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Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Researching genealogy at the Library of Congress

The Library of Congress, now over 200 years old, is recognized as the largest library in the United States and has claims to being the largest library in the world. Its collections are described as follows:

In 1992, the Library acquired its 100 millionth item. The collections now include approximately fifteen million books, thirty-nine million manuscripts, thirteen million photographs, four million maps, more than three-and-a-half million pieces of music, and more than half a million motion pictures. The Library's collection of more than 5,600 incunabula (books printed before 1500) is the largest in the Western Hemisphere and its collections of maps, atlases, newspapers, music, motion pictures, photographs, and microforms are probably the largest in the world. In addition, the Library holds newspapers, prints, posters, drawings, talking books, technical reports, videotapes and disks, computer programs, and other audio, visual, and print materials.

The collections are especially strong in American history, politics, and literature; music; geography; law and particularly foreign law; economics; genealogy and U.S. local history; U.S. public documents; publications of learned societies from around the world; the history of science; libraries and librarianship; and bibliography in all subjects. In addition to the personal papers of American presidents from Washington through Coolidge, the Library's manuscript holdings include the papers of eminent figures, mostly American, in government, the arts, and the sciences.

Each day about thirty-one thousand items arrive at the Library; approximately seven thousand of these items will become part of the permanent collections. See Jefferson's Legacy. In 2008, the Library had the following collections:

    • Total of 141,847,810 items in the collections, including:
    • 21,218,408 cataloged books in the Library of Congress classification system.
    • 11,599,606 books in large type and raised characters, incunabula (books printed before 1501), monographs and serials, music, bound newspapers, pamphlets, technical reports, and other printed material.
    • 109,029,796 items in the nonclassified (special) collections. These included:
    • 3,005,028 audio materials, such as discs, tapes, talking books, and other
      recorded formats.
    • 62,778,118 total manuscripts.
    • 5,357,385 maps.
    • 16,086,572 microforms.
    • 5,674,956 pieces of sheet music.
    • 14,388,175 visual materials, including:
    • 1,207,776 moving images.
    • 12,536,764 photographs.
    • 98,288 posters.
    • 545,347 prints and drawings.

So what can the Library of Congress do for your genealogy? Try the Local History & Genealogy Reading Room. The Library has over 50,000 genealogies and 100,000 local histories. Volumes from the Library's general collections may be paged from and used in the LH&G Reading Room. In addition to these works, there are some 6,000 guides and other reference works available in the LH&G Reading Room. Most special catalogs and indexes are arranged by family name.

Digitized materials on U.S. history from the Library of Congress collections. Includes first-person accounts of 19th-century California, the Upper Midwest from 1820 to 1910, the Chesapeake Bay area from 1600 to 1925, and other resources for genealogy research. Online resources are found at American Memory.

1 comment:

  1. Wow! I didn't know that there was a special Local History and Genealogy room. I've always wanted to do some research at the Library of Congress. Perhaps I'll join my husband on one of his business trips to DC and spend a day there in the research room!

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