Profile: Library of Congress

The Library of Congress is the nation's oldest federal cultural institution and serves as the research arm of Congress. It is also the largest library in the world, with millions of books, recordings, photographs, maps and manuscripts in its collections.
The Library's mission is to support the Congress in fulfilling its constitutional duties and to further the progress of knowledge and creativity for the benefit of the American people.
The mission of Library Services is to develop qualitatively the Library's universal collections, which document the history and further the creativity of the American people and which record and contribute to the advancement of civilization and knowledge throughout the world, and to acquire, organize, provide access to, maintain, secure, and preserve these collections.

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NoteStreams By Library of Congress

New Orleans Then and Now: The French Market

This great black and white photo was taken around 1910 and features the French Market in New Orleans.
Post by Ellen Terrell
Library of Congress Blogs: Inside Adams

Category: History

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Harry Houdini Goes to Washington

Never before had a congressional hearing been described as “UPROARIOUS,” until master magician and escape artist Harry Houdini provided expert testimony in which he delivered a lively and compelling case against the supernatural.
Post by Heather Thomas
Library of Congress Blogs: Headlines and Heroes

Category: History

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The Legacy of Fallen Service Members and the Kinsugi Gold Stars They Leave Behind

Although not on a traditional calendar, the last Sunday in September is observed as Gold Star Mother and Family Day.
The legacy of a fallen service member is the memory of a grateful nation. We set aside Memorial Day to honor all those who have made the ultimate sacrifice, but what comes next? After that knock on the door, after TAPS is played and the folded flag is delivered, how can we pay tribute to the families of the fallen?
Post by Kerry Ward
Library Of Congress Blogs: Folklife Today

Category: Social Awareness

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Native Roots of Italian Cuisine from the Region of Lombardy

In 2016, the Library of Congress acquired an Italian manuscript recipe book entitled “Zia Annita” (Aunt Annita), composed between the late 19th and early 20th centuries, in Lombardy. This booklet is but a recent addition to the Library’s notable collection of approximately 7,000 Italian cookbooks and gastronomic works. It is a one-of-a-kind source of traditional recipes from a large region comprising Lombardy, Piedmont, and Liguria, all in northwestern Italy.
(The following is a post by Lucia Wolf, reference librarian for Italy, European Division.)
Library of Congress Blogs: 4 Corners of the World

Category: History

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Breaking Codes and Glass Ceilings in Wartime Washington

You might have already seen Lisa Taylor’s blog post on female code breakers in World War II—but the topic is so rich, I couldn’t resist revisiting it in my own post! Read on for more details about VHP’s holdings of women cryptanalysts.
Post by Megan Harris
Library of Congress Blogs: Folklife Today

Category: History

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Elmer McCurdy: Traveling Corpse

Dead outlaw, will travel.
In life, Elmer McCurdy was a hard-drinking drifter. In death, he crisscrossed the country touring the carnival circuit, hit the Hollywood scene, and even made it to TV!
Post by Heather Thomas
Library of Congress Blogs: Headlines and Heroes

Category: History

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Mary Pickford in the Press

To this day, the original America’s Sweetheart remains an instrumental figure in the motion picture business. By the time Pickford’s last film Secrets was released, 25 years after her first film debut, she had starred in over 200 films, many of which are unfortunately lost.
Library of Congress Blogs: Headlines and Heroes

Category: History

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Al Capone and the Lindbergh Baby

It takes a thief to catch a thief.
That was how imprisoned mob boss Al Capone proposed to bring the kidnapped Lindbergh baby home safely.
Post by Heather Thomas
Library of Congress Blogs: Headlines and Heroes

Category: History

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Movie Theater Etiquette: Ladies, Kindly Remove Your Hats

Summer movie season is upon us! Many of us escape into a cool, dark theater to see the latest blockbuster film during these hot months. And while we wait for the feature to start, we are reminded onscreen to refrain from texting, talking and otherwise disturbing the rest of the audience.
Well, in the course of browsing through our collections for a reference question, I came upon a reminder that some things never change!
Post by Kristi Finefield
Library of Congress Blogs: Picture This

Category: History

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Rare Book of the Month: A Revolutionary Woman and the Declaration of Independence

Mary Katherine Goddard (1738–1816) lived during remarkable times in early American history, and she did not sit idly by observing events. Instead, this brave and industrious woman actively took part in helping to found a new republic through use of her printing press.
She may not be a household name, but one item she printed is: an early edition of the Declaration of Independence, the first with all the names of the signers on the document.
Library of Congress Blogs

Category: 4th of July

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Royal Weddings

Why do we commoners get a kick out of royal weddings?
Newspapers invariably get into the act, reporting on bridal processions, wedding cakes, and everything in between.
Check out these four royal nuptials from the past!
Post by Heather Thomas, reference librarian in the Serial and Government Publications Division at the Library of Congress.
Library of Congress Blogs

Category: History

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Female Firsts: Pioneering Women Veterans through the Years

The following is a guest blog post by Andrew Huber, a Liaison Specialist for the Veterans History Project (VHP). This is the third post in a six-part series highlighting women veterans’ collections from the VHP archive in recognition of Women’s History Month. To begin with the first post, Sharpened Pencils & Sharper Minds: World War II Women Code Breakers, please click here.
Library of Congress Blogs: Folklife Today

Category: History

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Blazing Trails and Taking Names: Women in the Military

The following is the second post in a six-part series highlighting women veterans’ collections from the Veterans History Project (VHP) archive in recognition of Women’s History Month. To begin with the first post, Sharpened Pencils & Sharper Minds: World War II Women Code Breakers, please click here
Library of Congress Blogs: Folklife Today

Category: Military History

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Sharpened Pencils & Sharper Minds: World War II Women Code Breakers

In 1942, reeling from Japan’s devastating surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, the United States was in desperate need of workers to serve as code breakers in the newly ramped up war effort. Most of the eligible men were either already on active duty in the armed forces, or preparing to be. Thankfully, there were hundreds of women who were good fits for this top secret program who enthusiastically answered the call to duty.
The following is the first post in a six-part series highlighting women veterans’ collections from the Veterans History Project (VHP) archive in recognition of Women’s History Month.
Library of Congress Blogs: Folklife Today

Category: Military History

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Pictures That Make Us Happy

The Prints and Photographs Division’s collections include images that evoke every possible emotion. This year’s International Day of Happiness – designated by the United Nations to recognize that “the pursuit of happiness is a fundamental human goal” and to help more people meet that goal – felt like a fitting time to take an informal survey of what images make P&P reference staff members happy.
Library of Congress Blogs

Category: History

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Profiling Portraits: The Art of the Self-Portrait

Let's look at a type of portrait, one which is very popular today, thanks to the advent of smartphones with cameras: self-portraits, commonly referred to as selfies. However, self-portraits have been around for hundreds of years, in many formats, not just photography.
Library of Congress Blogs

Category: History

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Inquiring Minds: Tracking the Polar Adventures of a Rich American Dame

Between 1926 and 1955, Louise Arner Boyd financed, organized and photographically documented seven Arctic expeditions, achieving international notoriety for her work.
Library of Congress Blogs

Category: History

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World War I: American Jazz Delights the World

In the afterglow of the armistice in 1918 that ended World War I, Europe, and particularly the city of Paris, exhibited a wild exuberance. Future civil rights pioneer and American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) officer Charles Hamilton Houston encapsulated the mood and sounds of European joy: “Paris is taken away with [jazz] and our style of dancing,” he wrote in his diary.
This is a guest post by Ryan Reft, a historian in the Manuscript Division.
Library of Congress Blogs

Category: Music

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Places in Civil War History: The Battle of Dranesville

This is part of a series of guest posts from Ed Redmond, Cartographic Specialist in the Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division, documenting the cartographic history of maps related to the American Civil War, 1861-1865. The posts will appear on a regular basis.
Library Of Congress Blogs

Category: History

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Not at All Quiet on the Western Front: The Great War Initiation of a Hollywood Veteran

Born in 1896, Friedrich Holländer, known better in the United States as Frederick Hollander, seemed destined for musical greatness, if only judging by his family credentials. While serving as musical director for a German army theater during World War I, Hollander kept two scrapbooks, now in the possession of the Library of Congress. They offer an intimate view into wartime life on the front, tracking the countless performances for troops at theaters in occupied towns.
(The following is a cross-post by Zachary Maiorana. It originally appeared on the In the Muse Blog.)
Zachary Maiorana interned in the European Division this summer updating lists of e-resources that are especially valuable for European studies. He alternated with interning at the Smithsonian, as well. Zach graduated in May from Ohio State University with a B.A. in an Honors program which included English and Linguistics and minors in History and German.

Library of Congress Blogs

Category: History

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A Brief History of Pumpkin Pie in America

Today’s post is written by science librarian and culinary specialist Alison Kelly. She has provided her expertise in a number of Inside Adams blog posts related to food history and cooking such as Early American Beer, and Early Mixology Books.
Library of Congress Blogs

Category: History

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Papers of Famous Sculptor Confirm Identity of Mount Rushmore’s Chief Carver

Last month, relatives of Luigi Del Bianco gathered in Keystone, South Dakota, for a very special ceremony: the National Park Service unveiled a plaque on September 16 at the Mount Rushmore National Memorial recognizing the late Del Bianco as the chief carver of Mount Rushmore—76 years after its completion.
Library of Congress Blog

Category: History

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The Music and Sounds of the Vietnam Era

Like many other Americans, I have been tuning in to the documentary The Vietnam War by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick this past week. This 10-part series depicts the grim realities of the Vietnam War at home and abroad, and the soundtrack of the movie transports one back to the late 1960s quite perfectly.
With that period in mind, here are some selections from the Music Section that may take you back to that time.
Post by Katie Rodda
Library of Congress Blogs

Category: Music

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The Seven Voyages of Sindbad the Sailor

Of all the tales of “The Arabian Nights,” or the “Thousand and One Nights” those of the seven voyages of Sindbad the Sailor are perhaps the most familiar to people around the world. However, the stories featured in those various films and publications are unrelated to the original tales that we associate with the “The Arabian Nights.”
(The following is a post by Mary-Jane Deeb, Chief of the African and Middle Eastern Division.)
Library of Congress Blogs: 4 Corners of the World
International Collections

Category: Book Club

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Can Cats Speak to Us?

Many cat owners will tell you they can interpret the meaning of their pet’s sounds. One type of meow might mean “feed me!,” while another might mean “pet me!,” and yet another would mean “get away from me!”
But are these actual words that can be translated and compared among different cats? Do they constitute an actual language?
Library of Congress Blogs

Category: History

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Emoji, Texting and Social Media: How Do They Impact Language?

