The Nation’s Capital
Original Plan of Washington, D.C.
Pierre-Charles L’Enfant’s 1791 plan for the city of Washington is one of the great landmarks in city planning. It was, L’Enfant claimed, “a plan whol[l]y new,” designed from its inception to serve as the framework for the capital city of the new nation beginning in the year 1800. Its scheme of broad radiating avenues connecting significant focal points, its open spaces, and its grid pattern of streets oriented north, south, east, and west is still the plan against which all modern land use proposals for the Nation’s Capital are considered.
L’Enfant (1754–1825) was born in France and educated as an architect and engineer. Caught up in the spirit of the American Revolutionary War, he came to America at the age of twenty-two and served with honor as an officer in the Corps of Engineers of the Continental Army. On September 11, 1789, he wrote to President George Washington in order “to sollicit [sic] the favor of being Employed in the Business” of designing the new city. At this early date, L’Enfant already perceived “that the plan should be drawn on such a scale as to leave room for that aggrandizement & embellishment which the increase of the wealth of the Nation will permit it to pursue at any period how ever remote.”
“An Act for establishing the temporary and permanent seat of the Government of the United States,” was signed into law on July 16, 1790. After giving cursory consideration to other locations, George Washington selected a site for the seat of government with which he was very familiar—the banks of the Potomac River at the confluence of its Eastern Branch, just above his home at Mount Vernon. Selected by Washington to prepare a ground plan for the new city, L’Enfant arrived in Georgetown on March 9, 1791, and submitted his report and plan to the president about August 26, 1791. It is believed that this plan is the one that is preserved in the Library of Congress.
After showing L’Enfant’s manuscript to Congress, the president retained custody of the original drawing until December 1796, when he transferred it to the City Commissioners of Washington, D.C. One hundred and twenty-two years later, on November 11, 1918, the map was presented to the Library of Congress for safekeeping.
In 1991, to commemorate the two hundredth anniversary of the plan, the Library of Congress, in cooperation with the National Geographic Society, the National Park Service, and the United States Geological Survey, published an exact-size, full-color facsimile and a computer-assisted reproduction of the original manuscript plan. These reproductions are the Library’s first facsimiles to be based on photography and electronic enhancement technology. During this process, it was possible to record faint editorial annotations made by Thomas Jefferson, which are now virtually illegible on the original map.
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The U.S. Capitol
George Washington and Thomas Jefferson sought the best talents to design the United States Capitol, the architectural centerpiece of the federal district. For the initial design competition, French-trained Stephen Hallet submitted these two masterful renderings. The first drawing is of Hallet’s masterful rendering for the great “Conference Room,” itself. Never built, its domed form is echoed today in the Rotunda, the symbolic and functional core of our government. The second Hallet drawing shows the interior of the chamber designed for the House of Representatives and the exterior of the great “Conference room,” where the House and the Senate were to meet in joint session to work out their differences and where the President would deliver his addresses on the “State of the Union.”
Thomas Jefferson appointed Benjamin Henry Latrobe “Surveyor of the Public Buildings” of the United States, making him the architect in charge of the completion of the Capitol and the White House, as well as many other projects. A brilliant designer and consummate draftsman, Latrobe is considered the father of the professions of architecture and engineering in this country. Jefferson and Latrobe were responsible for the projected design extending the Capitol’s portico and adding a large staircase, which led visitors directly to the entrance of the newly conceived “Hall of the People” or Rotunda, thus making the entire structure more accessible.
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Stephen Hallet (1755–1825). [Sectional elevation Showing the U.S. Capitol Conference Room.] Ink and watercolor on paper, 1793. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress
Stephen Hallet (1755–1825). [The Chamber for the House of Representatives in the U.S. Capitol.] Ink, graphite, and watercolor on paper, 1793. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress. LC-USZC4-1094
Benjamin Henry Latrobe (1764–1820). [Revised design for the Capitol] perspectives, east and north front. Graphite, ink, and watercolor on paper, 1806. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress. LC-USZC4-1090, LC-USZ62-37197
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The President’s House
Thomas Jefferson appointed Benjamin Henry Latrobe “Surveyor of the Public Buildings” of the United States, making him responsible for the completion of the Capitol and the White House, among other projects. A brilliant designer and consummate draftsman, Latrobe is considered the father of the architecture and engineering professions in this country. In these elevations he proposes the sophisticated transformation of the White House from the simple rectangular block erected by James Hoban to the porticoed building today recognized around the world as the home of the president of the United States.
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Benjamin Henry Latrobe (1764–1820). View of the East Front of the President’s House . . . Graphite, ink, and watercolor on paper, 1817. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress
Benjamin Henry Latrobe (1764–1820). View of the South Front of the President’s House . . . Graphite, ink, and watercolor on paper, 1817. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress
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Early Views of Washington
Several government buildings were among the first edifices in the nation’s capital to be recorded by the relatively new medium of photography. John Plumbe, Jr., the first professional photographer in Washington, D.C., operated a studio in the mid–1840s. His daguerreotype of the south side of the White House was probably taken in the winter of 1846 during President James K. Polk’s administration. Plumbe’s image of the Capitol, with its former copper-sheathed wooden dome, is the earliest surviving photograph of the building. He also recorded the U.S. Patent Office, which now houses the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery and National Museum of American Art.
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John Plumbe, Jr. (1809–1857). [United States Capitol, Washington, D.C., east front elevation.] Half-plate daguerreotypes, ca. 1846. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress. LC-USZC4-3595
John Plumbe, Jr. (1809–1857). [The President’s House (White House), Washington, D.C.] Half-plate daguerreotypes, ca. 1846. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress. LC-USZ62-112293
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Architecture and Design
A Gothic Revival Church
Founder and first president of the American Institute of Architects, Richard Upjohn was a key figure in introducing the Gothic Revival to the United States and in defining the form of American church architecture, including Trinity Church in New York.
The flowering of the Episcopal Church in America in the 1840s and 1850s led to numerous and widespread commissions to Upjohn for church buildings. These churches, and those illustrated in publications like his Rural Architecture (1852), served as patterns for countless buildings throughout the country.
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Richard Upjohn (1802–1878). [Unidentified Gothic Revival Church], interior view. Graphite, ink and watercolor on paper, ca. 1850s. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress. LC-USZC4-4560
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The Genius of Frank Lloyd Wright
One of the great innovators in the history of architecture, Frank Lloyd Wright experimented with new design vocabularies and building systems. Shown here are three examples of his imaginative genius. In the 1920s Wright designed a number of houses in California using precast “textile” concrete blocks reinforced by an internal system of bars. This style is exhibited in the first drawing shown here of the Storer home. Built in Hollywood for Dr. John Storer seventy years ago, the house is now used in films, television, and print media to represent the future. Typically Wrightian is the joining of the structure to its site by a series of terraces that reach out into and reorder the landscape, making it an integral part of the architect’s vision.
The second design is for a richly decorative stone lintel for the front of a house built in Milwaukee. Influenced by the architectural ornament of the Viennese Secession and the abstractions of Cubist sculpture, Wright here adapts images of Native American chieftans in a decorative frieze that rivals the work of his own master, Louis Sullivan.
Through the 1920s he designed a number of innovative houses in California using precast “textile” concrete blocks reinforced by an internal system of metal bars. One of the first of these experiments was this unbuilt project for a house at Eagle Rock, near Pasadena. Typically Wrightian is the joining of the structure to its site by a series of levels and terraces that reach out into the landscape.
Preeminent architect Frank Lloyd Wright made a significant impact on the built environment both in the United States and throughout the world. He created structures that transformed residences, commercial buildings, and public spaces for more than half a century. Often Wright himself designed each of the elements for his projects including the windows. Intended as a neighborhood kindergarten, Wright built a “playhouse” for repeat clients Avery and Queen Ferry Coonley in Riverside, Illinois. In this instance, Wright adapted balloon shapes, the American Flag, and checkerboard patterns to create colorful stained glass windows visible in the drawing.
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Frank Lloyd Wright (1867–1959). Dr. John Storer House, Hollywood, California. Perspective. Graphite and colored pencil on Japanese paper, 1923. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress. LC-USZC4-1867
Frank Lloyd Wright (1867–1959). Frederick C. Bogk House, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Elevation detail. Graphite, watercolor, and ink on paper, 1916–1917. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress
Frank Lloyd Wright (1867–1959) House for Charles P. Lowe, Eagle Rock, California. [Elevation Study.] Graphite and colored pencil on paper, ca.1922. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress. Gift of Donald D. Walker, 1986 (146.4)
Frank Lloyd Wright (1867–1959). Architectural Drawing for theater [“playhouse”] for Mr. and Mrs. Avery Coonley, Riverside, Illinois, 1911. Graphite and colored pencil. Donald Walker Collection. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress. Gift of Donald D. Walker, 1986 (195.6b)
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The Woolworth Building
On April 24th, 1913, President Woodrow Wilson pressed a button in Washington, D. C., that first illuminated the more than 5,000 windows in New York City’s Woolworth Building. A triumph of American building technology and architectural prowess, it reigned as the world’s tallest building until 1930. Known as “the Cathedral of Commerce,” the Woolworth Building was clad in gleaming architectural terra-cotta. Located on one of busiest sites in the city, with a gilded roof ascending to 793 feet, it became an international symbol of New York City and America’s “can do” spirit.
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Portinari Murals at the Library of Congress
Cândido Portinari, Brazil’s foremost painter, completed four frescoes on the walls of the vestibule of the Hispanic Reading Room at the Library of Congress in 1941. Funded by the Rockefeller Foundation as a goodwill gesture, these four murals, Discovery of the Land, Entry into the Forest, Teaching of the Indians, and Mining of Gold, represent the peoples of America and relates central themes in the past 500-year experience of inter-cultural contact in the Americas. The evolution of the composition can be traced by comparing this preparatory drawing for Teaching of the Indians with the full-scale mural on the second floor of this building.
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Christmas Cards sent to Charles and Ray Eames
These Christmas cards are from the Library’s nearly 1,000,000-item collection of photographs, drawings, films, slides and manuscripts from Charles and Ray Eames, perhaps the most innovative designers and entrepreneurs of the twentieth century. The Eameses saved hundreds of cards from friends, family and colleagues—some among the greatest artists and designers of our time. The lives and careers of this husband-and-wife-design team is documented in The Work of Charles and Ray Eames: A Legacy of Invention, a Library of Congress exhibition.
