Quote of the moment: Education is knowing what you know, and what you don’t

March 31, 2014

Commenter Robert Lopresti mentioned a book assembled at the Library of Congress, to assist Members of Congress in creating speeches on important issues, with accurate quotes in accurate context: Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations.

One might wonder if anyone in Congress even knows the book exists.

You can buy the book, at Amazon, or from the Library of Congress Gift Shop, and Bartleby has it online (public domain already?).

My first use of the online version, I looked for education, and found this from William Feather (1889-1981), describing  just what “an education” is:

An education isn’t how much you have committed to memory, or even how much you know. It’s being able to differentiate between what you do know and what you don’t. It’s knowing where to go to find out what you need to know; and it’s knowing how to use the information you get.

When and where did Feather say that?  Things get murky — according to the list at the Library of Congress:

Publisher and writer William Feather, photo by William Feather III

Publisher and writer William Feather, photo by William Feather III. Can we trust a bon mot attributed to such a jovial and scholarly looking fellow?

Attributed to WILLIAM FEATHER.—August Kerber, Quotable Quotes on Education, p. 17 (1968). Unverified.

An honest assessment that we don’t know for certain that Feather said exactly that. This book could be a valuable resource!

Who the heck was William Feather?

William A. Feather (August 25, 1889 – January 7, 1981) was an American publisher and author, based in Cleveland, Ohio.

Born in Jamestown, New York, Feather relocated with his family to Cleveland in 1903. After earning a degree from Western Reserve University in 1910, he began working as a reporter for the Cleveland Press. In 1916, he established the William Feather Magazine.[1] In addition to writing for and publishing that magazine, and writing for other magazines as H.L. Mencken‘s The American Mercury, he ran a successful printing business, and wrote several books.[2]

Feather’s definition appeals to me.  Educated people know where to find the facts they need, and they know when it’s important to search for those facts, rather than stand on ignorance.

Compare it with the Hubbard/Rogers advice, that it’s what we know “that ain’t so” that gets us into trouble.

How could any test, ever test for that?


January 5, 1502: A deal is a deal, with Columbus’s most prized possession

January 5, 2014

Who can you trust, if not the king and queen?

Columbus feared that King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella would not honor pledges they had made to him as recompense and honor for his great work of discovery on their behalf.  Before his final voyage, he assembled a legal document showing those promises made to him, and his work for Spain.

This illustrates, once again, the human dimension of the great drama of the age of exploration, of Columbus’s stumbling on to the America’s in his efforts to get to China.

The Library of Congress and the History Channel team up again to show off these grand snippets of history:

On January 5, 1502, prior to his fourth and final voyage to America, Columbus gathered several judges and notaries in his home in Seville. The purpose? To have them authorize copies of his archival collection of original documents through which Isabel and Fernando had granted titles, revenues, powers and privileges to Columbus and his descendants. These 36 documents are popularly called “Columbus’ Book of Privileges.” Four copies of his “Book” existed in 1502, three written on vellum and one on paper. The Library’s copy, one of the three on vellum, has a unique paper copy of the Papal Bull Dudum siquidem of September 26, 1493, which extended the Spanish claim for future explorations.

512 years ago today.

Borrowed with permission from Mr. Darrell’s Wayback Machine. This has also appeared at Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub before.


Flag at the Madison Building, Library of Congress, September 17, 2013

September 20, 2013

U.S. flag flies at half-staff at the Madison Building of the Library of Congress, September 17, 2013. Photo from  ‏@GayleOsterberg

U.S. flag flies at half-staff at the Madison Building of the Library of Congress, September 17, 2013. Photo from ‏@GayleOsterberg


Fly your flag today, Labor Day 2013

September 2, 2013

Still important in 2013: Fly your flag for American labor today.

Free Labor Will Win, poster from 1942, (Library of Congress)

Poster from the Office of War Information, 1942

It’s Labor Day 2013 in the United States, a federal holiday, and one of those days Americans are urged to fly the U.S. flag.

“Free Labor Will Win,” the poster said, encouraging a theme important during World War II, when unions were encouraged to avoid strikes or any action that might interrupt work to build the “arsenal of democracy” believed necessary to win the war.  Labor complied, the war was won, and organized labor was the stronger for it. In 2012, some have difficulty remembering when all Americans knew that our future rides on the backs of organized labor.

The poster was issued by the Office of War Information in 1942, in full color. A black-and-white version at the Library of Congress provides a few details for the time:

Labor Day poster. Labor Day poster distributed to war plants and labor organizations. The original is twenty-eight and one-half inches by forty inches and is printed in full color. It was designed by the Office of War Information (OWI) from a photograph especially arranged by Anton Bruehl, well-known photographer. Copies may be obtained by writing the Distribution Section, Office of War Information [alas, you can't get a copy from the Office of War Information in 2012]

Even down here in deepest, darkest-right-to-work Texas, patriots fly their flags to honor Labor today. It’s heartening.

Flags fly all around in 1882 at the first Labor Day Parade in New York City’s Union Square; lithograph from USC’s Dornsife History Center, via Wikipedia, artist unidentified

This is partly an encore post, a Labor Day tradition.

More, Other Resources:


Two Alcotts, and the Concord transcendentalists – November 29

November 29, 2012

April is the cruelest month, and November the most disagreeable.

Students of literature might recognize something in that sentence.

English: Headshot of Louisa May Alcott (Novemb...

Louisa May Alcott (November 29, 1832 – March 6, 1888), American novelist, at age 20 – image from Wikipedia

Interesting coincidence:  Louisa May Alcott was born on November 29, 1832; her father, Amos Bronson Alcott, was born on November 29, 33 years earlier.

Do high school literature students find them interesting, even? Or do the students learn about transcendentalism only because they know “it’s on the test?”

American Memory at the Library of Congress holds history for each day of the year.  The entry for November 29 notes and chronicles the dual births of the Alcotts, and discusses the transcendentalist movement — with a lot of good links for teachers or students.

My hope is that more teachers of history will use more literature in their courses.  While Texas standards on history say little about transcendentalism, the reality is that it is difficult to understand America and its development from 1800 to the Civil War, without understanding transcendentalism.  Would America have gone to war over slavery and states rights, but for this movement in literature and social theory?

What can students learn about life in America from reading the Alcotts’ books?

Cribbed entirely from the American Memory LOC site, this is a self-contained literature and history unit by itself [links in the text all from the good people at the Library of Congress]:

English: Photograph of American educator and p...

American educator and philosopher Amos Bronson Alcott (1799-1888), father of the literary Alcott girls. From the NYPL Digital Gallery via Wikipedia

Daughter of the Transcendentalists

“November is the most disagreeable month in the whole year,” said Margaret, standing at the window one dull afternoon, looking out at the frostbitten garden.

“That’s the reason I was born in it,” observed Jo pensively, quite unconscious of the blot on her nose.

“If something very pleasant should happen now, we should think it a delightful month,” said Beth, who took a hopeful view of everything, even November.

“I dare say, but nothing pleasant ever does happen in this family,” said Meg, who was out of sorts….

“My patience, how blue we are!” cried Jo…. “Oh, don’t I wish I could manage things for you as I do for my heroines!…I’d have some rich relation leave you a fortune unexpectedly….”

“Jo and I are going to make fortunes for you all. Just wait ten years, and see if we don’t,” said Amy, who sat in a corner making mud pies, as Hannah called her little clay models of birds, fruit, and faces.   Louisa May Alcott, Little Women, Chapter 15

Louisa May Alcott, the second daughter of Amos Bronson Alcott, teacher and transcendentalist philosopher, and Abigail May, social worker and reformer, was born in the “disagreeable month” of November, just like her literary creation Jo March, the rambunctious heroine of Little Women.

On November 29, 1832, Amos Bronson Alcott wrote his mother of his joy in “the birth of a second daughter on my own birth-day.” Convinced of the importance of early childhood, Bronson Alcott continued to keep a regular journal of each of his four daughters’ growth and activities. Shortly before her second birthday, Louisa’s father wrote of her:

Louisa…manifests uncommon activity and force of mind at present…by force of will and practical talent, [she] realizes all that she conceives.…Bronson Alcott, November 5, 1834.
The Journals of Bronson Alcott, (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1938), page 47.

During Louisa’s early years, her father’s innovative Temple School in Boston failed, as did the family’s experiment with communal living with a group of transcendentalist mystics at Fruitlands, an early eighteenth-century farmhouse.

A happier time began after the family settled at Hillside House, later Nathaniel Hawthorne’s residence, which he renamed the Wayside, in Concord, Massachusetts. There, the Alcotts found a sympathetic community and like-minded friends. Louisa and her sisters were always welcome to participate in the conversations of the poets, philosophers, and reformers that made up their parents’ circle.

Bridge surrounded by trees
The Old Bridge, Concord, Massachusetts, 1900.
Touring Turn-of-the-Century America: Photographs from the Detroit Publishing Company, 1880-1920

The Alcott girls enjoyed the natural beauty of Concord, boating on the river, ice skating on Walden Pond, and running free in the surrounding fields and woods. Henry David Thoreau was one of Louisa’s instructors when she was a young girl. In one of his fanciful lessons, he taught her that a cobweb was a “handkerchief dropped by a fairy.” As a teenager, Louisa enjoyed borrowing books from Ralph Waldo Emerson‘s collection and delighted in conversing with the “sage of Concord.”

For the most part, the Alcotts taught their daughters at home. Daily journal-keeping formed a significant part of the home curriculum. Louisa and her sisters each wrote a weekly journal in which they recorded family events and published their literary and artistic endeavors. The girls and their neighbors formed a dramatic society, and the Hillside barn became the local theater where they performed the Louisa’s melodramatic plays.

Although their home and community life was rich, the family remained financially impoverished. Of necessity, all family members pitched in to support the family, with the daughters working as teachers, companions, and domestics. Besides their paid labors, they contributed their time and talents to the abolition movement, the women’s suffrage movement, and to the relief of those poorer than themselves.

