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"The Grapes of Wrath"

When John Steinbeck wrote his classic "The Grapes of Wrath" in 1939, he brought a story of the plight of migrant farmworkers to millions of Americans. One of those farm workers could well have been someone like Cesar Chavez (1927-1993), a Mexican American labor activist and leader of the United Farm Workers union. In 1965 Chavez organized a five-year workers' strike and boycott of California grapes. His leadership of the UFW eventually led to reforms and better working conditions for farmworkers. You can read more about Chavez in the "Amazing Americans" section of the America's Library Web site for kids and families.

William Clark's compass and case Sen. Lyndon B. Johnson, Senate majority leader, Sept. 1955.

In September we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month to honor the achievements of Hispanic Americans like Chavez. The Hispanic collections of the Library of Congress are among the finest in the world, encompassing Latin America and the Caribbean as well as Hispanics and Portuguese in the United States, the Iberian Peninsula and other places where Iberian culture dominated and has survived.

The Hispanic Reading Room is the place where researchers from around the globe come to study Hispanic and Portuguese history and culture. If you can't come to Washington, however, there are thousands of resources online that relate to these cultural groups.

American Memory, for example, has several relevant presentations, such as "Hispano Music & Culture from the Northern Rio Grande," a multiformat ethnographic field collection documenting religious and secular music of Spanish-speaking residents of rural Northern New Mexico and Southern Colorado. You can hear recordings of alabados (hymns), folk drama, wedding songs and dance tunes. In "Puerto Rico at the Dawn of the Modern Age: Nineteenth and Early-Twentieth Century Perspectives," the early history of the commonwealth of Puerto Rico is told through first-person accounts, political writings and histories.

"Spain, the United States and the American Frontier: Historias Paralelas," from the Global Gateway Web site, examines the history of Spanish expansion into North America from Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas across the continent through Louisiana and Texas to the Southwest, California and as far as Alaska. You can read this history in either English or Spanish.

There are even Webcasts of Library events. "Reverence for Life" was a symposium held in May 2002. In 1956 Dr. William Larimer Mellon and Mrs. Gwen Grant Mellon opened Hospital Albert Schweitzer in the Artibonite Valley of Haiti. Inspired and personally guided by Dr. Schweitzer and his work in Lambarene, Gabon, they launched a pragmatic enterprise devoted to reverence for life. The Hispanic Division held a symposium that focused on the history of the hospital since its inception. The purpose of the symposium was twofold. First, it served to identify -- through presentations by speakers directly involved in the process -- critical elements leading to the long-term success of the institution and its emergence as a model for the delivery of medical services in Haiti. Second, the symposium made it possible to record and to preserve for the future an important oral history.

A second Webcast, "21st Century Public Policy in the Americas," offers a February 2001 conference that brought together 20 of the best minds in the Western Hemisphere to discuss issues ranging from challenges to democracy, sustainable development, the future of the humanities and the impact of the Information Age. The symposium included diplomats, congressional staff, policy analysts, technologists and scholars who discussed the hemispheric context in which public policy is being made and implemented.

Other Webcasts on a variety of topics are available from "CyberLC." Here you can listen to and see Pulitzer Prize-winner Robert A. Caro deliver a talk on his latest book about Lyndon B. Johnson, "Master of the Senate," or be entertained by former Poet Laureate Billy Collins (2001-2003) reading his poems at the Library, among many other programs.

A. [Cesar Chavez, half-length portrait, facing left], [1966]. New York World-Telegram & Sun Collection, Prints and Photographs Division. Reproduction No.: LC-USZ62-111017 (b&w film copy neg.); Call No.: NYWTS - BIOG--Chavez, Cesar--Labor

B. Paul Davis, artist. Poster for benefit performance at Carnegie Hall in New York City for the California Grape Workers and the National Farm Workers Service Center, starring Alan King and Peter, Paul & Mary; portrait of boy, ca. 1968. Reproduction No.: LC-USZC4-2864 (color film copy transparency) LC-USZC2-3681 (color film copy slide); Call No.: POS - US .D395, no. 1 (C size)

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