March 7, 2000 The Wizard of Oz Is Saluted in Library of Congress Bicentennial Exhibition


Since its publication, the book has become America's greatest and best-loved homegrown fairytale. The first totally American fantasy for children, it is one of the most popular children's books. It has also inspired a long series of sequels, stage plays and musicals, movies and television shows, biographies of Baum, scholarly studies of the significance of the book and film, advertisements, toys, games and all sorts of Oz-related products.

Drawing on the Library's unparalleled collections of books, posters, films, sheet music, manuscripts and sound recordings, "The Wizard of Oz: An American Fairy Tale" examines the creation of this timeless American classic and traces its rapid and enduring success and its impact on American popular culture. It can be seen in the South Gallery of the Great Hall of the Thomas Jefferson Building from April 21 through September 23. Hours for the exhibition are 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday-Saturday.

Approximately 100 items in a variety of formats will be on view from the Library's collections, including play scripts, rare books, photographs, posters, drawings, manuscripts, maps, sheet music and film, as well as three-dimensional objects such as figurines, dolls, games and toys. The Library will supplement its own large holdings with items borrowed from other museums, libraries and private collectors.

Of particular interest to visitors of the exhibition will be items related to the classic 1939 film "The Wizard of Oz," including a pair of the ruby slippers (size 5B) worn by Judy Garland as Dorothy; the scarecrow costume worn by Ray Bolger; the mane and beard worn by Bert Lahr as the Cowardly Lion; a Munchkin costume; and an Emerald City townsman's coat. These are supplemented with publicity shots and photographs taken on the set of the film, related sheet music, recordings, magazine advertisements, posters and lobby cards, from the Library's own collections. Clips from other Oz films -- from early silents to "The Wiz" -- will be shown on a video kiosk.

L. Frank Baum's ability to make fantastic circumstances seem plausible, combined with illustrator W.W. Denslow's striking color plates and line drawings, produced a volume that was innovative both in style and presentation. The first edition of the book, along with the original copyright application handwritten by Baum, will be on display along with six of the black-and-white Denslow illustrations for the book. Some of Baum's pre-Oz books will be shown, along with a selection of other books set in the "Land of Oz" authored by Baum.

Children especially will be fascinated with the selection of Oz-related souvenirs and novelties including plates, figurines, games, greeting cards, Christmas ornaments, music boxes, paper dolls and coloring books.

For nearly 130 years, the Copyright Office in the Library of Congress has served as America's "national registry for creative works." The 1870 law that centralized the copyright function in the Library of Congress -- and set up the copyright deposit system that systematically brings two copies of every item registered for copyright to the Library -- helped to create the unequaled national collections that form the core of today's Library of Congress.

Through the copyright records, one can trace the career of Frank Baum, America's great fantasist, who lived from 1856 to 1919, beginning with the 1882 copyright registration for Baum's first theatrical venture, "Maid of Arran," to the publication of his last book in the Oz series, "Glinda of Oz," published in 1920.