Great Hall

May 5, 1997–August 18, 2007

The American Treasures Gallery closed in August 2007. The online exhibition will remain a permanent fixture of the Library’s Website.

Of the more than 130 million items in the Library of Congress, which are considered “treasures”? Of course Thomas Jefferson’s handwritten draft of the Declaration of Independence is a treasure, not only because of its association with Jefferson but also because of what it reveals about how one of the founding documents of America was written and rewritten and finally agreed upon by dozens of men in the midst of a political crisis.

But what about Jelly Roll Morton’s early compositions? Or Maya Lin’s original drawing for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial? Or one of the earliest known baseball cards? Or the first motion picture deposited for copyright? The Library holds all these and more.

Thomas Jefferson, whose personal library became the core of the Library of Congress, arranged his books into three types of knowledge, corresponding to Francis Bacon’s three faculties of the mind: Memory (History), Reason (Philosophy), and Imagination (Fine Arts).

Although the Library organizes its immense collections according to a system created at the end of the1800s, the treasures in this exhibition have been placed in the same categories that Jefferson would have used, had he been deciding where to put Alexander Graham Bell’s lab notebook or George Gershwin’s full orchestral score for Porgy and Bess.

The Library of Congress gratefully acknowledges the generous support of
The Document Company
which has made possible the unprecedented American Treasures exhibition and this online presentation.

Exhibition Location

Southwest Gallery and Pavilion