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Christmas Cards sent to Charles and Ray Eames. Design: Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner, ca. 1946. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress. The Work of Charles and Ray Eames for bequest of Ray Eames, 1988
Design: Haku, National, Design Institute, India, 1967. Verso. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress. The Work of Charles and Ray Eames for bequest of Ray Eames, 1988
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Early American Architecture
Frances Benjamin Johnston, pioneering American photographer, took this image of the Johnston Mill as part of a project that occupied most of her adult life. Between 1927 and 1952, Johnston produced a systematic visual record of the earliest extant buildings in the South. From 1933 to 1940, she created 6,800 negatives with the support of the Carnegie Corporation. The mill in Albemarle County and the general store in Stafford County, designed by craftsmen rather than academically trained architects, represent the vernacular tradition in American architecture, which Johnston was one of the first to document extensively.
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Frances Benjamin Johnston (1864–1952). “Mrs. Ellis’s Store,” Stafford County, Virginia. Gelatin silver print. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress. Gift/purchase from the photographer (53A.1)
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St. Louis Bridge
James Buchanan Eads (1820–1887) used cantilever supports and a new alloy steel to create the longest span arches of any bridge up until that time. The massive structure linked east and west over the turbulent river at St. Louis. In 1879, five years after its completion, Walt Whitman wrote: “I have haunted the river every night lately, where I could get a look at the bridge by moonlight. It is indeed a structure of perfection and beauty unsurpassable, and I never tire of it.” The vignettes that surround the panoramic view of the bridge provide details of the progress of its innovative construction and a portrait of Eads.
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The Cotton Exchange
The New York Cotton Exchange, designed by architect George Post and completed in 1885, was one of illustrator Hughson Hawley’s first commissioned renderings. The building appears to be constructed of real stone and brick and the addition of clouds in the sky, adjacent buildings, signage, and even elements of street life serve to provide the viewer with a naturalistic and convincing representation of something that does not yet exist. Hawley set the standard for future illustrators to follow, working for such renowned architects as George Post, Cass Gilbert, Francis Kimball, and the firm of McKim, Mead, and White. The Library’s architectural collections document the development of the perspective rendering in hundreds of examples from the eighteenth through the twentieth centuries.
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This perspective rendering for a Florida vacation house completed in 1953 by Paul Rudolph represents a radical and influential change both in how buildings were conceived and in how they were represented. Its forms, reduced to a bare modernist vocabulary of foundation elements, stilt-like supports, window walls, and partitions between openly visible living spaces, define the architecturally adventurous spirit of post-WWII America. Rudolph’s Walker Residence, one of the first the architect developed on his own, both opens out to its natural setting and embraces natural elements, including the tree around which it has been built. Houses like this one helped launch Rudolph’s career, which included commercial, cultural, civic, and urban structures conceived and built through the 1990s.
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Healy Guest House
Famed architect Paul Rudolph gave credence to the modern movement’s interpretation of space, form and light. He incorporated into his architecture many of the materials and technologies developed for the war effort. This drawing for the Healy Guest House is a wonderful example of Rudolph’s innovativeness. In 1950, he received the American Institute of Architects Award of Merit for his work. Rudolph used piled supports to allow the base to extend over the water above the concrete foundation, giving it the appearance of floating on water. He used a tent-like fabric sprayed with saran vinyl plastic to prevent water seepage. The use of this material resulted in this structure being referred to as the “Cocoon House.”
Paul Marvin Rudolph (1918–1997). Healy Guest House (Cocoon House), Siesta Key, Florida. Aerial perspective, 1950. Ink and acetate shading film on illustration board. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress. Bequest of Paul Rudolph, 1997 (141.12) [Digital ID# ppmsca-05605]
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Grand Central Station
This elevation drawing for one of our nation’s most famous buildings serves to enlighten our knowledge of the process of the building’s design and construction by representing the stage before the creation of the final working drawings. The rendering represents the monumental south front of Grand Central Terminal completed in 1913. The drawing was superbly executed by Barry Birrie, who worked as the principle draftsman for the architectural firm of Warren and Wetmore during the time they worked with the firm of Reed and Stem to design the renowned terminal in the French Beaux-Arts style. Popularly known as Grand Central Station, the building has been recently restored to its original splendor.
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A Working Class Home
This perspective study depicts one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s famous “Usonian Houses” from the mid-1950s. Meant to bring new architectural forms and patterns of living to the working class American family, “Usonian” homes were Wright’s affordable yet stylish alternative to his earlier more ornate Prairie Style homes. “Usonian” (an acronym for United States of North America) is something that is unique, made in the United States, and does not include any architectural elements from other countries.
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Grammar of Ornament
In 1856, Englishman Owen Jones first published his monument to design, the Grammar of Ornament, in installments for subscribers. For his lushly illustrated plates, Jones’s design motifs drew from nineteen different cultures including the ornament of Oceania, ancient Greece and Rome, Byzantium, Renaissance Italy, and Moorish Spain. Throughout the second half of the nineteenth century, the Grammar remained an influential source book for the production of wallpaper, furniture, architectural decoration, and fabric world wide.
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Early American Wallpaper
The distribution rights for this wallpaper design by Joseph Rameé was obtained by the Philadelphia firm of Messrs. Virchaux & Co. Philadelphia had become the center of wallpaper production in the United States by the end of the eighteenth century, although French influence continued to dominate the design of domestic papers. Subjects ranged from commemorative and panoramic scenes to designs drawn from architecture and nature, like the garland adorning these two tromp l’oeil columns.
Joseph Rameé, distributed by Messrs. Virchaux & Co. “Design of double columns, ornamented with grapes and vine leaves—another part ornamented with losanges, placed horizontally forming the intervals.” Color block prints from wood engravings. Copyright deposit, between 1810 and 1820. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress. (146.7)
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Husband-and-wife designers Charles Eames (1907–78) and Ray Eames (1912–88) gave shape to America’s twentieth century. Their lives and work represented the nation’s defining movements: the West Coast’s coming-of-age, the economy’s shift from making goods to producing information, and the global expansion of American culture. Like Ray’s magazine covers, her textile designs translated abstract art into useful, everyday objects. Although “Dot Pattern” was not produced during Ray’s lifetime, it is currently being manufactured by Maharam Textiles.
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Ray Eames (1912–1988). Dot Pattern fabric designs, ca. 1941. Pencil on tracing paper. Image 2. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress. The work of Charles and Ray Eames Collection at the Library of Congress by bequest of Ray Eames, 1988 (141.10a)
Ray Eames (1912–1988). Ray holding “Dot Pattern” fabric design, ca. 1947. Gelatin silver print from original negatives. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress. The work of Charles and Ray Eames Collection at the Library of Congress by bequest of Ray Eames, 1988 (141.11c)
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Cast iron proved a boon to the growing young nation. Small ironworks, which were set up throughout colonial America, rapidly expanded after the American Revolution. Affordable, of high quality, and easily shipped by rail, cast-iron architecture initiated the era of modular construction by offering standardized building parts sold through catalogs like this one.
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A Shaker Community
The first English Shakers arrived in New York in 1774, eventually attracted a large following, and established more than twenty communities, like this one at Canterbury, New Hampshire. Emphasizing the importance of inner, spiritual “vision,” the Shakers—not unlike other dissenting religious sects and communities of their time—tried to create an enclave protected from the chaos and disorder that they believed had come to characterize American life. Foster’s key at the right of the page lists the function of each building.
Peter Foster. Diagram of the South Part of Shaker Village, Canterbury, NH. Manuscript map. Ink and watercolor on paper, 1849. Geography and Map Division, Library of Congress (25.2)
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Gordon Strong Automobile Objective
Issues of mobility and landscape became paramount in Frank Lloyd Wright’s concept for the Automobile Objective. It was his first project to explore circular geometries as a means of fully shaping architectural space. Gordon Strong (1869–1954), a Chicago businessman, captivated by Sugarloaf Mountain, met with Wright in 1924 to discuss schemes for the development, of “a structure on the summit” that would “serve as an objective for short motor trips.” Strong ultimately rejected this design, feeling it inappropriate, and built a more conventional park instead. Wright, however, apparently captivated by the spiral, continued to develop its potential in several later projects, of which the Guggenheim Museum is the most well known.
Frank Lloyd Wright (1867–1959). Perspective for the Gordon Strong Automobile Objective, Sugar Loaf Mountain, Maryland, ca., 1925–1929. Graphite and colored pencil on Japanese paper. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress. Gift, Donald D. Walker, 1986 (141.9)
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Studies for Jefferson Building Murals
In 1893, famed architect Charles McKim asked artist Kenyon Cox to create a mural for a museum in Brunswick, Maine. Cox’s success led McKim to recommend him to the Library of Congress, which was in search of the most accomplished American sculptors and painters of the day to complete the building’s decorative program. Cox received a commission to paint two lunettes in the Southwest Gallery, “The Arts” (on the north end wall) and “The Sciences” (on the south end wall). Cox made several preparatory sketches for his murals in the Thomas Jefferson Building, like those on display here, covering each in a grid with exacting measurements.
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Kenyon Cox (1856–1919). Study for Architecture, ca. 1895. Drapery study for figure of Botany, ca. 1895. Graphite drawings. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress. Exchange with the Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, 1945 (7.11a,b) [Digital ID#s ppmsca-05388, ppmsca-05571]
Kenyon Cox (1856–1919). Study for Architecture, ca. 1895. Drapery study for figure of Botany, ca. 1895. Graphite drawings. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress. Exchange with the Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, 1945 (7.11a,b) [Digital ID#s ppmsca-05388, ppmsca-05571]
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Majestic Library Interior
American illustrator George W. Peters (1866-?) depicts the northwest corridor leading to the Great Hall of the Thomas Jefferson Building in this beautiful watercolor. His passageway vista of vividly patterned vaults, mosaic and marble floors, pilasters and lunettes with paintings of the Muses captures the building’s decorative splendor. An accomplished watercolorist who worked for Harper’s Weekly during America’s golden age of illustration (1870–1930), Peters may have completed this drawing as part of a series published in two 1897 issues of Harper’s that document the breathtaking interior spaces of the newly opened “Congressional Library.”