Louisa resolved early on to earn money to relieve the hardship of her mother’s life. Gradually, she began earning a reliable income from stories and sketches published in and from dime-novel thrillers, including published under the pseudonym “A. M. Barnard.” Her first book of stories, , was published in 1855.

View of a hospital ward
Patients in Ward K of Armory Square Hospital,
Washington, D.C.,
August, 1865.
Selected Civil War Photographs, 1861-1865

During the Civil War, Louisa served as a nurse at a Union Army hospital in Washington, D.C. There, she kept careful journals which she published later as Hospital Sketches. A severe bout of typhoid fever brought her home to Concord an invalid. It is thought that she was treated with mercury for her fever, as were many others who became ill during this period. Mercury poisoning was apparently the cause of the slow debilitation that led to her death twenty years later.

In 1868, at the suggestion of her publisher, Louisa wrote a “story for girls” that was to bring her lasting fame, Little Women; or Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy, based on the experiences of her own family. Little Women was an immediate success. It was followed the next year by a second volume with the same title, subtitled, “Part Second,” and in subsequent years, by two sequels, Little Men and Jo’s Boys.

During the 1870s, Alcott and her mother were deeply involved in the women’s suffrage movement, canvassing door-to-door encouraging women to register to vote. In 1879, Louisa registered as the first woman to vote in the Concord school committee election.

Suffragette in a group of men
Help Us to Win the Vote, 1914.
By Popular Demand: “Votes for Women” Suffrage Pictures, 1850-1920

Louisa’s later years were financially secure and her family was able to live comfortably and pursue their many intellectual and artistic interests at their second home in Concord, Orchard House. Her last years, however, were shadowed by the deaths of two of her sisters and her brother-in-law. As the sole support of her parents, sisters, and her nephews and niece, she became overburdened with work and ill health. Louisa May Alcott died, two days after her father, on March 6, 1888, at the age of fifty-six.

House nestled in an orchard
The Orchard House, Concord, Home of the Alcotts,
Concord, Massachusetts, 1900.
Touring Turn-of-the-Century America: Photographs from the Detroit Publishing Company, 1880-1920

Father of the “Little Women”

Woman…is helping herself to secure her place in a better spirit and manner than any we [men] can suggest or devise,…it becomes us to take, rather than proffer Consels [sic], readily waiting to learn her wishes and aims, as she has so long and so patiently deferred to us.Letter from A. Bronson Alcott to Elizabeth Cady Stanton
Concord, Massachusetts, May 4, 1869.
The Letters of A. Bronson Alcott (Ames, Iowa: Iowa State University Press, 1969), p. 471.

On November 29, 1799, Amos Bronson Alcott, educator, philosopher of American Transcendentalism, and father of the original “Little Women”—Anna, Louisa, Elizabeth, and May Alcott—was born in Wolcott, Connecticut. The son of a poor flax farmer, Alcott was almost completely self-educated. As a young man, Alcott worked as a peddler, handyman, and gardener, pursuing a self-selected course of readings in English and German literature and philosophy.

In 1830, Alcott journeyed to Boston to attend a series of lectures on abolition. There he met Samuel Joseph May, Unitarian minister, and his sister Abigail “Abba” May, a teacher and social worker. On May 23, 1830, Alcott and Abba May were married. During the next several years, the Alcotts were forced to move several times, as Bronson’s experimental schools were abandoned as financially unsuccessful.

During this period, the couple’s four daughters were born and Alcott continued to develop his lifelong habit of journal-writing, chronicling the daily events in the development of his children. At the basis of his educational theory was his belief that “early education is the enduring power” in the formation of the imagination and moral life of the human being.

Exterior of Tremont Temple
Tremont Temple,
Boston, Massachusetts,
c 1900.
Touring Turn-of-the-Century America: Photographs from the Detroit Publishing Company, 1880-1920

On September 22, 1834, Alcott opened his famous Temple School, located in the Masonic Temple on Tremont Street in Boston, where he put into effect many of his innovative educational theories. His assistant, Elizabeth Palmer Peabody, who went on to found the first kindergarten in the United States, published the plan of the school the next year in her book Record of a School.

Alcott believed that learning should be a pleasant experience for children, and that the classroom environment should be beautiful. He built the classroom furniture himself and allowed the children to decorate the room with pictures and plants and to arrange their desks in a manner pleasing to themselves.

Alcott emphasized the cultivation of the virtues of self-discipline, self-expression, and charity. A form of democratic classroom government was instituted. His curriculum included physical education, dance, art, music, nature study, and daily journal-writing. He acquired a juvenile library and also encouraged the children to read classic adult works such as Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, Spenser’s Faerie Queene, Milton’s Paradise Lost, and the poems of Wordsworth and Coleridge.

The school was, at first, very successful, and attracted a number of well-connected students. However, Alcott’s inability to compromise on his ideals eventually led to its failure as well. In 1835, the last remaining pupils were withdrawn from the school due to Alcott’s insistence on permitting the attendance of a black child.

Exterior of a house
Wayside, the Home of Hawthorne, Concord, Massachusetts, [formerly Hillside, home of the Alcotts], c1901.
Touring Turn-of-the-Century America: Photographs from the Detroit Publishing Company, 1880-1920

With the financial assistance of Ralph Waldo Emerson, the Alcotts moved to Hillside House in Concord, Massachusetts. Emerson also paid for Alcott’s trip to England to visit a school founded upon his theories. Alcott returned with a new friend, Charles Lane, a mystic transcendentalist, with whom he embarked on a new experiment, that of communal living at the farm they purchased, Fruitlands, an early eighteenth-century farmhouse.

The experiment in communal living was Alcott’s least successful adventure and proved a great hardship to his wife and children. The experience was later satirized by his daughter Louisa in her story, “Transcendental Wild Oats.” After the farm’s complete failure, the Alcotts returned to Concord, where the family renewed congenial friendships and developed a happy family life, in spite of their constant struggle with poverty.

I have had some faithful readings, during these January days—all of Carlyle including his translations—all of Goethe that came within my reach…. I have found refreshment, too, in Conversing with some little Children who pass the day in my study.… there is begotten in me the liveliest sense of my…duty of Teaching again.A. Bronson Alcott, Letter to Charles Lane, January 1846,
The Letters of A. Bronson Alcott, (Ames, Iowa: Iowa State University Press, 1969), 124.

A path into a grove of trees
Path to School of Philosophy,
Concord, Massachusetts,
c[between 1910-20].
Touring Turn-of-the-Century America: Photographs from the Detroit Publishing Company, 1880-1920

Always notable for his humility, modesty, and his serene and happy spirit, Alcott continued to develop his educational ideas, teaching his children at home, and giving occasional “conversations.” These talks were directed parlor seminars in which he led a Socratic form of dialogue, in return for a small stipend. Eventually, Alcott’s seminars gained a popular following. They were especially well-attended on his tours in the West.

Exterior of the School of Philosophy
School of Philosophy,
Concord, Massachusetts,
c[between 1910-20].
Touring Turn-of-the-Century America: Photographs from the Detroit Publishing Company, 1880-1920

In his later years, Alcott’s daughter Louisa’s financial success as a writer enabled the family to purchase not only necessities, but a few luxuries as well. The family moved to Orchard House where Alcott established the Concord Summer School of Philosophy in a converted barn on the property. Alcott’s School of Philosophy was a gathering center for the Transcendentalists and flourished until shortly after his death in 1888.

Discover more about Alcott and the Concord Transcendentalists in American Memory:

More:


Teacher and student resources for Hispanic Heritage Month, from the cultural agencies of the federal government

September 16, 2012

Resources listed at the Hispanic Heritage Month site:

September 15 to October 15 is National Hispanic Heritage Month 2012

The Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum join in paying tribute to the generations of Hispanic Americans who have positively influenced and enriched our nation and society.

Read More »

Children of the Plumed Serpent: the Legacy of Quetzalcoatl in Ancient Mexico

 Pectoral with Calendrical Notations (AD 700–1300), Children of the Plumed Serpent exhibit


Unknown, Pectoral with Calendrical Notations (AD 700–1300), gold, 4 ½ x 1/16 in (11.5 x 2 cm), 3.93 ounces (112 grams), Museuo de las Culturas de Oaxaca. Photo © Instituto Nacional de Antropologia e Historia (CONACULTA-INAH-MEX), from the exhibition Children of the Plumed Serpent: The Legacy of Quetzalcoatl in Ancient Mexico at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, California.
Courtesy, Los Angeles County Museum of Art. http://www.lacma.org

The culture-hero and deity, Quetzalcoatl was believed to be the human incarnation of the spiritual forces of wind and rain. Quetzalcoatl was typically portrayed in art as a plumed serpent. This exhibition was organized by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and made possible by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

More about the exhibition »

Department of Interior’s American Latino Heritage Initiative

Department of Interior's American Latino Heritage InitiativeNumerous projects are being undertaken to increase the opportunities for historic places associated with American Latino history to be documented, preserved, and interpreted and for the public to better understand and appreciate the role of American Latinos in the development of the United States.

Status of current projects »

U.S. National Archives on Flickr

Eloy District, Pinal County, Arizona. Mexican irrigator. He came from Mexico 12 years ago...11/1940 - Library of Congress image

Sample of works available at the Flickr site:  Original Caption:  “Eloy District, Pinal County, Arizona. Mexican irrigator. He came from Mexico 12 years ago, works the year round on this large-scale farm. These fields are being prepared for flax; have never had a crop before.”
U.S. National Archives’ Local Identifier: 83-G-44021
From:: Photographic Prints Documenting Programs and Activities of the Bureau of Agricultural Economics and Predecessor Agencies, compiled ca. 1922 – ca. 1947, documenting the period ca. 1911 – ca. 1947
Created By:: Department of Agriculture. Bureau of Agricultural Economics. Division of Economic Information. (ca. 1922 – ca. 1953)
Production Date: 11/1940

Photos from the U.S. National Archives that relate to Hispanic Heritage on the photosharing site Flickr.

