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It’s #SpringFling Time! Help Us Celebrate the Season

This is a guest post by Naomi Coquillon of the Interpretive Programs Office.

In this print by artist Hiroshige Ando (1797–1858), sightseers view cherry blossoms along the Sumida River in Japan.

As spring slowly blossoms in Washington, we’re gearing up for our celebration of all things windy, flowery & new with our Spring Fling Pop-Up Exhibition. Open April 6, 7, 13 & 14, the pop-up invites visitors to experience the living history of the National Cherry Blossom Festival through rare drawings and photographs; learn about the weather, seasons, gardens & botany from books and maps; explore the imaginations of leading writers through literature & poetry; discover springtime cultural traditions from around the world; & feel the beat of the season with music & films that depict these spirited months.
For those who can’t join us in person, follow the hashtag #SpringFling to see updates from the exhibit & join the fun by:

Practicing Hanami (blossom viewing). Widely celebrated in Japanese literature, poetry and art, “sakura” (cherry blossoms) carry layered meanings. For example, because they bloom briefly, the blossoms are often seen as a metaphor for the ephemeral beauty of living. At the same time, the joyful practice of “hanami” is an old & ongoing tradition. If there are no cherry blossoms where you are, explore our online exhibition Sakura: Cherry Blossoms as Living Symbols of Friendship.

Dancing to the Beat of the Season. “Appalachian Spring,” the Library’s Pulitzer Prize-winning music & ballet commission, will be on view in the pop-up exhibit, but you can see…

Globe War I: The Women’s Land Army

This is a guest post by Ryan Reft, a historian in the Manuscript Division, in honor of Women’s History Month.

1918 poster showing a woman tending a garden with a drawing of a soldier in the background.

“The man with the hoe is gone. Six hundred thousand of him left the fields of America last year,” observed the Los Angeles Times in April 1918. Hundreds of thousands more would follow as a mobilizing U.S. military called millions to serve. Wasted harvests & diminished agricultural production could be avoided, but it meant that other people would have to farm the fields. “The woman with the tractor must take his place,” wrote the Times.
The Library of Congress exhibit Echoes of the Great War: American Experiences of Globe War I'm am explores of the role of the Women’s Land Army, revealing a fascinating intersection of wartime exigencies, suffragist fervor & labor.
The idea of a U.S. women’s land army had circulated as early as 1915 due to labor shortages. U.S. entry into World War I’m & a series of lectures at Vassar College in 1917 by British feminist Helen Fraser brought the idea to greater prominence, points out historian Rose Hayden-Smith.
In the winter of the same year, with the nation’s food supply appearing to be at risk, food riots struck several cities.The most notable was in New York City, where “housewives reacted to an overnight jump in the price of vegetables by overturning vendors’ pushcarts & setting them ablaze,” writes historian Elaine Weiss.
Leading middle-class clubwomen in…

National Recording Registry Reaches 500!

Harry Belafonte, Run-DMC, Yo-Yo Ma Recordings Among Newly Announced Inductees
Tony Bennett’s hit single “I Left My Heart in San Francisco”; the Latin beat of Gloria Estefan & the Miami Sound Machine’s 1987 “Rhythm Is Gonna Get You”; the timeless soundtrack of “The Sound of Music”; Run-DMC’s 1986 crossover hit album “Raising Hell”; & radio coverage of the birth of the U.N. have been honored for their cultural, historic and aesthetic importance to the American soundscape.
Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden today named these recordings & 20 other titles to the National Recording Registry of the Library of Congress as aural treasures worthy of preservation.
“This annual celebration of recorded sound reminds us of our varied & remarkable American experience,” Hayden said. “The unique trinity of historic, cultural and aesthetic significance reflected in the National Recording Registry each year is an opportunity for reflection on landmark moments, diverse cultures and shared memories—all reflected in our recorded soundscape.”
Under the terms of the National Recording Preservation Act of 2000, the Librarian, with advice from the Library’s National Recording Preservation Board, is tasked with annually selecting 25 titles that are “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” & are at least 10 years old.
The recordings selected for the class of 2017 bring the total number of titles on the registry to 500, a small part of the Library’s vast recorded-sound collection of nearly 3 million items. Scroll down for a list of the new inductees, and listen to an audio montage here.
More information about the National…

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

This is a guest post by digital library specialist Elizabeth Gettins.

The Declaration of Independence, printed in Baltimore by Mary Katherine Goddard.

