential Campaign,” published on Feb. 28, 1860, in...
Happy New Year! There is something sort of refreshing to me about saying those words. I have always fully embraced the notion that a new calendar year, psychologically speaking, offers a particular moment to reset, recommit and reprioritize. Whether you call them New Year’s Resolutions or, as one of my dear friends refers to them, New Year’s Notions, it is a worthwhile activity to make a list of things you would like to do, be or see in the 12 months ahead.
Last month, I shared a list of ideas for engaging with the Library during the holiday season. For January, I dug into some suggested Library resources that might align with topics or themes you are considering to enrich your 2018.
Once again, we invite you to share comments or stories if you use any of these ideas, and we welcome your own suggestions!
Research your family genealogy: I am lucky enough to have a great aunt and an uncle who have zealously documented my family history. Whether you are starting from scratch, or want to build on existing information, the Library of Congress has one of the world’s premier collections of U.S. and foreign genealogical and local historical publications. Get started here.
Refresh your citizenship muscles: The Library’s Congress.gov web site is the official resource for federal congressional information. On...
Bryan Hoffa discusses his work at the Library’s Audio-Visual Conservation Center. This post was first published in LCM, the Library of Congress Magazine. “My Job” is a regular feature in the magazine, issues of which are available in their entirety online.Bryan Hoffa. Photo by Robert Friedrich.
How would you describe your work at the Library?
My job at the Library’s Packard Campus for Audio-Visual Conservation in Culpeper, Virginia, is to digitally preserve and archive the incredible recorded sound collections held by the Library’s Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division and the American Folklife Center. For the vast majority of physical audio formats such as wax cylinders, grooved discs, magnetic tape and so on, this process is preservation reformatting—transferring audio from fragile or obsolete formats to more stable ones. In a real-time transfer process, I create high-resolution wave files at archival specifications. Getting the most audio information out of each format during transfer is crucial. I also collect descriptive metadata about the content of the recording as well as technical information carrying over from the original recording and information about the transfer process and equipment. I’m fortunate to be able to work with top-notch gear!
How did you prepare for your current position?
I first became interested in recording as a musician. I secured an internship at a very well-regarded studio and was mentored by some of the best...
Celebrated performer Tony Bennett salutes the crowd on November 15 after Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden and a delegation of Members of Congress presented him with the 2017 Gershwin Prize for Popular Song. Members who joined Bennett on stage were Rep. Kevin Yoder, U.S. House of Representatives Chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on the Legislative Branch; Rep. Gregg Harper, U.S. House of Representatives Chairman of the Committee on House Administration and Chairman of the Joint Committee on the Library of Congress; Rep. Nancy Pelosi, U.S. House of Representatives Democratic Leader; Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, U.S. Senate Member of the Joint Committee on the Library of Congress; and Rep. Kevin McCarthy, U.S. House of Representatives Majority Leader.
Earlier, during an evening concert in DAR Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C., some of the nation’s top artists paid homage to Bennett’s extraordinary gift as an interpreter of America’s songbook, showcasing some of his most memorable songs. Performing were Chris Botti, Michael Bublé, Gloria Estefan, Michael Feinstein, Savion Glover, Josh Groban, Wé McDonald, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Lukas Nelson, Vanessa Williams and Stevie Wonder—a former recipient of the Gershwin Prize—with a special presentation by Wynton Marsalis. Actor Bruce Willis hosted the evening’s festivities, concluded by a performance by Bennett of some of his favorite tunes.
The concert will air on PBS stations nationwide at 9 p.m. ET on Friday,...
This is a guest post by Megan Halsband, a reference librarian in the Serial and Government Publications Division. It was first published in “Comics! An American History,” the September–October issue of LCM, the Library of Congress Magazine. The issue is available in its entirety online.
Through an agreement with the Small Press Expo, the Library collects and preserves independent comics and cartoon art.“Henni” by Miss Lasko-Gross (2015), drawing for a poster designed for the American Library Association. Small Press Expo Collection, Prints and Photographs Division.
Like Animals? Monsters? Robots? Superheroes? Autobiography? Noir? Science Fiction? History? The Small Press Expo Collection at the Library of Congress probably has a comic (or two) for you.
The nonprofit Small Press Expo was created in 1994 to promote artists and publishers who produce independent comics. The annual SPX festival in Bethesda, Md., hosts independent and small-press comic artists and publishers from around the world who come to the festival to present their wares, chat with fans and nerd out about comics (or comix, if you prefer).
