In January 2005 the James Madison Council marked its 15th year of unprecedented private support of the Library of Congress. Under the leadership of Chairman John Kluge and Vice Chairman Ed Cox, the council remains an indispensable group of loyal friends whose vision and generosity have made possible more than 300 initiatives throughout the Library of Congress. This support is important not only to the Library and to Congress, the institution's primary client, but also to scholars, researchers and lifelong learners everywhere.
"As the chairman of the Madison Council for the past 15 years, I have had the privilege of seeing the unfolding of a wonderful success story—a story of how a group of dedicated and generous individuals from the private sector can join forces with a public institution to make a significant difference for the good of the nation," said Kluge. "As our treasurer Leonard Silverstein has mentioned on numerous occasions, the Madison Council, representing less than 6 percent of the Library's private-sector donor base, has given 58 percent of the private funds raised by the Library since 1990, making the council the most important source of private support the Library has ever had."
The Library of Congress represents a dynamic collaboration between the public and private sectors. Since its creation in 1800 as a library for Congress, congressional appropriations have funded nearly all of the Library's principal activities—conducting research for members of Congress, maintaining and refurbishing its landmark buildings, and processing, storing, preserving and providing public access to its incomparable collections. Beginning in the early years of the 20th century, generous individuals such as Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge, Gertrude Clarke Whittall, Archer Huntington, John D. Rockefeller, James B. Wilbur, Lessing J. Rosenwald and many others made private contributions that greatly enhanced the Library's scope and outreach.
When James H. Billington was sworn in as the 13th Librarian of Congress in 1987, the institution had no development office or centralized approach for raising funds from the private sector. Some divisions contacted prospective donors on their own, with little in the way of collective effort. Believing that such an office was essential to the Library's continuing vitality and expansion, Billington went before the Joint Committee on the Library of Congress and received approval to hire two staff members for development purposes.
Although the resources at his disposal were modest, the Librarian's plans were not. Billington envisioned fulfilling the Library's promise as the nation's library by employing the latest technologies, nationwide outreach programs and enhanced on-site access to the Library's collections in order to inform, educate and inspire Americans throughout the country so that they would be more knowledgeable about the riches of the Library of Congress.
To help him accomplish these goals, Billington established the Library's first private-sector advisory council—major supporters who, like himself, had the ability to be visionaries, champions, innovators and ambassadors on the Library's behalf. Robert P. Gwinn, then CEO of Encyclopaedia Britannica Inc., gave the first major gift to establish this advisory council, which was inaugurated in 1990 as the James Madison Council. Since its founding, the council has been instrumental in furthering the Librarian's program to share the Library's resources throughout the nation, educate the public more broadly and collaborate with other libraries and educational institutions, nationally and internationally. The success of the projects and initiatives that council members have helped bring to fruition in the past 15 years—from publications and exhibitions to acquisitions and staff development—attests to the synergy that results when the knowledge, talents, contacts and assets of the private sector are merged with the resources of a great public institution like the Library of Congress.
"Through a vast array of programs, the Madison Council has fulfilled its mission to increase public access to the Library's collections, foster ties with other libraries and educational institutions across the country and connect the Library internationally to other libraries and learning centers," said Billington.
"When the James Madison Council was founded 15 years ago, few could have anticipated the positive impact this group would have on the nation's oldest federal cultural institution. With financial support from members exceeding $153 million to date, the council has supported hundreds of initiatives that have enriched the Library's collections and made them better known and more accessible both on-site and online. The council has played an important and innovative role in strengthening scholarship in Washington and providing new educational material for the nation and the world. The Library's award-winning Web site, which has received significant support from the Madison Council as well as Congress, has moved us from being the 'library of last resort' to a 'library of first resort' on the Internet."
A selection of the initiatives and programs that the Madison Council has helped to support, from the National Digital Library to acquisitions, exhibitions, publications, staff development and beyond, is detailed below.