Kenyon Cox (1856–1919). Study for Architecture, ca. 1895. Drapery study for figure of Botany, ca. 1895. Graphite drawings. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress. Exchange with the Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, 1945 (7.11a,b) [Digital ID#s ppmsca-05388, ppmsca-05571]
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A Muralist’s Study
Muralist painter Kenyon Cox, who worked in the academic style befitting an American renaissance in art, made several preparatory sketches for his murals, covering each in a grid with exacting measurements. In 1893 the architect Charles McKim asked Cox to create a mural entitled Venice for the new Walker Art Museum at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine. His success led McKim to recommend him to the Library of Congress in 1895. He received a commission to paint two lunettes in the Southwest Gallery, The Arts and The Sciences. He exhibited his preparatory drawings at the Architectural League in New York to great acclaim and won work for other public spaces.
Kenyon Cox (1856–1919). “Venice” [drapery study for central figure], ca. 1893. Graphite drawing. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress. Exchange, Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, 1945 (195.7a) [Digital ID# ppmsca-05390]
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Worthy of Washington
In 1833, the Washington National Monument Society embarked on a mission to fulfill a forgotten pledge that Congress had made fifty years earlier to erect a memorial to honor the first U.S. president. This checkered saga was initiated by prominent civic leaders who collected private funds, which enabled the cornerstone to laid in 1848. Deterred by economic crises, political conflict, and party intrigue, construction stopped in the 1850s, leaving for twenty-five years an unfinished 156-foot hulk as a constant reminder of multiple failures. In 1876 Congress finally assumed responsibility for the construction project, which was dedicated in February 1885. Displayed here are an image and broadside, soliticing funds from the citizens of Baltimore, that testify to the monument’s state in 1860.
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Mathew B. Brady (ca. 1823–1896). Washington Monument As It Stood for 25 Years. Copyprint made from original glass plate negative, ca. 1860. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (146A.14) [Digital ID# LC-DIG-cwpbh-03248]
To Every Voter in Baltimore County, A National Monument is Now in the Course of Erection in the City of Washington. [Baltimore]: Bull & Tuttle,  Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Library of Congress (146C.2)
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Boston’s “Big Dig” Project
Nicholas Nixon used a 8" x 10" view camera to capture the layers of Boston’s unique architectural heritage. The photographs were made during Boston’s “Big Dig” project, a large-scale public works initiative to replace an elevated highway with an underground expressway and a fourteen-lane bridge. Nixon’s photographs meld the old and the new, showing aerial views of the city, a mixture of architectural styles, a traffic clogged highway, and the recently completed asymmetrical cable-stayed bridge.
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The Willard Lobby, ca. 1904
This image by Frances Benjamin Johnston documents the lobby of the then newly opened Willard Hotel. Johnston, a pioneering American photojournalist, turned her full attention to garden and architectural photography shortly after this photograph was made. Johnston’s Willard photographs were instrumental in providing essential detail for the restoration of the hotel’s interior, including for replicating the lobby’s original lighting fixtures. Johnston’s entire photographic archive and personal papers are in the collections of the Library of Congress.
Frances Benjamin Johnston (1864–1952). Willard Hotel [Lobby viewed from balcony], ca. 1904. Gelatin silver print. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress. Gift/purchase from the Frances Benjamin Johnston estate, 1953 (243) [Digital ID# ppmsca-11571]
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Documenting the Restoration
Photographer Carol Highsmith was hired by the Willard’s developers to document the process of the hotel’s restoration and addition. Her photographs capture the hotel’s evolution from dilapidated hulk in 1980 to its grand reopening in August 1986. In the process Highsmith recorded the painstaking craftsmanship that brought the Willard back to its former glory. Highsmith was inspired to become a professional architectural photographer after viewing Frances Benjamin Johnston’s work at the Library of Congress. And like Johnston, Highsmith has bequeathed her photographic archive to the Library.
Carol M. Highsmith. Willard Room under demolition with fallen capital and column, ca. 1981. Willard lobby after cleanup, before restoration, 1984. Willard lobby floor being fitted for tile pieces, 1985. Repair of Willard Crystal Room scagliola, 1985. Cibachrome color print. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress. Gift of photographer, 1992 (234ab) [Digital ID#s ppmsca-11563, 11566, 11564, 11565]
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The “New” Willard
The “new” Willard, which opened its new doors in 1901, was the work of Henry Hardenbergh, leading hotel architect of the period. His work included New York’s old Waldorf-Astoria and the Plaza Hotel. Selected by Joseph Willard, Jr., nephew of one of the original owners, Hadenbergh remade the hotel in the Beaux-Arts style. The “new” Willard resumed its place as a social hub of Washington, hosting presidents, national and foreign luminaries, and sumptuous banquets, like the one pictured above for the Architectural League of America in 1907. Hardenbergh’s architectural drawings were adopted and adapted for the renovation and additions made to the Willard in the 1980s.
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George R. Lawrence. Ninth Annual Banquet, Architectural League of America, April 24, 1907. Gelatin silver print. Copyright deposit, 1907. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (240) [Digital ID# ppmsca-11569]
Henry Janeway Hardenbergh (1847–1918). Willard Hotel, “F” Street elevation. Photographic print on mylar, ca. 1901. Gift of Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer Associates, 1991. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (241) [Digital ID# ppmsca-11570]
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The Washington Skyline
This design study by the architectural firm Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer Associates demonstrates the firm’s sensitive adaptation of the Willard’s mansard roof and its details as part of the Willard hotel renovation and addition project begun in the 1980s. Carol Highsmith’s photograph of the mansard roof under construction underscores the position the Willard Hotel, an historical monument itself, holds in Washington’s monumental core.
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Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer Associates, architect. Mansard roof design study with window. Graphite on tracing paper, 1982–1983. Gift of Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer Associates, 1991. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (239) [Digital ID# ppmsca-11568]
Carol M. Highsmith. Willard mansard roof during renovation, 1985. Cibachrome color prints. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress. Gift of the photographer, 1992 (238) [Digital ID# ppmsca-11568, 11567]
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Early American Wallpaper
The distribution rights for this wallpaper design copyrighted by Thomas Hurley was obtained by the Philadelphia firm of Messrs. Virchaux & Co. Philadelphia had become the center of wallpaper production in the United States by the end of the eighteenth century, although French influence continued to dominate the design of domestic papers. Subjects ranged from commemorative and panoramic scenes to designs drawn from architecture and nature, like this design of an arch with trees.
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Building and Rebuilding
Although the city was in ruins, along with its newspaper offices, three San Francisco papers combined their resources to print an issue about the earthquake and fires.
The Call-Chronicle-Examiner of April 19, 1906, an exceptionally rare issue, represents a triumph of the journalistic spirit, as well as an important source for the history of San Francisco.
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The Baltimore Fire
Throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, cities were plagued by devastating fires. These disasters were memorialized in panoramas, stereographs, and souvenir booklets as well as official documents like topographical maps. In 1904 a blaze spread through downtown Baltimore and took thirty hours to extinguish. More than 1500 buildings in eighty-six city blocks were destroyed; $150 million in damages was incurred, but no loss of life.
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Frederick W. Mueller, photographer. Cycloramic View of the Burned Area of Baltimore’s Big Fire. Gelatin silver print, February 1904. Copyright deposit. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (142.1)
Jack Hemmett. The Baltimore Fire Through a Camera. New York: Illustrated Press Syndicate, 1904. Copyright deposit, 1904. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (143.3)
E. Chickering & Co. Panoramic Photograph of the Baltimore Fire, February 27, 1904. Gelatin silver print. Copyright deposit. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (142.6)
Map Showing Improvements in the District Destroyed by Fire. February 7-8, 1904. Printed map. Copyright deposit, 1904. Geography and Map Division, Library of Congress (144.2)
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Picturing the World
Originating in the mid-nineteenth century, stereographs were at the height of their popularity at the turn of the twentieth century. Large publishing companies sent photographers around the world to document tourist attractions, famous personalities, and news events, such as the San Francisco earthquake of 1906. Before the invention of radio and television, middle- and upper-class families collected and viewed stereographs as entertainment using a stereoscope that brought the images together for a 3-D effect. The Library’s collection of more than 30,000 stereographs produced by firms including Whiting View Company, Underwood and Underwood, and the Keystone View Company spans the 1850s through World War I.
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Underwood & Underwood. Searching for Family Relics in Ruins of the Dear Old Home, San Franscisco. Washington, D.C.: 1901. Stereograph Copyright deposit, 1901. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (144.4a,b, 144.5, 144.7)
Ruins from Nob Hill (no. 56), Mechanic’s Fountain Corner of Bush & Market (63), Giving Clothing, Fort Point (59), Pillsbury Picture Company. Silver gelatin stereograph prints. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (144.9a, 144.9b, 114.9c)
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Eyewitness to Disaster
Written about a month after the earthquake and fire, this letter by Nellie Keohane provides a rare first-hand view of the devastation suffered by San Francisco and its inhabitants. This eight-page unpunctuated letter describes the psychological pain city dwellers felt because of the physical destruction of their built environment. We do not know who Keohane was, nor her relationship to the addressee, Mrs. Hollerith, wife of Herman Hollerith, inventor of the punch calculator.
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World’s Columbian Exposition
No event had a greater impact on the form and appearance of the American city than this World’s Columbian Exposition held in Chicago in 1893. Throughout the country train stations, banks, and city halls all came to resemble the elegant buildings of the fair. The monumental classicism of the artificial city created under the guidance of the Daniel Burnham was true to his famous dictum: “Make no little plans.” The bird’s-eye view was a popular promotional genre of the era. Generally commissioned by city fathers to promote commerce and settlement, these maps are now regularly consulted by genealogists and historians.