I’m here with Dame Wendy Hall, Kluge Chair in Technology and Society, Regius Professor of Computer Science at the University of Southampton and early pioneer in web protocols; with Alexandre Loktionov, AHRC Fellow at the Kluge Center and an expert on hieroglyphic and cuneiform legal texts; and with Jessica Lingel, Kluge Fellow, assistant professor at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania and an expert on social media.We ventured into talking about emoji and social media during a hallway conversation and thought it would be fun to pursue this further via blog.
Library of Congress Blogs

Category: Social Awareness

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¡Olé! : Spain and Its “Fiesta Nacional”

If you drive down a major Spanish highway, there’s a good chance that you’ll see a very large black bull silhouetted on a hill in the distance. How large? This particular variety of bull stands about 46 feet tall!
The image resonated with Spaniards because throughout Spain’s history, nothing has come to define the country and its character more than the Spanish bull and bullfighting, or “La Fiesta Nacional,” (The National Fiesta) as it is commonly known in the country.
(The following is a post by Juan Manuel Pérez, Reference Specialist, Hispanic Division.)
Library of Congress Blogs

Category: History

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History’s Greatest Birthday Card: The Polish Declarations

In 1926, for the 150th anniversary of the birth of the United States, the Polish people presented President Calvin Coolidge with 111 volumes signed not only by many of the political and cultural leaders of Poland, but also by more than 5 million school children and their teachers.
This is a guest post by Sahr Conway-Lanz, a historian in the Manuscript Division.
Library Of Congress Blog

Category: History

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Setting the Record Straight on Pirates and Their Wives

Pirate lore has long captivated us and, through the centuries, worked its way into our literature, movies and popular culture. But many depictions of pirates are wrong, distorting our understanding of them. So writes Daphne Palmer Geanacopoulos in her new book, “The Pirate Next Door: The Untold Story of Eighteenth Century Pirates’ Wives, Families and Communities.”
Library Of Congress Blogs

Category: History

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Susan Fenimore Cooper: The First American Woman to Publish Nature Writing

If her name sounds familiar, it is because her father was James Fenimore Cooper, author of The Last of the Mohicans. Susan Cooper’s book sprang from journals of her observations on weather, fauna and flora, and the general rural life around her hometown of Cooperstown, New York, founded by her grandfather William Cooper in 1786. She sought to educate her readers about the natural world and hoped this would encourage them to value and protect it.
This post was authored by Stephanie Marcus, Science Reference & Research Specialist, in the Science, Technology, and Business Division of the Library of Congress. She is also author of the blog posts “Kebabs, Kabobs, Shish Kebabs, Shashlyk, and: Chislic” and “The Potato Transformed.”
Library of Congress Blogs: Inside Adams

Category: History

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World War I: Footlocker’s Contents Reveal Soldier’s Story

When I saw a World War I-era footlocker and its contents for sale on eBay, I scooped it up. It arrived full of items I had hoped for—a helmet, a haversack—but also of surprises, from a pouch filled with 100-year-old tobacco to the biggest surprise of them all: many of the items were marked with a name, C.F. Stensen.
Library of Congress Blogs

Category: Military History

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Happy 100th Birthday, I. M. Pei

Chinese-American architect Ieoh Ming Pei celebrates his 100th birthday on April 26, 2017. The Library of Congress is fortunate to have original design sketches by I. M. Pei as well as thousands of his manuscript papers.
Library of Congress Blogs

Category: Arts

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Kites Rise on the Wind: The Origin of Kites

In trying to learn about the story of kites I find it is often told back to front. But to begin close to the beginning I think we should start with a story that is very old. It appears in myths and legends in Asia and Polynesia.
Library of Congress Blogs: Folklife Today

Category: History

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On the Bunny Trail: In Search of the Easter Bunny

The Easter Bunny, like Santa Claus, is the bringer of gifts on a popular American holiday. Throughout the country, the swift little creature is said to deliver decorated eggs to children on Easter. In some variants of this story, the bunny is even said to lay eggs, presenting a challenge to biology teachers everywhere!
So what’s the story on this odd tradition? Let’s take a look.
Note: Some of this research, and an interview with the author, was included in a report on CBS Sunday Morning, which aired Easter Sunday, March 27, 2016.
Library of Congress Blogs

Category: History

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April Fools: The Roots of an International Tradition

Keep a sharp eye on the newspapers and news websites this April 1 and you’ll probably some headlines that look.... suspicious. Read further, and there's a good chance you'll find that some of those stories are simply complete hoaxes. After all, it’s April Fools’ Day.
But where did we get this curious custom of playing pranks on April 1?

Library of Congress Blogs

Category: History

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Imaginary Maps in Literature and Beyond: Map Monsters

This is the seventh article in a series of eight on imaginary maps, written by Hannah Stahl, a Library Technician in the Geography & Map Division. To begin with the first NoteStream in the series, please click here.
As users of Twitterand Instagram have discovered, there is a lot of whimsy to be found on 16th and 17th century maps in the form of sea creatures.
Commonly referred to as “map monsters,” these creatures adorn maps on spaces that are usually left blank or in spots where the geography of the world was still unknown. What was their purpose when they were created, and why are they so popular today?
Library of Congress Blogs

Category: History

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World War I: Understanding the War at Sea Through Maps

Soldiers leaping from trenches and charging into an apocalyptic no man’s land dominate the imagination when it comes to World War I. However, an equally dangerous and strategically critical war at sea was waged between the Central Powers and the Allies, with Germany and Great Britain as the primary belligerents.
World War I Centennial, 2017-2018: With the most comprehensive collection of multi-format World War I holdings in the nation, the Library of Congress is a unique resource for public programs and on-site visitor experiences about The Great War including exhibits, symposia and book talks.
The following guest post is by Ryan Moore, a cartographic specialist in the Geography and Map Division. This blog post originally appeared in the Library of Congress Blog.

Category: Military History

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Imaginary Maps: Half-Real, Half-Imaginary

This is the sixth article in a series of eight on imaginary maps, written by Hannah Stahl, a Library Technician in the Geography & Map Division. To begin with the first NoteStream in the series, please click here.
Today, we examine maps of fictional stories that take place in the world around us instead of the worlds in the pages of books. Like the fans of Dante’s Inferno who felt compelled to map his world, fans of other books had the same impulse to map real world settings in relation to the stories they read. Lovers of Jane Austen, Shakespeare and George R. R. Martin have a lot in common.
Library Of Congress Blogs

Category: History

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The Art of Reading Runes

Many students in today’s globalized world learn more than one script in order to prepare for the future. However, not too many immerse themselves in writing systems of the past. Things were different for 19th-century school children in Sweden.
Library of Congress Blog: 4 Corners of the World International Collection
(The following is a post by Taru Spiegel, Reference Specialist, European Division.)

Category: History

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An American in Orbit: The Story of John Glenn

How time flies...it's been fifty five years since John Hershel Glenn Jr. rode an Atlas rocket named Friendship 7 - a name suggested by his children - into a cloudy sky on February 20, 1962.
This post was authored by Sean Bryant, Science Reference & Research Specialist in the Science, Technology, and Business Division of the Library of Congress.
Library of Congress Blogs

Category: Science

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Day of Remembrance: Photos of Japanese American Internment WWII

On February 19, 1942, President Franklin Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, which led to the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. The Executive Order applied to all people of Japanese ancestry, two-thirds of whom were American citizens, forcing nearly 120,000 people to leave their homes on the Pacific coast.

Library of Congress Blogs

Category: History

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My Beloved Eliza: The Final Letters from Alexander Hamilton to his Wife

These two letters from Alexander Hamilton to his wife, Elizabeth, were written during the week preceding the duel, with instructions that they should only be delivered if “I shall first have terminated my earthly career.” The letters explain Hamilton’s reason for participating in the duel and his determination to maintain his religious convictions by sparing the life of Aaron Burr.

Library of Congress Blogs

Category: History

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“My Name is Alexander Hamilton. And There’s a Million Things I Haven’t Done”

The musical Hamilton is based on Ron Chernow's book Alexander Hamilton. While the why behind it may go unanswered, it remains true that Alexander himself was a most compelling character.
Library of Congress Blogs

Category: History

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Music and a Mystery to Celebrate Chinese New Year

Happy Chinese New Year! The Year of the Rooster begins on Saturday, January 28th. To celebrate, here are samples of four recordings of Chinese music recorded in 1902 and 1903.
We hope that someone reading this article might be able to tell us more about these songs.
Library of Congress Blogs

Category: Music

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Challenged to a Duel? What are the Rules?

So, you’ve been challenged to a duel. What are the rules?
Duels always make for fascinating reading. Did you know they came with their own rulebook?!
Illustration: "Duel between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr. After the painting by J. Mund." The duel took place in Weehawken, New Jersey on July 11, 1804. Note: possibly due to artistic license and the problems of perspective and canvas size etc, the duellists are standing at an unusually short distance from each other. However, it is known that some duels did indeed take place at very short distances such as this, though most were fought where the opponents were standing approximately 50 feet apart.
The protagonists are dressed in anachronistic 18th century dress, not the common fashion of the early 19th century.
Illustrator not identified. From a painting by J. Mund. July 11, 1804
Library of Congres Blogs

Category: History

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Best Buddies, or just Goethe Friends?

Brahms and Tchaikovsky shared a birthday. Though they may not have liked each other much, was there anything else they may have had in common?
Library of Congress Blogs

Category: Music

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An Ordinary Cup o’ Joe

Coffee has been a part of our culture for a long time. Take a look back at some fantastic images through the ages!

Category: History

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What Time Is It?

Daylight saving time takes a bit of adjustment every year. How did it get started?
Library Of Congress Blog

Category: History

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From First Impression to Finish

As we get closer to the birthday of Debussy, I recall my first experience of Impressionism. The piece I was to learn was not by Debussy, not by Ravel, but by a composer that you may not know.
Library of Congress

Category: Music

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Stand Down: Recording Homeless Veterans’ Stories

The services VTC provides to this vulnerable population are commendable and much needed, as the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development estimates that more than 39,000 veterans are homeless on any given night.
Library of Congress

Category: Social Awareness

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The Festival That Changed American Music

Nearly 50 years ago marks the beginning of the Monterey International Pop Festival, one of the first rock festivals in the United States.
Library of Congress

Category: Music

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Furry Friends of Music: Gershwin “Walking the Dog”

Ever have one of those dogs that just seemed to have it's own idea of where it should be? You're not alone - Gershwin himself had one of those: Meet Tony.
Library Of Congress Blogs

Category: Music

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Imaginary Maps: Children's Stories

This is the fifth article in a series on imaginary maps, written by Hannah Stahl, a Library Technician in the Geography & Map Division. To begin with the first NoteStream in the series, please click here.
From Winnie the Pooh to Harry Potter - maps aren't always reliable!
Library of Congress Blogs

Category: History

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Shakespeare Is For The Birds

The following is a guest post by Abby Yochelson, English and American Literature reference specialist at the Library of Congress’s Main Reading Room, Humanities and Social Sciences Division. This is the third in a small series of blog posts on Shakespeare at the Library of Congress.