National Digital Library
The Madison Council joined the vanguard of the electronic revolution when the Internet was still in its infancy. The Web had barely entered the nation's consciousness when the council helped the Library launch an ambitious project—the National Digital Library (NDL)—intended to provide free Internet access to the most historically important and educationally valuable materials in the collections of the Library and those of its partners. One of the key leaders of this venture was council member Ray Smith, who helped to convene a conference at the Library in 1993 attended by Vice President Al Gore, Sen. J. Robert Kerrey (D-Neb.), Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Rep. Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.). It fell to Markey to describe the extent of congressional support available for the project at that time: "The good news is that almost every member of Congress supports the information superhighway. The bad news is that no one has the vaguest idea of what it is. And in between that gap, there's a tremendous opportunity for us to construct something here for the country."
The Madison Council soon undertook an effort to help fill that gap. In 1994, when a mere 3 million people were online, John Kluge and David Packard (1912-1996) each gave $5 million to fund the Library's digitizing efforts. In 1995 Congress agreed to contribute $15 million to the project if the private sector made a three-to-one match, and the goal for the project became raising $45 million and digitizing 5 million items from the Library's collection by the year 2000. The initial funds went for multiyear contracts with vendors for digitizing text, images, photographs and recordings; an educational outreach program to help introduce primary source materials to teachers across the country; and an electronic archive to store and retrieve digitized materials. In 1995 four others joined in support of the NDL: Charlie Brumback, George M.C. Fisher, John Hendricks and Ray Smith.
By 1996 the Library's Web site, launched in 1994, received 1 million hits a day from users eager to see primary source materials from the Library's collections available to them on the Web. In 1996 Time magazine took note, including it in the "Best Websites of 1996" and calling it "a treasure trove of memorabilia converted into easily downloadable recordings, images and text."
In 1998 John Kluge made a $5 million challenge grant to help top off the funding. Thanks to a $2.5 million gift from AT&T, made possible by Madison Council members C. Michael Armstrong and Leo Hindery, and other corporate gifts, the Library surpassed its $45 million goal of private sector funding. Today the Library of Congress receives more than 3 billion hits annually and has more than 10 million digital items in the American Memory Web site.
Before the establishment of the Madison Council, the Library had few resources to make retrospective acquisitions. With the support of council members, the Library has been able to add rare and long-coveted items to its major collection areas.
In 1993 the Madison Council celebrated the acquisition of the Library's 100 millionth item with a four-year commitment to purchase the John Rubens Smith Collection. This invaluable assemblage documents day-to-day life in Jacksonian America in more than 700 watercolors, drawings and prints. Madison Council member Bud Velde (1917-2002) contributed the Library's 100 million and first item—a 1488 letter from King John II of Portugal to Pope Innocent VIII pledging that any discoveries made by Portugal in Africa, Asia or the New World would be made for the greater glory of the Christian church. This unique manuscript first appeared on the Library's wish list for acquisitions in 1926.
The Madison Council also played a key role in the acquisition of the Leonard Bernstein archives in 1993, by committing funds to digitize the collection. This was the first major collection figuring in the council's acquisition plan to be put on the Library's Web site and one of the first collections of a major musical figure to have significant portions of his papers join the digital age. The enormous Bernstein collection—hundreds of thousands of items—includes most of his creative output: musical sketches and scores; a huge volume of professional records and personal correspondence; photographs and memorabilia.
In 1995 Caroline Ahmanson and Ed Cox established the council's Acquisitions Committee. This committee makes it possible for the Library to make timely purchases to augment its collections on a continuing basis for the first time in its history. The committee designated the collection areas of Americana, performing arts, rare books, cartography and visual arts of particular interest.
In the area of Americana, the council supported the completion of the acquisition of the Marian S. Carson Collection, which Billington has called "the most important acquisition of Americana by the Library of Congress in the 20th century." Among the nearly 10,000 items in this collection is a rare broadside of the Declaration of Independence, the expenditures ledger for George Washington's troops on the eve of their crossing the Delaware, the earliest photographic portrait made in the United States (from 1839) and an eyewitness account of the departure of the first Pony Express rider, from St. Joseph, Mo., in April 1860. Its acquisition was made possible by Madison Council members David Koch, James and Margaret (1922-1999) Elkins, John Kluge, Charles (1915-2001) and Norma Dana, the Madison Council and Carson herself, under a gift-purchase agreement.