View the Images

Hispanic American Veterans

Staff Sgt. Ernesto E. Gallego, Gulfport, MS; World War II Veteran - Stories from the Veterans Project, Library of Congress image

Portrait of World War II veteran, Staff Sgt. Ernesto E. Gallego in bomber jacket, inscribed “To the sweetest girl I know…Ernest.” Gulfport, Mississippi; Stories from the Veterans Project, Library of Congress

Asked to serve their country in time of war, Hispanic Americans displayed courage and valor in the face of adversity. Familiar with discrimination back home, many saw their service as affirming the ideals of democracy. In this presentation, the Veterans History Project recounts their inspirational stories.

Read More about Hispanic American Veterans »

Teaching Hispanic Heritage

paintingPut the power of primary sources to work in the classroom. Browse lesson plans, student activities, collection guides and research aids from:

The Library of Congress

National Archives Experience — DocsTeach

National Archives — Teacher’s Resources

National Endowment for the Humanities

National Gallery of Art

National Park Service

Smithsonian Institution


Fly your flag today, Labor Day 2012

September 3, 2012

Probably more important in 2012 than ever before: Fly your flag for American labor today.

Free Labor Will Win, poster from 1942, (Library of Congress)

Poster from the Office of War Information, 1942

It’s Labor Day 2011 in the United States, a federal holiday, and one of those days Americans are urged to fly the U.S. flag.

“Free Labor Will Win,” the poster said, encouraging a theme important during World War II, when unions were encouraged to avoid strikes or any action that might interrupt work to build the “arsenal of democracy” believed necessary to win the war.  Labor complied, the war was won, and organized labor was the stronger for it. In 2012, some have difficulty remembering when all Americans knew that our future rides on the backs of organized labor.

The poster was issued by the Office of War Information in 1942, in full color. A black-and-white version at the Library of Congress provides a few details for the time:

Labor Day poster. Labor Day poster distributed to war plants and labor organizations. The original is twenty-eight and one-half inches by forty inches and is printed in full color. It was designed by the Office of War Information (OWI) from a photograph especially arranged by Anton Bruehl, well-known photographer. Copies may be obtained by writing the Distribution Section, Office of War Information [alas, you can't get a copy from the Office of War Information in 2012]

Even down here in deepest, darkest-right-to-work Texas, patriots fly their flags to honor Labor today. It’s heartening.

Flags fly all around in 1882 at the first Labor Day Parade in New York City’s Union Square; lithograph from USC’s Dornsife History Center, via Wikipedia, artist unidentified

More, Other Resources:


Religious liberty in America: July 21, 1591, baptism of Anne Marbury (Hutchinson)

July 21, 2012

Do we overlook her because she was female?  Do we overlook her because she stands for religious freedom?  Either way, Anne Marbury Hutchinson gets the cold shoulder from most U.S. history texts used in high schools.

She was a woman to celebrate, and the Library of Congress explains why in detail:

Anne Marbury Hutchinson

Although her exact birth date is uncertain, on July 20, 1591, the infant Anne Marbury was baptized in Alford, Lincolnshire, England.1 The first female religious leader among North America’s early European settlers, Anne Marbury Hutchinson was the daughter of an outspoken clergyman silenced for criticizing the Church of England. Better educated than most men of the day, she spent her youth immersed in her father’s library.

At twenty-one, Anne Marbury married William Hutchinson and began bearing the first of their fourteen children. The Hutchinsons became adherents of the preaching and teachings of John Cotton, a Puritan minister who left England for America. In 1634, the Hutchinson family followed Cotton to New England, where religious and political authority overlapped.

The General Laws and Liberties of the Massachusetts Colony: Revised and Reprinted [right page]      The General Laws and Liberties of the Massachusetts Colony: Revised and Reprinted [left page]
The General Laws and Liberties of the Massachusetts Colony:
Revised and Reprinted,
Cambridge, Massachusetts: Samuel Green, 1672.
Religion and the Founding of the American Republic, Section I. Part 1
Many criminal laws in the early New England colonies were based on the Bible, especially the Old Testament. Often called “Bible Commonwealths,” the New England colonies sought guidance from the scriptures in regulating the lives of their citizens.

Serving as a skilled herbalist and midwife in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, Anne Hutchinson began meeting with other women for prayer and religious discussion. Her charisma and intelligence soon also drew men, including ministers and magistrates, to her gatherings, where she developed an emphasis on the individual’s relationship with God, stressing personal revelation over institutionalized observances and absolute reliance on God’s grace rather than on good works as the means to salvation. Hutchinson’s views challenged religious orthodoxy, while her growing power as a female spiritual leader threatened established gender roles.

Mary Dyer
Mary Dyer Led to Execution on Boston Common,
Color Engraving,
Nineteenth Century.
Courtesy of The Granger Collection.
Religion and the Founding of the American Republic, Section I. Part 2
Like Anne Hutchinson, Mary Dyer was banished from Massachusetts. Eventually, she was hanged for challenging Puritan orthodoxy.

Called for a civil trial before the General Court of Massachusetts in November 1637, Hutchinson ably defended herself against charges that she had defamed the colony’s ministers and as a woman had dared to teach men. Her extensive knowledge of Scripture, her eloquence, and her intelligence allowed Hutchinson to debate with more skill than her accusers. Yet because Hutchinson claimed direct revelation
from God and argued that “laws, commands, rules, and edicts are for those who have not the light which makes plain the pathway,” she was convicted and banished from the colony, a sentence confirmed along with formal excommunication in the ecclesiastical trial that followed.

Refusing to recant, Hutchinson accepted exile and in 1638 migrated with her family to Roger Williams’ new colony of Rhode Island, where she helped found the town of Portsmouth. After her husband died in 1642, Hutchinson moved to Dutch territory near Long Island Sound (an area now known as Co-op City, along New York’s Hutchinson River Parkway, which is named for Anne Hutchinson). There in 1643 Hutchinson and all but one of her younger children were killed by Siwanoy Indians, possibly with the encouragement of Puritan authorities. “Proud Jezebel has at last been cast down,” was the supposed comment of Hutchinson’s nemesis, Massachusetts Governor John Winthrop.

Learn more about early America in American Memory:

More:


88 books that shaped America – press release from Library of Congress

June 23, 2012

English: Thomas Jefferson Building by Carol M....

Thomas Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress, by Carol M. Highsmith (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Just as books teeter on the brink of electronic-media-induced extinction, the Library of Congress steps up with a celebration of books, including a list of 88 highly-influential books that “shaped America.”

Who could protest such a great list?  Wait — Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring is on the list.  Walden won selection, as did Leaves of Grass, and Upton Sinclair’s novelistic expose of the meat packing industry, The Jungle.  César Chávez’s book is there, and so are books by Randy Shilts, Carl Sagan, and Toni Morrison.  It’s a list to please progressives as almost any list of books would be, and so it will rankle anti-progressives.

LOC being a democratic institution as well as an institution of democracy, offers you and others a chance to comment on the list, on what should be there and what should not.

Of the 88 books listed, how many have you read?  Teachers, how many do you use in your curriculum?

Here’s the press release from the Library of Congress:

June 21, 2012 (REVISED June 22, 2012)

“Books That Shaped America” Exhibition to Open June 25

List Includes Popular Favorites, Forgotten Titles

The Library of Congress–the world’s largest repository of knowledge and information–is beginning its multiyear “Celebration of the Book” with an exhibition, “Books That Shaped America,” opening June 25. The exhibition is part of a larger series of programs, symposia and other events that explore the important and varied ways that books influence our lives.

The “Books That Shaped America” exhibition will be on view from June 25 through Sept. 29 in the Southwest Gallery, located on the second floor of the Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First St. S.E., Washington, D.C., from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday. This exhibition is made possible through the support of the National Book Festival Fund.

On view in the exhibition are many rare editions from the Library’s Rare Book and Special Collections Division, as well as other related items chosen from various parts of the Library.

“This list of ‘Books That Shaped America’ is a starting point. It is not a register of the ‘best’ American books–although many of them fit that description. Rather, the list is intended to spark a national conversation on books written by Americans that have influenced our lives, whether they appear on this initial list or not,” said Librarian of Congress James H. Billington. “We hope people will view the list and then nominate other titles. Finally, we hope people will choose to read and discuss some of the books on this list, reflecting our nation’s unique and extraordinary literary heritage, which the Library of Congress makes available to the world.”

Members of the public are encouraged to comment on the books in this exhibition in a survey on the Library’s National Book Festival website (www.loc.gov/bookfest/) and to nominate other titles for subsequent additions to “Books That Shaped America.”

Curators and experts from throughout the Library of Congress contributed their choices for “Books That Shaped America,” but there was much debate in having to cut worthy titles from a much larger list in order to accommodate the physical restrictions of the exhibition space. Some of the titles on display have been the source of great controversy, even derision, in U.S. history. Nevertheless, they shaped Americans’ views of their world and the world’s views of America.

The Library of Congress, with collections that are universal and comprise all media, has a long history of acknowledging the importance of books. It does this through its many and varied book symposia and author discussions, held year-round; through exhibitions, such as the display of Thomas Jefferson’s Library, which formed the “seed” of today’s Library of Congress; and through its annual National Book Festival on the National Mall.

Also on June 25, the “Celebration of the Book” includes a daylong conference, “Creating a Dynamic, Knowledge-Based Democracy,” to mark the enduring legacies of three key events that shaped America: passage of the Morrill Act (establishing land-grant universities), the founding of the National Academy of Sciences and the founding of the Carnegie libraries. The conference, free and open to the public, is sponsored by Carnegie Corporation of New York, a grant-making foundation established by Andrew Carnegie in 1911.

The 12th annual Library of Congress National Book Festival (www.loc.gov/bookfest/), to be held on Sept. 22-23, is another major event during the “Celebration of the Book.”

Founded in 1800, the Library of Congress is the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution. The Library seeks to spark imagination and creativity and to further human understanding and wisdom by providing access to knowledge through its magnificent collections, programs and exhibitions. Many of the Library’s rich resources can be accessed through its website at www.loc.gov.

