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"Religion," mural in the North Corridor, Library of Congress Jefferson Building, by Charles Sprague Pearce, 1897.

Religion Collections in Libraries and Archives:
A Guide to Resources in Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia

Table of Contents - Preface/Acknowledgements - Abbreviations
Lists of Entries: District of Columbia - Maryland - Virginia

Library of Congress
Performing Arts Reading Room

Address: 101 Independence Avenue SE
James Madison Building, Room LM113
Washington, DC 20540-4713
Telephone Number: (202) 707-5507
Fax Number: (202) 707-0621
Contact Persons: Call the Reading Room for reference assistance
Internet Catalog Address:

Access Policies

Hours of Service:
Monday--Saturday 8:30 a.m.--5:00 p.m.
Weekends/Federal Holidays Closed
Open to the public: Yes
Photocopying:: Yes
Interlibrary loan: Yes

The primary mission of the Library of Congress is to serve Members of Congress and thereafter, the needs of the government, other libraries, and members of the public, universities, and learned societies.

A Library of Congress Registration Card is required to use the reading room. To obtain a registration card, applicants must be 18 years of age or older and present photo identification bearing a verifiable permanent address. The cards are issued without charge in Room G40 of the Jefferson Building. Enter on the Second Street side of the Jefferson Building to locate this room.

Photocopying can be done by researchers with coin or debit card. Photocopying depends on condition, age and size of items. The Library of Congress' Photoduplication Service can provide a wide range of reproductions of the Library's collection, such as single-page photocopies, microforms, or color slides. The ability of the Library to furnish reproductions is subject to copyright and other restrictions. Photoduplication Services is open 9:00 a.m. to 4:45 p.m., Monday through Friday. Further information on products and services can be obtained by contacting Photoduplication Services, Public Services Section, Library of Congress, Washington, DC 20540-4570. Telephone: (202) 707-5640. Fax: (202) 707-1771. TTY: (202) 855-1234.

The Music Division participates in the interlibrary loan program in the following circumstances: 1) LC is the library of last resort (the item cannot be found anywhere else); 2) the item to be loaned is bound; 3) there is a second copy of the item to be loaned on the shelf; 4) the request comes from a library on a standard interlibrary loan request form; and 5) the item is in good physical condition.

Reference Policy:
Written enquiries from researchers wishing to utilize the Music Division's resources should be directed to the address above. Due to limited staff, the Division is not able to undertake extensive research to answer reference questions. Researchers with questions about reading room hours and policies can phone the number given above.
Borrowing Privileges:
Not a lending institution. The Music Division participates in the interlibrary loan program in a limited capacity (see above).
OCLC, RLIN. Books have been cataloged on-line since the mid-1960s and scores and sound recordings since Fall of 1983. These catalog records are available via OCLC, RLIN, and the Internet. The majority of the Division's non-book material is listed only in catalogs on site, or is uncataloged. OCLC and RLIN searching is available only at the Music Reference Desk with the assistance of the Reference Librarian.
Background Note:
The Music Division was established in 1896. The collections now consist of over 20 million items, including books, monographs, serials, manuscripts, printed scores, ephemera, and musical instruments. It is particularly strong in published materials submitted via copyright deposit.

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Description of Collections

Books and monographs:
There are approximately 33,000 titles listed in the computer catalog under the subject headings of "church music," "sacred vocal music," and related terms, with many more pre-1968 titles listed in the card catalog. The collection is strong in texts of, and works about, Christian vocal music (masses, oratorios, cantatas, hymns, etc.). However, researchers should be aware that not all of the Library's hymnals are found in the Music Division; many published hymnals without musical notation (text only) are found outside the Music Division in the BV classification. Among the Division's unique resources are a considerable collection of published editions of early black gospel music. There is a card file of Negro spirituals in pre-1940 collections, listed by title.
Periodicals and newspapers:
Approximately 300 titles of journals on various aspects of religious music are found in the on-line catalog. Additional titles, prior to automated cataloging are listed in the card catalog. There is a card file of articles from music periodicals dating from about 1900-1940, arranged by author and subject.
Archives, manuscripts, correspondence, and oral histories:
The Music Division's extensive special collections are largely uninventoried. Notable among them are the Newland/Zeuner Collection, which contains music in Latin that may represent the only known source of pre-Caeciliaverain 19th-century American Catholic church music, and the Mason Martens Archive of Music and Liturgics. The Mason Martens Archive includes a large collection of sacred choral music in both English and Latin, and a wide variety of books and other material on Roman Catholic and Anglican/Episcopal liturgy, ceremony, and practice. Researchers should consult with reference staff to locate desired materials. Unprocessed collections are not served without prior arrangement with the Head of the Acquisitions and Processing Section.
Paintings, photographs, slides, and prints:
Many of the special collections in the Music Division contain photographs. In addition, there is an iconography card file that serves as an index to drawings, etchings, lithographs, and photographs of paintings of hundreds of composers and musicians that appear in published books dating from the 19th and early 20th centuries.
Other holdings not listed above:
The card catalogs in the Music Division are organized according to the Library of Congress classification schedule for music. The scores are in class M, literature on music is in class ML, and musical instruction and study material is in class MT. The scores catalog is further subdivided into a personal name file and a title file. There is also a classed catalog in call number order that provides subject access to scores. Material cataloged after 1980 is found in the on-line catalog.

A large percentage of the Music Division's scores are uncataloged and will not be found in either the card or on-line catalogs. Much of this material is classed only and may be searched by constructing an appropriate call number. Other material is filed under its copyright registration number. For assistance in locating scores not found in the catalogs, ask a reference librarian.

Subject Headings

Church music; Gospel music; Gregorian chant; Hymns and hymnals; Sacred vocal music; Spirituals


Library of Congress. Library of Congress Music, Theater, Dance: An Illustrated Guide. Washington, DC: The Library, 1993.

Library of Congress. Special Collections in the Library of Congress: A Selective Guide. Comp. by Annette Melville. Washington, DC: The Library, 1980.

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  June 22, 2017
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