Contact: Guy Lamolinara, Library of Congress (202) 707-9217; Robert Crooke, Reuters (212) 603-3587; Sandi Abadinsky, Porter/Novelli (202) 835-7821

April 30, 1996

Reuters Donates $1 Million to National Digital Library Program To Put Washington and Jefferson Papers On-Line

Gift to Make Presidential Papers Available Electronically for First Time

Exactly 207 years after Washington's inauguration in 1789, Reuters America Inc. and The Reuter Foundation today donated $1 million to the Library's National Digital Library (NDL) Program specifically for the digitization of the papers of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.

Today's gift will make it possible, for the first time, to place unique presidential papers from the Library on-line. The Jefferson and Washington papers will be digitized for inclusion in the National Digital Library's collection of American history materials available at http://www.loc.gov/. Previously, items such as Washington's handwritten inaugural address and Thanksgiving proclamation as well as letters between him and Jefferson could only be viewed in Washington.

"Today's gift from Reuters will make it possible for the Library to share widely two collections of papers of the Founding Fathers," said Librarian of Congress James H. Billington. "Our collections of 23 presidents are among the most important in the Library, and the generosity of Reuters will offer Americans everywhere the chance to view these key documents of their nation's history."

The goal of the NDL program is to make freely available over the Internet 5 million items by the year 2000, in collaboration with other institutions. The Reuters contribution will help the Library meet that goal by providing the funds necessary to digitize the approximately 65,000 items in the Washington Papers and 25,000 in the Jefferson Papers.

This contribution will also enable the Library to expand the educational impact of these materials through a cable connection from Reuters to 1,500 classroom across the country.

Reuters Chief Executive Peter Job said, "Reuters is pleased it is working with the Library of Congress to bring American history to the digital age. Through the application of the latest technology, wider access to historically significant materials has become possible. Scholars, local libraries, classroom students and families in the home -- indeed anyone with access to the Internet -- will now be able to see and use these materials more readily."

The George Washington Papers focus on the first president's careers as surveyor, farmer, military leader and politician. Washington's correspondence, account books and other papers are the preeminent source for study of the military aspects of the American Revolution. His correspondence, diaries, journals and meticulously maintained records are unparalleled records of the creation of the national government.

The Jefferson Papers reflect the more speculative and philosophical mind of the author of the Declaration of Independence, reformer of the Virginia Constitution and founder of the University of Virginia. The third president's web of intellectual communication within the North Atlantic community is clearly seen in his extensive correspondence on subjects as diverse as Native American languages, scientific farming and the best form of government for France and Great Britain. His interest in the early history of Virginia led to the preservation of some of the earliest known records of Jamestown and the Virginia Company of London.

The Library of Congress is the world's largest library, with more than 110 million items. Its collections are in nearly every language and format -- from Chinese woodblock prints to compact disks. Founded in 1800 to serve the reference needs of Congress, the Library has grown into an unparalleled treasure house of knowledge and creativity.

Reuters supplies the global business community and news media with a wide range of products including real-time financial data, transaction systems, access to numerical and textual historical databases, news, graphics, still photos and news video. Reuters maintains an international network of about 1,860 journalists, photographers and cameramen, and some 327,000 clients access Reuters information.

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PR 96-64
4/30/96
ISSN 0731-3527

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