Small Press Expo executive director Warren Bernard approached the Library in 2010 about establishing a collection to preserve the artistic output of the creators who come to SPX, as well as the history of the yearly SPX festival. This agreement provided a unique opportunity for the Library to collect materials for both its comic book and...
This is a guest post by Michelle Krowl, a historian in the Manuscript Division.
Regular visitors to the Library of Congress website may be scratching their heads right now, thinking, “Aren’t the Abraham Lincoln Papers already online?” It is true that the bulk of the Abraham Lincoln Papers have long been available through the Library’s American Memory portal. But to paraphrase an Oldsmobile advertisement from the 1980s, “This is not your father’s Abraham Lincoln Papers.”The new portal to the Abraham Lincoln Papers has an updated look and offers new and enhanced features.
The Abraham Lincoln Papers first became available online in 2001. The images in that initial American Memory presentation were scanned from the microfilm edition of the Abraham Lincoln Papers. They included only materials from series 1–3 of the Lincoln Papers, and the site did not provide distinct URL addresses that retained the connection of the individual image to the rest of the document or to its bibliographic information. For those interested in Abraham Lincoln, however, the American Memory images and over 10,000 transcriptions provided by the Lincoln Studies Center at Knox College in Galesburg, Ill., opened up a whole new world of Lincoln-related documents previously available only to those with access to the microfilm edition.
Born into one of folk music’s foremost families, Peggy Seeger has been a leading voice of the Anglo-American folk revival for more than 60 years. As a singer, songwriter, instrumentalist and political activist, Seeger is viewed as having forged an unconventional and artistically vibrant path.
In “Peggy Seeger: A Life of Music, Love and Politics,” published in March, Jean Freedman writes about Seeger’s life and career, detailing her contributions as a performer, songwriter and activist.
Freedman is a folklorist and author whose work has appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Journal of American Folklore and other publications. Her first book, “Whistling in the Dark: Memory and Culture in Wartime London,” analyzes popular culture and political ideology in London during World War II. Freedman teaches at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., and Montgomery College in Montgomery County, Maryland.
Freedman spoke about her book on Peggy Seeger at the Library on September 7 in a Benjamin A. Botkin Lecture, touching on research she carried out in the Library’s collections. Her presentation will be available online soon. Here, Freedman answers a few questions about the book and her research for it.
Tell us how you met Peggy Seeger.
We first met in autumn 1979. It was quite...
Last week, the Library announced a new online presentation of Abraham Lincoln’s papers from his time as a lawyer, congressman and the 16th president. The refreshed digital collection follows a multiyear project to update the Library’s previous presentation with additional features, full-color images and new material.Lincoln’s second inaugural address.
To celebrate, we’re highlighting items from the Library’s vast Lincoln holdings on our home page this month. Browse through original documents and images including the earliest known draft of the Gettysburg Address, handwritten by Lincoln; photos of Lincoln on the battlefield; a preliminary draft of the Emancipation Proclamation; and much more.
The items are from Lincoln’s papers as well as from the Prints and Photographs Division, the Library’s Alfred Whital Stern Collection of Lincolniana, the Civil War Sheet Music Collection and elsewhere. They have no known copyright restrictions—meaning you can use them as you wish.
“The thousands of manuscripts, documents and images that tell the story of Abraham Lincoln’s life are an invaluable resource, and more people than ever can study these primary sources from the Library of...
This is a guest post by Ryan Reft, a historian in the Manuscript Division.
Every country has found itself face to face with this situation at the close of a great war. From Rome under Caesar to France under Napoleon down even to our own Civil War, the problems arose as to what could be done with the soldiers to be mustered out of military service.
—Secretary of the Interior Franklin K. Lane to President Woodrow Wilson, 1918U.S. Employment Service poster promoting employment of veterans. Poster artist Gordon Grant.
What to do with returning soldiers—how to reintegrate them into peacetime society—was a central challenge for the U.S. government after World War I.
Of course, it was not the first time the U.S. had waded into the waters of international conflict: the American Revolution, the War of 1812, the Mexican-American War and the Spanish-American War were all precedents. Yet the Great War represented the first time the nation fully harnessed its industrial might and political capital while also drafting a military to fight overseas. During the Civil War, roughly 8 percent of the military was conscripted, compared with 72 percent during World War I.
