May 26, 2006 Library of Congress Launches Performing Arts Encyclopedia Online

Music, Theater and Dance Web Site Debuts

Press Contact: Trish Taylor Shuman (202) 707-1940

A new online Performing Arts Encyclopedia has been developed to serve as a centralized guide for users interested in exploring the performing arts. The encyclopedia focuses on music, motion picture, broadcasting, recorded sound, manuscript, rare book and other nonbook collections. The resources, which are housed in various divisions of the Library, have been brought together to make them available for easier access and more widespread usage. Beginning today, the site is available at

“The Library has grown into the world's largest repository of knowledge and creativity,” said Librarian of Congress James H. Billington. "We want Americans to take advantage of this opportunity to learn about the spirit of creativity that has emerged in song, dance, theater, film and writing."

“The Library of Congress is extraordinarily rich in collections that celebrate the performing arts,” said acting, Music Division Chief Susan Vita. “By uniting these materials, many of which are housed in sister divisions, the Performing Arts Encyclopedia integrates references found throughout these collections, making the task of the researcher more efficient and the results more rewarding. We are also pleased that the Web site will introduce some of our lesser-known holdings, making the encyclopedia a valuable tool for those who document the history of the arts in America and throughout the world.”

Visitors will be able to see copies of sheet music about Abraham Lincoln, Emancipation and the Civil War, as well as read about Ella Fitzgerald, Omaha Indian music, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, Jascha Heifetz, Fritz Kreisler, the Original Amateur Hour and Otto Klemperer.

Scholars will be interested in tracing nearly 700 names among the collections. Items related to Leonard Bernstein, for example, are referenced in 11 of the collections listed in this first release. A secondary school teacher may click on the vaudeville category where she discovers online resources featuring items from the Bob Hope collection, and from there be led into one of the themed teacher resources associated with many of the entries.

The comprehensive encyclopedia invites users to learn and experience the diversity of American performing arts through the Library’s unsurpassed collections of scores, sheet music, audio and video recordings, films and photographs, many of which are unfamiliar to the public. Anyone can easily browse the site by subject or by personal name to retrieve lists of featured collections and resources such as exhibitions, finding aids, databases and online presentations. .

This continually growing online collection already points to more than 100,000 digitized items available on the Web sites American Memory and The Library of Congress Presents: Music, Theater and Dance, as well as the Library’s reading room sites. If items in a collection have not yet been digitized, visitors are given information about the collection and can access the items at the Library.

The Performing Arts Encyclopedia Web site is part of the Library’s award-winning Web site


PR 06-127
ISSN 0731-3527