The Library of Congress > Wise Guide > December 2011 > Go Ahead, Make Your Day . . . By Reading a Book
Go Ahead, Make Your Day . . . By Reading a Book

America’s most famous tough guy has an important message. In a public service announcement for the Library of Congress, actor and director Clint Eastwood encourages reading, using the novel idea that many well-known movies were first books. Many of his films have been inspired by a great story – “The Outlaw Josey Wales,” “Bridges of Madison County” and “Mystic River” to name a few.

Clint Eastwood. 2011. Library of Congress. Reproduction Information: Not available for reproduction. Informal photo of J. Edgar Hoover. April 5, 1940. Prints and Photographs Division. Reproduction Information: Reproduction No.: LC-DIG-hec-28438 (digital file from original negative); Call No.: LC-H22-D- 8744 [P&P]

Eastwood filmed the PSA after arriving on location at the Library to film his latest movie, “J. Edgar.” Eastwood, two leads, some extras and a crew of about 100 came to the Jefferson Build­ing over an April weekend to film scenes touching upon Hoover’s brief stint as a Library employee. In the film, Hoover, played by Leonardo DeCaprio, escorts Helen Gandy, played by Naomi Watts, through the Great Hall and into the Main Reading Room for an after-hours dem­onstration of the efficiency of a card-cataloging system he says he helped develop. Watt’s character worked as Hoover’s secretary for more than five decades.

Hoover got his start in government in 1913 at the Library, beginning as a messenger and rising in rank to clerk, then cataloger. Kenneth D. Ackerman, author of “Young J. Edgar,” believed the Library’s groundbreaking cataloging system inspired Hoover and served as the basis for the system he created at the Federal Bureau of Investigation to track information about individu­als, groups and movements.

According to Ackerman, Hoover did well at the Library. He doubled his salary in his short time at the institution, and, may have risen to chief librarian had he stayed.

The Library’s collections include several photographs and cartoons of Hoover, along with varied manuscripts.

You can also hear Raymond Batvinis talk about his book “The Origins of FBI Counterintelligence” in which he presents an early history of the law enforcement agency that Hoover founded, which grew from a small unit into America's first organized counterespionage and counterintelligence service.