October 31, 2000 Two Collections on Americans and Their Land Debut on American Memory Web Site

Contact: Guy Lamolinara (202) 707-9217

New collections documenting use of natural resources in Southern West Virginia and homesteading in Nebraska are now part of the American Memory collections Web site. In addition, approximately 4,650 letters, scientific notebooks, journals, and photographs were added to the Alexander Graham Bell Family Papers.

"Tending the Commons: Folklife and Landscape in Southern West Virginia" contains 679 excerpts from original sound recordings and 1,256 photographs from the American Folklife Center's Coal River Project (1992-99), which documented traditional uses of the mountains in Southern West Virginia's Big Coal River Valley. The online collection includes extensive interviews with residents of the area regarding native forest species and the seasonal round of traditional harvesting. Maps, diagrams, and photographs document community cultural events such as baptisms in the river, cemetery customs, and seasonal feasts.

"Prairie Settlement: Nebraska Photographs and Family Letters" comprises two collections from the Nebraska State Historical Society: the Solomon D. Butcher photographs and the letters of the Uriah W. Oblinger family. The Solomon Butcher collection consists of more than 3,000 glass plate negatives captured between 1886 and 1912. These photographs document the process of settlement in Nebraska. Butcher visually recorded the history of homesteading during the settlement. Nearly half the images are of Custer County, Neb., on the eastern edge of the state.

The letters of Uriah W. Oblinger and family relate the story of a Midwest family settling land in Nebraska. The letters were written by family members, friends, and relatives between 1862 and 1911. Uriah Oblinger was a Civil War veteran and lived in Indiana before moving to Nebraska with his family. The letters record the Oblinger family's migration from state to state, economic struggles, and the loss of their land.

More than 4,000 items have been added to the Bell Family Papers online presentation. These include correspondence, scientific notebooks, journals, blueprints, articles, and photographs documenting Bell's invention of the telephone and his involvement in the first telephone company. The papers date from 1862 to 1939, with the bulk of the materials dating from 1865 to 1920. Bell's life and career are extensively covered in the collection of papers and offer a view of him in various roles such as teacher, inventor, celebrity, and family man.

These new collections have been added to the more than 80 already freely available from American Memory, which is a project of the National Digital Library Program of the Library of Congress.

The latest Web site from the Library is aimed at kids and families. The colorful and interactive "America's Library" (www.americaslibrary.gov) invites users to "Log On ... Play Around ... Learn Something."


PR 00-166
ISSN 0731-3527