Press contact: Guy Lamolinara (202) 707-92176

February 15, 2002

Library of Congress Releases Several New Online Collections of American Historical Materials

Papers of Samuel Morse, Woody Guthrie Correspondence, the Haymarket Affair, American Expansion, the Church in the Southern Black Community

The Library of Congress's unparalleled online collections of American historical materials have been enhanced with the following collections, available from American Memory.

"The Samuel F. B. Morse Papers at the Library of Congress" comprises about 6,500 items that document Morse's invention of the electromagnetic telegraph, his participation in the development of telegraph systems in the United States and abroad, his career as a painter, his family life, his travels and his interest in early photography, religion and the nativist movement. Included in the collection are correspondence, letterbooks, diaries, scrapbooks, printed matter, maps, drawings and other miscellaneous materials. The collection includes the original paper tape containing the first telegraph message, "What hath God wrought?," sent on May 24, 1844. The digitization of the Morse Papers is made possible through the generous support of the AT&T Foundation.

"Woody Guthrie and the Archive of American Folk Song: Correspondence, 1940-1950" highlights letters between Woody Guthrie and staff of the Archive of American Folk Song (now the Archive of Folk Culture at the Library's American Folklife Center). The letters were written primarily in the early 1940s, shortly after Guthrie had moved to New York City and met the Archive's assistant in charge, Alan Lomax. In New York, Guthrie pursued broadcasting and recording careers, meeting a cadre of artists and social activists and gaining a reputation as a talented and influential songwriter and performer. His written and, occasionally, illustrated reflections on his past, his art, his life in New York City and the looming Second World War provide unique insight into the artist best known for his role as "Dust Bowl balladeer."

"Chicago Anarchists on Trial: Evidence from the Haymarket Affair, 1886-1887" showcases more than 3,800 images of original manuscripts, broadsides, photographs, prints and artifacts relating to the Haymarket Affair. This violent confrontation between Chicago police and labor protesters in 1886 proved to be a pivotal setback in the struggle for American workers' rights. These materials pertain to the May 4, 1886, meeting and bombing; the trial, conviction and subsequent appeals of those accused of inciting the bombing; and the execution of four of the convicted and the later pardon of the remaining defendants. Of special interest and significance are the two dozen images of three- dimensional artifacts, including contemporary Chicago Police Department paraphernalia, labor banners and an unexploded bomb casing given to juror J.H. Brayton by Chicago Police Capt. Michael Schaack. The cornerstone is the presentation of the transcript of the 3,200 pages of proceedings from the murder trial of State of Illinois v. August Spies, et al.

The digitization and presentation of these materials from the Chicago Historical Society were supported by an award from the Library of Congress/Ameritech National Digital Library Competition. This three-year program, which concluded in 1999, made awards to more than 30 institutions nationwide to digitize selected materials and make them available online.

"Westward by Sea: A Maritime Perspective on American Expansion, 1820-1890" is a selection of items from Mystic Seaport's archival collections and includes logbooks, diaries, letters, business papers and published narratives of voyages and travels. The unique maritime perspective of these materials offers a rich look at the events, culture, beliefs and personal experiences associated with the settlement of California, Alaska, Hawaii, Texas and the Pacific Northwest. A number of photographs, paintings, maps, and nautical charts are also included to illustrate the story of Americans' western seaborne travel. Various themes are touched upon, including whaling, life at sea, shipping, women at sea and native populations.

The digitization of this collection was also made possible by the Library of Congress/Ameritech National Digital Library Competition.

"The Church in the Southern Black Community, 1870-1925" is a compilation of printed texts from the libraries at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. It traces how Southern African Americans experienced and transformed Protestant Christianity into the central institution of community life. Coverage begins with white churches' conversion efforts, especially in the post-Revolutionary period, and depicts the tensions and contradictions between the egalitarian potential of evangelical Christianity and the realities of slavery. It focuses, through slave narratives and observations by other African American authors, on how the black community adapted evangelical Christianity, making it a metaphor for freedom, community and personal survival.

An award from the Library of Congress/Ameritech National Digital Library Competition supported the digitization of 100 titles from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The university supplemented these titles with 35 additional texts illuminating the same theme.

American Memory is a project of the National Digital Library Program of the Library of Congress. Its more than 100 collections -- which range from papers of the U.S. presidents, Civil War photographs and early films of Thomas Edison to papers documenting the women's suffrage and civil rights movements, Jazz Age photographs and the first baseball cards -- include more than 7 million items from the collections of the Library and those of other major repositories.

The latest Web site from the Library is aimed at kids and families. The colorful and interactive "America's Library" ( invites users to "Log On ... Play Around ... Learn Something."

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PR 02-017
ISSN 0731-3527

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