Category: Arts

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Gay Pride Parades: Identity, Protest, and Tradition

Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, homosexual behavior, cross-dressing, and other expressions of gender nonconformity were treated as crimes in most parts of the United States.
Library of Congress

Category: Social Awareness

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Happy Anniversary Yosemite!

President Abraham Lincoln signed the Yosemite Valley Grant Act in 1864, giving California the Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Big Tree Grove “upon the express conditions that the premises shall be held for public use, resort, and recreation.”.
Yet California proved unable to adequately care for these extraordinary lands, and by 1890, public sentiment had begun to demand the return of the park to the federal government.
Library of Congress

Category: History

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Rare Book Of The Month: “The Jungle Book”

Did you know The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling was actually written during a snowy winter in Vermont?
(The following is a guest blog post written by Elizabeth Gettins, Library of Congress digital library specialist.)
Library Of Congress Blog

Category: History

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Imaginary Maps: “Different Roads Sometimes Lead to the Same Castle”

This is the fourth article in a series of eight on imaginary maps, written by Hannah Stahl, a Library Technician in the Geography & Map Division. To begin with the first NoteStream in the series, please click here.

Sometimes the maps in fiction are only the beginning. In this installment, we'll take a different look at The Lord of the Rings series and The Land of Ice and Fire series.
Library Of Congress

Category: History

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Furry Friends of Music

National Dog Day is August 26 - and that's a perfect time for a new blog series: Furry Friends of Music! Let's look at the important role furry friends have played in the lives of some music greats like John Phillips Sousa, Leonard Bernstein and more!
Library of Congress Blogs

Category: Music

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Harriet Tubman, the “Grand Watermelon” Debate, & Redemption

Since the Treasury’s announcement in April that Harriet Tubman would be featured on the front of the new $20 bill, the design change has become a popular topic of conversation. So what's this about a "Grand Watermelon"? You'll be surprised!
Library of Congress

Category: History

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Imaginary Maps: “Not all those who wander are lost”

This is the third article in a series of eight on imaginary maps, written by Hannah Stahl, a Library Technician in the Geography & Map Division. To begin with the first NoteStream in the series, please click here.
Funny thing: J.R.R. Tolkein and George R.R. Martin both were heavily influenced by history when creating their Imaginary Maps.
Library Of Congress

Category: History

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Scholarly Explorations of War

For years scholars at the Kluge Center have reflected on and studied the effects of war on those who fight, the nations who engage in them, and on society as a whole, in an effort to provide meaning to these human catastrophes big and small.
Library of Congress

Category: History

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Imaginary Maps in Literature & Beyond: Middle Ages & the Renaissance

Did you know some of the earliest imaginary maps date to the Middle Ages?
This is Part 2 of an eight part series on Imaginary Maps in Literature and Beyond by Hannah Stahl, a Library Technician in the Geography & Map Division. Read the first post in the series here.

Category: History

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Score Writing: Humor and Wit

A tour of music publishing, and transforming music manuscripts into publications for students and the performer.

Category: Music

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Imaginary Maps in Literature and Beyond: Introduction

An English major obsessed with maps?! Naturally! How else to follow the travels of the pilgrims in The Canterbury Tales, or find out where Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy fell in love!
This is the first article in a series of eight.

Category: History

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A Dance for the Birthday of the Buddha

The birth of the Buddha is thought to have occurred in the sixth century BCE (about 563) at the full moon on the eighth day of the fourth month. The date for modern celebrations is usually determined by Asian solar-lunar calendars, which vary among different ethnic groups.

Category: History

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War Board Used Comics to Spread Message in WWII

Historian Paul Hirsch was a Caroline and Erwin Swann Foundation Fellow for Caricature and Cartoon at The John W. Kluge Center in summer 2015. His research explored the intersection of visual culture, race, policymaking, and diplomacy from World War II through the post-Cold War period.

Category: History

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The Ottoman Armenian Merchant from Arapkir

(The following is a guest post by Levon Avdoyan, Armenian and Georgian area specialist in the African and Middle Eastern Division.)

Category: History

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A Piece of Music Found, A Lost Opera Complete

The quest to reconstruct a lost piece of music from the 1920s took Kluge Fellow Elia Corazza to Venice, New Haven, and finally, to the Library of Congress.

Category: Music

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Page from the Past: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland has been beloved for nearly 150 years - indeed, it's never been out of print since it's original publication. It did not, however, get off to a good start.
(The following is a story featured in the May/June 2016 issue of the Library of Congress Magazine, LCM. You can read the issue in its entirety here. The story was written by August and Clare Imholtz, who have been collecting“Alice” books for more than 30 years. Clare is also a volunteer in the Library’s Rare Book and Collections Division.)

Category: History

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Einstein at 100: Mapping the Universe

November 25th, 2015, marks one hundred years since Albert Einstein delivered his now infamous address to the Prussian Academy of Sciences, during which he laid out the series of equations which lie at the heart of his General Theory of Relativity.

Category: History

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The Changing Field of Folklife

Changes in technology have facilitated global access to the Library’s folklife collections.
(The following is an article by Stephen Winick from the March/April 2016 issue of the Library of Congress Magazine, LCM. You can read the issue in its entirety here.)

Category: History

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Blind Lemon Jefferson

Born in the 1890’s in Freestone County, Texas, Jefferson died some 30 years later on the 18th or 19th of December, 1929. At an early age, he was blind, or nearly so. As a young man, he traveled around Texas as a street musician.

Category: Biography

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A Tale of Two Hebrew Patronesses

Every age has its own image of the “woman of valor,” and in the crumbling Jewish world of post-exilic Spain, that image was embodied in the persons of two unique women: Doña Gracia Nasi and Signora Benvenida Abravanel.

Category: History

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Paul Brady, Carrie Grover, Bob Dylan, and 'Arthur McBride'

A few years ago, I wrote an article in Folklife Center News about popular recordings inspired by AFC collection items. One of the ones I chose was Paul Brady’s version of an Irish ballad he called “Arthur McBride and the Sergeant” (see thelyrics at this link). In the article I revealed that Brady had based his version on the singing of Mrs. Carrie Grover, of Gorham, Maine, and that AFC has the only known recording of Mrs. Grover singing the song. Given recent developments, I think it’s time to expand my research and comments on “Arthur McBride,” [1] and to present Mrs. Grover’s recording to our readers.

Category: Biography

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The Ottoman Armenian Merchant from Arapkir

Poghos Garabedian started his personal memoirs with a flourish. Within the next 41 pages, this merchant in the Ottoman Empire – originally from Arapkir in the region of Malatya, Turkey – would detail his extensive mercantile travels to Constantinople, the Crimea, Arapkir and Eastern Europe.

Category: History

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When I Fell For Ravel

Falling in love with Ravel: this is a story of how it all began with an awkward moment at a piano concert that somehow lead to a complete obsession with the classics. Ravel’s compositions go way beyond the piano; he also composed violin and vocal music, operas, ballet, and chamber music.

Category: Music

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There Will Be Eggs

A universal symbol of creation is the hatching of an egg. The egg itself figures as an important symbol in many early creation myths across the world, embodying the concepts of birth and rebirth, new life and fertility. Throughout history eggs have been at various times magical, protective, divine — even evil, and they are an obvious fertility symbol.
Beautiful multi-colored and elaborately decorated eggs are a popular folk art across the world. Learn more about their fascinating journey through history!

Category: Arts

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Millie the Mapper

We’ve all heard the story of Rosie the Riveter: women, from a wide variety of backgrounds, who entered the workforce during World War II to aid the American war effort. Some of these women also became involved in drafting, photogrammetry, computing, and mapping. Called “Millie the Mappers” or “Military Mapping Maidens” these women played an integral role in producing accurate and up-to-date maps used by various branches of the military and government during World War II.

Category: History

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A Voice from Hoops History

Basketball, unique among major sports, has a clear creation story: We know when, where, why and how the game was invented, and by whom.
Now, some 125 years after the first game was played in a Massachusetts school gymnasium, we know something new: the sound of the creator’s voice.
(March Madness is here, and the Library of Congress has an interesting connection to basketball’s invention. The following is a story written by Mark Hartsell for the Gazette, the Library’s staff newsletter.)

Category: Sports

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The Américas Award: Bringing Literature to Life with Primary Sources

On Friday, September 18th, 2015, the Library of Congress hosted the Américas Award for Children’s and Young Adult Literature. The award, co-sponsored with the Consortium of Latin American Studies Programs, recognizes work that “authentically and engagingly portrays Latin Americans, Caribbeans, or Latinos in the United States.” These diverse stories can be highlighted and brought to life through the use of primary sources.

Category: For Teachers

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The Legacy of a Lost WWII Bomber Crew

A photograph of the ten airmen aboard the WWII bomber “Jerk’s Natural,” which disappeared over Austria on October 1, 1943. The photo led journalist Gregg Jones on a lifetime investigation to reconstruct how the men lived and how they died. Photo courtesy Gregg Jones.

Category: Military History

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Primary Sources: Concussions, a Century of Controversy, and Football

This post was written by Trey Smith, the Library of Congress 2015-16 Science Teacher in Residence.
In 1905, nineteen high school and college students died after sustaining football-related injuries. An article in the Salt Lake Tribune outlines efforts to address deaths and injuries associated with football. A century later, controversy persists concerning concussions.

Category: History

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Access to Knowledge

In the beginning—that is, in 1800—the Library of Congress consisted of 740 books and three maps, all tucked into a room in the U. S. Capitol. Finding the right book, or map didn’t take long.
(The following story by Jennifer Gavin is featured in the January/February 2016 issue of the Library of Congress Magazine, LCM. You can read the issue in its entirety here.)

Category: For Teachers

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Presidential Wheels: A History

Knowing my interest in all things presidential, a colleague recently left a copy of Herbert Ridgeway Collins’s Presidents on Wheels (1971) at my desk. The book, which covers the vehicles used by the presidents through Richard M Nixon, contains many historical tidbits of information. Did you know that that first President-elect to ride to his inauguration in an automobile was Warren G. Harding in 1921? The Packard Twin Six, in which President Harding and President Woodrow Wilson rode, was supplied by the Republican National Committee.

Category: History

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Our Next Generation

Who are the next generation of cartographers? What draws them to this part science, part artistic expression, part design discipline?

