America's Library is a Web site for kids and families that provides more than 4,000 “historical anecdotes” richly illustrated with materials from the Library of Congress. This interactive site appeals to users of all ages, with its fascinating, sometimes idiosyncratic, details of U.S. history.
The Library is home to significant and unique resources pertaining to American popular entertainment. The American Variety Stage is a multimedia collection selected from various Library holdings that illustrates the vibrant and diverse forms of popular entertainment, especially vaudeville, which thrived from 1870-1920.
Famous jokeman Bob Hope got his start on the vaudeville circuit in the 1920s. His collection is housed at the Library of Congress. You can check out a sampling, including pages from his joke file, at the online exhibition “Bob Hope and American Variety.” The exhibition is also permanently on view in the Library’s Thomas Jefferson Building in Washington, D.C.
The Library’s collection of recordings from the Edison companies includes motion pictures and sound recordings of vaudeville acts and comedy routines and songs. Browsing by subject is the easiest, as many of the sound recordings are further divided into subject matter of humor, like “courtship,” “department stores” and “police.”
A. Joseph Hart Vaudeville Co. direct from Weber & Fields Music Hall, New York City. 1899. Prints and Photographs Division. Reproduction Information: Call No.: POS - TH - VAU .J67, no. 7 (C size) <P&P>[P&P]
B. “How to Enter Vaudeville,” by Frederic LaDelle. Michigan: Excelsior Printing Company. 1913. General Collections, Library of Congress. Reproduction Information: Reproduction information not available.