Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Research Tip: American Memory at the Library of Congress

Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division

Have you ever checked out the Library of Congress's American Memory project?

If you're working on a historical set in the U.S., this is a must for you! The Library of Congress has digitized and put online thousands of oral histories, historic photographs, maps, sheet music, sound recordings, and more. The above photo is from the Selected Civil War Photographs collection, and depicts a dinner party outside a tent at the Army of the Potomac headquarters in Virginia. You can browse this collection by subject. So if you're interested in firearms, or battle-damaged buildings, or even pictures of folks "eating and drinking," you can narrow down your focus.

One collection called "After the Day of Infamy" has audio recordings of interviews with Americans across the country in the days following Pearl Harbor. Traveling in America has first-person narratives of people--you guessed it!--traveling in America from 1750-1920. There are slave narratives, pictures from the Dust Bowl, "life histories" of ordinary Americans collected by a Federal work project in the 1930s, folk music... I could go on and on.

Plus, if you need help finding what you're looking for, there's an Ask-A-Librarian link so you can connect with a Library of Congress librarian.

I could go on and on. But you should really check it out yourself. Even if you're not working on a historical, it's fun!