Category: For Teachers

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Trending: Food, Glorious Food

Today’s popular food blogs are an outgrowth of recipe-sharing in America that began with community cookbooks. It seems as if everyone is focused on food. We tune in to cooking shows on television and radio, read magazines and books devoted to food, even plan vacations to include food tourism.
(The following is an article written by Alison Kelly, science librarian and culinary specialist in the Library’s Science, Technology and Business Division, for the November/December 2015 issue of the Library of Congress Magazine, LCM.

Category: Food

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Mapping Alpinist Elephants

As one of the curators of the largest map library on the planet, there are times when one comes across a map that just strikes you as unique, not only as piece of cartography, but also as a monument to the obsessions of antiquarians of the past, the present, and the future. Several days ago while searching through one of the three footballs fields of storage cabinets that make up the stacks of the Geography and Map Division here at the Library of Congress, I came across a map from 1911, made by the English antiquarian Spenser Wilkinson (1853-1937).

Category: History

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A New Braille Music Title, Very Old Twisted Roots

In 1863, the Imperial Institute for the Young Blind in Paris published a “Collection of Organ Pieces” —“for the special use of students at the Institute.” These pieces were all composed by professors of music at the Institute, all of whom had been students there also. They are Gabriel Gauthier, Marius Gueit, Victor Paul, and Julien Héry.

Category: Music

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Anything to Get the Shot: Photos by “Flash-Light”

Nowadays, we take for granted the ability to photograph under almost any light conditions, but photographers of the nineteenth and early twentieth century went to great lengths to capture images by “flash-light” (not to be confused with our modern battery-operated flashlights).

Category: Arts

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The History of Christmas Lights

In the spirit of the holiday season, we are highlighting another Everyday Mystery relevant to this time of the year: Who invented electric Christmas lights?
Inside Adams, Library of Congress

Category: History

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Burns’ “Auld Lang Syne”

As the Old Year turns to the New Year, thousands of people around the world will sing along to “Auld Lang Syne,” a Scottish song that has come to be firmly associated with New Year’s celebrations. The song has a fascinating history, and we’re lucky at the Library of Congress to have several unique items relating to this global favorite, including what just may be Burns’s original, and very unusual, words to the song.

Category: Music

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Putting Boston on the Map

Putting Boston on The Map: Land Reclamation and the Growth of a City
Today’s guest post is from Tim St. Onge, a cartographer in the Geography and Map Division. Tim holds an undergraduate degree in Geography from the University of Mary Washington and a Master’s degree in Geographic Information Science from Clark University.
The Back Bay neighborhood of Boston is home to some of the city’s most famous landmarks, including Prudential Tower, the Boston Central Library, Trinity Church, and the posh shopping district of Newbury Street. It’s hard to imagine that about 150 years ago, this area was almost completely covered in water. Back Bay was, in fact, a bay.

Category: History

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About the Firm of Scrooge & Marley

In 1843 Charles Dickens published his classic A Christmas Carol about the transformation of Ebenezer Scrooge. Like many who have read the book, I have also seen various stage and television productions over the years and most of the attention was on the overall theme. When one of the details – the name of Scrooge’s firm – caught my attention, I decided to apply some business research skills in order to “learn” more about the fictional firm.
Library Of Congress

Category: History

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Beef Bans in India

The following is a guest post by Tariq Ahmad, a legal research analyst in the Global Legal Research Directorate of the Law Library of Congress. Tariq has previously contributed posts on Islamic Law in Pakistan – Global Legal Collection Highlights, the Law Library’s June 4, 2013 Panel Discussion on Islamic Law, Sedition Law in India, and an FALQ post onProposals to Reform Pakistan’s Blasphemy Laws.

Category: Food

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Mr. Dürer Comes to Washington

In the cool summer of 1901, a Jesuit priest named Joseph Fischer was searching through the small libraries found in the country houses and ancient castles of the old noble families that dot the German hinterlands. One day, in the tower of one of those castles, tucked deep into the forest outside the tiny village of Wolfegg, he happened upon a book that would change the history of cartography forever.

Category: History

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Preserving Audio Cylinders: Edison to the Archeophone

The following is a guest post by Audio Preservation Specialist Brad McCoy.
Collections tend to take pride of place in any discussion of moving images and sound recordings at the Packard Campus for Audio Visual Conservation. It’s understandable — we like talking about the more than 5 million items in our collective care. But we’re also responsible for preserving these sound recordings, films, and videos in order to ensure their survival and make them available for researcher access, and for that we need 1) playback equipment; 2) parts to maintain the equipment; 3) the knowledge to sustain the equipment; and finally 4) the expertise to make the best possible transfer.

Category: History

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Rhetoric and the Lomax Archive

The following post was written by Jonathan Stone, Assistant Professor of Writing and Rhetoric at the University of Utah.
I write on occasion of a recent publication that may be of interest to readers of Folklife Today. We are still in the middle of the Lomax Centennial year and the article “Listening to the Sonic Archive: Rhetoric, Representation, and Race in the Lomax Prison Recordings” appeared in Enculturation: A Journal of Rhetoric, Writing, and Culture a few weeks ago. The article offers a fresh historical accounting of John A. and Alan Lomax’s journeys through Southern prisons in the early 1930s as well as in-depth rhetorical analysis of eight songs, seven of which were field recordings made during that trip.

Category: History

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James Wilson: America’s First Globemaker

At the age of 33, James Wilson (1763-1855) moved out of the log cabin he had built by hand, sold all the stock he possessed on his 100 acre farm, and managed to scrape together $130 in rural eighteenth century New Hampshire. And for what purpose? Wilson wanted to purchase all thirteen volumes of the third edition of Encyclopedia Britannica.

Category: Biography

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Flipping Through the Card Catalog

Until automated catalogs came along, the way to locate a book was to look it up in a card catalog, usually by title, author or subject. With the information on the card, you could then find your way to the book itself.

Category: For Teachers

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Beyond ‘I Regret to Inform You’

During World War II, Korea, and Vietnam, the military employed Western Union to communicate official notifications to the families of servicemembers. This included letting loved ones know that their relative was missing in action, or had been taken prisoner, wounded, or killed in action.

Category: Military History

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‘Wish I Was Back Painting–Was Never As Bad As This’

Like the soldiers discussed in the 1980s song about the Vietnam War, “19,” Corporal Robert Geisler was just 19 years old when he was flown to Vietnam in 1966. Over the span of 90 letters written in 1966 and ’67, he wrote of hardships and horrors that would later be reflected in other songs and films about the war. These letters are remarkable for their honesty and emotional resonance.
The following is a guest post by VHP Digital Conversion Specialist Matt McCrady, and is the fourth in a five-part series of blog posts related to correspondence in Veterans History Project collections.
VHP is the Veterans History Project, A project of the American Folklife Center of the Library of Congress.

Category: Military History

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Please Write Often: Wartime Correspondence

In the diary that he kept while serving in France during World War I, Private First Class James Rudolph Sorenson made short entries describing each day’s most notable events. On August 11, 1918, he wrote, “Fired [gun barrages]. Valley was shelled heavily twice by the enemy. Our battery lost some horses and had one man wounded.” The entry for the following day, August 12, 1918, was just four words: “Fired. Mail from home.”

Category: Military History

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Two Veterans, Two Wars, Two Remarkable Women

I recently perused the VHP online database–now comprised of more than 96,000 collections–and came across multiple records of women who played pivotal roles in every war for which the Project accepts collections. While clicking through the list, two in particular seemed to leap off of my screen and straight into my heart.
VHP is the Veterans History Project, A project of the American Folklife Center of the Library of Congress.

Category: Military History

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“Moments with You”: Correspondence in VHP Collections

For servicemembers coping with loneliness, harsh conditions, and the stark realities of combat, letters provided critical sustenance. Receiving news from home–or the lack of it–could drastically affect morale.
VHP is the Veterans History Project, A project of the American Folklife Center of the Library of Congress.

Category: Military History

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The Future is Now

Jumping gigawatts! Today, the future has arrived! If you were around in 1989, Oct. 21, 2015, may have seemed light-years away, and you might have thought we would all be riding around in flying cars or something. Well, your imagination isn’t as far-fetched as you think.

Category: Science

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Primary Sources in Science Classrooms (Part 1)

What might a map from 1977, a poster from 1944, and a newspaper article from 1915 have in common with three twentieth-century wars and the theory of plate tectonics? These digitized artifacts in the Library of Congress’s collections have quite a bit in common when it comes to the emergence of evidence supporting a key theory in Earth science.
This post was written by Trey Smith, the Library of Congress 2015-16 Science Teacher in Residence. This is part one of a two-part post in anticipation of Earth Science Week.

Category: For Teachers

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The Joy of Reading

The Library of Congress promotes the pleasure and power of reading.

Category: Lifestyle

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Today Was Tough – But I Took It

Many of the young men drafted into service in World War II arrived at boot camp at the height of physical fitness, fresh from a school sports career, or from years of labor on a farm. One such Army Airman was even a former Olympic athlete.
The following is a guest post by Digital Conversion Specialist Matt McCrady.

Category: Military History

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How do Spiders Avoid Getting Tangled In Webs?

Spiders are able to spin sticky and non-sticky silk. They avoid walking on the sticky silk. In addition, spiders have moveable claws on their feet that grip and release the web’s threads as they walk.

Category: Nature

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Happy Birthday, Navy!

The United States Navy turns a whopping 240 years old on October 13th. On this day in 1775, the Continental Congress created the Continental Navy, thus establishing what would eventually become the United States Navy.

Category: Military History

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Navy Veterans of the Pacific Theater, Part II

The following is the second of a two-part guest post by Joseph Patton, a Library of Congress Junior Fellow working with the Veterans History Project this summer.

Category: Military History

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The Essence of Scholarship Is Truth

The following is a guest post by Lauren Sinclair, Program Assistant at The John W. Kluge Center. It is the seventh in a series on past recipients of the Library of Congress Kluge Prize.

Category: Social Awareness

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Loving Stars: Telescopes from Galileo to Webb

In February of 2010 I wrote a post for Inside Adams titled “Stars in His Eyes” about the 1610 Sidereus nuncius (Starry Messenger) by Galileo Galilei. This was the small book in which Galileo described his adventures with the newly invented telescope. Having read descriptions of the then recently invented ‘spyglass,’ Galileo set about devising his own, creating prototypes and making observations of the Moon, stars, and most importantly, what he referred to as the four little ‘stars’ spotted near Jupiter.
Today’s post is from science reference librarian Margaret Clifton.