“Books That Shaped America”

  • Benjamin Franklin, “Experiments and Observations on Electricity” (1751)
    In 1751, Peter Collinson, president of the Royal Society, arranged for the publication of a series of letters from Benjamin Franklin, written between 1747 and 1750, describing his experiments with electricity. Through the publication of these experiments, Franklin became the first American to gain an international reputation for his scientific work. In 1753 he received the Copley Medal of the Royal Society for his contributions.
  • Benjamin Franklin, “Poor Richard Improved” (1758) and “The Way to Wealth”
    As a writer, Benjamin Franklin was best known for the wit and wisdom he shared with the readers of his popular almanac, “Poor Richard,” under the pseudonym “Richard Saunders.” In 1758, Franklin created a clever preface that repeated a number of his maxims, framed as an event in which Father Abraham advises that those seeking prosperity and virtue should diligently practice frugality, honesty and industry. It was reprinted as “Father Abraham’s Speech” and “The Way to Wealth.”
  • Thomas Paine, “Common Sense” (1776)
    Published anonymously in Philadelphia in January 1776, “Common Sense” appeared at a time when both separation from Great Britain and reconciliation were being considered. Through simple rational arguments, Thomas Paine focused blame for Colonial America’s troubles on the British king and pointed out the advantages of independence. This popular pamphlet had more than a half-million copies in 25 editions appearing throughout the Colonies within its first year of printing.
  • Noah Webster, “A Grammatical Institute of the English Language” (1783)
    Believing that a distinctive American language was essential to creating cultural independence for the new nation, Noah Webster sought to standardize rules for spelling and pronunciation. His “Grammatical Institute” became the popular “blue-backed speller” used to teach a century of American children how to spell and pronounce words. Its royalties provided Webster with the economic independence to develop his American dictionary.
  • “The Federalist” (1787)
    Now considered to be the most significant American contribution to political thought, “The Federalist” essays supporting the ratification of the new Constitution first appeared in New York newspapers under the pseudonym “Publius.” Although it was widely known that the 85 essays were the work of Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay, the initial curious speculation about authorship of specific essays gradually developed into heated controversy. Hamilton left an authorship list with his lawyer before his fatal duel. In his copy, Madison identified the author of each essay with their initials. Thomas Jefferson penned a similar authorship list in his copy. None of these attributions exactly match, and the authorship of several essays is still being debated by scholars.
  • “A Curious Hieroglyphick Bible” (1788)
    Hieroglyphic Bibles were popular in the late 18th century as an effective and entertaining way to teach children biblical passages. Isaiah Thomas, the printer of this 1788 edition, is widely acclaimed as America’s first enlightened printer of children’s books and is often compared to John Newbery of London, with whom he shared the motto “Instruction with delight.”
  • Christopher Colles, “A Survey of the Roads of the United States of America” (1789)
    Irish-born engineer and surveyor Christopher Colles produced what is considered the first road map or guidebook of the United States. It uses a format familiar to modern travelers with each plate consisting of two to three strip maps arranged side by side, covering approximately 12 miles. Colles began this work in 1789 but ended the project in 1792 because few people purchased subscriptions. But he compiled an atlas covering approximately 1,000 miles from Albany, N.Y., to Williamsburg, Va.
  • Benjamin Franklin, “The Private Life of the Late Benjamin Franklin, LL.D.” (1793)
    Benjamin Franklin was 65 when he wrote the first part of his autobiography, which focused on his early life to 1730. During the 1780s he added three briefer parts that advanced his story to his 50th year (1756) and revised the first part. The first book-length edition was published in Paris in 1791. The first English edition, a retranslation of this French edition, was published in London in 1793. Franklin’s autobiography still is considered one of the most influential memoirs in American literature.
  • Amelia Simmons, “American Cookery” (1796)
    This cornerstone in American cookery is the first cookbook of American authorship to be printed in the United States. Numerous recipes adapting traditional dishes by substituting native American ingredients, such as corn, squash and pumpkin, are printed here for the first time. Simmons’ “Pompkin Pudding,” baked in a crust, is the basis for the classic American pumpkin pie. Recipes for cake-like gingerbread are the first known to recommend the use of pearl ash, the forerunner of baking powder.
  • “New England Primer” (1803)
    Learning the alphabet went hand in hand with learning Calvinist principles in early America. The phrase “in Adam’s fall, we sinned all,” taught children the first letter of the alphabet and the concept of original sin at the same time. More than 6 million copies in 450 editions of the “New England Primer” were printed between 1681 and 1830 and were a part of nearly every child’s life.
  • Meriwether Lewis, “History of the Expedition Under the Command of the Captains Lewis and Clark” (1814)
    After Meriwether Lewis’s death in September 1809, William Clark engaged Nicholas Biddle to edit the expedition papers. Using the captains’ original journals and those of Sergeants Gass and Ordway, Biddle completed a narrative by July 1811. After delays with the publisher, a two-volume edition of the Corps of Discovery’s travels across the continent was finally available to the public in 1814. More than 20 editions appeared during the 19th century, including German, Dutch and several British editions.
  • Washington Irving, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” (1820)
    One of the first works of fiction by an American author to become popular outside the United States, Washington Irving’s “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” was first published as part of “The Sketchbook” in 1820. Irving’s vivid imagery involving the wild supernatural pursuit by the Headless Horseman has sustained interest in this popular folktale through many printed editions, as well as film, stage and musical adaptations.
  • William Holmes McGuffey, “McGuffey’s Newly Revised Eclectic Primer” (1836)
    William Holmes McGuffey was hired in the 1830s by Truman and Smith, a Cincinnati publishing firm, to write schoolbooks appropriate for children in the expanding nation. His eclectic readers were graded, meaning a student started with the primer and, as his reading abilities improved, moved from the first through the sixth reader. Religious instruction is not included, but a strong moral code is encouraged with stories in which hard work and virtue are rewarded and misdeeds and sloth are punished.
  • Samuel Goodrich, “Peter Parley’s Universal History” (1837)
    Samuel Goodrich, using the pseudonym Peter Parley, wrote children’s books with an informal and friendly style as he introduced his young readers to faraway people and places. Goodrich believed that fairy tales and fantasy were not useful and possibly dangerous to children. He entertained them instead with engaging tales from history and geography. His low regard for fiction is ironic in that his accounts of other places and cultures were often misleading and stereotypical, if not completely incorrect.
  • Frederick Douglass, “The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass” (1845)
    Frederick Douglass’s first autobiography is one of the best-written and most widely read slave narratives. It was boldly published less than seven years after Douglass had escaped and before his freedom was purchased. Prefaced by statements of support from his abolitionist friends, William Garrison and Wendell Phillips, Douglass’s book relates his experiences growing up a slave in Maryland and describes the strategies he used to learn to read and write. More than just a personal story of courage, Douglass’s account became a strong testament for the need to abolish slavery.
  • Nathaniel Hawthorne, “The Scarlet Letter” (1850)
    “The Scarlet Letter” was the first important novel by Nathaniel Hawthorne, one of the leading authors of 19th-century romanticism in American literature. Like many of his works, the novel is set in Puritan New England and examines guilt, sin and evil as inherent human traits. The main character, Hester Prynne, is condemned to wear a scarlet “A” (for adultery) on her chest because of an affair that resulted in an illegitimate child. Meanwhile, her child’s father, a Puritan pastor who has kept their affair secret, holds a high place in the community.
  • Herman Melville, “Moby-Dick”; or, “The Whale” (1851)
    Herman Melville’s tale of the Great White Whale and the crazed Captain Ahab who declares he will chase him “round perdition’s flames before I give him up” has become an American myth. Even people who have never read Moby-Dick know the basic plot, and references to it are common in other works of American literature and in popular culture, such as the Star Trek film “The Wrath of Khan” (1982).
  • Harriet Beecher Stowe, “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” (1852)
    With the intention of awakening sympathy for oppressed slaves and encouraging Northerners to disobey the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850, Harriet Beecher Stowe began writing her vivid sketches of slave sufferings and family separations. The first version of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” appeared serially between June 1851 and April 1852 in the National Era, an antislavery paper published in Washington, D.C. The first book edition appeared in March 1852 and sold more than 300,000 copies in the first year. This novel was extremely influential in fueling antislavery sentiment during the decade preceding the Civil War.
  • Henry David Thoreau, “Walden;” or, “Life in the Woods” (1854)
    While living in solitude in a cabin on Walden Pond in Concord, Mass., Henry David Thoreau wrote his most famous work, “Walden,” a paean to the idea that it is foolish to spend a lifetime seeking material wealth. In his words, “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” Thoreau’s love of nature and his advocacy of a simple life have had a large influence on modern conservation and environmentalist movements.
  • Walt Whitman, “Leaves of Grass” (1855)
    The publication of the first slim edition of Walt Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass” in 1855 was the debut of a masterpiece that shifted the course of American literary history. Refreshing and bold in both theme and style, the book underwent many revisions during Whitman’s lifetime. Over almost 40 years Whitman produced multiple editions of “Leaves of Grass,” shaping the book into an ever-transforming kaleidoscope of poems. By his death in 1892, “Leaves” was a thick compendium that represented Whitman’s vision of America over nearly the entire last half of the 19th century. Among the collection’s best-known poems are “I Sing the Body Electric,” “Song of Myself,” and “O Captain! My Captain!,” a metaphorical tribute to the slain Abraham Lincoln.
  • Louisa May Alcott, “Little Women,” or, “Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy” (1868)
    This first edition of Louisa May Alcott’s “Little Women” was published in 1868 when Louisa was 35 years old. Based on her own experiences growing up as a young woman with three sisters, and illustrated by her youngest sister, May, the novel was an instant success, selling more than 2,000 copies immediately. Several sequels were published, including “Little Men” (1871) and “Jo’s Boys” (1886). Although “Little Women” is set in a very particular place and time in American history, the characters and their relationships have touched generations of readers and still are beloved.
  • Horatio Alger Jr., “Mark, the Match Boy” (1869)
    The formulaic juvenile novels of Horatio Alger Jr., are best remembered for the “rags-to-riches” theme they championed. In these stories, poor city boys rose in social status by working hard and being honest. Alger preached respectability and integrity, while disdaining the idle rich and the growing chasm between the poor and the affluent. In fact, the villains in Alger’s stories were almost always rich bankers, lawyers or country squires.
  • Catharine E. Beecher and Harriet Beecher Stowe, “The American Woman’s Home” (1869)
    This classic domestic guide by sisters Catharine E. Beecher and Harriet Beecher Stowe is dedicated to “the women of America, in whose hands rest the real destinies of the Republic.” It includes chapters on healthful cookery, home decoration, exercise, cleanliness, good air ventilation and heat, etiquette, sewing, gardening and care of children, the sick, the aged and domestic animals. Intended to elevate the “woman’s sphere” of household management to a respectable profession based on scientific principles, it became the standard domestic handbook.
  • Mark Twain, “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” (1884)
    Novelist Ernest Hemingway famously said, “All modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called ‘Huckleberry Finn.’ … All American writing comes from that. There was nothing before. There has been nothing as good since.” During their trip down the Mississippi on a raft, Twain depicts in a satirical and humorous way Huck and Jim’s encounters with hypocrisy, racism, violence and other evils of American society. His use in serious literature of a lively, simple American language full of dialect and colloquial expressions paved the way for many later writers, including Hemingway and William Faulkner.
  • Emily Dickinson, “Poems” (1890)
    Very few of the nearly 1,800 poems that Emily Dickinson wrote were published during her lifetime and, even then, they were heavily edited to conform to the poetic conventions of their time. A complete edition of her unedited work was not published until 1955. Her idiosyncratic structure and rhyming schemes have inspired later poets.
  • Jacob Riis, “How the Other Half Lives” (1890)
    An early example of photojournalism as vehicle for social change, Riis’s book demonstrated to the middle and upper classes of New York City the slum-like conditions of the tenements of the Lower East Side. Following the book’s publication (and the resulting public uproar), proper sewers, plumbing and trash collection eventually came to the Lower East Side.
  • Stephen Crane, “The Red Badge of Courage” (1895)
    One of the most influential works in American literature, Stephen Crane’s “The Red Badge of Courage” has been called the greatest novel about the American Civil War. The tale of a young recruit in the Civil War who learns the cruelty of war made Crane an international success. The work is notable for its vivid depiction of the internal conflict of its main character – most war novels until that time focused more on the battles than on their characters.
