Jan. 20, 2009, witnessed the historic inauguration of Barack Obama, America’s first African American president. The Senator from Illinois, who referenced his presidential predecessor Abraham Lincoln throughout his campaign, took the oath of office on the same Bible used by the 16th president for his swearing-in on March 4, 1861. The Library also made available to members of Congress other rare Bibles for their swearing-in ceremonies in the U.S. Capitol.
To document the historic occasion, the Library’s American Folklife Center launched a project to collect inauguration-related sermons and speeches delivered before and immediately following the event. The Library’s Science, Technology and Business Division compiled a new resource guide on “Presidential Food.” The African and Middle Eastern Division (AMED), in cooperation with the Library’s overseas office in Nairobi and U.S. embassies in Africa, is organizing a display of Obama-related material from Africa, which will be on view in the AMED Reading Room, March 23–July 31, 2009.
The Library also treated a special “inaugural pilgrim” to a private showing of selected documents from the official records of the National Association of Colored People, which are housed in the Library of Congress.