Category: Science

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Music by Henry Purcell in the NLS Collection

On September 10th we celebrated Henry Purcell’s 356th birthday [Note: this date is actually disputed as no official baptismal record has been found. However, we will use this commonly accepted date, as it gives us a chance to talk about his music!].

Category: History

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Inspired by a Soldier’s Story

The following was written by Matthew Camarda, one of 26 college students participating in the Knowledge Navigators program at the Library of Congress.

Category: Military History

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Erich Leinsdorf Meets Janis Joplin

The following post has been written by Kevin McBrien, one of 36 college students participating in the Library of Congress 2015 Junior Fellows Summer Intern Program.

Category: Music

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A History of Self-Help, Motivation & Success

You may think that motivational speakers, self-help guides, and career counseling are products of the late 20th century, but their history actually goes back further.

Category: History

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Folklore and Folksong of Trains in America: Part I

The advent of railroads in the United States is part of the country’s coming-of-age story as an industrial power during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Because of this, trains and people associated with the developing railways became part of the legend, folklore, and mythology of the nation.

Category: History

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Hypothesis of a Culture

April Rodriguez, one of 36 Library of Congress Junior Fellow Summer Interns, wrote the following post while working in the Library’s American Folklife Center.
What is culture? What elements of expression make each culture unique?

Category: History

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Victor Gruen’s Shopping Towns U.S.A.

Victor Gruen was a designer, architect, and urban planner. But for many, he is best known for creating the modern mall.

Category: History

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Jefferson’s Quest for an Odometer

Thomas Jefferson, who liked to count and measure everything, coveted an odometer. While in Paris as the United States minister to France, he learned that he could buy one in London, and asked American artist John Trumbull, who was there, to investigate for him.
Today’s post is guest authored by Julie Miller, historian of early America in the Library’s Manuscript Division.

Category: History

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The Ghost Writer of the “Seaman’s Ghost”

As part of the Junior Fellows program, I have had the opportunity to catalog and research different sheet music collections. I encountered quite an interesting item while working on the Early American Sheet Music collection: a manuscript of a song “The Shipwrecked Seaman’s Ghost” from “The Pirates” (an opera), credited to English composer Stephen Storace.

Category: Music

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300 Years of Imaginary Space Ships: 1630-1920

While humans didn’t build apparatus capable of traveling to the moon and other planets until the 1950s and 60s, there is a long history of thinking about the technology that could get us to other worlds. In this post, I share some illustrations of visions of space vehicles over time. The context for each imaginary contraption becomes fodder for understanding ideas about space and flight.

Category: History

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The Path a Book Takes

Follow the journey taken by each of the 300,000 books added to the Library’s collections annually.
Between the time a book is published and a library user reads it, as many as a dozen Library staff members will have handled the volume. They will have made a series of crucial decisions about its acquisition for the collection, analyzed and described it in the Library of Congress Online Catalog and preserved and shelved it so it can be made accessible to readers.

Category: History

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The Art of Acquisition

The Library of Congress works daily to build a universal collection.
Blame Thomas Jefferson.
He’s the founding father (and ravenous reader) who convinced the U.S. Congress it needed not just his books on law and history to replace its more than 3,000-volume library–torched with the U.S. Capitol by the Redcoats in 1814–but all 6,487 of his volumes, in many languages and on many topics.
(This is a feature story in the July/August 2015 issue of the Library of Congress Magazine, LCM. The story was written by Jennifer Gavin, a senior public affairs specialist in the Office of Communications. Joseph Puccio, the Library’s collection development officer, contributed to this story. You can read the issue in its entirety here.)

Category: History

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War in Paradise: Navy Veterans of the Pacific Theater, Part I

The following is the first of a two-part guest post by Joseph Patton, a Library of Congress Junior Fellow working with the Veterans History Project this summer.
Last month, I found myself walking the National Mall in Washington, DC, after the sun had set and the lights blazed on the monuments. The way they are lit and the warm night air create something very sacred for me, especially around the National World War II Memorial, where I often end up. As I admired how peaceful it was, I overheard a tour guide behind me commenting on the importance of the memorial’s position between “Washington, the father of the country, and Lincoln, the great savior of the nation.” That deification bothered me, but it wasn’t until I read the inscription on the monument by Admiral Chester W. Nimitz that I understood why.
“They fought together as brothers-in-arms. They died together and now they sleep side by side. To them we have a solemn obligation.”

Category: Military History

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American Enterprise at the Smithsonian

A new exhibit at the Smithsonian – American Enterprise located in the Innovation wing of the National Museum of American History – is telling the history of American business and innovation. According to the Smithsonian, this exhibit “chronicles the tumultuous interaction of capitalism and democracy that resulted in the continual remaking of American business—and American life.” It is organized into four chronological eras: the Merchant Era (1770s -1850s), the Corporate Era (1860s -1930s), the Consumer Era (1940s – 1970s) and the Global Era (1980s – 2010s) and will, according to the press release, “convey the drama, breadth and diversity of America’s business heritage along with its benefits, failures and unanticipated consequences…”

Category: History

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Inquiring Minds: Anna Coleman Ladd & WWI Vets

Last month, eighth-graders Benjamin King, Maria Ellsworth and Cristina Escajadillo – all students at the Singapore American School – performed an original 10-minute play at the Library of Congress inspired by the institution’s collections and connections.
Contemplating a distinctly somber topic — the mental and physical wounds wrought by World War I — the students highlighted the life and accomplishments of Anna Coleman Ladd, an artist and sculptor who created facial masks to help wounded soldiers cope with their injuries and reintegrate into civilian life after World War I.

Category: Military History

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A Librarian and Scholar Find Books & Each Other

Astrobiologist David Grinspoon and science librarian Margaret “Peg” Clifton have such an easy rapport that all I had to do was ask an initial question, and the two proceeded to speak for 30 minutes–finishing each other’s sentences along the way. The two reflect on their relationship forged at the Library of Congress that helped Grinspoon produce new scholarship on the Anthropocene Era.

Category: Science

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Out of the Depths: Claudio Monteverdi

Born May 15, 1567, Claudio Monteverdi most likely had no idea how far his idea of putting words to music and staging would go to the rich, extravagant productions seen in opera today. Maybe his marriage to a court singer in 1599, Claudia de Cattaneis, encouraged him to tackle a Greek myth of finding love only to give in to temptation and lose it for eternity.

Category: Music

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Women in History: Elected Representatives

In this NoteStream we highlight women who have been elected to national legislatures and as the leaders of different countries. We answer these questions for each region: When was the first woman elected to parliament? What is the current percentage of women in parliament? Has a woman ever been elected to lead the country?

Category: History

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Historical Perspective On Cuba-U.S. Relationship

Historian Renata Keller recently spent nine months at the Kluge Center researching Cuba’s relationship with Mexico and the United States during the Cold War. She spoke with Program Specialist Jason Steinhauer about the announcement that the U.S. and Cuba will begin to normalize relations between the two countries.
Renata Keller is an Assistant Professor of International Relations at Boston University and former Kluge Fellow at the Kluge Center. More about her work can be found on our website.

Category: History

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Braille Music Scores Provide Lifeline to Blind Musicians

The music collections at NLS represent the world’s largest source of material for visually impaired musicians and music lovers – more than 30,000 braille transcriptions of musical scores and instructional texts; large-print scores, librettos, reference works and biographies; instructional recordings in music theory, appreciation and performance; and talking books and magazines. Each year, the Music Section fills between 2,500 and 3,000 requests from a wide range of people who suffer from blindness or low vision – professional players seeking scores to perform, blind students or teachers in need of instructional material, or aficionados who just want a good book about a favorite musician. Very few sources exist around the world for braille musical scores and instructional texts, says John Hanson, head of the Music Section.

Category: Music

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I Love A Parade

As this post is published, I hope everyone is preparing for the July 4th celebration. Along with fireworks, grilling at picnics, sunflowers, ice cream and the patriotic significance of this date, I enjoy a parade–any parade.
This most recent Memorial Day I had the wonderful pleasure of actually seeing a band that the NLS Music Section had heard about; however, no one knew the whole story. Reviewing the bands scheduled for the parade, I was delighted to see that the Ohio State School for the Blind Marching Band was coming to town.
I contacted the Director of the band at the school, Ms. Carol Agler. She and her assistant, Ms. Yvonne Johnson agreed to fill me in on the history of the program and their experiences.

Category: Lifestyle

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The President And The Parsnip

During most of his two terms as president of the United States, (1801-1809) Thomas Jefferson carefully compiled a chart recording the seasonal appearances of fruits and vegetables in Washington’s market.
This seems like a funny way for a president to spend his time. In fact, the chart is an expression of Jefferson’s enduring interests in science and agriculture, which he continued to pursue even during his two terms as president.

Category: History

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The Hero of Two Worlds

In 1780, the ship the Hermione (pronounced Hair-me-OWN) brought Lafayette to America with news that the French would be supporting the revolutionary cause with money and troops. This trip was actually Lafayette’s second voyage to America. He first arrived on these shores in 1777, at only 19, to join the Continental Army. He purchased his own ship to make the trip because King Louis XVI forbade him to come.

Category: History

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A Presidential Fourth

Recently my dad gave me an interesting little tidbit concerning further research he has done on our family tree that is particularly auspicious for the occasion of the Fourth of July celebrations. As it turns out, his research has led him to believe I’m related to George Washington – specifically as a cousin on Dad’s side of the family.
This revelation started me wondering how Washington commemorated our country’s independence, considering he was a distinguished general and commander in chief of the colonial armies during the American Revolution and later the nation’s first president.

Category: History

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It’s Just Not Cricket!

The baseball season has started but in other parts of the world the focus over the last six weeks has been on that other sport involving bat and ball: cricket. I wonder how many people in the U.S. have, like me, watched some of the Cricket World Cup matches. Potentially quite a few, given that there are many people living here who might identify with some fairly cricket-mad countries, including about three million Indian-Americans, over three hundred thousand Pakistani-Americans, and about two and a half million people of West Indian or Caribbean heritage. Worldwide, the expected television viewing audience for the four-yearly event was a billion people. In fact, the India vs Pakistan match early in the tournament was predicted to set a record with more than a billion viewers. In honor of the completion of the Cricket World Cup, I thought I’d share some law-related tidbits from the cricketing world.

Category: Sports

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Duel 'twixt Andrew Jackson & Dickenson

One of the things I enjoy about working at the Library of Congress is visiting our Manuscripts Division to read first-hand accounts of historic events. After reading a biography of Andrew Jackson, I looked through the finding aid for his papers and came upon a letter from a Tennessee lawyer named Charles Dickinson. The estimated number of duels fought by Andrew Jackson varies widely, but one of the most memorable was fought against Dickinson.