  • L. Frank Baum, “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” (1900)
    “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” published in 1900, is the first fantasy written by an American to enjoy an immediate success upon publication. So powerful was its effect on the American imagination, so evocative its use of the forces of nature in its plots, so charming its invitation to children of all ages to look for the element of wonder in the world around them that author L. Frank Baum was forced by demand to create book after book about Dorothy and her friends – including the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman, the Cowardly Lion and Glinda the Good Witch.
  • Sarah H. Bradford, “Harriet, the Moses of Her People” (1901)
    Harriet Tubman is celebrated for her courage and skill in guiding many escaping slave parties northward along the Underground Railroad to freedom. She also served as a scout and a nurse during the Civil War. In order to raise funds for Tubman’s support in 1869 and again in 1886, Sarah Hopkins Bradford published accounts of Tubman’s experiences as a young slave and her daring efforts to rescue family and friends from slavery.
  • Jack London, “The Call of the Wild” (1903)
    Jack London’s experiences during the Klondike gold rush in the Yukon were the inspiration for “The Call of the Wild.” He saw the way dogsled teams behaved and how their owners treated (and mistreated) them. In the book, the dog Buck’s comfortable life is upended when gold is discovered in the Klondike. From then on, survival of the fittest becomes Buck’s mantra as he learns to confront and survive the harsh realities of his new life as a sled dog.
  • W.E.B. Du Bois, “The Souls of Black Folk” (1903)
    “Few books make history and fewer still become foundational texts for the movements and struggles of an entire people. The ‘Souls of Black Folk’ occupies this rare position,” said Du Bois biographer Manning Marable. Du Bois’s work was so influential that it is impossible to consider the civil rights movement’s roots without first looking to this groundbreaking work.
  • Ida Tarbell, “The History of Standard Oil” (1904)
    Journalist Ida Tarbell wrote her exposé of the monopolistic practices of John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil Company as a serialized work in McClure’s Magazine. The breakup of Standard Oil in 1911 into 34 “baby Standards” can be attributed in large part to Tarbell’s masterly muckraking.
  • Upton Sinclair, “The Jungle” (1906)
    An early example of investigative journalism, this graphic exposé of the Chicago meat-packing industry presented as a novel was one of the first works of fiction to lead directly to national legislation. The federal meat-inspection law and the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906 established the agency that eventually became the Food and Drug Administration in 1930.
  • Henry Adams, “The Education of Henry Adams” (1907)
    The dawn of the 20th century and the changes it brought are the subjects of Henry Adams’ “education.” Adams lived through the Civil War and died just before World War I. During that time, he witnessed cataclysmic transformations in technology, society and politics. Adams believed that his traditional education left him ill-prepared for these changes and that his life experiences provided a better education. One survey called it the greatest nonfiction English-language book of the last century.
  • William James, “Pragmatism” (1907)
    “Pragmatism” was America’s first major contribution to philosophy, and it is an ideal rooted in the American ethos of no-nonsense solutions to real problems. Although James did not originate the idea, he popularized the philosophy through his voluminous writings.
  • Zane Grey, “Riders of the Purple Sage” (1912)
    “Riders of the Purple Sage,” Zane Grey’s best-known novel, was originally published in 1912. The Western genre had just evolved from the popular dime novels and penny dreadfuls of the late 19th century. This story of a gun-slinging avenger who saves a young and beautiful woman from marrying against her will played a significant role in shaping the formula of the popular Western genre begun by Owen Wister in “The Virginian” (1904).
  • Edgar Rice Burroughs, “Tarzan of the Apes” (1914)
    “Tarzan of the Apes” is the first in a series of books about the popular man who was raised by and lived among the apes. With its universal themes of honesty, heroism and bravery, the series has never lost popularity. Countless Tarzan adaptations have been filmed for television and the silver screen, including an animated version currently in production.
  • Margaret Sanger, “Family Limitation” (1914)
    While working as a nurse in the New York slums, Margaret Sanger witnessed the plight of poor women suffering from frequent pregnancies and self-induced abortion. Believing that these women had the right to control their reproductive health, Sanger published this pamphlet that simply explained how to prevent pregnancy. Distribution through the mails was blocked by enforcement of the Comstock Law, which banned mailing of materials judged to be obscene. However, several hundred thousand copies were distributed through the first family-planning and birth control clinic Sanger established in Brooklyn in 1916 and by networks of active women at rallies and political meetings.
  • William Carlos Williams, “Spring and All” (1923)
    A practicing physician for more than 40 years, William Carlos Williams became an experimenter, innovator and revolutionary figure in American poetry. In reaction against the rigid, rhyming format of 19th-century poets, Williams, his friend Ezra Pound and other early-20th-century poets formed the core of what became known as the “Imagist” movement. Their poetry focused on verbal pictures and moments of revealed truth, rather than a structure of consecutive events or thoughts and was expressed in free verse rather than rhyme.
  • Robert Frost, “New Hampshire” (1923)
    Frost received his first of four Pulitzer Prizes for this anthology, which contains some of his most famous poems, including “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” and “Fire and Ice.” One of the best-known American poets of his time, Frost became principally associated with the life and landscape of New England. Although he employed traditional verse forms and metrics and remained aloof from the poetic movements and fashions of his day, poems featured language as it is actually spoken as well as psychological complexity and layers of ambiguity and irony.
  • F. Scott Fitzgerald, “The Great Gatsby” (1925)
    F. Scott Fitzgerald, one of the major American writers of the 20th century, is a figure whose life and works embody powerful myths about the American Dream of success. “The Great Gatsby,” considered by many to be Fitzgerald’s finest work and the book for which he is best known, is a portrait of the Jazz Age (1920s) in all its decadence and excess. Exploring the themes of class, wealth and social status, Fitzgerald takes a cynical look at the pursuit of wealth among a group of people for whom pleasure is the chief goal. “The Great Gatsby” captured the spirit of the author’s generation and earned a permanent place in American mythology.
  • Langston Hughes, “The Weary Blues” (1925)
    Langston Hughes was one of the greatest poets of the Harlem Renaissance, a literary and intellectual flowering that fostered a new black cultural identity in the 1920s and 1930s. His poem “The Weary Blues,” also the title of this poetry collection, won first prize in a contest held by Opportunity magazine. After the awards ceremony, the writer and photographer Carl Van Vechten approached Hughes about putting together a book of verse and got him a contract with his own publisher, Alfred A. Knopf. Van Vechten contributed an essay, “Introducing Langston Hughes,” to the volume. The book laid the foundation for Hughes’s literary career, and several poems remain popular with his admirers.
  • William Faulkner, “The Sound and the Fury” (1929)
    “The Sound and the Fury,” William Faulkner’s fourth novel, was his own favorite, and many critics believe it is his masterpiece. Set in the fictional county of Yoknapatawpha, Miss., as are most of Faulkner’s novels, “The Sound and the Fury” uses the American South as a metaphor for a civilization in decline. Depicting the post-Civil War decline of the once-aristocratic Compson family, the novel is divided into four parts, each told by a different narrator. Much of the novel is told in a stream-of-consciousness style, in which a character’s thoughts are conveyed in a manner roughly equivalent to the way human minds actually work. Faulkner was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1950 and France’s Legion of Honor in 1951.
  • Dashiell Hammett, “Red Harvest” (1929)
    Dashiell Hammett’s first novel introduced a wide audience to the so-called “hard-boiled” detective thriller with its depiction of crime and violence without any hint of sentimentality. The creator of classics such as “The Maltese Falcon” and “The Thin Man,” shocked readers with such dialogue as “We bumped over dead Hank O’Meara’s legs and headed for home.”
  • Irma Rombauer, “Joy of Cooking” (1931)
    Until Irma Rombauer published “Joy of Cooking,” most American cookbooks were little more than a series of paragraphs that incorporated ingredient amounts (if they were provided at all) with some vague advice about how to put them all together to achieve the desired results. Rombauer changed all that by beginning her recipes with ingredient lists and offering precise directions along with her own personal and friendly anecdotes. A modest success initially, the book went on to sell nearly 18 million copies in its various editions.
  • Margaret Mitchell, “Gone With the Wind” (1936)
    The most popular romance novel of all time was the basis for the most popular movie of all time (in today’s dollars). Margaret Mitchell’s book, set in the South during the Civil War, won both the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award, and it remains popular, despite charges that its author had a blind eye regarding the horrors of slavery.
  • Dale Carnegie, “How to Win Friends and Influence People” (1936)
    The progenitor of all self-help books, Dale Carnegie’s volume has sold 15 million copies and been translated into more than 30 languages. “How to Win Friends and Influence People” has also spawned hundreds of other books, many of them imitators, written to advise on everything from improving one’s relationships to beefing up one’s bank account. Carnegie acknowledged that he was inspired by Benjamin Franklin, a young man who proclaimed that “God helps them that helped themselves” as a way to get ahead in life.
  • Zora Neale Hurston, “Their Eyes Were Watching God” (1937)
    Although it was published in 1937, it was not until the 1970s that “Their Eyes Were Watching God” became regarded as a masterwork. It had initially been rejected by African American critics as facile and simplistic, in part because its characters spoke in dialect. Alice Walker’s 1975 Ms. magazine essay, “Looking for Zora,” led to a critical reevaluation of the book, which is now considered to have paved the way for younger black writers such as Alice Walker and Toni Morrison.
  • Federal Writers’ Project, “Idaho: A Guide in Word and Pictures” (1937)
    “Idaho” was the first in the popular American Guide Series of the Federal Writers’ Project, which ended in 1943. The project employed more than 6,000 writers and was one of the many programs of the Works Progress Administration, a Depression-era federal government employment program. These travel guides cover the lower 48 states plus the Alaska Territory, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia. Each volume details a state’s history, geography and culture and includes photographs, maps and drawings.
  • Thornton Wilder, “Our Town: A Play” (1938)
    Winner of the 1938 Pulitzer Prize, “Our Town” is among the most-performed plays of the 20th century. Those who see it relate immediately to its universal themes of the importance of everyday occurrences, relationships among friends and family and an appreciation of the brevity of life.
  • “Alcoholics Anonymous” (1939)
    The famous 12-step program for stopping an addiction has sold more than 30 million copies. Millions of men and women worldwide have turned to the program co-founded by Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith to recover from alcoholism. The “Big Book,” as it is known, spawned similar programs for other forms of addiction.
  • John Steinbeck, “The Grapes of Wrath” (1939)
    Few novels can claim that their message led to actual legislation, but “The Grapes of Wrath” did just that. Its story of the travails of Oklahoma migrants during the Great Depression ignited a movement in Congress to pass laws benefiting farmworkers. When Steinbeck won the Nobel Prize in 1962, the committee specifically cited this novel as one of the main reasons for the award.
  • Ernest Hemingway, “For Whom the Bell Tolls” (1940)
    Ernest Hemingway’s novel about the horrors of the Spanish Civil War (1936–1939) depicts war not as glorious but disillusioning. Hemingway used his experiences as a reporter during the war as the background for his best-selling novel, which was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize and became a literary triumph. Based on his achievement in this and other noted works, he received the Nobel Prize for literature in 1954.
  • Richard Wright, “Native Son” (1940)
    Among the first widely successful novels by an African American, “Native Son” boldly described a racist society that was unfamiliar to most Americans. As literary critic Irving Howe said in his 1963 essay “Black Boys and Native Sons,” “The day ‘Native Son’ appeared, American culture was changed forever. No matter how much qualifying the book might later need, it made impossible a repetition of the old lies.”
  • Betty Smith, “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” (1943)
    “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” is the account of a girl growing up in the tenements of turn-of-the-20th-century Brooklyn. An early socially conscious novel, the book examines poverty, alcoholism, gender roles, loss of innocence and the struggle to live the American Dream in an inner city neighborhood of Irish American immigrants. The book was enormously popular and became a film directed by Elia Kazan.
  • Benjamin A. Botkin, “A Treasury of American Folklore” (1944)
    Benjamin Botkin headed the Library of Congress’s Archive of American Folksong (now the American Folklife Center) between 1943 and 1945 and previously served as national folklore editor of the Federal Writers’ Project (1938–39), a program of President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal during the Depression. Botkin was one of the New Deal folklorists who persuasively argued that folklore was relevant in the present and that it was not something that should be studied merely for its historical value. This book features illustrations by Andrew Wyeth, one of America’s foremost realist painters.
  • Gwendolyn Brooks, “A Street in Bronzeville” (1945)
    “A Street in Bronzeville” was Brooks’s first book of poetry. It details, in stark terms, the oppression of blacks in a Chicago neighborhood. Critics hailed the book, and in 1950 Brooks became the first African American to win the Pulitzer Prize for poetry. She was also appointed as U.S. Poet Laureate by the Librarian of Congress in 1985.
