My Job: Nathan Dorn, Curating Rare Books in the Law Library
The Library of Congress » Rare Books and Special Collections
by Wendi Maloney
3M ago
Nathan Dorn is the curator of the rare books collection in the Law Library. Describe your work at the Library. I am the curator of the rare books collection at the Law Library of Congress, which is mostly a collection of historical printed law books from Europe, the British Isles and the Americas. That role includes a handful of different tasks. I’m the recommending officer for the collection, which means I spend a lot of my time analyzing the collection and shopping for books to acquire that would grow it in useful directions. I’m the reference librarian for questions that relate to objects i ..read more
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Proclaiming a New Nation: The Library’s Copies of the Declaration of Independence
The Library of Congress » Rare Books and Special Collections
by Mark Hartsell
6M ago
After the Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, the delegates wanted to spread word of their momentous action throughout the Colonies as quickly as possible. The president of Congress, John Hancock, ordered the document to be printed as a broadside, a single-sheet format popular in that era for quickly distributing important information. That first printing of the Declaration today is known as the Dunlap Broadside, named for the man who produced it for Congress, Philadelphia printer John Dunlap. Original copies are extremely rare: Only about two dozen su ..read more
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Hannah Carson: “Like a Fire in All My Bones”
The Library of Congress » Rare Books and Special Collections
by Neely Tucker
7M ago
This is a guest post by Sara Augustin, a 2023 Junior Fellow in the Office of Communications. Nestled in the archives of the Daniel A.P. Murray Collection is a short account of the remarkable life of Hannah Carson. It’s a small, 50-odd page book called “Glorying in Tribulation: A Brief Memoir of Hannah Carson, For Thirteen Years Deprived of the Use of All Her Limbs.” It was published by the Protestant Episcopal Book Society in Philadelphia shortly after Carson’s death in 1864. It’s actually a short biography written by her friends rather than a memoir penned by herself, but no matter. Though al ..read more
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When Susan (B. Anthony) Met Harriet (Tubman)
The Library of Congress » Rare Books and Special Collections
by Neely Tucker
8M ago
This is a guest post by Amanda Zimmerman, a reference specialist in the Rare Book and Special Collections Division. It appears in the July-August issue of the Library of Congress Magazine. The 15 lines, scrawled inside an aged biography on the Library’s shelves, casually record a singular moment in suffrage history: the chance meeting of two larger-than-life women at the dawn of a new century, as they looked back on past struggles and ahead to the possibilities of the next generation. In 1903, Susan B. Anthony, pioneer of the American woman’s suffrage movement, donated her personal library to ..read more
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Our Invitation to You: Celebrate America’s 250th Anniversary
The Library of Congress » Rare Books and Special Collections
by John Sayers
8M ago
In 2026, just three years from now, we will commemorate the United States Semiquincentennial and the 250th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. The Library of Congress, along with other Federal agencies, will be taking part in this commemoration. We’ll be sharing our great collections and insights from our incredible staff, and inviting you to rediscover the Library of Congress for yourself. In the lead-up to this milestone, the America250 Commission has launched America’s Invitation, a nationwide campaign for all Americans to share stories and hopes and dreams for our future. Ameri ..read more
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Bloomsday! The Library’s One-of-a-Kind Copy of “Ulysses”
The Library of Congress » Rare Books and Special Collections
by Neely Tucker
9M ago
James Joyce in 1915. Photo: Alex Ehrenzweig. Public domain, Wikimedia Commons. It’s Bloomsday, the annual celebration of James Joyce’s landmark modernist masterpiece, “Ulysses.” Published 101 years ago, Joyce’s book famously examines one day — June 16, 1904 — in the life of Leopold Bloom of Dublin, Ireland. The book’s stream-of-consciousness style and dense symbolism have made it a cult favorite to fans around the world, who celebrate today with readings, festivals, dressing in period costumes and, if possible, wandering around Dublin themselves. Pubs do bang-up business. Across ..read more
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Mark Dimunation, Master of Rare Books and Excellent Anecdotes, Retires
The Library of Congress » Rare Books and Special Collections
by Neely Tucker
1y ago
It’s difficult to say if Mark Dimunation is better at curating rare books or telling stories about them. Probably not possible to make the call, actually. He’s displayed both abilities in person, in print, onstage and on television since he was appointed chief of the Rare Book and Special Collections Division at the Library — the largest collection of rare books in North America — a quarter of a century ago, in 1998. And both were on display for a final time last week during an open house displaying some of the sparkling finds the division has acquired under his tenure. Dimunation, 70, who is ..read more
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Picasso, Man Ray and Modernist Wonders on Display! One Night Only!
The Library of Congress » Rare Books and Special Collections
by Neely Tucker
1y ago
“The Meeting” by Man Ray, from “Revolving Doors,” 1926. Rare Book and Special Collections Division. This is a guest post by Emily Moore, assistant curator of the Aramont Library. What is a book, exactly? Is it an object, made of paper and ink? Is it a portal to a different reality, an embodiment of memory or a method of communicating across space and time? Can it be art? “Making the Modern Book: The Aramont Library,” a Jan. 19 symposium in the Library’s Coolidge Auditorium, will present some of our treasures to ask just that question. We are thrilled to host this event and introduce the coll ..read more
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My Job: Monica Varner in Rare Books
The Library of Congress » Rare Books and Special Collections
by Neely Tucker
1y ago
Monica Varner, taking some time off work. Photo courtesy of the subject. Monica Varner is collections manager for the Rare Book and Special Collections Division.This article appeared in the Library’s Gazette. Tell us about your background. I grew up in Arlington, Virginia, and went to H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program (“Hippie High”) before heading down to Lynchburg, Virginia, to study art history at Randolph College. During college, I spent a year at Reading University in England. On returning to the Washington, D.C., area, I enrolled in the museum studies master’s program at George ..read more
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“The Big Bang” of Cinema: Library Researcher Finds First Copyrighted Film
The Library of Congress » Rare Books and Special Collections
by Wendi Maloney
1y ago
Some of the images from the first film to be copyrighted.  The perfectly folded letter opened, and pictures dropped out — 18 small images imprinted in two strips on a single sheet. Three men stand around an anvil, enacting a scene from a blacksmith’s shop, hammering and then drinking. “I froze,” says Claudy Op den Kamp, the film scholar who extracted the letter from a Library archival box this summer. “I couldn’t grasp what I was holding.” She certainly hadn’t expected the pictures. Dated Nov. 14, 1893, the letter was signed “W.K.L. Dickson.” She knew him as the head photographer at Tho ..read more
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