Kenneth Walker began collecting architectural drawings in the early 1960s at a time when this important area of art history was underappreciated and undervalued. As a result, he was able to amass one of the finest and most historically comprehensive private collections of architectural drawings in the world, including works dating from the Renaissance to the present day. Highlights of the Walker Collection include important renderings by John Nash, Frank Lloyd Wright, Le Corbusier and Aldo Rossi, along with sketches by Louis Kahn and Stanford White. Through the generous support of Nancy Glanville Jewel, the Library was able to acquire the Walker Collection and greatly enhance the historical and international scope of its own outstanding architectural drawings collection.
Other important acquisitions include six maps from 1778-1781 by Lafayette's cartographer Michael Capitaine du Chesnoy, an exceedingly gifted cartographer whose work has not previously been represented in the Library's map collections (from Gerry and Marguerite Lenfest); "Atlas Général de la Chine, de la Tartarie Chinoise, et du Tibet" by J.B. d'Anville and J.A. Dezauche, 1790 (from Caroline Ahmanson); a rare exchange of letters dating from 1862 among Stonewall Jackson, Gen. James Shields and Gen. Nathaniel P. Banks (from Alyne Massey); and the first American haggadah, dated 1837 (from Lenier Temerlin and the Madison Council).
Another of the Madison Council's important contributions has been its support of the Library's general collections. Edward and Joyce Miller have established two Charitable Remainder Trusts to benefit the general collections.
Vice Chairman Ed Cox initiated the American Legacy Endowment, which has attracted other major gifts from council members Charles Durham and Nancy Glanville Jewell. Cox's enthusiasm for the Library's collections is evident from his recent remark: "The Americana collections are the soul of this great institution, and gifts from members of the Madison Council to these collections are a wonderful way of ensuring the Library's continuing growth and success."
In 2003, with donations from Madison Council members John Hendricks, David Koch and Gerry Lenfest, in addition to a generous gift from Congress, the Library completed the $10 million purchase of the only known copy of the 1507 world map by Martin Waldseemüller. The map, giving this hemisphere the name "America" for the first time, is the keystone of the Library's unparalleled collection of maps and atlases. The map is in pristine condition and resulted from an ambitious project in the early years of the 16th century to update geographic knowledge flowing out of the new discoveries of the late 15th and early 16th centuries. The Library had been trying to acquire it since the early years of the 20th century.
In 2004 a major collection of rare books, manuscripts, historic documents, maps and art of the Americas was donated to the Library by the Jay I. Kislak Foundation. The collection contains some of the earliest records of indigenous peoples in North America and superb objects from the discovery, contact and colonial periods, especially in Florida, the Caribbean and Mesoamerica.
Said Billington at the time of the gift: "Madison Council members Jay and Jean Kislak understand the individual collective significance of these objects, as well as their research and cultural value, and they successfully amassed a unique collection that would be impossible to assemble today. The addition of this large collection of more than 4,000 items greatly enriches the extraordinary holdings of the Library of Congress."
Highlights of the Kislak Collection are on view in the Jefferson Building through Sept. 24; and a permanent gallery to showcase its treasures is being designed.
The Library announced the acquisition by the Library's American Folklife Center of the Alan Lomax Collection in 2004. This acquisition was made possible by the generous gift of longtime Madison Council members Jon and Lillian Lovelace. The Lomax Collection may well be the largest and most important collection of ethnographic material ever assembled by one person.
Alan Lomax was a passionate folklorist and collector who was an uncanny discoverer of folk musical genius. He was able to identify and record many of the most important traditional folk artists who later became American icons: Leadbelly, Muddy Waters, Woody Guthrie, Jelly Roll Morton, Jean Ritchie, Pete Seeger and many others. The collection includes more than 5,000 hours of sound recordings, 400,000 feet of motion picture film, 2,450 videotapes and detailed documentation of masterpieces of blues, bluegrass, gospel, shape note singing, Anglo-American balladry, Spanish flamenco and Italian maritime work songs, as well as countless other traditional genres.