Rand McNally and Company. Bird’s Eye View of the World’s Columbian Exposition. Chicago: 1893. Color lithograph map. Geography and Map Division, Library of Congress (213A.4) [Digital ID# 4104c pm001522]
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San Francisco Earthquake of 1906
The San Francisco earthquake on April 18, 1906, was followed by the largest fire in the nation’s history, as gas lines ruptured, power lines fell, and chimneys collapsed. The earthquake and fire destroyed four square miles of the city and left hundreds dead. This view taken from the St. Francis Hotel records the massive devastation. The photographic panorama was ideally suited to capture the effects of the fire and the cataclysmic scale of the earthquake.
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Pillsbury Picture Company. The Burning of San Francisco, April 18, 06, View from St. Francis Hotel. Gelatin silver print, 1906. Copyright deposit, 1906. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress. (142.4) LC-USZ62-130410
Lester C. Guernsey. Ruins of San Francisco after the Earthquake and Fire, April 18–21, 1906, View from Stanford Mansion Site. Copyright deposit, 1906. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress. (142.7) [Digital ID# ppmsca-05595]
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Music, Theatre, Dance
William H. Johnson arrived in Harlem in1918 from Florence, South Carolina, at the onset of the Harlem Renaissance. Considered a major American artist, he attended the National Academy of Arts and studies under Charles Hawthorne. After graduation Johnson left New York to pursue his painting career in Europe. Known primarily for his narrative, expressive style, and intense colors, Johnson’s best-known work depicts the lifestyles of African Americans in urban and rural areas in the first half of the twentieth century.
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Martha Graham’s Lamentation
Acquired by the Music Division in 2001 by purchase from a friend of the photographer, these photographs of modern dance pioneer Martha Graham were created at the same time the photographer’s husband, Simon Moselsio, was shooting a documentary film on Graham’s piece “Lamentation.” Both images of the dancer were shot in Bennington, Vermont, at Bennington College during Graham’s summer residency there.
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Hans Christian Andersen
Danny Kaye (1913–1987), comedian, actor, singer and dancer, starred in seventeen movies including the 1952 Hans Christian Andersen. The movie is about the Danish author, whose fairy tales have been translated into more than 80 languages and have inspired plays, ballets, films, and works of sculpture and painting. Composer and lyricist Frank Loesser, wrote songs for more than sixty films including Hans as well as five Broadway musicals including Guys and Dolls in 1950. Shown are a leather bound personalized script and sheet music from the movie.
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Stars and Stripes Forever
“March music is for the feet, not for the head,” John Philip Sousa once stated. “The Stars and Stripes Forever,” composed in 1896, is indeed music for the feet, but it has also become a musical calling card for our nation. Sousa’s genius lay in his skill as a composer of great melodies and his ability to fashion them into a cohesive and “organic” whole. “The Stars and Stripes Forever” gets people up on their feet, marching forward together. Band music was so popular in America that esteemed classical musicians developed professional touring concert bands, and Sousa’s band was at the forefront.
On the composition of marches Sousa was unusually silent, but toward the end of his life he stated his philosophy of setting pen to paper in march time: “A march speaks to a fundamental rhythm in the human organization and is answered. A march stimulates every centre of vitality, wakens the imagination . . . . But a march must be good. It must be as free from padding as a marble statue. Every line must be carved with unerring skill. Once padded it ceases to be a march. There is no form of musical composition wherein the harmonic structure must be more clear-cut. The whole process is an exacting one. There must be a melody which appeals to the musical and the unmusical alike. There must be no confusion in counterpoint.”
Hurrah for the flag of the free!
May it wave as our standard forever,
The gem of the land and the sea,
The banner of the right.
Let despots remember the day
When our fathers with mighty endeavor
Proclaimed as they marched to the fray
That by their might and by their right
it waves forever.
—John Philip Sousa
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Though unison singing accompanied by one or more drums or rattles is the more familiar musical mode, flutes played special roles in Native American music—enhancing ritual and serving as outlets for individual expression.
Flutes ranged from simple whistles made of hollowed-out small animal bone, to large and colorfully decorated instruments made of carved wood and other elements lashed together. The latter were most common, and as instruments devoted to courting, religious, and healing uses, no two flutes were alike. Their sizes and forms depended on available materials and the talents of each individual flutist-craftsman. Even the placement of finger holes on the courting flutes was a personal choice. The resulting scale became the player’s personal musical expression, and, as the flutes were used as solo instruments, there was no need for more consistent scales.
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Native American flutes. Red Fox, Quapaw. Miami, Oklahoma, 1900–1925. John Spear, maker. Nebraska Winnebago, 1922. Henry Johnson, maker. Ute, 1921. Music Division, Library of Congress
Thurlow Lieurance, photographer (1878–1963). [Anthony Lujan, (Deer of the Yellow Willows)]. Taos Pueblo, September 1913. Photograph, hand-applied emulsion (platinum or palladium) on artisit’s paper. No. 136. Music Division, Library of Congress. Gift of Dayton C. Miller, 1941 (151.11)
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Jelly Roll Morton and the “Frog-I-More Rag”
Ferdinand Joseph “Jelly Roll” Morton is generally acknowledged as the first jazz composer. The talents of this remarkable New Orleans jazz pioneer—composer, arranger, pianist—were exceeded only by his ego. He termed himself the inventor of jazz, claiming this honor in his extraordinary nine hours of interviews with Alan Lomax for the Library of Congress Music Division’s Archive of American Folk Song in 1938. In those interviews, which comprise perhaps the first extended “oral history” ever created, Morton shows himself to be a brilliant raconteur: over his own piano vamps, he recalls turn-of-the-century life in New Orleans and illustrates the evolution of ragtime to jazz.
Morton probably wrote the “Frog-i-More Rag” in 1908 to accompany a fellow vaudevillian known as “Frog-i-More,” a contortionist who performed in a frog costume. But Morton did not deposit the music for copyright until 1918, for fear that any form of public record was an invitation to purloin his ideas.
The “Frog-i-More Rag” seen here, in Jelly Roll’s own hand, is thus the first of many copyright deposits the Library holds for Morton. Morton recorded the rag twice in the spring of 1924 but only one of the recordings survives; it was not released until the 1940s. This particular issue was published in 1949 by a group of record collectors who revived the Paramount records imprint. Paramount was a historically and musically significant record label of the 1920s and early 1930s. The disc and the tinted photograph of Morton are from the Nesuhi Ertegun Collection of Jelly Roll Morton Recordings at the Library of Congress. The Ertegun Collection contains every commercial recording Morton ever made, all in their original 78-rpm disc format.
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Composer, arranger, and pianist Jelly Roll Morton’s music represents a synthesis of African-American musical idioms, Hispanic-Caribbean music, and white popular song, all accessible to the young Morton in his native New Orleans. He began his career as a pianist in the Gulf Coast states, eventually traveling to New York before settling first in Los Angeles and later in Chicago-by then the new center of jazz activity-in 1922. “London Blues” dates from his six-year sojourn in Chicago.
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Porgy and Bess
Porgy and Bess, an opera written by George Gershwin (1898–1937) in collaboration with DuBose Heyward (1885–1940) and Gershwin’s brother Ira (1896–1983), is the one American opera to become fully established in the international opera repertory as well as in the popular musical imagination. Its tunes have become standards for jazz improvisation, and the lullaby “Summertime” has by now achieved the status of a folk song.
Porgy and Bess is based on DuBose Heyward’s 1925 novel Porgy and on the 1927 Broadway play of the same name by DuBose and Dorothy Heyward. Gershwin sketched the opera in 1934 and prepared the orchestra score (its opening page shown here) from September 1934 to September 1935.
The manuscript score-sketch of Porgy and Bess and the full orchestral-vocal score were given to the Library by Rose Gershwin, George and Ira Gershwin’s mother, to whom George gave the manuscripts of all his major concert works after having them elegantly bound.
The Library’s Gershwin Collection also includes considerable manuscript music for the Gershwin stage musicals and material from their late songs for Hollywood musicals, with artfully crafted piano accompaniments in Gershwin’s own hand.
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Porgy and Bess, title page. George Gershwin (1898–1937), Ira Gershwin (1896–1983), DuBose Heyward (1885–1940). Holograph full score, 1934-35. Music Division, Library of Congress
Porgy and Bess, interior page. George Gershwin (1898–1937), Ira Gershwin (1896–1983), DuBose Heyward (1885–1940). Holograph full score, 1934–35. Music Division, Library of Congress
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A Ballet for Martha
Appalachian Spring, with music by Aaron Copland and choreography by Martha Graham, was commissioned by and first performed at the Library in 1944. It won the Pulitzer Prize in 1945. Described by Graham as having “to do with roots in so far as people can express them without telling an actual story” it had a complex birth. Copland received three different scripts from Graham before beginning what he called his “Ballet for Martha” (Graham gave it the current title). When she heard the music, Graham decided to redo the action yet again. So, finally, there is no “script” for Appalachian Spring—only the dance.
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This photograph was taken at the first performance of Appalachian Spring in the Library’s Coolidge Auditorium on the eightieth birthday of Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge, who had commissioned a score from Aaron Copland to accompany modern dance choreography by Martha Graham. Copland, originally titling the piece “Ballet for Martha,” drew on the traditional Shaker composition “Simple Gifts.” Graham incorporated characteristic American gestures into her unique dance vocabulary. Together, Copland and Graham ushered an American vernacular into the fine arts.
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During the late 1930s The Washington Post was hesitant to pay staff photographers for the late-night hours required to accompany the paper’s novice music columnist William Gottlieb on his postshow interviews with jazz musicians at various Washington, D.C., nightclubs. So Gottlieb, inspired by the new photojournalism of Life magazine, learned to take his own photographs. He covered the jazz and blues scene first for The Washington Post and later for Down Beat. He captured this image of Duke Ellington’s charismatic presence after a performance at New York’s Paramount Theater in the late 1940s.
Ellington—his reflection caught in a dressing room mirror—looks fully the part of an American musical giant: debonair and handsome. Creator of such distinctive yet iconic classics as “Mood Indigo,” “Sophisticated Lady,” and “Satin Doll,” Ellington considered his music as both personal expression and a continuation and reaffirmation of the African-American musical heritage.
The Gottlieb Photographic Collection contains approximately fifteen hundred images of eminent jazz musicians including Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, and Thelonious Monk, and was purchased with funds from a bequest of Ira and Leonore Gershwin for use by the Music Division, Library of Congress.
