Tag Archives: Library of Congress

American Memory

I recently had a reference question from someone who was looking for film footage of President McKinley at the 1901 Pan-American Exposition.  The Exposition presented exhibits on technological advancements of the time, a wild west show, and an “Indian Village” in which Native Americans were actually displayed as side-show exhibits.  History buffs might also know this event as the location where McKinley was assasinated.  A brief search led me straight to the Library of Congress’ American Memory collection, where the collection of films are available for free online viewing

The nice thing about getting reference questions like this is that I’m often reminded of great resources that I don’t always remember to use, like the American Memory collection.  This collection documents the American experience with items like sheet music, sound recordings, photographs, films, and letters (among other things), and makes all of these little bits of history available digitally, for free. The variety of subjects is broad: interested in sports?  In architecture?  African-American history?  Literature?  The list is long, and you can browse by topic or search for a specific item. 

This is a great place to find primary source material, but it’s also a lot of fun to browse.  Some of my favorite things that I’ve come across in this collection are Walt Whitman’s notebooks (which also include this amazing cardboard butterfly); the collection American Time Capsule: Three Centuries of Broadsides and Other Printed Ephemera; and Fiddle Tunes of the Old Frontier, recordings of the Appalachian folk fiddler Henry Reed.

This isn’t the only great online collection that the Library of Congress has made available; you can find more of their digital offerings here.  Happy browsing! 


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I recently splurged on a digital camera, and must confess I’ve caught the shutterbug.  Admittedly, the subject of most shots is one of my oh-so-photogenic feline compadres, but plants, Mt. Dub,  and absurd amounts of closeups of the Monongahela’s surface also sneak in. 

Pittsburgh frequently stars, too.  (See below, please and thank you.)  Our very own Pennsylvania Department is probably the expert when it comes to getting the ‘burgh’s good side, though.  They house the Pittsburgh Photographic Library, a collection of over 50,000 prints and negatives relating to Pittsburgh’s history.  You can even buy prints, or browse the exhibit Bridging the Urban Landscape, or learn more.


The fun part of photography is that it forces you to look around you and observe daily surroundings as though they were art.  But the best part of digital photography is sharing the results online.  And I’m not the only library worker who feels that way.  In addition to the Prints and Photographs Reading Room available on their website, the Library of Congress recently created a Flickr account in hopes that good citizens would participate and tag their huge catalog of pictures that span an incredible range of subjects.

Are there any other photographiles out there?  Want to share your pictures?  What are your favorite subjects or locations?  Are there any photographers–amatuer or professional–you really enjoy?


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