Contact: Guy Lamolinara (202) 707-9217

September 15, 1999

New On-Line Collections Focus on Two American Presidents

Songs About Lincoln and Film of Theodore Roosevelt -- the First President Chronicled on Film

Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt are the subjects of two on-line collections from the Library of Congress, available from the American Memory Web site at

"'We'll Sing to Abe Our Song!': Sheet Music About Lincoln, Emancipation and the Civil War from the Alfred Whital Stern Collection of Lincolniana" includes more than 200 sheet-music compositions that represent Lincoln and the war as reflected in popular music. The collection spans the years from Lincoln's presidential campaign in 1859 through the centenary of his birth in 1909. This music was compiled by Alfred Whital Stern (1881-1960), who is considered the greatest private collector of materials relating to the life and times of Abraham Lincoln.

Stern presented his collection to the Library in 1953 and it continues to grow through an endowment established by his family. Today, the Alfred Whital Stern Collection contains more than 11,000 books, pamphlets, manuscripts, prints and posters, as well as a variety of ephemera.

The sheet music Stern collected concerning Lincoln's campaigns, beliefs, political platforms and assassination provides a unique view of his popularity while has was at the center of public attention. Some music titles celebrate the man, while others, such as "The Martyr of Liberty," begin to mythologize him.

The second new collection, "Theodore Roosevelt: His Life and Times on Film," documents the life of the first president to be extensively recorded on film. Although William McKinley was the first U.S. president to appear in a motion picture, Theodore Roosevelt was the first to have his career and life chronicled on a large scale by motion picture companies. Roosevelt courted the press and the media like no other president had before. He made such an impression on camera that the journal Moving Picture World referred to him as "more than a picture personality -- he is a PICTURE MAN."

The collection is testament to this, as evidenced by the 104 films on the site that record events in his life from 1898 to his death in 1919. Besides containing scenes of Roosevelt, these films include views of world figures, politicians, monarchs and friends and family members of Roosevelt who influenced his life and the era in which he lived. Four sound recordings made by Roosevelt for the Edison Co. in 1912 during the Progressive campaign are also included on the site.

The majority of the films on the site are from the Theodore Roosevelt Association Collection. Founded in 1919 after his death, the association was organized to perpetuate the legacy of Theodore Roosevelt. As part of its mission, it amassed a collection of motion pictures relating to the life and times of the former president. Much of the footage was taken from newsreels and other actuality films of the time. The association also compiled some of this footage to make silent documentaries on various aspects of Roosevelt's life, such as his trip on the River of Doubt in Brazil and the building of the Roosevelt Dam.

In 1962 the association gave its film collection of 381 titles to the Library of Congress, where it currently resides. For the on-line presentation, a selection of 87 films from the collection were chosen to represent as many different times and phases of Roosevelt's life and career as possible.

These new collections have been added to the more than 60 freely available from American Memory, which is a project of the National Digital Library Program. The program aims to bring more that 6 million items of American history to citizens everywhere as a Gift to the Nation for the Library's Bicentennial on April 24, 2000. Recently added collections document the career of Calvin Coolidge, quiltmaking in America and folk songs from the South.

The Library of Congress, founded April 24, 1800, is the nation's oldest federal cultural institution. It preserves a collection of 115 million items -- more than two-thirds of which are in media other than books. These include the largest map and film and television collections in the world. In addition to its primary mission of serving the research needs of the U.S. Congress, the Library serves all Americans through its popular Web site ( and in its 22 reading rooms on Capitol Hill.

"We will celebrate with pride our first 200 years of Library history," said Dr. Billington. "During that time, the Library has grown into the world's largest repository of knowledge and creativity, which it has preserved for all generations of Americans. "We want to take advantage of this opportunity to energize national awareness of the critical role that all libraries play in keeping the spirit of creativity and free inquiry alive in our society."

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PR 99-135
ISSN 0731-3527

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