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A Ballet for Balanchine
Igor Stravinsky’s ballet Agon (meaning “contest”) was first danced on December 1, 1957, by the New York City Ballet, with choreography by another Russian emigre artist, George Balanchine (1904–1983). The music had received its premiere in Los Angeles in a concert held the previous June, with Robert Craft conducting. As seen here on the title page of the holograph score, the composer dedicated the ballet to Balanchine and Lincoln Kirstein, cofounders of the New York City Ballet.
Agon is the third of three ballet collaborations between Stravinsky (1882–1971) and Balanchine, the other two being Apollon Musagete (1928) and Orpheus (1948).
Unlike those previous works, Agon is plotless, an abstract ballet for eight female and four male dancers. Some of the dances were suggested by a description of seventeenth-century French court dances, to which the titles of movements, such as “Bransle Simple,” “Bransle Gay,” and “Bransle de Poitou,” bear witness.
Another influence was the music of the Second Vienna School, particularly Anton Webern. Stravinsky had written works using serial procedures within a tonal context, notably the Cantata of 1952, before beginning work on Agon in 1953. By the time he finished the ballet in April 1957, he had completed his Canticum Sacrum, which contains sections employing strict serial technique. Agon itself progresses from a basically diatonic, fanfarelike opening through a series of increasingly chromatic movements to a “Pas de deux” that speaks the language of the late, serial Stravinsky.
Balanchine rose to the musical language of the “Pas de deux” with a dance for Diana Adams and Arthur Mitchell that became one of the defining moments of midcentury ballet. The ballet is the artistic and spiritual triumph of two artists who fled their homeland following the turbulence of revolution to seek artistic freedom of expression and who went on to transplant the musical and dance heritage of Imperial Russia onto American soil with spectacular results that forever changed dance.
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My Fair Lady, a big Broadway hit in 1956, turned out to be the culmination of the Rodgers and Hammerstein tradition and the end of an era.
West Side Story, staged in 1957, was the beginning of the next. Never before had dance been such an integral part of the storytelling of a musical; its tritone-laden score included propulsive Latin rhythms, angular, jazzy themes, five-part counterpoint, and a tone row. Based on Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, it was the first musical tragedy—what other musical ends each act with a dead body on the stage?
“Something’s Coming” was born right out of a big long speech that Arthur wrote for Tony. It said how every morning he would wake up and reach for something, around the corner or down the beach. It was very late and we were in rehearsal when Steve and I realized that we needed a strong song for Tony earlier since he had none until “Maria,” which was a love song. We had to have more delineation of him as a character. We were looking through this particular speech, and “Something’s Coming” just seemed to leap off the page. In the course of the day we had written that song.
The sketches and piano-vocal scores from West Side Story were among the gifts given to the Library by Bernstein during the 1960s. In 1992 his children generously donated the rest of the materials, including his annotated conducting score from the musical, that form his artistic legacy.
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The Last Tour
In 1925, Harry Houdini summarized a lifetime of legendary magic into a full evening show that featured classic deceptions, escapes, and exposures of fraudulent spiritualism. The two-year season promised by this program ended abruptly when Houdini died on October 31, 1926. Born Eric Weisz in Budapest, Houdini had been king of handcuffs, leg-irons, and chains. In 1908, he presented himself as master of the Giant Milk Can Escape, and he introduced the Water Torture Cell in 1913. Always inventing new acts, Houdini presented the largest illusion of his time when, in 1918, he vanished Jennie the “10,000 pound elephant” on the stage of the New York Hippodrome.
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Program, 1925. Photograph of Houdini Souvenir Program. From the McManus-Young Houdini scrapbooks. Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Library of Congress
Photograph of Houdini performing the Giant Milk Can Escape, ca. 1908. From the McManus-Young Houdini scrapbooks. Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Library of Congress
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The Nature of Dance
Costume designs are especially useful in documenting dance—ephemeral by nature. These designs were created for American modern dance pioneer Lester Horton’s (1906–1953) early master work, Le Sacre du Printemps. This work was premiered by Horton’s company at an enormous outdoor venue, the Hollywood Bowl, where it was greeted with extreme reactions from the audience. These extraordinary items document Horton’s approach to dance as a total theatrical experience and serve as valuable records of his contribution to American modern dance.
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Empress of The Blues
Bessie Smith gained immediate success in 1923 with her first recording “Down Hearted Blues”/“Gulf Coast Blues.” Her renditions of Negro life in the South earned Smith the title “Empress of the Blues.” She performed mainly in black theaters, but she did sing one evening at the New York apartment of Carl Van Vechten, a writer and amateur photographer who frequented Harlem nightclubs.
This copyright deposit manuscript of “Wasted Life Blues”, in the hand of an unknown copyist, gives credit for the song to Smith’s husband, Jack Gee, but when Smith recorded it, she claimed credit for it (and therefore the royalties from sales of the recording) herself; credit for Jack Gee has been crossed out and “Bessie Smith” substituted in pencil.
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The Library’s vanguard involvement with the creation and performance of dance dates back seventy years to a program of four ballets. On April 27, 1928, the Library premiered Apollon-Musagète (Apollo, Chief of the Muses). The score, by Igor Stravinsky, was commissioned by Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge, and the choreography was developed and directed by Russian Adolph Blom,who also danced in the title role. Apollon-Musagète established a precedent for Mrs. Coolidge’s interest in not only abstract chamber music but for the possibility of dance as a chamber form.
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Costume for Show Boat
Show Boat is often characterized in terms of superlatives: the first modern American musical, the most influential Broadway musical, and even the greatest American musical. Written at a time when most shows consisted of little more than thin plots and catchy tunes, Show Boat became a touchstone for the musical as we now know it—a cohesive dramatic presentation in which the music becomes a vehicle for the development of character and action. During its seventy-year history, it has been filmed three times and given several major New York revivals, including the one in 1946 for which Lucinda Ballard designed the costumes.
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Theatrical Wigs and Beards
Advertisements like this one for a supplier of theatrical hairpieces are sources of exact knowledge of designs for the theater at particular times in history. This print attests to the variety of hairstyles advertised for the stage more than a century ago.
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Dance Theater Designs
Peggy Clark and Elizabeth Montgomery (one of the three theatrical designers who, collectively, were known as “Motley”) designed the stage production for a national tour in 1953 and 1954 of the Agnes de Mille Dance Theatre. The tour encompassed more than one hundred cities. De Mille was one of the foremost American choreographers of the twentieth century and worked with Clark in productions of Brigadoon, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, and Paint Your Wagon. The top and bottom designs seen here were created for the segment called “Golden Era.” The middle design was for “Ballroom Dance.”
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American pianist, composer, and actor Hoagland Howard “Hoagy” Carmichael (1899–1981) was unusual among songwriters in that he contributed songs to both the popular and jazz repertoires. “Star Dust,” written in 1929, was the first of more than thirty five of Carmichael’s songs to become hits and is, in fact, one of the most popular songs of the twentieth century. During the seventy years since its composition, “Star Dust” has been recorded more than 1,100 times.
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Clare Boothe Luce’s The Women
Clare Boothe Luce had successful careers as author, editor playwright, journalist, congresswoman, and diplomat. In 1936 her play The Women began a two year run at the Ethyl Barrymore Theater in New York. Luce’s play satirized upper-class New York women. Shown here are the playscript and early scene descriptions with notes for the first scene showing the different social range of women from Saks shop girl to countess.
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Cushman on Stage
Charlotte Cushman (1816–1876) may have been one of this nation’s most compelling performers. She made her stage debut as an opera singer in 1835. Improper use of her voice led her to change her career to the dramatic stage. After much success, she retired in 1852 but made a good many reappearances under the guise of “farewell tours,” such as this one in the Washington Theater in the title role of Hamlet. Cushman’s prompt book for Hamlet would have aided in orchestrating entrances, exits, props, technical cues, and line cues.
Cushman’s prompt book and holograph page, for a production of Henry VIII would have aided in orchestrating stage movement, props, and technical and line cues. Publications such as The Prompter served as a voice for the theater community and provided publicity for actors and theatrical companies.
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Washington Theater. Charlotte Cushman in Hamlet! Broadside on silk, February 16, 1861. Manuscript Division, Library of Congress. Gifts of Victor & Louise Cushman, 1925 (166.5b)
“Charlotte Cushman as Queen Katherine in King Henry VIII.” The Prompter, Vol. 2, No. 3. Saturday, September 30, 1871, New York. Manuscript Division, Library of Congress. Gifts of Victor & Louise Cushman, 1925 (166.7b)
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Costume Designs Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night
In the 1930s, the Federal government, under the auspices of the Works Progress Administration (WPA), created the Federal Theatre Project (FTP) to employ out-of-work professionals in all aspects of the theater. It functioned from 1935 to 1939 and was responsible for some of the most innovative staging of its time. Theater works were produced, ranging from vaudeville to the classics. Shown here are costume designs for Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night.
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Some Enchanted Evening
Beginning with Oklahoma! (1943) and Carousel (1945), Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II ushered in what has been called the Golden Age of the American musical—integrating song, dance, and drama in the context of serious subject matter and characters. They wrote many songs that have become popular standards; “Some Enchanted Evening” from South Pacific (awarded the Pulitzer Prize for drama in 1950) is one of their best known.
Richard Rodgers (1902–1979) and Oscar Hammerstein II (1895–1960). “Some Enchanted Evening” from South Pacific. Holograph, 1949. Page 2 - Page 3 - Page 4 - Page 5 - Page 6 - Page 7. Music Division, Library of Congress. Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division, Library of Congress. Gift of Composer, 1960 (170A)
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Tenor Roland Hayes
Roland Hayes, born in Curryville, Georgia, in 1887, was the principal African American tenor performing classical music during the first half of the twentieth century. Primarily a recitalist rather than an operatic tenor, Hayes sang both the great European repertory and the repertory of African American spirituals. He also served as an arranger and showed keen interest in African folk songs, including this east African lament from Nyasaland (now Malawi).
