American artists and illustrators have documented events through the nation’s history, producing a vital visual record of collective experiences. One illustrator, who can still be called upon to look back through time, is Edwin Forbes, who lived in the Long Island village of Flatbush, before it was annexed into Brooklyn, and eventually New York City. He was a noted illustrator of the Civil War and also an inventor of the horse racing starting gate. [Read more…] about Edwin Forbes: Civil War Artist & Starting Gate Inventor
Library of Congress
The American Turf Register and Sporting Magazine, as early as 1829, had pictures of noted horses, engraved by well-known steel-gravers from paintings by Alvan Fisher [1792-1863] and J. Cone [possibly J. Cone Ruitiar]. A few years later the New York Spirit of the Times was issuing engravings from paintings principally by Edward Troye [1808-1874].
It all amounts to a gallery of horse notables: Fashion, Glencoe, Lightning, Shark, Leviathan, Monarch, and down the list. There are interesting side-lights on the costume of the boys holding their equine charges, one with an Eton jacket and a cap much like that worn by the American troops during the Mexican War, another brave in Hessian boots and epaulets. It is, however, principally the quicker lithographic process that pictured His Majesty the Horse. [Read more…] about American Sporting Prints: 19th Century Horses & Horsemen
In recognition of 2020 and the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, Women’s Rights National Historical Park has invited the public to participate in a virtual transcribe-a-thon through the Library of Congress to help build their available sources of research.
From the safety of their own homes, volunteers can lend their hands to transcribing historical documents belonging to leaders of the women’s suffrage movement. [Read more…] about Quarantine Pastimes: Help Transcribe Women’s Rights History
It was long past the eleventh hour of my publication timetable and I still needed to get one last image to illustrate the article “‘No Mortal Eye Can Penetrate’: Louis Ransom’s Commemoration of John Brown” which would be appearing in our Autumn issue. I turned to the Library of Congress’s website, found and saved the file along with the metadata in order to be able to cite it correctly, and sent the last of the material to our designer.
Six short weeks later, the Autumn 2012 issue of The Hudson River Valley Review was out to great acclaim, and just a few even shorter days after that I received my first correction. It was about that image, and it was from Jean Libby, who had been cited in the article as the curator and author of the John Brown Photo Chronology. It was clear that I had gotten something wrong. [Read more…] about Photo Research and Editing: The John Brown Photos
Librarian of Congress James H. Billington has issued a call to action to all Americans. During the Veterans History Project’s 10th Anniversary Commemoration Sept. 29, he launched a new campaign asking America to “collect and preserve the story of at least one veteran” and to “pledge to preserve this important part of American history.” Time is of the essence, he added: “Help us gather in the accounts of 10,000 veterans by Veterans Day.”
Congress created The Veterans History Project in 2000 as a national documentation program of the American Folklife Center (www.loc.gov/folklife/) to record, preserve and make accessible the firsthand remembrances of American wartime veterans from World War I through the current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, so that future generations may hear directly from veterans and better understand the realities of war. More than 68,000 individual stories comprise the collection to date.
The project relies on volunteers to record veterans’ remembrances using guidelines accessible at www.loc.gov/vets/. Volunteer interviewers may request information at email@example.com or the toll-free message line at (888) 371-5848.
Digital technology alone will not ensure the preservation and survival of the nation’s sound history. That is one of the findings in a major study released by the Library of Congress National Recording Preservation Board (NRPB) detailing the state of sound-recording preservation and access. The study was mandated by the U.S. Congress under the “National Recording Preservation Act of 2000” (P.L. 106-174) and is the first comprehensive study on a national level that examines the state of America’s sound-recording preservation ever conducted in the United States.
Titled “The State of Recorded Sound Preservation in the United States: A National Legacy at Risk in the Digital Age,” the study outlines the interlocking issues that now threaten the long-term survival of America’s sound-recording history. It also identifies the public and private policy issues that strongly bear on whether the nation’s most culturally and historically important sound recordings will be preserved for future generations.
Although public institutions, libraries and archives hold an estimated 46 million recordings, the study finds that major areas of America’s recorded sound heritage have already deteriorated or remain inaccessible to the public. Only an estimated 14 percent of pre-1965 commercially released recordings are currently available from rights-holders. Of music released in the United States in the 1930s, only about 10 percent of it can now be readily accessed by the public.
In his introduction to the study, Librarian of Congress James H. Billington noted: “Sound recordings have existed as one of the most salient features of America’s cultural landscape for more than 130 years. As a nation, we have good reason to be proud of our historical record of creativity in the sound-recording arts and sciences. However, our collective energy in creating and consuming sound recordings in all genres has not been matched by an equal level of interest, over the same period of time, in preserving them for posterity.”
Authored by Rob Bamberger and Sam Brylawski under the auspices of NRPB, the study points out the lack of conformity between federal and state laws, which has adversely affected the survival of pre-1972 sound recording. One of the major conclusions in the report is that the advent of digital technologies and distribution platforms has made inseparable the issues surrounding both the preservation of sound recordings and access to them.