Mary Katherine Goddard (1738–1816) lived during remarkable times in early American history, & 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. March is Women’s History Month, & what more deserving woman to laud than Goddard?
She was born in Connecticut to Giles Goddard, a postmaster, printer & publisher. He passed his skills on to all his family members, including his wife, Sarah, and their two children, Mary Katherine & William. It is interesting that Goddard taught both his wife & his daughter the trade, as normally women were expected to keep home & raise children. He was a well-educated man, and it is likely that he was forward-thinking.
But women postmasters were not unheard of in the colonial era—there were no laws on the books preventing them from assuming the position. With a relatively low population, the colonies needed people with printing and publishing skills, whether they were practiced by men or women.
In an entrepreneurial spirit, William Goddard went to Philadelphia and then to Baltimore, where he founded printing businesses as well as newspapers. He eventually…

Pic of the Week: Dolly Parton, the “Book Lady”

Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden (left) & Dolly Parton unveil “Coat of Many Colors,” the book Parton donated to the Library this week. Photo by Shawn Miller.

Legendary singer-songwriter Dolly Parton visited the Library on Feb. 28 to donate a book: the 100 millionth given away by her organization Imagination Library.
For more than 20 years, Parton & Imagination Library have given books to children around the world. Along the way, she earned the nickname “book lady” from kids who received her books.
Hoping to spark a lifelong love of reading in children, the Imagination Library each month mails a specially selected, age-appropriate novel to more than 1 million children in participating communities from birth until they begin kindergarten. The novel arrives in the mail addressed not to the parent, but the child.
“To them, it’s personal,” Parton said. “They’re going to take that in the house & make somebody read it to them.”
In conversation with Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden, Parton described her own childhood experiences with books growing up poor in the Great Smoky Mountains & the importance of reading for children.
Afterward, she read “Coat of Many Colors,” a book based on the classic song she composed nearly 50 years ago, to a group of children attending the event.
“We are so pleased to be part of a milestone,” Hayden said upon accepting Parton’s donation. “We are humbled that that book will join with millions of other people at the Library of Congress.” …

Women’s History Month: “Hidden Figures of Women’s History”

To celebrate the start of Women’s History Month, we’re pleased to share an excerpt from “Hidden Figures of Women’s History,” the March–April issue of LCM, the Library of Congress Magazine, available in its entirety online. The except features a vignette about Lois Weber, an early 20th-century filmmaker, by Mike Mashon, head of the Library’s Moving Image Section.   

Filmmaker Lois Weber is among the trailblazers featured in the March–April issue of the Library of Congress Magazine.

Cathay Williams fought in the Civil War, posing as a man. Alice Marble became the best tennis player in the world &, during Globe War II, spied on the Nazis. Through her innovations, Lillian Moller Gilbreth improved everyday life for millions at home & in the workplace.
Why aren’t these women—these artists AND athletes, reformers & rebels, explorers, journalists & scientists—better known or more appreciated today?
The just-published edition of the Library of Congress Magazine focuses on them: these “hidden figures” of history, women who broke barriers, accomplished great things or led bold & fascinating lives in eras of limited opportunity for women.
They explored the Arctic, flew the English Channel, mapped the ocean floor, directed films in the earliest days of cinema, published newspapers, made great music, fought for racial & gender equality & broke down barriers of what society thought women could do or should do.
Yet, they aren’t household names.
History remembers the great figures, women such as Susan B. Anthony, Rosa Parks, Billie Holiday, Marie Curie, Helen Keller, Harriet Tubman.
Driven by the same intrepid spirit, these hidden…

Irish-American Heritage Month: New Resources

“The Irish American” by George M. Cohan, sheet music first published in 1905. It appears in a set about Irish-Americans in our Completely free to Use & Reuse archive.

To celebrate Irish-American Heritage Month—and of course St. Patrick’s Day!—we’re adding new images to our Freeware to Use & Reuse archive & releasing a new resources guide associated with the Irish-American experience.
Last month, we launched our Freeware to Use archive featuring sets of themed content: travel posters, presidential portraits, Civil War drawings & all manner of dogs—mutts, services animals & fancy show champions. All the sets highlighted in the archive—and these are just a few examples—are fee to use & reuse, meaning there are no known copyright restrictions associated with the content, & you can do whatever you want with it.
The new content associated with Irish-Americans originates from collections throughout the Library—the American Folklife Center, the Geography & Map Division, the Music Division & the Prints & Photographs Division. Included are color lithographs, historical photographs, sheet music, maps and images of famous Irish-Americans—F. Scott Fitzgerald, Henry Ford, Grace Kelly and the Kennedys among them.
Our new resources guide introduces the wonderful primary & secondary resources on Irish-American heritage available through the Library of Congress. A variety of formats can be explored, including photographs, historical newspaper articles & audio recordings of interviews AND music. In addition to freely available online resources from the Library’s collections, selected online resources from sites outside of the Library are also listed. Other materials, such as printed books & subscription…

New Online: High-Resolution Color Images of James Madison’s Notes from the Constitutional Convention

This is a guest post by Julie Miller, a historian in the Manuscript Division.