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El Capitan March
Sousa, the “March King,” remains best known for his 136 marches, but he composed a variety of other music as well. His operetta El Capitan, composed in 1895, was the first operetta by an American composer to enjoy a successful European tour. Sousa constructed marches on themes from most of his operettas, the El Capitan march being the most famous. Also shown is a photograph, taken at Willow Grove Park (near Philadelphia), Pennsylvania. It was one of Sousa’s favorite images of himself.
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The Indian Court Series
This silkscreen is part of a series of eight Works Projects Administration (WPA) posters designed by Louis Siegriest for the Golden Gate International Exposition held in San Francisco in 1939. Siegriest illustrated the posters with examples of Native American arts and crafts from diverse tribes. The exposition was located on Treasure Island, a manmade island in San Francisco Bay. The Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress has a collection of more than 900 WPA posters produced between 1936 and 1943.
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Louis B. Siegriest (1899–1990). Pueblo Turtle Dancers from an Indian Painting, New Mexico Indian Court, Federal Building, Golden Gate International Exposition, San Francisco, 1939. [California]: Federal Arts Project, WPA, 1939. Silkscreen color poster. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (158.6)
Louis B. Siegriest (1899–1990). Apache Devil Dancer from an Indian Painting, Arizona Indian court, Federal Building, Golden Gate International Exposition, San Francisco, 1939. [California]: Federal Arts Project, WPA, 1939. Silkscreen color poster. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (158.5)
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The Black Patti
A remarkable soprano voice and a commanding presence won personal success for Matilda Sissieretta Joyner Jones (1869–1933). The decorations she wears in this 1899 poster testify to her professional triumphs. In 1892, she performed at the White House for President Benjamin Harrison and in London before the Prince of Wales. Jones was known as “The Black Patti,” a reference to the celebrated Italian soprano Adelina Patti. She performed in opera houses and on the vaudeville stage throughout her career, and her success there helped African Americans gain acceptance as serious artists.
The Black Patti, Mme. M. Sissieretta Jones: The Greatest Singer of Her Race. Metropolitan Printing Company, New York: 1899. Color lithograph. Copyright deposit. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (155.2)
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“This is the Army, Mr. Jones”
This Is The Army, Irving Berlin’s World War II all-soldier revue, opened on July 4, 1942, in New York with plans for a four-week run. Intended as a morale-booster and a fund-raiser for the Army Emergency Relief Fund, it took on a life far exceeding any expectations. The show toured the United States, was made into a movie, and for twenty-three months played before audiences of U. S. armed forces personnel in Europe, the Middle East, and the Pacific before closing in Hawaii on October 22, 1945.
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Actress Minnie Maddern Fiske
Minnie Maddern Fiske became one of the best known actresses on the American stage, at the turn of the twentieth century. Fiske specialized in the plays of Henrik Ibsen and William Shakespeare and her interpretations of Ibsen’s heroines were especially acclaimed. In 1890, she married playwright and theatrical manager Harrison Grey Fiske. In 1904, at the Manhattan Theatre, in New York, Fiske starred in Langdon Mitchell’s Becky Sharp, an adaptation of Vanity Fair (1847-48) by William Makepeace Thackeray. The story is set against the background of the Battle of Waterloo. Becky, from a “lower class” family, befriends Amelia, a rich girl at school. Becky manages to be accepted by Amelia’s family and friends, but ruins her own life. Fiske toured the show in 1931.
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Langdon Mitchell. The Picture Book for “Becky Sharp” a Play in Four Acts. New York: Herbert S. Stone, 1899. Manuscript Division, Library of Congress. Gift of Olive Kooken, 1961
Becky Sharp Playbill, ca. 1931–32. Manuscript Division, Library of Congress (166.10)
Sketch for scene, 1, from the script of Becky Sharp, ca. 1899. Holograph manuscript. Manuscript Division, Library of Congress (166.10)
Sketch and page 7 for scene 1, from the script of Becky Sharp, ca. 1899. Holograph manuscript. Manuscript Division, Library of Congress. Gift of Olive Kooken, 1961 (166B)
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Shuffle Along, which opened on May 23, 1921, was the first Broadway musical written, produced, and performed by African Americans. Shuffle Along ran for more than 500 performances and included in its cast Josephine Baker, Ethel Waters, and Paul Robeson. The show was such a success that it was performed by three different touring companies, breaking barriers for African Americans across the country. “I’m Just Wild About Harry,” was the hit of the show. President Harry S. Truman adopted the tune as his campaign song during his 1948 bid for re-election.
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William H. Johnson arrived in Harlem in 1918 from Florence, South Carolina, at the onset of the Harlem Renaissance. Considered a major American artist, he attended the National Academy of Arts and studied under Charles Hawthorne. After graduation Johnson left New York to paint in Europe. Known primarily for his narrative, expressive style and the intense colors in his works, Johnson’s work vividly depicts the lifestyles of African Americans in the first half of the twentieth century.
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Tenor Roland Hayes
Roland Hayes, born in Curryville, Georgia, in 1887, was the principal African American tenor performing classical music during the first half of the twentieth century. Primarily a recitalist rather than an operatic tenor, Hayes sang both the great European repertory and African American spirituals. Hayes also served as an arranger and showed keen interest in spirituals and African folk songs including this arrangement for “Gi Me Yo Han.”
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My Fair Lady
The most successful of the musicals written by Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe was the 1956 triumph My Fair Lady, adapted from George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion. Breaking the box-office record of its day, My Fair Lady ran for 2,717 performances on Broadway. In addition to the song “I Could Have Danced All Night,” the musical included such now-famous selections as “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly,” “With a Little Bit of Luck,” “The Rain in Spain,” and “On the Street Where You Live.”
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Theater Poster Collection
The Library of Congress theater poster collection represents more than 1,500 plays and documents the development and the cataclysmic rise of the American theater from 1870 to 1900. Its success can be attributed to three factors: the development of the transcontinental rail system, the doubling of the U.S. population, and the development of new advertising methods like the colorful posters represented in the collection. This chromolithograph pays tribute to Edwin Booth (1833–1865), brother of Lincoln assassin John Wilkes Booth and one of the most noted Shakespearean actors of his day.
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Although minstrel theater survived into the twentieth century, its heyday can be traced from the 1840s to the 1890s. This poster advertises the minstrel team of George H. Primrose (b. 1852) and Lew Dockstader (1856B1924). In this lithograph, Dockstader appears in what had become the trademark guise of the minstrel stage: trick shoes, oversize pants and coat, tall hat, and black-face. Dockstader’s success turned in part on his political monologues and his caricatures and imitations of political figures like Theodore Roosevelt. Working to keep his material updated, Dockstader injected his stage show with current local and national themes.
H.C. Miner Litho. Co. Primrose & Dockstader’s Great Minstrels, Back Again, Lew Dockstader: ‘the man who makes millions laugh.’ New York: 1878. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress. Copyright deposit, 1898 (169.7) [Digital ID# ppmsca-05596]
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The Greatest Show on Earth
The circus flourished in the United States from its earliest manifestations—traveling animal acts, jugglers, tightrope dancers, and clowns—to become one of the most spectacular and popular forms of entertainment. Phineas T. Barnum, the great circus entrepreneur, well understood the advertising value of posters brimming with exciting images promising astounding feats and exotica of all types. Other circuses were quick to follow Barnum’s lead. In addition to Barnum and Bailey posters, the Library’s collection includes colorful advertisements from Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Shows, Ringling Brothers, and this poster for Forepaugh and Sells Shows, promoting Madame Yucca, “the Female Hercules.”
The Great Forepaugh & Sells Brothers Shows Combined. Phenomenal Acts of Contortion . . . Color lithograph poster. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress. Copyright deposit (140.16b) [Digital ID# ppmsca-10078]
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The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer released their Oscar winning film version of L. Frank Baum’s celebrated 1900 children’s book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz in 1939. Victor Fleming is credited with directing the film, which introduced Judy Garland (as Dorothy) and made her a star. The film, totaling three million dollars to make, was nominated for six Academy Awards. Judy Garland was presented with a special award for her “outstanding performance as a screen juvenile.” The first run in theaters did not quite cover production costs, so it was re-released in 1949 and was a great success at the box office.
As part of its $250,000 promotional campaign for the 1939 film of The Wizard of Oz, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) ran full-page, color advertisements in the Sunday comic sections of newspapers to generate excitement in advance of the opening of The Wizard of Oz. These drawings, showing principal scenes from the movie, are believed to be the preliminary artwork for the campaign. By placing the ads in an estimated twenty-nine newspapers in twenty-one large cities in August 1939, publicists reached an audience in the millions. In addition to the newspaper campaign, MGM placed advertisements in large-circulation national magazines.
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Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. The Wizard of Oz, 1949. Color lithograph poster. Lester Glassner Collection of Movie Posters. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (154.10b) [Digital ID # ppmsca-09889]
Thomas A. Johnstone, Comic Art Studio. M.G.M. Presents the Wizard of Oz. Photomechanical print with ink and graphite, ca. July 27, 1939. Copyright deposit, 1939. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress. (187.4) [Digital ID# ppmsca-12394]
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Pinocchio was Walt Disney’s second animated feature film. Adapted from Carlo Collodi’s 1883 novel, Adventures of Pinocchio, the film was an instant hit and has become a timeless and beloved movie for audiences since its release in 1940. It tells the story, through the eyes of a cricket, of a cobbler whose puppet comes to life. The film represents a technological breakthrough in the world of animated film production.
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Piano Extract for The Birthday of the Infanta
John Alden Carpenter adapted the Infanta as an orchestral suite soon after the ballet premiere. The suite had its premiere with the Chicago Symphony under Frederick Stock on December 3, 1920, and was heard in Boston under Pierre Monteux on February 25, 1921. This short score apparently was a working document for the choreographer Adolph Bolm in his collaboration with Carpenter. It includes considerable movement annotations and score corrections in red ink. Ruth Page was twenty-years old when Adolf Bolm directed her in the role of the “Infanta” in The Birthday of the Infanta. This photograph captures her dancing the title role.
