American Treasures of the Library of Congress: Memory, Exhibit Object Focus

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B. B. French's Diary

Diary entry
Benjamin Brown French (1800-1870)
Diary entry,
December 25, 1851
Manuscript Division
Gift of the French family, 1922 (32.5)

The journals of Benjamin Brown French, New Hampshire politician, Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives, and Commissioner of Public Buildings in Washington, D.C., provide a colorful glimpse into nineteenth-century America from the Jacksonian era to the period of Reconstruction. French's entry for December 25, 1851, recounts the devastating fire that engulfed the Capitol and burned 25,000 volumes in the Congressional Library. But he remarks that "one large room, attached to the main Library, containing all the books on Politics & Religion, was untouched by the fire."

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