In the 15 years since its inception, the Madison Council has supported a number of outstanding exhibitions that have paid tribute to other great libraries of the world—and to the individuals who created them, the treasures they contain, the cultural and political worlds that shaped them and the worlds that they influenced in turn. The first of these exhibitions was "Rome Reborn: The Vatican Library and Renaissance Culture," in 1993, which was generously funded by John Kluge. Other contributors to the show and catalog were John Hendricks, Gerry Lenfest, Abe and Julienne Krasnoff, Joe Allbritton, Leo Daly and Bob Galvin.
"Creating French Culture: Treasures of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France" followed in 1995, thanks to special contributions from Buffy Cafritz, Gerry Lenfest, Fred Prince, Raja Sidawi and Leonard and Elaine Silverstein.
The Library's first permanent, rotating, exhibition, "American Treasures of the Library of Congress," opened in 1997 in celebration of the completion of the renovation of the Thomas Jefferson Building and was funded by the Xerox Foundation with the assistance of Madison Council member Paul Allaire, who was chairman and CEO of the Xerox Corp. at the time. It opens with a video clip of a 1965 "Tonight Show" with Groucho Marx telling an incredulous yet polite Johnny Carson that he's been invited to donate his collection of correspondence and memorabilia to the Library of Congress. But there are more raves than chuckles heard while moving through the exhibition itself, which displays, on a rotating basis, some of the Library's rarest and most significant items relating to the nation's past.
"Religion and the Founding of the American Republic," funded by Bud and Jane Smith in 1998, underscored the fact that many of this country's original settlers were intensely religious and came to the United States to escape persecution for their religious beliefs. The exhibition explored the nation's early efforts to define the role of religion in public life.
In celebration of the Library's bicentennial, "Thomas Jefferson" opened in 2000 with a view of life at Monticello. The exhibition featured a letter from Jefferson to his daughter, Martha, outlining his thoughts on the proper education of young women; his crop rotation plan for the estate; and an 1845 photograph of Monticello slave Isaac Jefferson at age 72, lending a sense of the personal dimensions of Jefferson's world.
Through a generous gift from Jerral and Gene Jones, with additional contributions from Jim and Margaret Elkins, Buffy Cafritz and Nancy Brinker, the Library began the effort to duplicate Jefferson's personal library, which was originally sold to Congress in 1815 to rebuild the congressional library burned by the British the previous year. Many of Jefferson's original books were burned in a later fire in the Library of Congress housed in the Capitol building in 1851.
Made possible through a generous grant from Madison Council members Bernard and Audre Rapoport, through the Abby and Emily Rapoport Trust Fund, the "From Haven to Home: 350 Years of Jewish Life in America" exhibition opened in September 2004 and enjoyed an immensely popular run, with Library staff docents leading an unprecedented number of guided tours.
John W. Kluge Center and the Kluge Prize
The council's 10th anniversary celebration in 2000 began with the stunning announcement of Chairman John Kluge's $60 million gift to establish the John W. Kluge Center in the Library of Congress and the John W. Kluge Prize in the Human Sciences. At a special event in the Capitol honoring the Madison Council, Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) made the formal announcement of the gift, noting that it was the largest monetary benefaction in the history of the Library. Members of the Joint Committee on the Library turned out in force to honor John Kluge and Madison Council members for their magnanimous support over 10 years.
The Kluge Center offers five endowed chairs for top scholars in broad areas such as American law and governance, technology and society, and modern culture. The Kluge Prize in the Human Sciences—a $1 million award—honors lifetime achievement in areas not recognized by the Nobel Prizes, such as history, anthropology, and literary and artistic criticism. (See p.32 of this issue for the latest winners of the Kluge Prize.)
National Book Festival
Beginning in 2001, the Library's annual National Book Festival has been supported by a variety of sources, including the Madison Council. Last year's festival featured more than 70 award-winning authors and drew an estimated 85,000 book lovers to the National Mall. Madison Council members who have pledged extra measures of support to the book festivals include John and Teresa Amend (founders of WorkPlaceUSA, now The Amend Group), C. Michael Armstrong (former chairman and CEO of AT&T), B.F. Saul (chairman and CEO of Chevy Chase Bank), Marie Smith (president of AARP), Glenn Jones (chairman of Jones International Ltd.) and Doug Daft (former chairman and CEO of The Coca-Cola Co.).