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Maurice Goldberg (b. 1895). The Birthday of the Infanta. (Ruth Page (1899–1991). Gelatin sliver print. Music Division, Library of Congress. Gift of Mrs. John Alden Carpenter, 1963 (155.4)
John Alden Carpenter (1876–1951). The Birthday of the Infanta, ca. 1919. Short score with movement notations. Music Division, Library of Congress. Gift of Adolph Bolm (155A)
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Designer Robert Edmond Jones
The sets and costumes for The Birthday of the Infanta were designed by Robert Edmond Jones, one of the most noted American scenic designers. His work for this production drew great notice, perhaps more than any other aspect of the ballet. The Birthday included two scenes: Scene I is in a garden of the palace, the setting for the birthday celebrations for the Infanta and the entertainments that include the dwarf, unaware of the nature of his appearance; Scene II is in an interior hall with great mirrors and enormous candles. In this scene, the dwarf is made to realize the truth about his appearance, through one of the mirrors, and is struck with a sense of futility for any hope for the love of the Infanta.
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The scenario for the The Birthday of the Infanta adhered fairly closely to the short story of Oscar Wilde. One great difference was the sorrow evidenced by the Infanta at the close of the ballet, in contrast to her cold reaction to the death of the dwarf in Wilde’s story. Robert Edmond Jones created a wide variety of costume types for The Birthday, including the costumes of the dancers entertainers, and the mock bull for the mock bull fight which was part of the festivities. The costumes of the courtiers (one is shown here) were based on actual dress of the time and reflect the great luxury of seventeenth-century Spain.
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The Birthday of the Infanta
The ballet-pantomime, The Birthday of the Infanta, with music by John Alden Carpenter (1876–1951), was well received at its world premiere in Chicago on December 23, 1919. Infanta was presented again by the Chicago Opera in New York City on Febrary 23, 1920, at the Lexington Avenue Opera House. The basis for the ballet was a short story of Oscar Wilde, about a the dwarf who misunderstands the attention paid him by the royal Infanta. The story was inspired by the court of Philip IV of seventeenth-century Spain and the art of Diego Rodríguez de Silva y Velásquez.
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Washington Post March
“March music is for the feet, not for the head,” John Philip Sousa stated. Sousa, the “March King,” is best known for his 136 marches. His genius lay in his skill as a composer of distinctive melodies shaped into a cohesive and organic whole such as The Washington Post March shown here. Band music was so popular in America that esteemed classical musicians developed professional touring concert bands, and Sousa’s was at the forefront.
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Set Designs for Little Me, 1982
In the original 1962 Broadway production of Little Me, an older affluent Belle looks back on her successful career and recounts her story. In the revised 1982 version the aging Belle has suffered severe financial setbacks and is an entertainer in a club in Hackensack New Jersey. Tony Walton’s colorful set design for the “Casa Mañana” club (shown above), one of the many he created for the revival, complemented and emphasized the bright comedy of the production. Walton also designed the costumes for the new production.
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Tony Walton (b. 1934). Designs for “Casa Mañana,” scene in Little Me, 1982. Tony Walton Collection. Music Division, Library of Congress. Purchase (155.5) Shown online with permission of the artist
Tony Walton (b. 1934). “Skylight Roof” scene in Little Me, 1982. Tony Walton Collection. Music Division, Library of Congress. Purchase (155.10b) Shown online with permission of the artist
Tony Walton (b. 1934). “Eggleston Mansion” scene in Little Me, 1982. Tempera. Tony Walton Collection. Music Division, Library of Congress. Purchase (155.10a) Shown online with permission of the artist
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Bob Fosse’s Dance notation for Little Me, 1962
By the time the stage version of Little Me was being fashioned in 1962, Bob Fosse’s reputation as a choreographer in American musical theater was second to none, comparable only to the level of recognition accorded Jerome Robbins. Fosse’s notations for stage numbers were idiosyncratic directions for patterns and movement, often including hand and finger snapping and strong angular leg movements. An example of his style in Little Me is the well remembered satiric “The Rich Kids’s Rag”. Fosse did a great deal of work on Little Me during its out of town tryout in Philadelphia, but, as is very often the case with shows trying out, Little Me underwent many changes. “Lafayette, We Are Here” was replaced as the opening number for the second act by: “Real Live Girl,” a number on which Fosse worked exceptionally hard with tremendous success.
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In 1933 Paramount Pictures released the rollicking Marx Brothers’s comedy Duck Soup. It was the last film to feature all four brothers—Groucho, Harpo, Chico, and Zeppo. The film is series Marxian gags satirizing war and government. In 1967, Groucho donated his papers to the Library, and among those materials is the script to Duck Soup as well as a rich trove of letters to and from the comic, literary, and political luminaries of his day.
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Shakespeare in America
Favorite Shakespeare Play
The first American production of Richard III occurred in New York in 1750. In the nineteenth-century it was one of the most popular plays by any author and was performed by traveling companies in saloons and mining camps as well as in elegant city theaters. Thomas Wallace Keene (1840–1898), best known for his portrayal of Richard III, began acting as a teenager in New York. In the early 1870s, he toured England and the American West with companies that included noted contemporaries such as Edwin Booth (1833–1893) and Charlotte Cushman (1816–1876). Famous for his Shakespearean roles, which also included Othello, Hamlet, and Romeo, Keene toured widely for more than twenty years, performing in smaller cities across the U.S. Keene did not have the stature of Edwin Booth or other great tragedians of the late nineteenth century. However, his performances attracted a mass following when, before the invention of movies, theater going was a favorite form of entertainment of most Americans.
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Father and Son from Hamlet
Bernard Brussel-Smith studied art at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia and the New School for Social Research in New York. During the 1940s and 1950s, Brussel-Smith established himself as America’s foremost wood engraver. In this scene from Hamlet, Polonius, chief minister of the evil King Claudius, gives advice to his son, Laertes, as the young man leaves for school in France. Using himself and his son Peter as the models, Brussel-Smith depicts the love between father and son through a series of broadening circles. According to the folder in which the woodcut is enclosed, “The many hot and cold colors reflect the changing states of a man’s mind. The long passageway and steps to the right of Polonius suggest the years of experience, knowledge, and wisdom that man accumulates through the days of his life. In back of Laertes, the Gothic-like portal with its bright light points the way to roads yet untraveled that each youth must take during his own life.” Brussel-Smith’s assessment of Polonius differs from that of Hamlet, who mocks Polonius as a “tedious old fool.” Hamlet and Laertes die in a duel when Laertes’s seeks revenge for Hamlet’s killing of Polonius, whom he mistakes for the king spying on him from behind a curtain.
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Edwin Booth as Hamlet
“Booth, to a majority of us, is Hamlet,” stated a reviewer in 1870, around the time these photographs were taken. Between November 1864 and March 1865, Edwin Booth played Hamlet for 100 consecutive nights in New York City. Thereafter, he was identified with the part, for which his slight, dark looks, musical voice, and dignified bearing suited him. A member of a famous acting family, Edwin was the brother of John Wilkes Booth (1838–1865), the assassin of Abraham Lincoln. His farewell stage appearance was as Hamlet in 1891 at the Academy of Music in Brooklyn. Some theatre historians consider him the greatest American actor of the nineteenth century.
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Lincoln’s Favorite Play
In an 1863 letter to Shakespearean actor James Hackett (1800–1871), Abraham Lincoln (1809–1865) wrote: “I think nothing equals Macbeth. It is wonderful.” The president often entertained guests by quoting his favorite passages from the play. In this broadside created days after Lincoln’s assassination, quotations from Macbeth about the murder of King Duncan are used to express feelings about the event. Coincidentally, just a few days before his assassination, Lincoln read some of these quotations to a group of friends. Nineteenth-century Americans were so familiar with Shakespeare’s plays that the creator of the broadside did not think it necessary to provide the source of the words.
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Internationally Acclaimed American Actress
In 1836, Charlotte Cushman (1816–1876) made her acting debut as Lady Macbeth in New Orleans. That year she also played Romeo, beginning her practice of playing both male and female roles. Cushman appeared in London in 1845 opposite Edwin Forrest and was hailed as the greatest actress of her time. She played tragic heroines, as well as Hamlet, Cardinal Wolsey, and Romeo to her sister Susan’s Juliet. Cushman’s prompt book for Hamlet, a role that she first played in 1857, specifies entrances and exits, props, technical cues, line cues, and text cuts, thus giving insight into what her performance was like.
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Hamlet in Shorthand
To give students practice in reading its popular system of shorthand, the Gregg Publishing Company issued familiar stories in shorthand, such as this version of Hamlet from Tales from Shakespeare (1807) by siblings Charles (1775–1834) and Mary (1764–1847) Lamb. The Lambs’s prose retelling of the stories of Shakespeare’s major plays has been popular since its publication. It has attracted well-known illustrators and introduced many generations of children to Shakespeare’s plays. This page shows one of the play’s most memorable scenes—Hamlet in the graveyard, holding the skull of his childhood playmate, the jester Yorick.
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Hume Cronyn Prepares for Role
Since the first professionally acted American production of The Merchant of Venice in Williamsburg, Virginia, in 1752, the central role of Shylock has attracted distinguished actors, including Hume Cronyn. Canadian-born Cronyn was well known for his painstaking preparations for a part. In this memo to Bill Glassco (1935-2004), who directed him in the role, Cronyn asks questions about Shylock’s essential nature in order to create his portrayal. His performance won the praise of critics, one of whom said: “The sheer, unflagging energy of Mr. Cronyn’s performance gave his Shylock a powerful reality.”
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Zoë Dominic, photographer. Hume Cronyn (1911-2003) as Shylock. Program for Stratford Festival of Canada production of The Merchant of Venice, 1976. Papers of Hume Cronyn/Jessica Tandy. Manuscript Division, Library of Congress. Courtesy of the Stratford Festival of Canada (8)
Hume Cronyn to Bill Glassco, December 18, 1975. Typescript memo. Papers of Hume Cronyn/Jessica Tandy. Manuscript Division, Library of Congress. Courtesy of Susan Cooper Cronyn (9)
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LBJ as Caesar
On May 24, 1966, Illinois Republican Everett Dirksen (1896–1968) took the Senate floor to call for a “thorough discussion of the diplomatic, military and political situation in Vietnam.” He attacked President Lyndon B. Johnson (1908–1973) for lack of candor as military engagements increased and United States warplanes carried out a record number of air strikes on North Vietnam. Dirksen and Johnson had become good friends during the time both served in the Senate, and Dirksen’s words represented a change from his long support for Johnson’s policies in Vietnam. The cartoon alludes to William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, in which Caesar says, “Et tu, Brute?” when stabbed by his trusted friend Brutus. The title plays on Dirksen’s first name, Everett.
