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Our 'Ongoing Voyage'

In 1992, when institutions around the nation were celebrating the 500th anniversary of Columbus' landfall in the New World, the Library mounted the exhibition "1492: An Ongoing Voyage." The point was to look back as well as ahead. The exhibition examined the first sustained contacts between American people and European explorers, conquerors and settlers. Following Columbus' voyages, Africans also arrived in the hemisphere, usually as slaves.

First Daughters: Letters Between U.S. Presidents and Their Daughters Pres. Woodrow Wilson, and Ellen Axson Wilson, posed standing, full length, on steps, with their daughters, Jessie, Eleanor, and Margaret, ca. 1913.

All of these encounters, some brutal and traumatic, others more gradual, irreversibly changed the way in which peoples in the Americas led their lives. According to the exhibition catalog, "The dramatic events following 1492 set the stage for numerous cultural interactions in the Americas that are still in progress -- a complex and ongoing voyage."

America's "cultural interactions" are evidenced by the diversity of the Library's thematic collections in the American Memory Web site. More than two dozen collections relate to the nation's cultural heritage. You can access the 33 presentations by clicking on the "Culture, Folklife" link in the section of the home page called "Browse Collections by Topic." A sample: "Now What a Time: Blues, Gospel, and the Fort Valley Music Festivals, 1938-1943," "The Chinese in California, 1850-1925," "The North American Indian," "Fiddle Tunes of the Old Frontier," and "Hispano Music and Culture of the Northern Rio Grande."


A. "Promontory of Florida," Photoreproduction from Theodor de Bry and Charles de la Ronci_re, La Floride Fran_aise: Sc_nes de la vie Indiennes, peintes en 1564 [facsimile of the 1564 original (Paris, 1928)]. Rare Book and Special Collections Division. Reproduction information: Contact Rare Book and Special Collections Division at

B. Edward S. Curtis, creator. Nez Perce babe (The North American Indian; v.08), ca. 1900. Northwestern University. Library, Evanston, Ill. Reproduction information: Digital ID: See:

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