Through 22 reading rooms and on our Web site, we provide access to the world's
largest collection of manuscripts, photographs, films, maps, sound recordings,
drawings, posters and other visual materials.
Visit us in Washington, D.C., or explore this amazing electronic educational
resource online at www.loc.gov. From presidential papers to comic books, the Library keeps,
preserves and makes available a vast record of American culture.
The photographic collections range from the earliest daguerreotype of the U.S.
Capitol, to the Civil War photographs of Mathew Brady, to the work of such 20th
century masters as Alfred Stieglitz, Gordon Parks, Dorothea Lange, Ansel Adams and
When Fred Ott, an assistant to Thomas Edison, sneezed, he probably never
realized he was making history. But his sneeze, recorded on film by the Edison
Manufacturing Co., in 1894 became the earliest surviving film registered for copyright.
Since then, the Library's moving image collections have grown to contain the earliest
days of television and the latest cinematic releases. Many of these films are shown
during regular free screenings in the Library's Mary Pickford Theater.
The entire history of sound technology is reflected in the Library's collections.
The collection began in 1926 with a donation of more than 400 discs from Victor
Records. It now includes the first wax cylinders, vinyl records, tapes and the latest
Some of the nation's greatest treasures are among the more than 50 million
manuscripts in the Library. Before John Hancock and the other founding fathers
signed the Declaration of Independence, there was Thomas Jefferson's rough draft of
that extraordinary document. A masterpiece of oratory, Lincoln's Gettysburg
Address, was delivered in 1863; the Library has two copies in Lincoln's hand among
its holdings. The papers of 23 U.S. presidents, Supreme Court justices, civil rights
and women's suffrage leaders are preserved for the nation at the Library, and many of
these items are online.
More than 4.8 million maps from the 14th century to the present are in the
world's largest collection of cartographic materials. You can see many of these maps
on this Web site, and zoom in with greater clarity than with the naked eye.