Contact: Jill Brett (202) 707-2905
Helen Dalrymple (202) 707-1940

March 28, 1995

"Treasures of the Library of Congress" A Permanent Exhibition To Open in Spring 1997

Librarian of Congress James H. Billington announced today that the Library will open "Treasures of the Library of Congress," in the Great Hall of the Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First Street S.E., in the spring of 1997, the centennial year of the building. "Treasures" will be a permanent exhibition of 200 of the Library's rarest and most significant items from the vast American music, literary, historical, photographic, fine arts, and geographic collections. The rotating exhibition will be on display in the Great Hall through the year 2000, the 200th anniversary of the Library of Congress.

The Librarian announced that the preservation and exhibition of the treasures are made possible by a grant of $1.1 million from The Xerox Foundation, the largest single contribution for an exhibition that the Library has ever received.

Dr. Billington thanked Xerox, saying, "This generous grant ensures the physical preservation and public display of such priceless treasures as Jefferson's handwritten draft of the Declaration of Independence, the first and second drafts of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address and hundreds of manuscripts, books, prints, photographs, maps, and music which represent the variety and vitality of American creativity. Works from George Gershwin, Langston Hughes, Walt Whitman, and many others will be preserved for, and seen by, millions of visitors to Washington and millions more electronically. In fact, today marks the inauguration of the digital version of the four recently recovered notebooks of Walt Whitman on the World Wide Web, another milestone in our efforts to create a national digital library."

Dr. Billington said the Xerox grant will provide state-of-the-art display cases to house the most valuable items as well as funds to equip existing display cases with the latest in environmental and security controls. The grant will also be used to fund interpretive technology that will enhance the visitors' experience. Descriptive text and a variety of electronic images will enable the visitor to explore more deeply the history and significance of the items on display.

"Treasures" will also be available on the Internet, joining the Library's eight other major exhibitions now available electronically to millions both here and abroad.

Paul A. Allaire, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of Xerox and President of The Xerox Foundation, said, "Throughout our nation's history, it has been the document -- the Declaration of Independence, the Emancipation Proclamation, the Gettysburg Address -- that has shaped our thoughts and recorded our progress in the course of human events. These documents, both historic and artistic, speak eloquently long after those who brought them to life are gone. When we walk through this magnificent exhibit, the rich words and images created so long ago still have deep meaning and are still speaking to us; we just have to listen."

Xerox is a global company offering document processing products designed to make offices around the world more productive. It has headquarters in Stamford, Connecticut.

Reopening of Thomas Jefferson Building

The "Treasures" exhibition will mark the official reopening of the Jefferson Building, which has been under renovation since 1984. The massive project, restoring and modernizing what has often been called "the most beautiful building in America," is being completed in several phases by the Architect of the Capitol. The Main Reading Room was reopened to the public in 1991; guided tours of the Great Hall were reinstituted in 1993 when the exhibition "Rome Reborn: The Vatican Library and Renaissance Culture" was on display in the Great Hall and are now offered four times daily on weekdays.

In the fall of 1996, a new docent program will enable the Library to enlarge its guided tour program to take visitors on "previews" of the completed spaces. Other events in 1996 in the Jefferson Building will include an event to honor Congress for its support of the restoration and an exhibition entitled "Frank Lloyd Wright: Shaping the American Landscape, 1920-1930."

In the spring of 1997, the public will be invited to a national celebration to mark the building's official reopening and 100th birthday. In addition to the "Treasures" exhibition, The Xerox Foundation is also underwriting these special weekend festivities. Among the events planned for 1997:

  • Performances on Neptune Plaza featuring singers and bands performing music from the Library's vast collections of folk and classical music.
  • Visits to special areas -- never before open to the public -- including the Gershwin Room, which will house the piano on which George and Ira composed songs as well as other memorabilia from their careers.
  • Special guided tours of the architecture, painting and sculpture that make the Jefferson building the most elaborately decorated in America.
  • "Jefferson, Knowledge and Democracy," an exhibition in the splendid Pavilion of Arts and Sciences of the Great Hall, with items from Jefferson's library to illustrate how his ideas influenced a fledgling Republic and the world.

A Selected List of "Treasures"

The "Treasures" exhibition will explore the significance of the American past and will offer visitors a unique chance to experience two of America's richest cultural legacies, the collections of the Library of Congress and the Thomas Jefferson Building.

The items on display will be selected from the Library's unparalleled collections in all formats and will include the rarest and most significant treasures in the Library's collections. Because of preservation considerations, some of the more fragile documents will be displayed on a rotating basis. Among the documents slated for display in 1997 are:

