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American Treasures in the Library of Congress: Memory, Reason, Imagination

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The nucleus of the present-day Library of Congress was formed in 1815, when the nation purchased Thomas Jefferson's personal library of about six thousand volumes, which had been organized around the concepts of "Memory" (history), "Reason" (philosophy, law, and science), and "Imagination" (the arts). Today, the Library's vast holdings - nearly 110 million items in formats ranging rom manuscripts to motion pictures and sound recordings - offer an unparalleled vista of American life in all of the realms embraced ...
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Overview

The nucleus of the present-day Library of Congress was formed in 1815, when the nation purchased Thomas Jefferson's personal library of about six thousand volumes, which had been organized around the concepts of "Memory" (history), "Reason" (philosophy, law, and science), and "Imagination" (the arts). Today, the Library's vast holdings - nearly 110 million items in formats ranging rom manuscripts to motion pictures and sound recordings - offer an unparalleled vista of American life in all of the realms embraced by Jefferson's original scheme. For most Americans, it has been until now a vista largely hidden from view. This book gathers seventy-six of the Library's representative American treasures, selected by the Library's experts for its first-ever permanent public exhibition; a superb collection that expresses the essence of our heritage in all of its vibrant diversity. They are, as Pulitzer Prize-winning author Garry Wills says in his eloquent introduction, at first sight almost dizzyingly varied, encompassing comic books and the Declaration of Independence; a design for a macaroni machine and a design for the United States Capitol; a cookbook and the Gettysburg Address. Wills speaks of the growth of a visual and aural culture, deeply reliant on image and song to communicate ideas and feelings. He points to an American obsession with justice, rights, and the rule of law. And, like many before him, he remarks on an American propensity to revel in the physical vastness of the land. These, and many other national characteristics, may be inferred from this selection of American treasures.

The Library of Congress began rather earlier-when the United States purchased Thomas Jefferson's vast collection of books. Jefferson had organized his library into three categories: Memory (history), Reason (philosophy, law, and science), and Imagination (the arts). Following that arrangement, American Treasures in the Library of Congress: Memory/Reason/Imagination, offers noteworthy examples of American culture, from the oldest book (1640) and photograph (1839), to the contents of Abraham Lincoln's pockets on the night of his assassination. With an introduction of Garry Wills, and a foreword by James H. Billington, the librarian of Congress.

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Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
YAThis handsome volume serves as a catalog for the new permanent collection of the Library of Congress, which uses Thomas Jefferson's original tripartite concept of "Memory" (history), "Reason" (philosophy, law, and science), and "Imagination" (the arts) as its basis for classification. The 76 documentary photographs include the first book printed in the United States in 1640, objects that Abraham Lincoln carried on the night of his assassination, the famous FSA collection of documentary photographs of migrant workers captured from 1935-1943, the first draft of the Emancipation Proclamation, and much more. Government classes will appreciate the accounts of landmark court cases such as the deliberations of the Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka and the Gobitis (misspelled from Gobitas by a printer's error) case involving the rights of individuals and the freedom of speech. Wills's introduction reflects on the importance of these treasures and the connection of the object with our nation's history. A welcome resource, especially for those who can't get to Washington to see the real thing.Bobbi Thomas Skaggs, Robinson Secondary, Fairfax County, VA
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780810942981
  • Publisher: Abrams, Harry N., Inc.
  • Publication date: 2/1/1997
  • Pages: 176
  • Product dimensions: 8.42 (w) x 10.33 (h) x 0.79 (d)

Table of Contents

Foreword 6
Letter from Paul A. Allaire 9
Introduction: National Treasures 10
Memory 16
Reason 58
Imagination 116
Building the National Collection 164
Preserving the Past 166
Object List 168
Index 173
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