University of Wisconsin–Madison

American Memory

Last semester in this column, we explored the Library of Congress website “A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation : U.S. Congressional Documents and Debates (1774-1875).”  This week just for fun, I’d like to introduce you to some more of the many informative and entertaining websites that comprise the Library of Congress’ “American Memory” online historical collections.

Be it African-American history, baseball cards, jazz, maps of our National Parks, Presidential Inaugurations, vaudeville or women’s suffrage, there is a little something here for everyone to enjoy.  American Memory began as a pilot program in 1990.  Later in 1994, the National Digital Library Program was started and American Memory was designated as the program’s flagship.  The resulting effort was to digitize some of the Library’s foremost historical treasures bringing together generations of our national heritage on the Web.

With over 135 individual collections, American Memory is also rich in the variety of formats presented.  Pictures, books, audio and music files, letters, maps, motion picture clips, posters, sheet music and more are all here.  You can even order audio and photographic reproductions for your very own personal collection from the Library of Congress.

Of interest to many this year, especially on the occasion of the bicentennial of his birth, Abraham Lincoln is featured prominently on American Memory.  “Mr. Lincoln’s Virtual Library” serves as a gateway to two important online collections at the Library of Congress, the “Alfred Whital Stern Collection of Lincolniana” and the “Abraham Lincoln Papers at the Library of Congress”.  As with so many of the collections on American Memory, “Mr. Lincoln’s Virtual Library” features a “Related Resources” link.  A click on this link leads you to over 20 additional websites both within and outside the Library of Congress full of more information and memorabilia about one of America’s most popular presidents.

For Badger fans, there are two collections with ties to our home state, “American Notes: Travels in America, 1750-1920" and “Pioneering the Upper Midwest: Books from Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, ca. 1820-1910".  The first is of note as it includes first-person narratives from the 32 volume set Early Western Travels, 1748-1846 compiled by the distinguished historian and secretary of the Wisconsin Historical Society Reuben Gold Thwaites.  The second collection depicts the lives of our ancestors from a time when Wisconsin was still a territory through the first decades of its entry as the 30th State of the Union.

The list of resources goes on, and as you can see there’s plenty of American treasure for everybody at American Memory.  So go explore, enjoy, and most of all have fun!

Submitted by Eric Taylor on April 2, 2009

This article appears in the categories: Law Library

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