  • Benjamin Spock, “The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care” (1946)
    Dr. Spock’s guidebook turned common wisdom about child-rearing on its head. Spock argued that babies did not have to be on a rigid schedule, that children should be treated with a great deal of affection, and that parents should use their own common sense when making child-rearing decisions. Millions of parents worldwide have followed his advice.
  • Eugene O’Neill, “The Iceman Cometh” (1946)
    Nobel Prize winner Eugene O’Neill’s play about anarchism, socialism and pipe dreams is one of his most-admired but least-performed works, probably because of its more than four-and-a-half-hour running time. Set in 1912 in the seedy Last Chance Saloon in New York City, the play depicts the bar’s drunk and delusional patrons bickering while awaiting the arrival of Hickey, a traveling salesman whose visits are the highlight of their hopeless lives. However, Hickey’s arrival throws them into turmoil when he arrives sober, wanting them to face their delusions.
  • Margaret Wise Brown, “Goodnight Moon” (1947)
    This bedtime story has been a favorite of young people for generations, beloved as much for its rhyming story as for its carefully detailed illustrations by Clement Hurd. Millions have read it (and had it read to them). “Goodnight Moon” has been referred to as the perfect bedtime book.
  • Tennessee Williams, “A Streetcar Named Desire” (1947)
    A landmark work, which won the 1948 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, “A Streetcar Named Desire” thrilled and shocked audiences with its melodramatic look at a clash of cultures. These cultures are embodied in the two main characters – Blanche DuBois, a fading Southern belle whose genteel pretensions thinly mask alcoholism and delusions of grandeur, and Stanley Kowalski, a representative of the industrial, urban working class. Marlon Brando’s portrayal of the brutish and sensual Stanley in both the original stage production and the film adaptation has become an icon of American culture.
  • Alfred C. Kinsey, “Sexual Behavior in the Human Male” (1948)
    Alfred Kinsey created a firestorm when he published this volume on men in 1948 and a companion on women five years later. No one had ever reported on such taboo subjects before and no one had used scientific data in such detail to challenge the prevailing notions of sexual behavior. Kinsey’s openness regarding human sexuality was a harbinger of the 1960s sexual revolution in America.
  • J.D. Salinger, “The Catcher in the Rye” (1951)
    Since his debut in 1951 as the narrator of “The Catcher in the Rye,” 16-year-old Holden Caulfield has been synonymous with adolescent alienation and angst. The influential story concerns three days after Holden has been expelled from prep school. Confused and disillusioned, he wanders New York City searching for truth and rails against the phoniness of the adult world. Holden is the first great American antihero, and his attitudes influenced the Beat generation of the 1950s as well as the hippies of the 1960s. “The Catcher in the Rye” is one of the most translated, taught and reprinted books and has sold some 65 million copies.
  • Ralph Ellison, “Invisible Man” (1952)
    Ralph Ellison’s “Invisible Man” is told by an unnamed narrator who views himself as someone many in society do not see, much less pay attention to. Ellison addresses what it means to be an African-American in a world hostile to the rights of a minority, on the cusp of the emerging civil rights movement that was to change society irrevocably.
  • E.B. White, “Charlotte’s Web” (1952)
    According to Publishers Weekly, “Charlotte’s Web” is the best-selling paperback for children of all time. One reason may be that, although it was written for children, reading it is just as enjoyable for adults. The book is especially notable for the way it treats death as a natural and inevitable part of life in a way that is palatable for young people.
  • Ray Bradbury, “Fahrenheit 451″ (1953)
    “Fahrenheit 451″ is Ray Bradbury’s disturbing vision of a future United States in which books are outlawed and burned. Even though interpretations of the novel have primarily focused on the historical role of book-burning as a means of censorship, Bradbury has said that the novel is about how television reduces knowledge to factoids and destroys interest in reading. The book inspired a 1966 film by Francois Truffaut and a subsequent BBC symphony. Its name comes from the minimum temperature at which paper catches fire by spontaneous combustion.
  • Allen Ginsberg, “Howl” (1956)
    Allen Ginsberg’s poem “Howl” (first published as the title poem of a collection) established him as an important poet and the voice of the Beat Generation of the 1950s. Because of the boldness of the poem’s language and subject matter, it became the subject of an obscenity trial in San Francisco in which it was exonerated after witnesses testified to its redeeming social value. Ginsberg’s work had great influence on later generations of poets and on the youth culture of the 1960s.
  • Ayn Rand, “Atlas Shrugged” (1957)
    Although mainstream critics reacted poorly to “Atlas Shrugged,” it was a popular success. Set in what novelist and philosopher Rand called “the day after tomorrow,” the book depicts a United States caught up in a crisis caused by a corrupt establishment of government regulators and business interests. The book’s negative view of government and its support of unimpeded capitalism as the highest moral objective have influenced libertarians and those who advocate a smaller government.
  • Dr. Seuss, “The Cat in the Hat” (1957)
    Theodore Seuss Geisel was removed as editor of the campus humor magazine while a student at Dartmouth College after too much reveling with fellow students. In spite of this Prohibition-era setback to his writing career, he continued to contribute to the magazine pseudonymously, signing his work “Seuss.” This is the first known use of his pseudonym, which became famous in children’s literature when it evolved into “Dr. Seuss.” “The Cat in the Hat” is considered the most important book of his career. More than 200 million Dr. Seuss books have been sold around the world.
  • Jack Kerouac, “On the Road” (1957)
    The defining novel of the 1950s Beat Generation (which Kerouac named), “On the Road” is a semiautobiographical tale of a bohemian cross-country adventure, narrated by character Sol Paradise. Kerouac’s odyssey has influenced artists such as Bob Dylan, Tom Waits and Hunter S. Thompson and films such as “Easy Rider.” “On the Road” has achieved a mythic status in part because it portrays the restless energy and desire for freedom that makes people take off to see the world.
  • Harper Lee, “To Kill a Mockingbird” (1960)
    This 1960 Pulitzer Prize winner was an immediate critical and financial success for its author, with more than 30 million copies in print to date. Harper Lee created one of the most enduring and heroic characters in all of American literature in Atticus Finch, the small-town lawyer who defended a wrongly accused black man. The book’s importance was recognized by the 1961 Washington Post reviewer: “A hundred pounds of sermons on tolerance, or an equal measure of invective deploring the lack of it, will weigh far less in the scale of enlightenment than a mere 18 ounces of new fiction bearing the title ‘To Kill a Mockingbird.’”
  • Joseph Heller, “Catch-22″ (1961)
    Joseph’s Heller’s “Catch-22,” an irreverent World War II novel and a satiric treatment of military bureaucracy, has had such a penetrating effect that its title has become synonymous with “no-win situation.” Heller’s novel is a black comedy, filled with orders from above that make no sense and a main character, Yossarian, who just wants to stay alive. He pleads insanity but is caught in the famous catch: “Anyone who wants to get out of combat duty isn’t really crazy.” The novel became a cult classic for its biting indictment of war.
  • Robert E. Heinlein, “Stranger in a Strange Land” (1961)
    The first science fiction novel to become a bestseller, “Stranger in a Strange Land” is the story of Valentine Michael Smith, a human raised on Mars by Martians (his parents were on the first expedition to Mars and he was orphaned when the crew perished) who returns to Earth about 20 years later. Smith has psychic powers but complete ignorance of human mores. The book is considered a classic in its genre.
  • Ezra Jack Keats, “The Snowy Day” (1962)
    Ezra Jack Keats’s “The Snowy Day” was the first full-color picture book with an African-American as the main character. The book changed the field of children’s literature forever, and Keats was recognized by winning the 1963 Caldecott Medal (the most prestigious American award for children’s books) for his landmark effort.
  • Maurice Sendak, “Where the Wild Things Are” (1963)
    “It is my involvement with this inescapable fact of childhood – the awful vulnerability of children and their struggle to make themselves King of All Wild Things – that gives my work whatever truth and passion it may have,” Maurice Sendak said in his Caldecott Medal acceptance speech on June 30, 1964. Sendak called Max, the hero of “Where the Wild Things Are,” his “bravest and therefore my dearest creation.” Max, who is sent to his room with nothing to eat, sails to where the wild things are and becomes their king.
  • James Baldwin, “The Fire Next Time” (1963)
    One of the most important books ever published on race relations, Baldwin’s two-essay work comprises a letter written to his nephew on the role of race in United States history and a discussion of how religion and race influence each other. Baldwin’s angry prose is balanced by his overall belief that love and understanding can overcome strife.
  • Betty Friedan, “The Feminine Mystique” (1963)
    By debunking the “feminine mystique” that middle-class women were happy and fulfilled as housewives and mothers, Betty Friedan inspired the second-wave feminist movement of the 1960s and 1970s. Friedan advocates that women need meaningful work and encourages them to avoid the trap of the “feminine mystique” by pursuing education and careers. By 2000 this touchstone of the women’s movement had sold 3 million copies and was translated into several languages.
  • Malcolm X and Alex Haley, “The Autobiography of Malcolm X” (1965)
    When “The Autobiography of Malcolm X” (born Malcolm Little) was published, The New York Times called it a “brilliant, painful, important book,” and it has become a classic American autobiography. Written in collaboration with Alex Haley (author of “Roots”), the book expressed for many African-Americans what the mainstream civil rights movement did not: their anger and frustration with the intractability of racial injustice.
  • Ralph Nader, “Unsafe at Any Speed” (1965)
    Nader’s book was a landmark in the field of auto safety and made him a household name. It detailed how automakers resisted putting safety features, such as seat belts, in their cars and resulted in the federal government’s taking a lead role in the area of auto safety.
  • Rachel Carson, “Silent Spring” (1962)
    A marine biologist and writer, Rachel Carson is considered a founder of the contemporary environmental protection movement. She drew attention to the adverse effects of pesticides, especially that of DDT on bird populations, in her book “Silent Spring,” a 1963 National Book Association Nonfiction Finalist. At a time when technological solutions were the norm, she pointed out that man-made poisons introduced into natural systems can harm not only nature, but also humans. Her book met with great success and because of heightened public awareness, DDT was banned.
  • Truman Capote, “In Cold Blood” (1966)
    A 300-word article in The New York Times about a murder led Truman Capote to travel with his childhood friend Harper Lee to Holcomb, Kan., to research his nonfiction novel, which is considered one of the greatest true-crime books ever written. Capote said the novel was an attempt to establish a serious new literary form, the “nonfiction novel,” a narrative form that employed all the techniques of fictional art but was nevertheless entirely factual. The book was an instant success and was made into a film.
  • James D. Watson, “The Double Helix” (1968)
    James D. Watson’s personal account of the discovery of DNA changed the way Americans regarded the genre of the scientific memoir and set a new standard for first-person accounts. Dealing with personalities, controversies and conflicts, the book also changed the way the public thought about how science and scientists work, showing that scientific enterprise can at times be a messy and cutthroat business.
  • Dee Brown, “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee” (1970)
    Until librarian Dee Brown wrote his history of Native Americans in the West, few Americans knew the details of the unjust treatment of Indians. Brown scoured both well-known and little-known sources for his documentary on the massacres, broken promises and other atrocities suffered by Indians. The book has never gone out of print and has sold more than 4 million copies.
  • Boston Women’s Health Book Collective, “Our Bodies, Ourselves” (1971)
    In the early 1970s a dozen Boston feminists collaborated in this groundbreaking publication that presented accurate information on women’s health and sexuality based on their own experiences. Advocating improved doctor-patient communication and shared decision-making, “Our Bodies, Ourselves” explored ways for women to take charge of their own health issues and to work for political and cultural change that would ameliorate women’s lives.
  • Carl Sagan, “Cosmos” (1980)
    Carl Sagan’s classic, bestselling science book accompanied his avidly followed television series, “Cosmos.” In an accessible way, Sagan covered a broad range of scientific topics and made the history and excitement of science understandable and enjoyable for Americans and then for an international audience. The book offers a glimpse of Sagan’s personal vision of what it means to be human.
  • Toni Morrison, “Beloved” (1987)
    Toni Morrison won the 1988 Pulitzer Prize for fiction for her post-Civil War novel based on the true story of an escaped slave and the tragic consequences when a posse comes to reclaim her. The author won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1993, and in 2006 The New York Times named “Beloved” “the best work of American fiction of the past 25 years.”
  • Randy Shilts, “And the Band Played On” (1987)
    “And the Band Played On” is the story of how the AIDS epidemic spread and how the government’s initial indifference to the disease allowed its spread and gave urgency to devoting government resources to fighting the virus. Shilts’s investigation has been compared to other works that led to increased efforts toward public safety, such as Upton Sinclair’s “The Jungle.”
  • César Chávez, “The Words of César Chávez” (2002)
    César Chávez, founder of the United Farm Workers, was as impassioned as he was undeterred in his quest for better working conditions for farm workers. He was a natural communicator whose speeches and writings led to many improvements in wages and working conditions.