Category: History

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The Language of Birds

John James Audubon was born on April 26, 1785 in what is now Haiti. His passion for North American wild birds fostered an ongoing interest in birds and bird conservation in the United States. But, of course, interest in birds and birdsong is as old as humankind. This essay will look at some of the ways that birdsong is reflected in the many folk traditions of North America with examples from the Library’s collections.

Category: History

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Francis Scott Key: The Lawyer-Poet

Both law and poetry require a fluid grasp of language and a critical need for precision and economy with words; possessing these skills can be the key to making one person successful in both endeavors. There are a few times in history when well-known poets started their professional lives in the law (John Donne, Archibald MacLeish), and there are a few instances when good lawyers have been poets on the side, such as Wallace Stevens and Francis Scott Key.

Category: History

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Tips for Improving Writing and De-Stressing at Your Desk

January is traditionally the time when a large number of people take stock of their activities from the previous year and vow to make changes in their lives. They work to quit old habits or adopt new ones. Recently two new books crossed my desk that relate to the law and self-reformation, and I wanted to highlight these volumes for those times when users are taking a break from their research.

Category: Business

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Giuseppi Verdi And Italian Opera

The central figure in Italian opera for much of the nineteenth century, Giuseppe Verdi (1813–1901) wrote twenty-eight operas, nearly half of which have been staples of the international operatic repertoire since their first productions. When he died after a nearly sixty-year career, he was mourned in Italy as a national hero.
By the end of the 1840s, Verdi had fundamentally altered the established form and structure of the bel canto style, revolutionizing Italian opera in the process. Hailed as Verdi’s successor in the 1890s, Giacomo Puccini (1858–1924), brought Italian opera into the twentieth century with his thirteen operas incorporating new elements of the style known as verismo (realism), as well as the exoticism of long-ago-and-far-away settings.

Category: History

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Collecting Comedy at the Library of Congress

Laughter, with its links to the development of the human brain, no doubt dates back to mankind’s earliest ancestors. But it was not until the 4th century B.C. that ancient Greece first formalized comedy in dramatic-arts competitions. From Aristophanes–the chief comedic playwright of ancient Greece–to 21st-century “rom-com” films, plays and musical comedies, the Library of Congress maintains an impressive archive of published and unpublished materials, much of which is downright rib-tickling. From their writings, we know that the founding fathers managed to find humor during the tumultuous process of creating a new nation. No less a force in the shaping of our country than Benjamin Franklin described the importance of comedy in our lives. “Trouble knocked at the door, but, hearing laughter, hurried away,” he said. The personal papers of many founding fathers, housed in the Library, contain their wit as well as their wisdom.

Category: History

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Flowers that Stink at the US Botanical Garden

As the world was on royal baby watch there was another arrival that folks have been waiting for here in D.C. (and perhaps the world as well) – the blooming of the Sumatran (Indonesian) Amorphophallus titanum (titan arum) a.k.a. the corpse flower or stinky plant at the U.S. Botanic Garden (USBG).

Category: Nature

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Women, Fashion, and the Transatlantic Avant-Garde

Here at the Kluge Center, British Research Council Fellow Sophie Oliver has been using the Library’s collections to shed light on the relationship between fashion and cultural output in the 1920s, a period during which women’s roles were undergoing dramatic change. Oliver, a Ph.D. candidate from the University of London, is one of the dozens of fellows from British universities who conduct research at the Kluge Center each year through the AHRC/ESRC International Placement Scheme.
Among Oliver’s interesting discoveries is the degree to which fashion advertising and more scholarly forms of cultural production were intertwined in the period’s popular publications.

Category: History

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Aleutian Islands: WWII's Forgotten Campaign

As I write this blog post on March 13, it is 29 degrees here in Washington, DC, and it seems impossible to believe that spring will arrive in just over a week. Emerging from one of the snowiest and coldest winters that many regions of the country have seen in decades, in which the phrase “polar vortex” became a routine part of our vocabulary, it feels like an appropriate time to recognize those who faced Arctic temperatures on the battlefield.
While some of the war’s most gripping stories came out of this campaign, it has not received the same popular historical attention as other theaters and battles, leading to its nickname as the “lost campaign” of the war.

Category: Military History

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“…Faithful And True Even To Death.”

The following is a guest post by Matt McCrady, VHP Digital Conversion Specialist.
Of the thousands of veterans’ stories archived with the Veterans History Project, the story of a Marine PFC known simply as Lucky stands out as truly unique. Lucky didn’t tell his own story for the project. Lucky left no letters or diaries, and no photo exists of him. In fact, the only remaining physical reminder of his service is an Honorable Discharge certificate. Yet after hearing Lucky’s story, it’s difficult to forget this quiet soldier who did his duty and was rewarded with nothing more than three pounds of food a day.
The thing about Lucky was that he wasn’t even human. Lucky was one of the many dogs that have served in the military alongside human handlers.

Category: Military History

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Miranda Rights and National Police Week

My dad had started his law enforcement career just a few years prior to the Supreme Court’s Miranda decision on June 13, 1966, so I asked him for his memories of it when I was studying the decision in school.
Betty mentioned that his stories would make a good blog post. And, as this is National Police Week, I am following up with her suggestion.

Category: Social Awareness

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Legalese

Looking For A Good Legal Dictionary?
Well the Law Library has over 4200 of them, covering countries and languages from Chinese to Estonian to Cameroon. Many of these titles contain more than one language. So you could even draft your motion, translate it to French, and then from French to Portuguese, if you were so inclined.
But rather than engaging in a dry discussion on dictionaries or randomly choosing phrases from various titles to examine, we thought it would be more interesting to survey people in the Law Library of Congress and find out what their favorite legal terms or phrases are and why. The answers were as engaging and varied as our staff.

Category: History

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How Countries Deal with Health Emergencies

Following the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa, there has been a great deal of debate both in the United States and abroad about how countries deal with major public health crises. This included discussions about the difficulty of containing the virus in the countries hardest-hit by the epidemic and what preventative measures other countries could take. Here at the Law Library of Congress, we recently published a report, Legal Responses to Health Emergencies, which analyzes the regulatory frameworks for dealing with public health crises in 24 countries and at the international level. It also provides bibliographic information of recently published scholarly works on the subject.

Category: Health

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The True Costs of 100 Years of War

Kissinger Chair Bradford Lee arrived at the Kluge Center this fall with an ambitious research question: were the results of one hundred years of American military interventions in foreign conflicts worth the costs of achieving them? He sat down with Jason Steinhauer to discuss his research, in particular his analysis of World War I, a focus of his tenure at the Library.

Category: History

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The Sinking of the Lusitania

On the afternoon of May 7, 1915, the German submarine U-20 torpedoed and sank the British cruise liner Lusitania traveling from New York to Liverpool, England. In a scant 18 minutes, the luxury liner with nearly 2,000 passengers sunk to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Ireland. Nearly 1,200 passengers perished; more than 100 were Americans, including millionaire Alfred Vanderbilt, writer Elbert Hubbard and theater producer Charles Frohman.

Category: Military History

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Piano Tuning & A Piano Tuner

Someone once said that you can tune a piano, but you can’t tuna fish. While we do not dispute the wisdom of that remark, we also have a further interest in and resources for piano tuning. The topic, the practice, the history, etc., of piano tuning has a solid place in circles like ours.
There is a Frenchman that we need to know: Claude Montal (1800-1865). 2015 is the 150th anniversary of his death, which is being celebrated both here and abroad. Why? In short, because Montal wrote the first comprehensive text on tuning and repairing the piano.

Category: Music

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Over 100 Years of Harley Davidson

In 1903, the same year Henry Ford incorporated the Ford Motor Company and the Wright brothers first flew, William Harley and his friends Arthur and Walter Davidson launched the Harley-Davidson Motor Company. They gave their bike a quality engine, so it could prove itself in races, but planned to manufacture it as a transport vehicle.
So what's happened since then?

Category: History

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The End Of Two Wars

May 8, 1945: The Allies accept Germany’s unconditional surrender, thus marking the end of the war in Europe. Despite the fact that the war is not yet over, the world celebrates; there is dancing in the streets of cities from London to Los Angeles. The date becomes known as V-E Day, or “Victory in Europe Day.”
Fast forward almost exactly thirty years, to April 30, 1975: North Vietnamese forces capture Saigon, the capitol of South Vietnam.
Unlike V-E Day, there are no newspaper headlines declaring victory, let alone global jubilation.

Category: Military History

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Philosopher John Searle: Mind & Consciousness

Dan Turello interviews philosopher John R. Searle, philosopher and member of the Library of Congress Scholars Council. Searle is the Slusser Professor of Philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley. He has published extensively on the philosophy of language and the philosophy of mind, and has been at the center of discussions with philosophers and scientists around the world in an effort to better understand the nature of consciousness.

Category: Science

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Braille Music for the 21st Century

Over the past 10 years, technology has grown in unimaginable ways. We can download nearly anything at the click of a mouse, we can instantaneously talk to our friends overseas through our computers, and we can carry around a whole world’s wealth of knowledge in a device the size of a deck of cards. Fortunately, this exponential growth of technology has also impacted braille production. Today, blind individuals can access braille in electronic format: a file that can be read on a refreshable braille display, something like a braille laptop, or be sent to an embosser for printing.

Category: Music

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Du Bois in Paris – Exposition Universelle, 1900

The Paris Exposition held in 1900 was a lavish affair featuring contributions from all over the world showcased in one of the most beautiful cities in the world. I was really inspired when I saw an image titled “Negro business men in the United States” and was intrigued by information in the note indicating that it had been created by Atlanta University students for the “Negro Exhibit” at the Paris Exposition Universelle. I did some reading and I was even more excited when I saw that Daniel A.P. Murray, an African American researcher and historian at the Library of Congress was involved. He worked with W. E. B. Du Bois, Booker T. Washington, Thomas J. Calloway, and others to create the exhibit.

Category: History

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The Songs of America: ‘The Teddy Bear’s Picnic’

It is a long cultural journey from President Teddy Roosevelt to pop singer Anne Murray to art house film director Peter Greenaway. But this is just one of the paths you can take using the new web presentation, The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America, as a starting point.

Category: History

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Masterful Research at the Library of Congress

To celebrate my newly-minted and publicly searchable catalog records in the Prints & Photographs Online Catalog at the Library of Congress, I was invited to share one of my research adventures. Here is one I found particularly satisfying!

Category: History

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Friday the 13th: Movies and the Law

We are at it yet again – another post on movies and the law. This time, in honor of a year with two Friday the 13ths, I looked for movies that inspire horror, fear and terror. But when I began to pull this list together, I realized that real terror can be found in stories where the victim is being mentally tormented – chainsaws are child’s play compared to the tricks our minds can play on us! The last pick however, is a more lighthearted take on horror.

