Contact: Craig D'Ooge (202) 707-9189

September 5, 1996

First Hand Accounts of Life in America 1600-1900 To Be Featured in Library of Congress's Books and Beyond Program on September 26

As part of the fall season's Books and Beyond Programs, Noel Rae, editor/compiler of Witnessing America: The Library of Congress Book of Firsthand Accounts of Life in America, 1600- 1900 (Penguin Reference, September 1996, $29.95) will moderate readings from this new book at the Library of Congress at 6 p.m. on Thursday, September 26. Sponsored by the Library's Center for the Book, the readings will be held in the Mumford Room in the James Madison Memorial Building, 101 Independence Avenue S.E. The event is free and open to the public.

Noel Rae is the former editorial director of the Select Reader Book Club. Other readers will include Alan Cheuse, book commentator on National Public Radio's "All Things Considered" and writing instructor at George Mason University, and Grainne Cassidy, winner of the 1988 Helen Hayes award at the Woolly Mammoth theater, where she has been a company member since 1986, and an instructor of voice and speech at Catholic University. Ms. Cassidy most recently appeared in "All's Well That Ends Well" at the Shakespeare Theater at the Folger.

Annotated and handsomely illustrated with photographs and works of art from the collections of the Library of Congress, Witnessing America offers intimate glimpses into the day-to-day lives of individuals of every variety. Librarian of Congress James H. Billington provides a foreword. Witnessintg America features the voices of the obscure (a praire preacher's daughter, a volunteer fireman, a condemned criminal) and the celebrated (Nathaniel Hawthorne, Louisa May Alcott, Walt Whitman, Laura Ingalss Wilder). At times poignant, endearing, earthy and humorous, the resulting chorus is a testament to the human spirit and to the rich diversity of the American "melting pot."

Copies of the book will be on sale at the event.

Witnessing America: The Library of Congress Book of Firsthand Accounts of Life in America, 1600-1900

Compiled and Edited by Noel Rae Foreword by Librarian of Congress James H. Billington Publication Date: September 1996, ISBN: 0-670-88400-5 $29.95, 576 pages, 100 black-and-white illustrations

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PR 96-116
ISSN 0731-3527

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