# # #

PR 12-123
06/21/12
ISSN 0731-3527


Jefferson’s birthday anniversary, April 13

April 6, 2012

Library of Congress's South Reading Room. Mural of Thomas Jefferson with his residence, Monticello, in the background, by Ezra Winter. Library of Congress John Adams Building, Washington, D.C.

So, what are you doing to celebrate the birthday of Thomas Jefferson on April 13?

You might visit the Library of Congress, and see Jefferson’s advice to President Obama on a variety of issues, including freedom, labor, kids today, education, and the difficulty of keeping our democratic republic:

Murals by Ezra Winter also decorate the South Reading Room. The theme for these four murals is drawn from Thomas Jefferson’s writings, which are inscribed on the paintings and reflect Jefferson’s thoughts on Freedom, Labor, the Living Generation, Education, and Democratic Government. The characters and costumes depicted are those of Jefferson’s time. A portrait of Jefferson with his residence, Monticello, in the background is in the lunette above the reference desk at the north end of the room; the words in the lower left- had corner explain that THIS ROOM IS DEDICATED TO THOMAS JEFFERSON .

On the left half of the panel on the east wall, Jefferson’s view on Freedom is depicted:

THE GROUND OF LIBERTY IS TO BE GAINED BY INCHES. WE MUST BE CONTENTED TO SECURE WHAT WE CAN GET FROM TIME TO TIME AND ETERNALLY PRESS FORWARD FOR WHAT IS YET TO GET. IT TAKES TIME TO PERSUADE MEN TO DO EVEN WHAT IS FOR THEIR OWN GOOD.

Jefferson to Rev. Charles Clay, January 27, 1790

Jefferson’s views on labor, also on the east wall, are taken from his Notes on Virginia:

THOSE WHO LABOR IN THE EARTH ARE THE CHOSEN PEOPLE OF GOD, IF HE EVER HAD A CHOSEN PEOPLE, WHOSE BREASTS HE HAS MADE THE PECULIAR DEPOSITS FOR SUBSTANTIAL AND GENUINE VIRTUE. IT IS THE FOCUS IN WHICH HE KEEPS ALIVE THAT SACRED FIRE WHICH OTHERWISE MIGHT NOT ESCAPE FROM THE EARTH.