Category: Social Awareness

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Lend A Hand During National Volunteer Month

April is National Volunteer Month, and this week marks National Volunteer Week. I haven’t come across too many people who know this. Until about a year ago, neither did I. What is interesting to me is that those who always seem willing to roll up their sleeves and give their time, talent or treasure, without the expectation of receiving anything in exchange, do so all throughout the year. They seem to find joy and contentment in the simple act of helping others. Nonetheless, I think April is a great time to applaud their efforts and appeal to those who have yet to lend a hand.

Category: Social Awareness

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Terrorism in France: Legal FAQ

In the wake of the tragic attacks on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and on a kosher supermarket that occurred in Paris on January 7-9, we thought it would be useful to give a brief explanation of certain legal issues related to terrorism in France.
This NoteStream is by Nicolas Boring, the French law specialist at the Law Library of Congress. It is part of a series on In Custodia Legis! “FALQs” are “Frequently Asked Legal Questions."

Category: Social Awareness

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The History of Mexican Immigration to the U.S. in the Early 20th Century

As a Kluge Fellow at the Library of Congress, historian Julia Young is currently researching a new book on Mexican immigration to the U.S. during the 1920s. She sat down with Jason Steinhauer to discuss the history of this migration and the similarities and differences to immigration today.

Category: History

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Baseball, the Color Line, and Jackie Robinson

By the 1940s, organized baseball had been racially segregated for many years. The black press and some of their white colleagues had long campaigned for the integration of baseball. World War II experiences prompted more people to question segregation practices.
Although several people in major league baseball tried to end segregation in the sport, no one succeeded until Brooklyn Dodger's general manager Branch Rickey set his "great experiment" into motion. In 1945, the Jim Crow policies of baseball changed forever when Branch Rickey and Jackie Robinson of the Negro League's Kansas City Monarchs agreed to a contract that would bring Robinson into the major leagues in 1947.

Category: Sports

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George Washington: Weaving History

What stories can a little record book that George Washington assembled to track the productivity of his weaving workshop at Mount Vernon tell? The book, which is part of the extensive collection of financial records that are part of Washington’s papers at the Library of Congress, doesn’t look like much. Nine inches high and seven-and-a-half pages wide, it was rebound by Library conservators very simply in paper, having at some point lost its original binding, if it ever had one. Its 26 pages contain a series of tables, neatly drawn by Washington himself, each with the heading “An Account of Weaving Done by Thomas Davis &c in the Year . . . ” These describe the output of the weaving workshop from January 1767 to January 1771, show how much of what the weavers made Washington used himself and how much he sold to his neighbors, and tell less than we would like to know about the free and enslaved weavers who worked there.
(The following is a guest post by Julie Miller, early American history specialist in the Manuscript Division.)

Category: Biography

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The Faces of Engineering

Founded by the National Society of Professional Engineers, Engineers Week aims to raise public awareness of the contributions to society of the profession. The celebration is typically held in conjunction with George Washington’s actual birthday (February 22). Washington could be considering one of the nation’s earliest engineers, particularly for his work in surveying.

Category: Science

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The Fenian and Wild Irish Foes

Today we’re going to add a new term to your broad vocabulary: Fenian. It’s a noun that describes a member of an Irish or Irish-American brotherhood dedicated to freeing Ireland from British dominion. The name was taken from the “Fianna,” a group of kings’ guards led by the legendary Irish leader of yore, Finn MacCool.

Category: History

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Snowballs to Sculptures: Material Culture that Melts

Making things from snow and ice no doubt dates from very ancient times. But snow leaves no artifacts and so we can only imagine the surprise of the first human pelted by a snowball. In spite of its temporary nature, things made of snow are part of material culture: the traditions related to physical objects and how they are made and used. In the Arctic, understanding the insulating value of snow is important for survival, as was probably true for our ancestors during the last ice age.

Category: Arts

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Before Computers, There Was the Typewriter

Modern computers allow a single individual to do amazing things. But before the computer, there was the typewriter. There are a lot of people around now who may have never seen or used a typewriter. They don’t know what it was like to fix typographical errors or remember to leave space for footnotes and page numbers. They haven’t experienced the agony of having to retype an entire document or page just to insert a single word, sentence, or paragraph. They may not understand that designing, much less creating booklets and brochures, meant time spent with a printer – the business, not the machine! There were no fancy spreadsheet functions that tallied up numbers, much less turning those numbers into pie charts or graphs with a few clicks – there was just the tab key to keep the numbers in line and a calculator to add them all up.

Category: History

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Women in History: Voting Rights

In celebration of Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day (March 8) we thought we’d try something a bit different for the blog. We asked the foreign law specialists, analysts, and interns at the Law Library of Congress to provide responses to a series of questions related to the history of women’s rights in various countries. This post highlight some of the important milestones around the world in women’s suffrage. When did women around the world get the right to vote?

Category: History

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Marie Curie: A Gift of Radium

This NoteStream is guest authored by Michelle Cadoree Bradley, a science reference specialist in the Science, Technology, and Business Division of the Library of Congress.
On May 20, 1921 Mme. Marie Curie, who co-discovered the radium element with her husband in 1898, received from the American people an appropriate, but hazardous gift—a gram of radium. In an interview with Mrs. W.B. (Marie) Meloney in the May 1920 issue of The Delineator magazine, Marie Curie disclosed that her lab had only a gram of radium to experiment with and that she needed more to continue researching.

Category: Biography

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15 Years on the Erie Canal

The Erie Canal played a major part in commerce in the history of the United States. Its creation helped to make New York City the chief port in the United States and opened the western part of the state and other western territories to increased settlement and trade. It connected the Hudson River to Lake Erie and many of New York state’s biggest cities – Albany, Utica, Syracuse, Buffalo – lie along its banks.

Category: History

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Celebrating Women's History On Pinterest

Images capture moments in time and connect us to history; they awaken our senses, revive memories and inspire us. With the Library’s extensive collections related to women’s history, there is an array of material to showcase. We have pinned images from a broad range of women’s achievements, including politics, civil rights, sports, medicine, science, industry, arts, literature, education and religion.
Author Jennifer Harbster also helped create the Library of Congress Women’s History Month board on Pinterest.

Category: History

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A Factory, a Fire, and Worker Safety

The Triangle Waist Company was owned by Max Blanck and Isaac Harris and manufactured shirtwaists. Most of the company’s employees were young, immigrant women; and like many manufacturing concerns of the day, working conditions were not ideal and the space was cramped.
When the Shirtwaist fire broke out on the 8th floor, many workers found exiting their floor, as well as the building itself, almost impossible.

Category: History

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Blind Musical Ensembles

Recently, I came across an article about an Egyptian orchestra made up solely of blind women musicians. The group has been active since the 1960s, branching out from the Al Nour Wal Amal Association – Al Nour Wal Amal, meaning “Light and Hope.” Stories about the group have been picked up by The New Yorker and National Public Radio (NPR). The Al Nour Wal Amal organization, and consequently its orchestra, stands apart in its mission, which is to protect the human rights of the women it embraces. However, the concept of completely blind and visually impaired performance groups are more common than one may think.

Category: Music

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An Architectural Marvel 40 Years in the Making

The Washington Monument is probably one of the most recognizable structures in all of D.C. At 555 feet, the Egyptian obelisk can be seen from miles away. A particularly picturesque vantage point is looking at the monument through the cherry blossom trees along the tidal basin. Built to honor President George Washington, the Washington National Monument Society laid the monument’s cornerstone on Independence Day, 1848. However, it would take almost 40 years before the structure would be completed. The monument underwent two phases of construction, one private (1848-1854) and one public (1876-1884).

Category: History

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A Brief History of Amendments 18 and 21

A reoccurring theme working as a Business reference librarian at the Library is helping researchers who are doing historical research on various industries. One that comes up every once in a while is the alcoholic beverage industry. Every time I do research in this area, I am reminded that Prohibition profoundly divided this industry into a “before” and “after.” There were several anniversaries earlier this year–Prohibition began in a January and ended in a December, so I felt this was an appropriate time to write a post that has long been in the back of my mind.

Category: History

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Inquiring Minds: The Document Man

Armed guards? Check. Secret rendezvous points? Check. Mysterious steel briefcase? Check. Sounds like a James Bond movie. But it’s just a day in the life of Christopher Woods, director of the National Conservation Service in Britain. By day, he’s a leading conservator in the field with more than 29 years experience working in the heritage sector, including serving as head of Conservation and Collection Care at the Bodleian Library at Oxford University and director of Collection and Programme Services at the Tate Gallery in London. By night – well, more like special assignment – he is the man tasked with transporting Lincoln Cathedral’s original copy of Magna Carta when it’s on travel.

Category: History

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All that Jazz

Jazz’s greatest drummer once earned D’s in music in school, once wrote an essay entitled “I Hate Jazz” and once even launched a venture to break into the soft-drink market. The Library of Congress announced the acquisition of the papers of Max Roach, the groundbreaking drummer who helped birth bebop, the adventurous musician who never stopped innovating, the educator who inspired new generations and the civil-rights activist who insisted on freedom now.

Category: Music

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From Dollars to Distinction

I’m a big fan of “Downton Abbey,” so naturally I have been anticipating this season’s series premiere for several months. Following the episode, there was a special on how the show accurately represents the customs and manners of 1900s Britain. If you’re not familiar with “Downton,” the show centers around the wealthy Crawley family, headed by the Earl of Grantham and his multi-millionaire American heiress wife Cora. As it turns out, the idea of an American woman becoming a titled aristocrat isn’t as sensationalized for television as you might think.

Category: History

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Cockles, Motto Lozenges, and Sweethearts

I was recently at a dinner party where the gracious hostess embellished the dining room table with Sweethearts, also known as Conversation Hearts and Sweet Talks.
As you can imagine, the guests questioned the history of these sweethearts and turned to me for an answer. I promised that when I returned to the Library that I would investigate the history of these infamous Valentine Day candies.

Category: History

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A Look Back At Weight Loss Trends In The USA

As we enter this new year, many of us have made resolutions to spend more time with family, to volunteer, perhaps to stop smoking, and of course, to get fit and lose weight. The widespread desire to become healthier and shed those extra pounds is met with a plethora of weight loss products, programs, and gimmicks.
Weight loss is a popular topic, solidly proven by the number of dieting books in the Library of Congress collection. The term dieting first appeared in U.S. medical literature in the 1830s, but was mainly used in regard to foods and recipes for curing various conditions and ailments, not for weight reduction.

Category: Health

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In Celebration of the Father of our Country

Americans have been celebrating George Washington’s birthday since he became president. We have continued this tradition for over two hundred years with the help of Congress who, in 1879, officially designated Washington’s Birthday (February 22) as a Federal Holiday.

