Press Contact: Helen Dalrymple (202) 707-1940

January 19, 1994

Library of Congress Publishes Two New Guides to Music and Manuscripts

The Library of Congress has recently published two sumptuously illustrated guides to major special collections in the Library. Library of Congress Music, Theater, Dance: An Illustrated Guide and Library of Congress Manuscripts: An Illustrated Guide chronicle the highlights of these two collections and how they have grown over the years.

Library of Congress Music, Theater, Dance, was written by the staff of the Music Division. This richly illustrated guide not only gives the reader a colorful overview of the Library's holdings, but also outlines the most important changes occurring during this century in the Music Division: the addition of musical performance and the creation of new music to its mission.

In his introduction, James W. Pruett, chief of the Music Division, notes that: "The Library of Congress is unique among national libraries in that it embraces the complete range of music -- from creating new works to having them performed and placing the original manuscripts in the collections in perpetuity, for the use of succeeding generations."

As the title suggests, research and study of music are not the only subjects on which the Music Division focuses. In this book, staff specialists in theater and dance also guide the reader to relevant materials in those specialties that are located both in the Music Division and elsewhere in the Library's collections. The Library's music collections include manuscripts of Irving Berlin, Leonard Bernstein, Aaron Copland, Jerome Kern, and many others who have helped define American music. The Music Division also has original manuscripts of prominent European composers such as Mozart, Brahms, Beethoven and Schoenberg. These collections are very extensive and include original scores and research in the composer's own hand.

The guide is rounded out with sections on public events and publications, and on the Library's collections of musical instruments, the most well-known of which are the five Stradivari instruments acquired as a gift from Gertrude Clarke Whittall in the mid 1930s. Other musical instruments include Dayton C. Miller's collection of more than 1600 wind instruments, donated to the Music Division in 1941, and a Thai collection of 10 elegantly crafted Siamese-style folk instruments, including finger cymbals, flutes, and violins.

Library of Congress: Manuscripts is of the same format and high quality as Music, Theater, Dance, and provides the reader with a glimpse of the wealth and comprehensiveness of the Library's manuscript collections. The manuscripts found in the Library are remarkable collections of personal documents ranging from George Washington's personal diary to notes taken by Sigmund Freud. This illustrated guide provides an overview of the continually expanding holdings of the Manuscript Division.

The remarkable quality of this publication is exemplified by four full-page, full-color glossy pictures of Thomas Jefferson's original rough draft of the Declaration of Independence -- one of the many unique manuscripts found in the Library's collection, as well as one of the treasures of the institution.

The chief of the Manuscript Division, James H. Hutson, writes in his introduction that the size of the collections was 25,000 items when the division was founded almost 100 years ago. Today the division holds 10,000 collections containing more than 50 million items. The largest and most heavily used of these is the collection that chronicles the activities of the National Association for the Advancement Colored People (NAACP) in the 20th century. Other collections include such rare treasures as James Madison's notes on the Constitutional convention and the paper tape of the first telegraphic message. The manuscript division is also proud to hold the papers of 23 presidents, including Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address.

These two publications are part of a new series of illustrated guides on the Library's special collections. They have been made possible by generous support from the James Madison Council, a national, private-sector advisory group dedicated to helping the Library of Congress share its resources with the nation and the world.

Library of Congress Music, Theater, Dance, an 80-page guide with more than 60 illustrations, mostly in color, is available for $13 (stock number 030-001-00148-2). Library of Congress Manuscripts, a 63-page guide with both color and black and white illustrations, is available for $7 (stock number 030-001-00147- 4). Both can be purchased from the Library Sales Shop in the James Madison Building, 101 Independence Avenue S.E., or directly from the U.S. Government Printing Office, Superintendent of Documents, Mail Stop SSOP, Washington, DC 20402-9328. Credit card orders are taken at (202) 783-3238.

# # #

PR 94-004
ISSN 0731-3527

Back to top