From Notes on Virginia, 1782

On the south wall, the panel over the clock contains a quotation about the Living:

THE EARTH BELONGS ALWAYS TO THE LIVING GENERATION. THEY MAY MANAGE IT THEN AND WHAT PROCEEDS FROM IT AS THEY PLEASE DURING THEIR USUFRUCT. THEY ARE MASTERS TOO OF THEIR OWN PERSONS AND CONSEQUENTLY MAY GOVERN THEM AS THEY PLEASE.

Jefferson to James Madison, September 6, 1789

On the left half of the panel on the west wall, Jefferson’s view of Education is illustrated:

EDUCATE AND INFORM THE MASS OF THE PEOPLE. ENABLE THEM TO SEE THAT IT IS THEIR INTEREST TO PRESERVE PEACE AND ORDER, AND THEY WILL PRESERVE THEM. ENLIGHTEN THE PEOPLE GENERALLY, AND TYRANNY AND OPPRESSION OF THE BODY AND MIND WILL VANISH LIKE EVIL SPIRITS AT THE DAWN OF DAY.

Jefferson to James Madison, December 20, 1787 (first two sentences);
Jefferson to P.S. Dupont de Nemours, April 24, 18l6 (last sentence).

Usufruct,” the Word of the Day for April 13.

Jefferson was born April 2, 1843, under the old Julian calendar (O.S., or Old System) — April 13 on the Gregorian calendar.

How should we celebrate?

More:

 


25 new gems added to Library of Congress National Film Registry

December 28, 2011

Some you’ve loved forever, some you’ve never heard of (but now ought to seek out to view):  The Library of Congress announced 25 new films added to the National Film Registry, the list of great films we all ought to know about.

This year’s list covers 82 years of cinema, from 1912′s “The Cry of the Children” through 1992′s “El Mariachi” to 1994′s “Forrest Gump.”  It’s a very diverse list, from big Hollywood productions through animation, test films and even a series of home movies.

Here’s the list, followed by the press release; the list with descriptions of each film is below the fold.

Films Selected to the 2011 National Film Registry

  1. Allures (1961)
  2. Bambi (1942)
  3. The Big Heat (1953)
  4. A Computer Animated Hand (1972)
  5. Crisis: Behind A Presidential Commitment (1963)
  6. The Cry of the Children (1912)
  7. A Cure for Pokeritis (1912)
  8. El Mariachi (1992)
  9. Faces (1968)
  10. Fake Fruit Factory (1986)
  11. Forrest Gump (1994)
  12. Growing Up Female (1971)
  13. Hester Street (1975)
  14. I, an Actress (1977)
  15. The Iron Horse (1924)
  16. The Kid (1921)
  17. The Lost Weekend (1945)
  18. The Negro Soldier (1944)
  19. Nicholas Brothers Family Home Movies (1930s-40s)
  20. Norma Rae (1979)
  21. Porgy and Bess (1959)
  22. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
  23. Stand and Deliver (1988)
  24. Twentieth Century (1934)
  25. War of the Worlds (1953)

The press release:

December 28, 2011

2011 National Film Registry More Than a Box of Chocolates

“Forrest Gump,” “Bambi,” “Stand and Deliver” Among Registry Picks

“My momma always said, ‘Life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.’” That line was immortalized by Tom Hanks in the award-winning movie “Forest Gump” in 1994. Librarian of Congress James H. Billington today selected that film and 24 others to be preserved as cultural, artistic and historical treasures in the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress.

Spanning the period 1912-1994, the films named to the registry include Hollywood classics, documentaries, animation, home movies, avant-garde shorts and experimental motion pictures. Representing the rich creative and cultural diversity of the American cinematic experience, the selections range from Walt Disney’s timeless classic “Bambi” and Billy Wilder’s “The Lost Weekend,” a landmark film about the devastating effects of alcoholism, to a real-life drama between a U.S. president and a governor over the desegregation of the University of Alabama. The selections also include home movies of the famous Nicholas Brothers dancing team and such avant-garde films as George Kuchar’s hilarious short “I, an Actress.” This year’s selections bring the number of films in the registry to 575.

Under the terms of the National Film Preservation Act, each year the Librarian of Congress names 25 films to the National Film Registry that are “culturally, historically or aesthetically” significant. “These films are selected because of their enduring significance to American culture,” said Billington. “Our film heritage must be protected because these cinematic treasures document our history and culture and reflect our hopes and dreams.”

Annual selections to the registry are finalized by the Librarian after reviewing hundreds of titles nominated by the public (this year 2,228 films were nominated) and conferring with Library film curators and the distinguished members of the National Film Preservation Board (NFPB). The public is urged to make nominations for next year’s registry at NFPB’s website (www. loc.gov/film).

In other news about the registry, “These Amazing Shadows,” a documentary about the National Film Registry, will air nationally on the award-winning PBS series “Independent Lens” on Thursday, Dec. 29, at 10 p.m (check local listings). Written and directed by Paul Mariano and Kurt Norton, this critically acclaimed documentary has also been released on DVD and Blu-ray and will be available through the Library of Congress Shop (www.loc.gov/shop/).

For each title named to the registry, the Library of Congress Packard Campus for Audio Visual Conservation works to ensure that the film is preserved for future generations, either through the Library’s massive motion-picture preservation program or through collaborative ventures with other archives, motion-picture studios and independent filmmakers. The Packard Campus is a state-of-the-art facility where the nation’s library acquires, preserves and provides access to the world’s largest and most comprehensive collection of films, television programs, radio broadcasts and sound recordings (www.loc.gov/avconservation/). 

The Packard Campus is home to more than six million collection items, including nearly three million sound recordings. It provides staff support for the Library of Congress National Film Preservation Board, the National Recording Preservation Board and the National Registries for film and recorded sound.

Founded in 1800, the Library of Congress is the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution. It seeks to spark imagination and creativity and to further human understanding and wisdom by providing access to knowledge through its magnificent collections, programs and exhibitions. Many of the Library’s rich resources can be accessed through its website at www.loc.gov and via interactive exhibitions on a personalized website at myLOC.gov.

Below the fold you’ll find a description of each film.

Read the rest of this entry »


Quote of the moment: Thomas Jefferson’s admonishment to Rick Perry, Scott Walker, and the Tea Party, and their War on Education

February 18, 2011

Thomas Jefferson's view of education, from a mural at the Library of Congress

Thomas Jefferson's view of Education illustrated in this mural by Ezra Winter Thomas Jefferson's view of Education is illustrated in this mural by Ezra Winter in the South Reading Room on the top floor of the Adams Building. Other murals dedicated to Jefferson decorate all of the reading room's walls.

Above all things I hope the education of the common people will be attended to; convinced that on their good sense we may rely with the most security for the preservation of a due degree of liberty.

Thomas Jefferson, letter from Paris to James Madison, December 20,1787, stating Jefferson’s objections to the proposed U.S. Constitution

This quotation comes from a letter more popular among Tea Partiers and other troglodytes for Jefferson’s harsh words against “energetic government,” which he feared might result from the Constitution.  In the letter Jefferson said that he’d go with the will of the people if the document was ratified (it was).  In the end, Jefferson said, just be sure to educate “the common people,” and things would work out to protect liberty.

Wise words much ignored and abused in state capitals and the U.S. Capitol these days.

I’ll wager that among the millions who did not study this letter are Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, and Texas Gov. Rick Perry.  An uneducated populace is easier to cow, easier to control, and easier to enslave.

For a larger view of the mural, click on the thumbnail image.

Jefferson education views, mural at Libary of Congress, Adams Building

Jefferson's views on education, in a mural in the Adams Building, Library of Congress; click for a larger image


Columbus’s most prized possession

September 28, 2010

Columbus feared that King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella would not honor pledges they had made to him as recompense and honor for his great work of discovery on their behalf.  Before his final voyage, he assembled a legal document showing those promises made to him, and his work for Spain.

This illustrates, once again, the human dimension of the great drama of the age of exploration, of Columbus’s stumbling on to the America’s in his efforts to get to China.

The Library of Congress and the History Channel team up again to show off these grand snippets of history:

On January 5, 1502, prior to his fourth and final voyage to America, Columbus gathered several judges and notaries in his home in Seville. The purpose? To have them authorize copies of his archival collection of original documents through which Isabel and Fernando had granted titles, revenues, powers and privileges to Columbus and his descendants. These 36 documents are popularly called “Columbus’ Book of Privileges.” Four copies of his “Book” existed in 1502, three written on vellum and one on paper. The Library’s copy, one of the three on vellum, has a unique paper copy of the Papal Bull Dudum siquidem of September 26, 1493, which extended the Spanish claim for future explorations.

Borrowed with permission from Mr. Darrell’s Wayback Machine.


Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address: “273 words toward a new nation”

September 20, 2010

Librarians have it good, living among books.  Librarians at the Library of Congress have it best, with the amazingly complete collection of books, top-notch scholars, and just plain old curious stuff lying around.

Like copies of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.

Garry Wills argues that Lincoln rethought and recast America’s image in that speech, in less than two minutes — though it took a century before the recasting was complete.

The Library of Congress just has the history, and notes the power of the speech overall.


Boy Scouts with wreath, 1924

June 14, 2010

From the digital collections at the Library of Congress:

Boy Scout wreath, 1924 - Library of Congress Digital Collection, National Photo Company Collection

Boy Scout wreath, 1924 - Library of Congress Digital Collection, National Photo Company Collection (Call Number: LC-F8- 28581 (P&P))

Three Boy Scouts and a wreath with the BSA’s fleur de lis, in 1924.  Who are the Scouts?  What was the occasion?  Questions we have in the centennial year of Boy Scouting.

This photo is in the middle of a collection of photos taken at the funeral of President Woodrow Wilson, which was on February 6, 1924.  Was this the Boy Scouts’ tribute to Wilson?  By the way, Wilson is the only president interred in the District of Columbia (Arlington National Cemetery is across the Potomac River, in Virginia).  Wilson’s sarcophagus in in the main chapel of the National Cathedral.

Woodrow Wilson's tomb in the National Cathedral, Washington, D.C.  - Wikimedia image

Woodrow Wilson's tomb in the National Cathedral, Washington, D.C. - Wikimedia image


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