Ultimately, the First World War helped spur activism on behalf of and by veterans while also laying the groundwork for a 20th-century disability-rights movement. It is possible to trace the formation of a vibrant veterans’ movement by exploring...
The following is a guest post by Helena Zinkham, chief of the Prints and Photographs Division, about “American Libraries 1730–1950,” published this fall by W.W. Norton and Company in association with the Library of Congress.
You can find libraries at the heart of many different communities, from the center of a town or a college campus to a shared toolbox at a construction site. The new book “American Libraries,” written by architectural historian Kenneth Breisch, takes you on a tour of the interior spaces as well as the public facades of libraries throughout the United States from 1730 to 1950. By way of introduction, here’s a sampler of the more than 450 photographs and architectural designs that fill the volume to the brim.
The Library Company of Philadelphia represents the world of private libraries featured in the first chapter. Designed in 1876 by Addison Hutton, multistory iron stacks house the books. I’d love to explore those shelves.The Library Company of Philadelphia’s stacks. Photograph by Jack Boucher, 1962.
A panoramic view featuring the Low Memorial Library at Columbia University confirms the centrality of a library on a college campus. The academic libraries chapter describes various plans and styles chronologically: early, linear alcove, panoptic, classicism (Low Library), eclecticism and modern.
This is a guest post by Mark Hartsell, publications editor in the Office of Communications. It first appeared in “Veterans on the Homefront,” the November–December issue of LCM, the Library of Congress Magazine. The entire issue is available online.In America, no song is more associated with the Great War than George M. Cohan’s “Over There.”
The Library preserves recordings and sheet music of thousands of tunes from World War I.
The Great War inspired thousands of songs, music that a century later still evokes a world at war, families separated, loved ones lost: “Over There,” “Pack Up Your Troubles in Your Old Kit-Bag,” “Keep the Home Fires Burning.”
Recordings of many of those songs are collected on the National Jukebox, a Library of Congress website that makes historical sound recordings from 1901 to 1925 available to the public for free. The songs of the World War I period, and the recordings of them in the Jukebox, reflect the spirit of nations going to war and the men and women caught up in the conflict.
One of them was Ernestine Schumann-Heink, a Czech-born operatic singer who moved to the United States, became an American citizen and, later, strongly supported the war effort on recordings found on the Jukebox—“Just Before the Battle, Mother,” “When the Boys Come Home,” a vocal version of “Taps.”
The site also features the Nora...
Celebrated filmmaker Christopher Nolan, left, joined Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden in the Coolidge Auditorium on November 2 in a conversation about his personal experiences directing, writing and producing some of the most popular and acclaimed movies in cinematic history, including his latest, the World War II epic “Dunkirk.” He also spoke about the importance of film preservation and commented on topics including the value of continuing to shoot film in a post-digital age and the theatrical experience of it.
The event was one of several the Library is hosting this week to further its mission to celebrate and preserve America’s audiovisual heritage. Nolan is a member of the National Film Preservation Board and has been outspoken about the importance of film to our cultural history.
“As a member of our National Film Preservation Board, Christopher Nolan is a strong advocate for the preservation of this important part of our cultural history,” said Hayden upon announcing the event. “We’re proud to work with him and the entire film community—including writers, directors, actors, studio executives, theater owners and archivists—to make a lasting contribution to film preservation.”
November is National Native American Heritage Month. This annual recognition of the contributions of Native Americans to our national culture began in 1986, when President Ronald Reagan proclaimed November 23–30 of that year “American Indian Week.” In 1990, President George H. W. Bush extended the observance to an entire month. Every year since then, U.S. presidents have called for celebrating Native-Americans during the month of November, urging all the peoples of the United States to learn more about Native-American culture.Sarah Winnemucca’s statue in the Capitol Visitor Center. Photo by Judith Nierman.
In that spirit, we thought it would be a good time to highlight the remarkable story of Sarah Winnemucca. A powerful advocate for her people, she is also considered to be the first Native-American woman to secure a copyright and publish in the English language. In honor of her achievements, a six-foot-four bronze likeness of Winnemucca, sculpted by Benjamin Victor, was unveiled in 2005 in Emancipation Hall, the majestic gathering space in the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center.
Born in 1844 as Thocmetony, or “Shell Flower,” Winnemucca was a member of the Northern Piute tribe from an area that would later become the state of Nevada. The tribe had its first contact with white settlers shortly after her birth. Her grandfather, Chief Truckee, sought an amicable relationship with them, taking Winnemucca and other relatives to California to live...