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The Georgian Collections in the Library of Congress

image:St. Eustathios from Sakartvelos"St. Eustathios" from Sakartvelos Samotxe,
St. Petersburg, 1882
(Near East Section)
Georgia has been represented in the collections of the Library of Congress since its inception. The library of Thomas Jefferson was purchased by Congress in 1815 after the destruction of the original collection during the War of 1812. Jefferson was keen on the sources of antiquity which were replete with mention of the land of Colchis, the home of the princess Medea and of the famed Golden fleece.


Contemporaneous with the creation and growth of the Library of Congress was the Russian conquest of the Caucasian peoples in the first half of the nineteenth century; this caused a rise in academic interest in the peoples of these lands. Scholarly works about them and of their literary and historical products were produced in a wide array of European languages. Many of these reside in the general collections of the Library of Congress. Materials published in the Georgian and related Kartvelian languages, however, were few until the creation of the Near East Section in 1945, which has custody of them.


Academic publications from the era of the Soviet Republic of Georgia (1921-1991) were routinely gathered as part of the Library’s ongoing and ever increasing efforts to collect and document vital records of this period. Georgian publications in the Library were relatively few in number, however, until 1992 when an area specialist was named and systematic collecting of Georgian language materials began. This fortuitously coincided with the creation of an independent Republic of Georgia and with the burgeoning and blossoming of publications in the languages of all the peoples of Georgia fostered by this new freedom.


This combination of free press and staff to guide the growth of the collections has led to a doubling of the vernacular Georgian collections housed in the Near East Section. Along with academic periodicals and state newspapers, the major publications on the historical religious, political, cultural past and present of Georgia are now routinely acquired. A special attempt to document this watershed era in the history of the Georgian people is also being made by gathering ephemera-pamphlets, Non-Governmental Organization (NGOs) reports, and similar materials. Additionally, at the dawn of the twenty-first century, the Library possesses all commercially available microfilms of Georgian language materials, including historical newspapers which were published in Tbilisi, the administrative capital of the three Transcaucasian republics of the Russian Empire.

The section welcomes and encourages use of all these materials by offering briefings for groups and individuals and outreach programs for those personally or professionally studying Georgica. Strong working relationships are also cultivated with governmental and library institutions in the Republic of Georgia as well as exchanges of materials.


Many of the Library’s reading rooms and custodial collections possess vital records for those studying Georgia. The Geography and Map Division possesses a broad selection of both historical and contemporary maps; the Law Library has collected the newly promulgated laws of the Republic as well as its official gazette; the Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division has added to its already impressive collection of renowned Georgian cinematography; the Microform Reading Room houses the microfiche set on Georgian Architecture; the Rare Book and Special Collections Division as well as the general collections possess a staggering number of the memoirs of travelers through the region from early modern times.

Through purchase, donation, exchange and other avenues of acquisition, the Library’s collections of Georgica continue to grow.

If you would like to inquire about the use of the Georgian collections of the Library of Congress, to be placed on a mailing list for our programs, or to help in the acquisition of Georgian materials. Contact information is given on the previous page.

For a more complete and illustrated narrative on this collection, see the chapter on “Armenia and Georgia” from the Library of Congress Near East Collections: An Illustrated Guide.

"St. Eustathios" from Sakartvelos
Samotxe, St. Petersburg, 1882
(Near East Section)
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  The Library of Congress >> Researchers
  November 15, 2010
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