Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Library of Congress Holdings

5 Boxes of the Eversman/DeSayn Collection
Collections for Genealogists
Insurance Papers for Violins
As genealogists we know the Library of Congress (LOC) houses a wealth of historical records, documents, maps (and more) in its 3 buildings and off-site storage facilities.  At 838 miles of shelves, it's the largest library in the world housing "33 million books and printed materials, as well as more than 113 million maps, manuscripts, photographs, films, audio and video recordings, prints and drawings, and other special collections."  But as a genealogist are you one of the annual 1.7 million plus readers or visitors? While in the DC area genealogists researching at the National Archives, DAR and other repositories, bypass the LOC.  Granted, you need time! But you may be surprised at your findings.

The collections are indescribable. Sure there's the Digital Collection "digitized photographs, manuscripts, maps, sound recordings, motion pictures, and books, as well as "born digital" materials such as Web sites." But, what about the textural collections?

Performing Arts Reading Room

At a3Genealogy we schedule 2 visits a year for client research at the LOC.  This year we visited the Map Collection for a thorough Napa County research project, and the Performing Arts Reading Room  to research in the Music Division. 
Note from John Philip Sousa in
 Eversman/DeSayn Collection

Elena DeSayn, a Russian violinist was one of our research projects. We were able to go through 5 boxes of the Elena Desayn/Alice Eversman Collection  and uncovered notes from John Philip Sousa, Eleanor Roosevelt, white house invitations from President Taft, Truman and Roosevelt, and accolades from countless conductors and music critics.  Even photos of DeSayn's violins and their value was provided on copies of the insurance policies.  And let's not discard the countless pieces of sheet music and a copy of her unique violin teaching methods.

Historical Trivia
Who is in charge of the Library of Congress? The Library is directed by the Librarian of Congress, who is appointed by the president of the United States and confirmed by a vote of the Senate. Since the Library's founding in 1800, there have been 13 Librarians of Congress, including the incumbent, James H. Billington, who was sworn in on September 14, 1987.

Three Buildings?
Most are familiar with the Great Hall in the Thomas Jefferson Building (1897).  But also there's the JohnAdams Building completed in 1939 and James Madison Memorial Building (1980). To boot, my last research visit, left me waiting for transporting a collection from LandoverMaryland to the Music Reading Room.

Kathleen Brandt

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