Established in 1800 as a small research library for the new Congress, today’s Library is considered the repository of the nation’s life story and arguably the “ultimate American museum.” Its holdings include Jefferson’s draft of the Declaration of Independence, marked up by Adams and Franklin; the maps carried in the pockets of Lewis & Clark; the contents of Lincoln’s pockets the night he was shot; Gershwin’s piano; the typescript of Martin Luther King’s “I have a Dream” speech; and Bob Hope’s 80,000 page joke file.
A REPOSITORY OF KNOWLEDGE & CREATIVITY
In 1897 the Thomas Jefferson building opened its doors in Washington DC. It stands as the magnificent centerpiece of the Library of Congress.
Stored inside an argon-gas-filled case is Thomas Jefferson’s draft of the Declaration of Independence. It is written in Jefferson’s hand, with changes by John Adams, Benjamin Franklin and other members of the Committee.
A HUMANIZING GLIMPSE
The contents of Abraham Lincoln’s pockets from the night of his assassination bear a haunting testament to his humanity: two pairs of spectacles, a penknife, a linen handkerchief, and a five-dollar Confederate bill.
THE GUTENBERG BIBLE
In 1455 in Mainz, Germany, Johann Gutenberg produced his famous Bible, the first book printed with movable type in the western world. This Gutenberg Bible is on display in the Library.
GEORGE GERSHWIN'S PIANO
Popular culture is also showcased at the Library of Congress where a small gallery celebrates the unique contributions of George and Ira Gershwin to the music of America.