By AUDREY FISCHER
To represent the scope of research that was done at the Library of Congress to compile “The Greater Journey,” a display of 24 items from the Library’s multi-format collections was assembled by Manuscript Division curators Barbara Bair and Michelle Krowl. The items were on display in the foyer of the Coolidge Auditorium for viewing by attendees of the historian’s lecture.
Major collections referenced in the Manuscript Division were the papers of statesman Elihu Washburne and painter and inventor Samuel F. B. Morse, and the microfilm edition of the papers of sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens. Items on display included Morse’s U.S. passport (1829) and Washburne’s Dec. 25, 1870, diary entry, “Never had a sadder Christmas dawned in any city…”
The Prints and Photographs Division houses many images created by American in Paris during the 19th century. Among them are prints of Mary Cassatt’s “The Banjo Lesson” (1894). Also on display was a photographic portrait of Washburne (ca. 1860-1875).
Maps of Paris (1831 and 1870) from the Geography and Map Division appear in the book’s introductory pages. On display was educator Emma Willard’s “Journal and Letters from France” (General Collections), opened to an 1839 map of Paris.
McCullough devotes a chapter to “American Sensations” (les sensations américaines). These included showman P. T. Barnum and the diminutive Tom Thumb, a youth who stood two feet high. On display from the Rare Book and Special Collections Division were pamphlets titled “The History of Tom Thumb” and “Sketch of the Life of Charles S. Stratton, the Man in Miniature, known as General Tom Thumb,” and from the Prints and Photographs Division, a published version of a daguerreotype of Barnum and Tom Thumb (ca. 1840s).
Another American sensation was piano prodigy Louis Moreau Gottschalk who, at the age of 15, was the first American to give a solo performance on a Paris stage. Gottschalk’s manuscript score for “La Jota Argonesa” (1852) and sheet music bearing his engraved portrait were culled for the display from the Music Division.
Also on display was “Galignani’s New Paris Guide,” from the General Collections, which was open to show an ad for Galignani’s Messenger. Accessible in the Library’s Newspaper and Current Periodicals Reading Room, Galignani’s Messenger was perhaps one of the historian’s most important resources for studying Americans in Paris.
In McCullough’s source notes he writes, “The advantage of the English language newspaper Galignani’s Messenger as a window on American life in Paris can hardly be overstated. Founded in 1814, it became a daily paper that covered virtually all aspects of political, business, cultural, social and international news and with a degree of objectivity rare for a Paris paper. For following events surrounding les sensations américaines is has been of immense help.”