Herb Block (1909–2001). Ev tu? June 10, 1966. Published in the Washington Post, June 10, 1966. Ink, graphite, and opaque white over graphite underdrawing on layered paper. Herbert L. Block Collection. Gift, 2002, Herb Block Foundation. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress. Courtesy of the Herb Block Foundation (10) [LC-DIG-ppmsca-03497]
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Richard Nixon as Juliet
Herb Block (“Herblock”) frequently references Shakespeare plays in his political cartoons. In this one from the 1960 presidential campaign, Richard Nixon (1913–1994), a frequent target of Herblock’s satire, is depicted as Shakespeare’s Juliet. Then-Secretary of Agriculture Ezra Taft Benson (1899–1994) appears as Romeo. Farmers blamed Benson’s policies for a large shrinkage in their income during the Eisenhower Administration because Benson cut purchases of surplus crops and payments to farmers not to grow certain crops in order to keep crop prices high. As a presidential candidate, Nixon tried to distance himself from Benson. The Democrats, however, found a Benson statement that Nixon, Eisenhower’s vice president, had participated in the development of the administration’s farm policies and made it a campaign issue.
Herb Block (1909-2001). “‘Tis But Thy Name that is My Enemy,” 1960. Published in the Washington Post, October 6, 1960. Ink, ink spatter, graphite, and opaque white over graphite underdrawing. Herbert L. Block Collection. Gift, 2002, Herb Block Foundation. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress. Courtesy of the Herb Block Foundation (11) [LC-DIG-ppmsca-13466]
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Grover Cleveland as Hamlet
Reported to have painted scenes and characters from Shakespeare on the walls of his room at college, George Yost Coffin began his career as a political cartoonist in the mid–1870s. In 1891, he became the official cartoonist of the Washington Post, a position he held until his death in 1896. In this cartoon, Coffin depicts President Grover Cleveland (1837–1908) as Hamlet, held back from pursuing reform by “spoilsmen,” who favor rewarding supporters of the winning party with public offices. Elected as a reformer, Cleveland wanted to fill federal jobs on the basis of merit. However, leaders of the Democratic Party, which had not held the presidency in twenty-four years, pushed for replacement of all Republican appointees. Cleveland gradually gave in, dispensing most patronage to fellow Democrats.
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Andrew Johnson as Iago
Thomas Nast, cartoonist for Harper’s Weekly from 1859 to 1860 and from 1862 until 1886, often used Shakespearean motifs to comment on current events. In this cartoon, Nast intended to generate opposition to the lenient Reconstruction plan of President Andrew Johnson (1808–1875) and to promote in the 1866 elections Republican congressional candidates, who favored a more radical policy. The artist portrays Johnson as the evil Iago plotting against the heroic and innocent Othello, shown as a wounded black Union veteran being denied his place in American political life.
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Bill Mauldin on Vietnam War
Bill Mauldin was one of the most popular and influential cartoonists of the twentieth century. The Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist began his career with satirical army cartoons during World War II. He later served as an editorial cartoonist with the Saint Louis Post-Dispatch and then the Chicago Sun-Times, from which he retired in 1991. After the war, he turned to drawing political cartoons in which he supported policies such as civil rights and environmental reform. Although Mauldin generally favored the policies of President Lyndon Baines Johnson (1908–1973), he was in strong disagreement with U.S. policy in Vietnam, which he visited in 1965, the year that Johnson began a big military buildup there. In this cartoon, Mauldin shows Johnson reaching up through a thorny bush labeled “Southeast Asia” to pluck a small, lone flower at the top. The caption from William Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part 1, Act II, Scene 3, suggests the futility of the action and thus of the Vietnam War, which would last another ten years.
Bill Mauldin (1921-2003). “From this nettle, danger, we pluck this flower, safety.” (Shakespeare, Henry IV), 1965. Published in the Chicago Sun-Times, April 13, 1965. Crayon, ink, white out and blue pencil over pencil on layered paper. Bill Mauldin Collection. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress. Copyright Bill Mauldin, 1965. Courtesy of the Mauldin Estate (14) [LC-DIG-ppmsca-13268]
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Paul Robeson as Othello
A leading British Shakespearean critic, John Dover Wilson, called the performance of Paul Robeson the most notable Othello of the twentieth century. The son of an ex-slave, Robeson became an All-American football hero as well as an actor and singer. He first played Othello in London in 1930, with noted British actress Peggy Ashcroft (1907–1991) as Desdemona. As the first time since the 1860s that a black actor had played the title role, the production marked a turning point that opened the way for other blacks to play the part. In 1943, Robeson played Othello in New York in a production directed by Margaret Webster and starring Uta Hagen (1919-2004) as Desdemona and her husband Jose Ferrer as Iago. According to the New York Times, Robeson “gave to the role a majesty and power that had seldom if ever been seen on the American stage”. The performance won Robeson the 1944 Donalson Award (a forerunner of the Tony). After running on Broadway for 296 performances, longer than any previous Shakespeare play, the production made a lengthy and triumphant North American tour.
Scene from Othello with Paul Robeson (1898–1976) as Othello and Jose Ferrer (1912–1991) as Iago. Theatre Guild Production, Broadway, 1943–1944. Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information Photograph Collection. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (7) [LC-USW33-054941-ZC]
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Antony and Cleopatra as Opera
Samuel Barber’s second full-length opera, Antony and Cleopatra, was commissioned for the opening of the new Metropolitan Opera House on September 16, 1966. The libretto, based on Barber’s favorite Shakespeare play, was fashioned by the composer and Franco Zeffirelli (b. 1923), who also directed the opera. More than 3,800 spectators attended the premiere, which featured Leontyne Price as Cleopatra and Justino Díaz (b. 1940) as Antony. In 1968, Barber reworked Cleopatra’s arias, including “Give me my Robe,” shown here, into a concert scene for soprano. Price often performed the arrangement in concert as well as recording it.
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Samuel Barber (1910–1981). Opening of Act III of Antony and Cleopatra, op. 40, 1966. Holograph manuscript. Music Division, Library of Congress (15)
Louis Mélançon, photographer. Leontyne Price (b. 1927) as Cleopatra, 1966. New York World-Telegram and Sun Newspaper Collection. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress. Courtesy of Leontyne Price (16.1) [LC-DIG-ppmsca-13518]
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Kiss Me Kate Lyric Sheet
Perhaps his greatest success, Cole Porter’s Kiss Me, Kate was another musical adaptation of Shakespeare’ The Taming of the Shrew. It opened at the Century Theatre in New York City on December 30, 1948, to enthusiastic public and critical response and ran for 1,077 performances. The production won five Tony Awards, including “Best Musical,” in 1949. One of the many notable songs was “Brush Up Your Shakespeare,” with lyrics typical of Porter’s brilliant wit. The song is performed by two gangster characters who blunder out in front of the curtain and feel obliged to perform. Porter work was the result of careful craftsmanship and extraordinary care taken to achieve just the right setting, as this sheet of rough lyric possibilities makes clear.
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Orson Welles’s “Voodoo” Macbeth
In 1936, Orson Welles (1915–1985) directed a New York City production of Macbeth set in nineteenth-century Haiti and portraying the witches as voodoo priestesses. The all-black cast were part of the Negro Theatre Unit of the Federal Theatre Project. The colorful costumes and jungle sets were designed by Nat Karson, later art director and set designer at the Radio City Music Hall and a producer for Broadway shows and television. Welles’s highly successful production became famous for its dazzlingly original use of lighting and sound, particularly authentic voodoo drumming and chants. Macbeth launched the meteoric directing career of Welles, who was not yet twenty-one when it opened.
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Taming of the Shrew Costumes
One of the New Deal programs of the Depression era, the Federal Theatre Project (FTP), part of the Works Progress Administration, was active from 1935 to 1939. The FTP attempted to sustain the American theater by employing actors, producers, designers, and other personnel. It nurtured new talent and made stage performances available at low cost to millions of Americans who had never seen live theater. These drawings are costume designs for a production of The Taming of the Shrew in New York City in 1938. They depict Bianca, the younger sister of the shrew Katharina, Bianca’s suitor Lucentio, and Grumio and Curtis, servants of the lead male character, Petruchio. From the costume, Curtis seems to have been a female character rather than the usual male in this production.
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Alexander Jones. Costume design for Bianca. Costume design for Grumio. Costume design for Curtis. Watercolor with fabric attachments. The Taming of the Shrew, New York City, 1938. Federal Theatre Project Collection. Music Division, Library of Congress (20, 20.1, 21.1)
John Glidden. Costume design for Lucentio. The Taming of the Shrew, New York City, 1938. Watercolor with fabric attachments. Federal Theatre Project Collection. Music Division, Library of Congress (21)
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Outline for West Side Story
Based on Romeo and Juliet, West Side Story (1957), with its sophisticated music, tragic story, and focus on social problems, marked a turning point in American musical theater, which had usually dealt with lighter themes. Composer Leonard Bernstein gave sketches and piano-vocal scores from West Side Story to the Library of Congress during the 1960s. In 1992 his children generously donated the rest of Bernstein’s papers, including this plot outline with Shakespeare’s play title and names for characters, including Romeo and Juliet, who became Tony and Maria in the final version. The annotations in the margins are in Bernstein’s hand.
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Romeo chewing tobacco label
The first recorded production of a Shakespeare play in America was an amateur Romeo and Juliet in 1730 in New York City. This tragic account of “star-crossed lovers” remains one of the most popular and well-known Shakespearean plays, as demonstrated by numerous popular film adaptations. The appearance of Shakespearean characters on a tobacco label demonstrates the popularity of certain plays among all American social levels in the nineteenth century, when many Americans chewed, dipped, and smoked tobacco that came packaged with illustrated, colorful labels designed to attract consumers in an increasingly competitive marketplace.
James Moran & Co.’s Romeo, fine cut, chewing tobacco. St. Louis: James Moran and Co., 1873. Lithograph. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (23) [LC-DIG-ppmsca-13469]
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