Leadership Development Program
The Library's Leadership Development Program was launched in 1993 with the generous support of John Kluge to increase the number of minority staff members at the Library of Congress who are prepared to assume leadership positions. During the 12-month program, selected participants engage in an intensive training program to learn more about the operations of the Library, gain exposure to the latest electronic technologies and have the opportunity to design programs and initiatives that serve national and international library needs.
"The Leadership Development Program gave me significant and broad exposure," noted program graduate Adrienne Cannon, who worked with a team of curators to develop the Library's exhibition "The African American Odyssey," which was supported by the Madison Council. "I often wonder whether I would have grown to the extent that I have without this program."
Junior Fellows Program
A prerequisite of sharing information is finding out what one has on hand to begin with. That's where the Junior Fellows Program comes in, the brainchild of Madison Council member Mrs. Jefferson Patterson (1905-2002), photographer, reporter and longtime friend of the Library of Congress. Junior Fellows have been competitively selected from outside the Library to research and help organize special collections in the Library since 1991. The first year the Library chose 12 from among 140 applicants, paying them a monthly stipend to spend part of the summer working in numerous divisions. Before too long, Junior Fellows had discovered an unpublished play script by Booth Tarkington in the Manuscript Division and the manuscript of a pulp fiction story by Dashiell Hammett in the Serial Division. By 1995, when the class had grown to 22 out of an applicant field of 432, the program was listed in the Princeton Review's "America's Top 100 Internships." Among the many Library collections that now bear the fingerprints of Junior Fellows are the Leonard Bernstein papers, the correspondence of the NAACP and Robert Altshuler's sound recordings, acquired through the generosity of John Kluge and Ed Cox.
Throughout its existence, the Madison Council has funded numerous publications that introduce readers to the history of the Library and the richness of its collections. Thirteen full-color guides to different special collections have become important starting points for scholars as well as popular souvenirs for visitors. Among other books that the council has helped develop are a detailed guide to inscriptions on the walls of the Library's buildings written by John Y. Cole, director of the Library's Center for the Book; and "The Library of Congress: The Art and Architecture of the Thomas Jefferson Building," a richly illustrated 320-page book exploring the history and sumptuous architecture and decoration of the Library's first building.
Motion Picture Initiatives
In 1995 the Madison Council set out to help the nation celebrate the 100th anniversary of film and to raise awareness of the critical need to preserve many of the country's aging classics with a National Film Registry Tour. Fewer than 20 percent of the feature films from the 1920s have survived, and only 50 percent of films made before 1950. Even comparatively recent films suffer from faded color, soundtrack decay and chemical breakdown.
The tour began by showcasing restored prints from the Library's National Film Registry, which was established in 1988. Theaters in Madison, Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, Denver, Detroit, Lexington, Minneapolis and Omaha held special viewings of important American classics on the registry, such as "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre" and "2001: A Space Odyssey." Madison Council member James Earl Jones was on hand as often as possible to introduce the programs. Soon more and more cities and towns were eager to host the tour, and the Madison Council funded the tour from 1995 to 1998.
Madison Council Interns
Supported with a generous $100,000 gift from the Madison Council, the 10-week Summer Internship Program began June 7, 2004, and was advertised on college campuses and the Internet throughout the United States. The Library received more than 190 applications and selected 39 interns. These students had an opportunity to observe the inner life of the Library while working and learning alongside Library staff. In exchange for their experience, training and tutelage, the interns helped several Library divisions advance important projects. The program is continuing in the summer of 2005.
The Library of Congress is the oldest federal cultural institution in the nation and the largest library in the world. Its overall mission and its peerless collections have been greatly enhanced over the past 15 years with the help and support of its private-sector friends on the James Madison Council.
"The ambitious and far-reaching initiatives that the Library has begun with the help of the Madison Council will need our continued commitment in the years ahead," said John Kluge at a recent Madison Council meeting at the Library. "I am convinced that we will meet these challenges—as well as new ones—with a vitality of spirit that will have a lasting impact on the Library of Congress."
This article was prepared by the staff of the Library's Development Office.