April 16, 1997 Press Preview of "American Treasures" Exhibition

Contact: Craig D'Ooge (202) 707-9189, Yvonne French (202) 707-9191

A press preview of "American Treasures of the Library of Congress," the first permanent exhibition of rare and significant items in the history of the Library of Congress, will be held from 11 a.m.- 12:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 25, in the Great Hall of the Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First St. S.E. (The ground floor entrance will be open for individuals with equipment or physical disabilities.)

Dr. Abby Smith, curator for the exhibition, will brief the press on the 240 items on display. Among the highlights of the rare books, music, manuscripts, maps, photos, drawings, audio and video selections are:

  • The first extant book printed in America, the Bay Psalm Book
  • The earliest known baseball card
  • The earliest surviving copyrighted film, submitted in 1894 by Edison's laboratory
  • The contents of Lincoln's pockets on the night of his assassination
  • A photograph of the Wright brothers' first flight at the instant of takeoff
  • Alexander Graham Bell's notebook entry about the first successful experiment with the telephone, 1876.

The exhibition, made possible by a grant of $1.1 million from the Xerox Foundation, will be the centerpiece of a yearlong celebration marking the official reopening of the Library's Thomas Jefferson Building during its 100th anniversary year. The Jefferson Building has been undergoing renovation since 1984 and will be seen in its fully restored state for the first time when it reopens to the public on May 1. Tours of the building will also be offered to the press on April 25.

A free community event will mark the reopening on Sunday, May 4, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., featuring musical performances, celebrity readings, treasure hunts, and food vendors.


PR 97-074
ISSN 0731-3527