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February 5, 2008

Miss Columbia, Once a Favored National Icon, Featured in Swann Fellow's Talk on March 5

A century ago, there were two symbols that often represented the United States as national icons: Miss Columbia, who stood for the ideals of the American people, and Uncle Sam, who stood for the government. Uncle Sam is still around, but Miss Columbia is nowhere to be found.

Ellen Berg, Swann Foundation fellow, will present "Where Have You Gone, Miss Columbia? American Identity and Uncle Sam’s Forgotten Partner," at noon on Wednesday, March 5, in Dining Room A on the sixth floor of the James Madison Building, 101 Independence Ave. S.E., Washington, D.C. The event is free and open to the public; no reservations are required.

Berg’s illustrated lecture is based on research conducted at the Library of Congress during her fellowship awarded last year by the Swann Foundation for Caricature and Cartoon. Berg’s presentation is sponsored by the foundation, which is managed by the Library, and the Library’s Prints and Photographs Division.

Berg will examine Miss Columbia’s rise in the 19th century as a national icon of American ideals and her subsequent fading from the public eye. Between 1852 and 1952, Miss Columbia was featured in hundreds of political cartoons. She was the embodiment of "liberty, social justice and equality," according to Berg.

Through an examination of representative cartoons, Berg will explore how the changing portrayals of Miss Columbia reflect parallel changes in ideas about American identity and feminine nationalism. She will draw upon the Library’s holdings, which contain numerous examples of Miss Columbia created for a variety of publications and audiences.

Berg’s presentation is part of the Swann Foundation’s continuing activities to support the study, interpretation, preservation and appreciation of original works of humorous and satiric art by graphic artists from around the world. The foundation’s advisory board is made up of scholars, collectors, cartoonists and Library of Congress staff members.

The Swann Foundation customarily awards one fellowship annually (with a stipend of $15,000) to assist scholarly research and writing projects in the field of caricature and cartoon. Applications for the academic year 2008-2009 are due on Feb. 15, 2008. More information about the fellowship is available through the Swann Foundation’s Web site: www.loc.gov/rr/print/swann/ or by e-mailing swann@loc.gov.

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PR 08-025
02/05/08
ISSN 0731-3527

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