The Founding of the Nation
  • Thomas Jefferson, Declaration of Independence, Rough Draft, 1776
  • James Madison, U.S.Constitution, Printed by Dunlap & Clay Poole, with Madison headnote, 1787
  • George Washington's commission as Commander-in-Chief (with Hancock signature), 1775, and
  • George Washington's First Inaugural Address, 1789
  • Pierre Charles L'Enfant, manuscript plan of Washington, D.C., 1791
  • Aaron Burr, subpoena served on Jefferson, 1807
  • Alexander Hamilton, speech before Federal Convention, 1787
  • Indian treaty between Eastern tribes, 1713
  • Contract of slave sale from Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, 1819
  • Thomas Strong, "Union," earliest known presidential campaign poster, 1848
  • Benjamin Henry Latrobe, rendered elevation for West Front of the Capitol, 1811
  • John Rubens Smith, "Mill on the Brandywine, Delaware," watercolor, circa 1830
  • Robert Fulton, sectional rendering of submarine, or "plunging boat," 1806
  • Francis Scott Key, "The Star-Spangled Banner," manuscript, 1840
  • T. H. Jefferson, "Map of the Oregon Trail," 1849
  • Benjamin Franklin, Folger/Franklin chart of the Gulf Stream, 1768
  • "The Gerrymander: A New Species of Monster," broadside map, 1812
  • Thomas Jefferson's copy of The Federalist, with his own analysis of authorship, 1787-88
  • Bay Psalm Book, first extant printed work in the Colonies, 1640
  • Eliot Indian Bible, first Bible printed in America, 1661-63
  • Book of Mormon, first edition, 1830
American Creativity
  • Alexander Bell, design for telephone (sketch), 1876
  • Wilbur Wright, letter to Octave Chanute in which he says he will continue to experiment with heavier-than-air flight, even at risk to his life, 1900, and telegram to father announcing first successful flight and asking him to inform press, 1903
  • Langston Hughes, drafts of poem "Booker T. Washington," 1941
  • Thomas Jefferson, recipe for making macaroni, complete with sketch of macaroni machine, undated
  • Ernest Hemingway, letter to Archibald MacLeish about Ezra Pound's sanity, 1943
  • Samuel F. B. Morse, first telegraph message, 1844
  • Walt Whitman, printed copy of "O Captain! My Captain!" with his hand-written corrections, 1888
  • James McNeill Whistler, "Study for Self Portrait," circa 1898
  • Alfred Stieglitz, photograph of Georgia O'Keeffe, 1922
  • Walt Kelly, drawings for "The Pogo Stepmother Goose," 1954
  • Charles Eames and Eero Saarinen, drawing of "Bridge House" in Pacific Palisades, 1945
  • Raymond Loewy, design sketch for Avanti automobile, 1961
  • Leonard Bernstein, piano sketches for "West Side Story," 1957
  • Aaron Copland, manuscript of "Appalachian Spring," 1944
  • George Gershwin, manuscript of "Porgy and Bess," 1935
  • Irving Berlin, draft of lyrics for "God Bless America," 1940
  • Bernard Herrmann, manuscript score for "Citizen Kane," 1941
  • Toni Frissell, noted photographer's letter to Jacqueline Bouvier, 1953
  • Charles Mingus, manuscript for "Epitaph," 1962
  • Natalie Burlin, "Negro Folk Songs of the U.S.," manuscript transcriptions and research notes, 1918-1919
  • U. S. Playing Card Company, World War II escape map enclosed in a set of playing cards, 1943
  • Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass, first edition, 1855, and second edition, presented to Thoreau, 1856
  • Thoreau, A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers, first edition, presented to Whitman, 1849
  • Mark Twain, Tom Sawyer, first edition with the subscription sales book, 1876
  • L. Frank Baum, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, first edition, 1900
  • Maya Ying Lin, design for Vietnam Veterans Memorial Competition, 1981
The Civil War Era
  • American Anti-Slavery Almanac for 1843, illustrated poem
  • Henry Bibb, Narrative of the Life, 1849, rare slave narrative with illustrations
  • Nicholas Shepherd, daguerreotypes of Abraham Lincoln and Mary Todd Lincoln, circa 1846, earliest known photographic portrait of Lincoln
  • Winslow Homer, "Arguments of the Chivalry," 1856 lithograph
  • John C. Calhoun, speech to the Senate, 1850, in which he denounces the 1850 Compromise
  • Daniel Webster, notes for speech endorsing the Compromise of 1850, March 7, 1850
  • D. Warren, "Map of the Territory of the United States from the Mississippi to the Pacific Ocean," 1857
  • Baker and Company, "Abraham Lincoln, Republican Candidate for President of the United States," campaign poster, May 1860
  • Holy Bible, 1857, Abraham Lincoln inaugural Bible
  • Thomas Nast, "The Gentleman's Parlour of Willard's Hotel, Washington DC, Inauguration Week," 1861
  • "Hospital Slippers for Soldiers of the Union," 1861, broadside directions cut in the shape of a slipper pattern
  • Alexander Gardner, for the Mathew B. Brady Studio, "Bodies of Confederates in front of Dunker Church, Antietam, Maryland," September 1862
  • Mary Todd Lincoln, letter to Abraham Lincoln, advising that he replace the slow-moving General McClellan, November 2, 1862
  • Preliminary Draft of the Emancipation Proclamation, December 1862, with suggested changes by Chase, Wells, Blair, and Bates
  • Daily Citizen, 1863, Confederate newspaper printed on wallpaper
  • General Longstreet's note of July 3, 1863, to General E. P. Alexander and Alexander's response about Pickett's charge, third day of Gettysburg battle
  • John Batchelder, bird's-eye view map of Gettysburg battlefield, 1863
  • Abraham Lincoln, "Gettysburg Address," 1863, the first and second drafts
  • Ulysses S. Grant, commission as Lt. General, signed by Abraham Lincoln, March 10, 1864
  • Alfred Waud, pencil drawing of "Wounded Escaping from the Burning Woods in the Wilderness, May 6, 1864"
  • Selected maps from the William Tecumseh Sherman Map Collection
  • Abraham Lincoln, letter to Charles Sumner, May 19, 1864, in which he affirms that widows of black officers should receive the same benefits as those of white officers
  • James W. Duke, letter to C. B. Buford, August 31, 1864, captured confederate writes to cousin from Belle Island prison, and provides color sketch of the prison

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PR 95-048
ISSN 0731-3527

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