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Program Of the People: Widening the Path


As part of the Library’s vision to connect all Americans and to empower new generations and diverse audiences to explore its enduring treasury of information, Of the People: Widening the Path will enhance and support diverse and inclusive participation in the creation and perpetuation of the nation’s historical and creative record.

The commitment to diversity within the collections builds on the efforts of visionary Library staff over the years who have worked to collect, preserve, and share an inclusive American story. Most notably author and historian Daniel A. P. Murray worked for more than 50 years at the Library of Congress and was influential in including materials that document the lives and accomplishments of African Americans. In 1871, he was only the second Black employee of the Library, yet after 10 years became assistant Librarian, a position he held for 41 years.

Learn more about Daniel A. P. Murray and the Library’s vast culturally and historically relevant collections below.

Daniel A.P. Murray: A Collector's Legacy

A pioneering African American bibliographer and historian, Daniel Alexander Payne Murray spent 51 years (1871-1922) working at the Library of Congress, leaving a legacy of rare and important literary materials that document the lives and accomplishments of African Americans. He believed that "the true test of the progress of a people is to be found in their literature." An agent of change in a period when many African Americans were plagued by racial discrimination, unemployment, and poverty, he eventually bequeathed to the Library a unique collection of pamphlets and books about the contributions of African American writers and organizations working for political and social advancement.

The African-American Mosaic

This exhibition marked the publication of The African-American Mosaic: A Library of Congress Resource Guide for the Study of Black History and Culture. A noteworthy and singular publication, the Mosaic is the first Library-wide resource guide to the institution's African-American collections. Covering the nearly 500 years of the black experience in the Western hemisphere, the Mosaic surveys the full range size, and variety of the Library's collections, including books, periodicals, prints, photographs, music, film, and recorded sound.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964: A Long Struggle for Freedom

This exhibition, which commemorated the fiftieth anniversary of the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964, explores the events that shaped the civil rights movement, as well as the far-reaching impact the act had on a changing society. The act is considered the most significant piece of civil rights legislation since Reconstruction. It prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin in voting, public accommodations, public facilities, public education, federally funded programs, and employment.

Living Nations, Living Words

This collection—part of Poet Laureate Joy Harjo’s “Living Nations, Living Words” signature project—contains audio recordings of 47 contemporary Native American poets reading and discussing an original poem. Created in 2020, Harjo’s project gathers a sampling of work by contemporary Native poets from across the nation to show, through poetry, that Native people and poets have vital and unequivocal roots in the United States. The poets included in “Living Nations, Living Words” chose their poem and commentary based on the theme of place and displacement, and with four touchpoints in mind: visibility, persistence, resistance, and acknowledgment.

Asian American Pacific Islander Collection

The Asian Division houses the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) collection, which comprises a number of individual collections pertaining to notable Asian American authors, scholars, activists, and artists, among others. Each of these collections contains unique material, such as correspondence, manuscript drafts, diaries, photographs, organizational records, interviews, and speeches.

Latinx Studies: Library of Congress Resources

This guide provides curated Library of Congress resources for researching LatinX Studies, including digitized primary source materials in a wide variety of formats, books and periodicals, online databases, and research strategies.