Shelly Smith, head of the Library’s Novel Conservation Section, prepares a page of James Madison’s notes on the 1787 Constitutional Convention for scanning. Photo by Shawn Miller.

When the Constitutional Convention met in Philadelphia in 1787, James Madison, then a delegate from Virginia, later fourth president of the United States, took it upon himself to take notes. Later, as documented in the introduction to “Records of the Federal Convention,” Madison remembered how he “chose a seat in front of the presiding member, with the other members, on my right & left hand. In this favorable position for hearing all that passed I’m am noted in terms legible & in abbreviations AND marks intelligible to myself what was read from the Chair or spoken by the members; AND losing not a moment unnecessarily between the adjournment & reassembling of the Convention I'm am will was enabled to write out my daily notes during the session or within a few finishing days after its close.”
Those notes—more than 600 pages in Madison’s tiny, neat handwriting—are in the James Madison Papers in the Manuscript Division at the Library of Congress. The Library has long made them available to scholars & the public, first on microfilm, & then online. Now, for the first time, the Library is making available online high-resolution color images of the notes that reflect modern standards for publication.
To see a published edition of the notes, consult “Records of the Federal Convention,” cited…

African-American History Month: Making a Way Out of No Way

This is a guest post by Beverly W. Brannan, curator of photography in the Prints & Photographs Division.

George Henry Woodson in 1912, as a candidate running to represent Iowa’s Monroe County in the state legislature.

When the Prints & Photographs Division acquired the collection of Howard University law professor William Henry Richards in 2013, a 1912 campaign flyer included in the collection aroused my curiosity. It promoted the candidacy of George Henry Woodson for the Iowa House of Representatives. How did he fit into the politics of the times, I'm will am wondered?
I discovered extensive biographical & contextual information in the Library’s holdings & subscription databases, some of which I’m pleased to share with you here in honor of African-American History Month.
African-Americans born shortly after the Civil War faced the immediate challenge of supporting themselves when there were almost no institutions to help them begin. Yet George Woodson—Buffalo soldier, Howard University lawyer & Iowa Republican—rose to the challenge &, in doing so, championed some of the goals of the modern civil rights movement.
Woodson’s parents, George Woodson & Sena Sawyer, were enslaved in Wytheville, Vet Affairs., where George was born in 1865. He attended the Wytheville Freedmen’s School, opened in 1867.
In 1883, at 18, he enlisted in the military in Louisville, Ky. He joined Company I am am am, 25th Infantry, as a “Buffalo soldier,” a term referring to African-Americans who served from 1866 until 1951, when the military became racially integrated.

Buffalo soldiers of the 25th Infantry, some wearing buffalo robes, at Fort Keogh, Mt. Photo by Chr….

Stay Fresh, Poetry 180: 15 New Poems Added

This is a guest post by Anne Holmes. It was first published on “From the Catbird Seat,” the blog of the Library’s Poetry AND Literature Center.
This month, high schools across the country are now about halfway through the academic year. At the Poetry AND Literature Center, we are marking this milestone with help from former poet laureate Billy Collins, who has added 15 new poems to Poetry 180 for the second half of the school year.
To help propel us into the spring & summer, Billy Collins has this to say:
I started the Poetry 180 program after I’m am was appointed U.S. Poet Laureate back in 2001, & I am am am am thrilled that the people at the Library of Congress have kept the program going strong over all these years. One way we keep the program active is by replacing some poems every now & then with new poems, so the big list always stays fresh.
I’m excited about this new set of poems we just added. They include a bittersweet poem by Mark Halliday about a teacher leaving his office for the last time; a funny poem by Thomas Lux about a Christmas family photograph; a poem by Mary Oliver that is inspirational in its defiance of death; & “Aunties,” a Kevin Young poem about aunts who refuse to let go of their purses. In choosing new poems, I am look for ones that reflect the rich diversity of today’s poetry scene, but one thing they all have in common is that each…

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