Category: History

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Edgar Allen Poe and “The Raven”

Edgar Allen Poe, born January 19 1809, was an American writer, poet, and critic during the romantic era and is perhaps best known for his stories of mystery and horror. He published many short stories during his career and is said to have invented the genre of detective fiction. One of his most famous works, the poem “The Raven,” was first published 170 years ago in January 1845 of which the beginnings are almost as enigmatic as the man.

Category: History

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A Healthy Dose of Super Bowl Ads?

I finally realized that U.S. sports channels just aren’t going to bend to my will and start showing more rugby. The result of this is that I’ve been watching a lot of American football lately instead.
One thing I’ve always noticed when watching football is how many commercial breaks there are during the game. During televised rugby matches, you generally get ads only at halftime or if there happens to be a long injury break.
Of course, some ads have become highlights in themselves during the Super Bowl. Some could even be good for you! Maybe...

Category: Health

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Platinum Photographs: Art from a Noble Metal

Imagine how people understood photographs in 1900, when photography had been around for just over sixty years.
Were photographs factual documents? Could they be a new form of artistic expression? Those producing photographic prints knew, but the public was unsure whether photographs could be art.
American Pictorialists soon dominated shows in a variety of locations, and shared with their counterparts in the graphic arts an interest in old master and Japanese prints, subtle printing effects, and technical experimentation.
Among the experiments were photographs with the precious platinum metal as their base.

Category: Arts

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Animal Locomotion: From Antiquity to the 21st Century

We have all marveled at the gracefulness of a cat leaping in the air, the swift movements of a hummingbird’s wings, the determined salmon swimming up river, the incredible precision of the marching feet of a millipede and the power of a galloping horse. Animals exhibit all types of movement- they walk, run, creep, hop, jump, fly, glide, paddle, and swim. By studying nature and observing animal movement scientists can better understand biomechanics, physiology, evolution, physics, and engineering.

Category: Nature

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The Christmas Star

During a recent staff meeting, I asked my colleagues for holiday blog post ideas. Section head Constance Carter suggested that I write about her mentor Ruth Freitag’s 1979 annotated bibliography the Star of Bethlehem: a list of references.
This bibliography, published by the Library of Congress, lists 240 popular and scholarly publications about the phenomenon known as the Star of Bethlehem or Christmas Star, which was seen by the Magi (Wise Men) at Jesus Christ’s birth.

Category: History

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Ushering in the New Year with Special Foods

January 1 begins the new year of the Gregorian calendar. Many of us who celebrate this day have traditions for bringing in the New Year such as banging pots and pans, blowing horns, kissing the person next to you, and making resolutions. We also have food traditions and special meals that we prepare and serve on New Year ’s Eve or Day to ensure health, luck, and prosperity. Here are a few special food traditions I have discovered.

Category: Food

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Snowflakes: Once In A Septillion

While winter has not yet officially arrived, some of us have been given a taste of the season to come with cold temperatures, frigid winds, frost, ice, and even powdery snow. When I think of winter, I think of twinkling ice crystals falling from the sky and colliding to become intricate snowflakes. Each winter there are about a septillion (trillion trillion) snowflakes that fall from the sky.
Around this time of year, we frequently receive the question Is it true that no two snowflakes are alike?

Category: Arts

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Bats! Creatures of the Night

Halloween is here and neighborhoods will be filled with magical, mysterious, and mystical creatures such as devils, ghosts, zombies, werewolves, witches, and vampires.
On this holiday of the supernatural, the bat (Order Chiroptera) is a real-life creature of the night which may have made its appearance on this planet 65 million years ago. With over 1,100 species, bats are the second largest, most widely distributed, and most diverse mammal group. To put it another way, 20 percent of all mammals are bats! There's more to them than you might expect!

Category: Nature

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Baseball at the Opera House

Speaking at his induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1976, Cleveland pitcher Bob Lemon (1920-2000) told of being introduced to the game (and his future team) when only a few weeks old. But Lemon was born before television and even before the first baseball game on radio so his mother took him to ‘watch’ the World Series at the Redlands (California) Opera House. Fans had already been watching live baseball games remotely at opera houses for more than 35 years. How on earth did that work?!

Inside Adams Library of Congress

Category: Music

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Pie•ology: A Full Filling Story

Pie season is upon us and I predict that you will be making or buying a pie sometime in the near future. There is something about this delectable dish that provokes childhood memories and many of us have no qualms about stating our opinion on what constitutes the best pie. Not only do we have the traditional savory meat pies and the sweet dessert pies, but we also have pocket pies.
The history of the pie has its roots in ancient Egypt and Greece - join us on this tasty exploration of pie!

Category: Food

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No Opera, No X-Rays!

This is about two once-deadly arts. One seems dangerous even today. When a dentist covers you with lead protection before taking an X-ray of your teeth, you know something requiring precautions is being done. Unfortunately, that knowledge was not available to early radiologists.
Opera houses were among the first to adopt electric lighting, starting in 1881, before power companies. Find out why "No Opera, No X-rays!" isn't hyperbole.

Category: History

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Turf Wars on the Football Field

This NoteStream is not about the players or the teams bound for the Super Bowl, but about a part of the game. Plain and simple, I am writing about the turf grass (natural and synthetic) because in football, turf (i.e. grass) is a necessary and significant aspect of the game.

Category: Science

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World War I Remembered

In a letter sent to his parents on November 10th, 1918, Navy Lieutenant Junior Grade Lucius B. Nash wrote, “I expect as I set here writing tonight history is being made as it never was before, and people all over the whole world are thinking of just one thing–”Will Germany accept the Armistice?”
As Nash correctly predicted, history was indeed made that night.
Americans commemorate the World War I Armistice, and the sacrifice of all American veterans, by recognizing Veteran’s Day every November 11th.

Category: Military History

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Armistice Day / Veterans Day

As a student of history, I often wonder how many people understand the significance of the date of Veterans Day and why it is always celebrated on the day of the holiday and not, like Labor Day or Memorial Day, observed on a Monday. The holiday began originally as a commemoration associated with World War I and then expanded to honor veterans of all modern conflicts.
Although the war to end all wars has faded in public memory, the service of our veterans should not.

Category: Military History

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Early Balloonists

Civil War aeronautics was the use of balloons for military aerial reconnaissance, mostly by the Union (Federal Army) from 1861-1863. The men who ‘flew’ the balloons were called aeronauts and a crew or squad of military men under the command of a commissioned officer assisted them. Most historians agree that the history of the military balloon in the U.S. began in the spring of 1861 when President Lincoln learned about the skills and expertise of Professor Thaddeus Lowe, a scientist and expert balloon maker.

Category: History

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Civil War Thanksgiving Foods

Since the holidays are upon us, and we are also still in the midst of commemorating the Sesquicentennial of the U.S. Civil War, we thought it might be interesting to explore what the soldiers ate during that war and how they celebrated the Thanksgiving holiday.
At the time of the Civil War, some states did celebrate Thanksgiving on a day decided by the governor—usually in October or November after the crops had been harvested and the bounty preserved. But what was actually on the menu?

Category: History

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Sweet Potato: A History

The inspiration for this post comes from a reader’s comment about wanting more information about the origin of “candied” yams.
Did you know that sweet potatoes were cultivated and consumed before the white (Irish) potato? By the time Christopher Columbus arrived in the ‘New World’ in the late 15th century, sweet potatoes were well established as food plants in South and Central America.
Columbus brought sweet potatoes back to Spain, introducing them to the taste buds and gardens of Europe. Europeans referred to the sweet potato as the potato, which often leads to confusion when searching for old sweet potato recipes.
But when did the marshmallows come in?!

Category: Food

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Franz Liszt: Forgotten Manuscripts

Prompted by the occasion of what would have been Franz Liszt’s 203rd birthday, David Plylar bring to your attention three “forgotten” manuscripts held at the Library of Congress. The work is a nostalgic reminiscence of the earlier Romance, and offers a beautiful, personal reflection on times past. It is highly recommended that pianists who only know the Chopin waltzes should check out this wonderful set of works, in addition to the last three Mephisto Waltzes.

Category: Music

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Brahms and Tchaikovsky: Linking The Past

Brahms and Tchaikovsky shared a birthday. While the composers may not have cared much for one another, at this great historical remove we can appreciate the music of both men without worrying about offending the other camp.
It did not take too long to realize that a direct link was not likely; however, while the Library of Congress’ Brahms collection is sizeable, we do not have as many documents in Tchaikovsky’s hand. Other paths could have been taken, but this at least introduces a few lesser-known items from the Library’s collection.

Category: Music

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Take Me Out To The Ball Game

Over one hundred years ago, on the 2nd of May, 1908, the United States Copyright Office received two copies of a new song titled Take Me Out to the Ball Game, submitted by composer Albert von Tilzer and lyricist Jack Norworth. This musical work, affectionately referred to over the century as the "other" national anthem, baseball's national anthem, has become the grand-slam of all baseball songs. It has been ranked in survey polls as one of the top ten songs of the twentieth century and is second only to "Happy Birthday" and "The Star Spangled Banner" as the most easily recognized songs in America.
Learn more about the inside history of this favorite!

Category: Music

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Early American Beer

It seems that each year they arrive earlier, and it doesn’t feel quite right, when you are still wearing flip-flops, to see them reappear, their labels glowing with evilly grinning jack-o-lanterns or jolly over-stuffed gourds lolling about in fields and tumbling out of wheelbarrows. Happily, though, the unseasonal acceleration of pumpkin beer season has nothing to do with climate change–and, while the rising tide of pumpkin brews may be a modern phenomenon, brewing beer–or ale– with pumpkins is actually as old as the United States itself!!

Category: Craft Beer

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Folklore of Halloween

Halloween had its beginnings in an ancient, pre-Christian Celtic festival of the dead. The Celtic peoples, who were once found all over Europe, divided the year by four major holidays. According to their calendar, the year began on a day corresponding to November 1st on our present calendar. The date marked both an ending and a beginning in an eternal cycle.
The festival observed at this time was called Samhain (pronounced Sah-ween). It was the biggest and most significant holiday of the Celtic year. Learn more about the evolution of this most entertaining holiday!

Category: Social Awareness

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For The Love of Barbecue

Since prehistoric time humans from all over the world have been cooking meats over fire.
There must be a part of my ancestral brain that gets triggered, because my stomach starts to growl every time I smell the sweet smoke of a barbecue.
As I was researching American barbecue, I discovered that there are regional distinctions in the ways Americans barbecue - and that the particulars of barbecue vary widely.
Join us for a taste of history!

Category: Food

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