The authors also conclude that analog recordings made more than 100 years ago are likelier to survive than digital recordings made today. In addition, the report warns that there must be a coordinated effort by the various stakeholders to address the scope of the problem, the complexity of the technical landscape, the need for preservation education and the copyright conundrum.
Finally, the report notes that newer materials such as born-digital audio are at greater risk of loss than older recordings, such as 78-rpm discs; that there is a lack of a comprehensive program to preserve born-digital audio; and that open-reel preservation tapes made in the 1970s and 1980s are deteriorating faster than older tape recordings. For more findings from the report, review the appendix at www.loc.gov/today/pr/2010/PR10-194SRstudyAppendixwithkeyfindings.pdf and the introduction/executive summary at www.loc.gov/today/pr/2010/CLIRpub148Intro.pdf.
“The State of Recorded Sound Preservation in the United States: A National Legacy at Risk in the Digital Age” is available for purchase and as a free download at www.clir.org/pubs/abstract/pub148abst.html. Information for this study was gathered through interviews, public hearings and written submissions. NRPB previously commissioned five ancillary studies in support of this final report, which will lay the groundwork for the National Recording Preservation Plan, to be developed and published later this year.
The Library of Congress Packard Campus for Audio Visual Conservation has already begun initiatives to solve some of the problems identified during preparation of the study. For example, the Recorded Sound Section of the Packard Campus has obtained a license to stream acoustical recordings controlled by the Sony Music Entertainment for the Library of Congress National Jukebox, which will debut later in 2010.
The Library of Congress Packard Campus for Audio Visual Conservation is a state-of-the-art facility funded as a gift to the nation by the Packard Humanities Institute. The Packard Campus is the site where the nation’s library acquires, preserves and provides access to the world’s largest and most comprehensive collection of motion pictures, 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.
Photo: Vice-President Elect Harry Truman’s family listening to election returns, 1944.
The Library of Congress has added more than 380,000 historic newspaper pages to the Chronicling America website, including newspapers from 3 new states – Louisiana, Montana, and South Carolina – and expanding the site’s time coverage further into the Civil War era. The site now includes almost 2.7 million pages from 348 titles published between 1860 and 1922 in 22 states and the District of Columbia.
Chronicling America is produced by the National Digital Newspaper Program, a partnership between the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Library of Congress.
The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) is soliciting proposals from institutions to participate in the National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP). NDNP is creating a national, digital resource of historically significant newspapers published between 1836 and 1922, from all the states and U.S. territories, published in English, French, Italian or Spanish. This searchable database will be permanently maintained at the Library of Congress (LC) and be freely accessible via the Internet. See the website, Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers – http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/.
The Library of Congress has announced the formation of the National Digital Stewardship Alliance (NDSA), a partnership of institutions and organizations dedicated to preserving and providing access to selected databases, web pages, video, audio and other digital content with enduring value.
The alliance is an outgrowth of the National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program (NDIIPP), which the Library has administered since 2000. In establishing the program, Congress directed the Library to work with other federal agencies and a variety of additional communities to develop a national approach to digital preservation. NDIIPP has achieved substantial success though partnering with more than 170 institutions to provide access to a diverse national collection of digital content. This work demonstrates that a collective effort can achieve far more than individual institutions working alone.
The NDSA will build on this accomplishment by focusing on several goals. It will develop improved preservation standards and practices; work with experts to identify categories of digital information that are most worthy of preservation; and take steps to incorporate content into a national collection. It will provide national leadership for digital-preservation education and training. The new organization will also provide communication and outreach for all aspects of digital preservation.
“It is clear that collective action is needed to preserve valuable digital information that our nation needs to support economic, scientific and cultural innovation,” said Laura Campbell, associate librarian for strategic initiatives. “The Library of Congress is committed to leading a distributed approach to digital stewardship. This is the best way to sustain and extend the Library’s historic mission to make resources available and useful to the Congress and the American people. It is also the best way for all cultural-heritage institutions to sustain and extend their missions in the midst of a revolution in how knowledge and creativity is created and disseminated.”
The NDSA will launch with a core set of founding members drawn from current NDIIPP project partners. Those members will develop a roadmap for immediate action, including a process for expanding membership. For more information, visit www.digitalpreservation.gov/ndsa/.
Nearly 60,000 books have been digitized as part of the first-ever mass book digitization project of the U.S. Library of Congress (LOC), the world’s largest library. Many of the books cover the period of Western settlement of the United States from 1865–1922 and provide historians a new source of information that would be otherwise difficult to locate and obtain. Hard-to-find Civil War regimental histories are also included; the oldest work to be included is from 1707 and covers the trial of two Presbyterian ministers in New York. All of the books are in the collection are in the public domain, according to library officials.
The new additions, along with previously digitized books can be accessed through the Library’s catalog Web site and the Internet Archive.
The Library of Congress has already digitized many of its other collections — more than 7 million photographs, maps, audio and video recordings, newspapers, letters and diaries can be found at the Library’s Digital Collections site.
The Internet Archive is the second-largest book-scanning project after Google Books. A subset of this project is the Google Books Library Project, which has agreements to scan collections of numerous research libraries worldwide.