American Memory (LC website)

Ryan Walsh-Martel 2003
Rael: History 336
September 25, 2001


The primary documents resource that I explored was the American Memory section of the Library of Congress website. It is located at The site was created by the Library of Congress as an online digital resource of documents and sources relating to American history. It contains almost entirely primary sources. This site was created during the 1990's and is updated and expanded regularly. Its purpose is to "offer broad public access to American Memory collections as a contribution to education and scholarship." It is composed of a large amount of "collections" of material, which are generally specific in their scope, but can at the same time encompass a lot of different subject material. New collections are sometimes added, and information on upcoming collections is available at the website. All the collections relate to some aspect of American history. The American Memory historical collections are digital collections that are part of the Library of Congress's National Digital Library Program. The formats of the collection include digitized documents, photographs, sound recordings, videos and text. There are also maps, pamphlets, old documents and newspaper articles and books.
This website is extremely large and can at times be difficult to navigate through, because topics and areas of interest often span several collections of materials. A good place to start in a search is the collections finder link on the main page, which gives a broad range of topics and collections. For a full list of all specific collections, click the list collections link at the top of the collections finder page. You can select a collection and search that specific collection, or you can search across all or selected collections for a desired subject. Several collections however are not searchable, they are The New Deal Stage: Federal Theatre Project, and the Walt Whitman Notebooks. Several other collections contain material that will not turn up in a general search, so it is a good idea to search through collections that apply to your subject individually.

Another place to start a search is by clicking the search link on the main page. This allows you to search for materials throughout all of the collections, and gives several options for the type of search and the limits or scope of the search. This method, while helpful, often turns up a huge amount of information that can prove difficult to sift through, but this method offers a great way to find reservoirs of information within the American Memory website. After you search, for example, for baseball, and end up with over 2000 hits, you get a list of all the hits and can scroll through them, but if you look to the left of each specific hit, you will see the collection to which that document belongs. For example, a hit relating to baseball is under the collection "African-American Experience," I clicked on that hit, and scrolled down to the subject section, which offered two more specific links within the "African American Experience in Ohio." They were SUBJECTS
Afro-American athletes
These two links offer more specific collections within the larger collection, and the Afro-American athletes link provided me with 255 hits relating only to Black athletes in Ohio. Almost all of these hits were digital photographs of newspaper articles relating to sports, mostly boxing and baseball, from Ohio newspapers.
The collections can also be searched by specific type of media. Press the search button, and there is a green box on the left of the screen that offers the option to search just for media such as maps, sound recordings, motion pictures, or different documents.
To search for items or media by time period or region, click on the collection finder link, scroll to the bottom, and there are options to click on more specific time periods in American history, starting in the 1400's and going to the present. This option is broken down into several different time periods, and regions as well.
The American Memory site also has links to the Library of Congress website on the homepage, in the upper left hand corner. There are also links to digital collection all around the world, under the link International Horizons. The LC/Ameritech link offers more access to digital information and primary sources from other libraries, museums, and historical societies around the country. The link on the homepage for America's Library offers access to information for children.
This Website is an excellent resource for finding primary material in several different medias on the Internet. One of the main benefits is its affiliation to the Library of Congress and the credibility that it gets because of that. It is a site that cannot provide the sole basis for a research project because it does not have historical narratives, basic history, or criticism, but it is an excellent source of primary documents that can provide the basis for historical research. It is a large collection and at times can become difficult to search through, but the breadth and depth of the materials accessible negate that disadvantage. Another great feature is that every specific document is cited already, on the same page, so citation becomes quite easy.
Below is a list of the collections available at the American Memory website:
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Advertising ~ Multiformat ~ 1850-1920
Title: The Emergence of Advertising in America: 1850-1920
African Americans ~ Daniel A. P. Murray ~ Pamphlets ~ 1818-1907
Title: African American Perspectives: Pamphlets from the Daniel A. P. Murray Collection, 1818-1907
African Americans ~ Ohio ~ Multiformat ~ 1850-1920
Title: The African-American Experience in Ohio: Selections from the Ohio Historical Society
African Americans ~ Pamphlets ~ 1824-1909
Title: From Slavery to Freedom: The African-American Pamphlet Collection, 1824-1909
African Americans ~ Sheet Music ~ 1850-1920
Title: African-American Sheet Music, 1850-1920: Selected from the Collections of Brown University
African-American Music, Southern U.S. ~ Recordings ~ 1938-1943
Title: "Now What a Time": Blues, Gospel, and the Fort Valley Music Festivals, 1938-1943
African-American Odyssey ~ Exhibit ~ Multiformat
Title: African American Odyssey
Architecture and Engineering ~ HABS/HAER ~ Multiformat ~ 1933-present
Title: Built in America: Historic American Buildings Survey/Historic American Engineering Record, 1933-Present
Architecture and Interior Design ~ Gottscho and Schleisner ~ Photographs ~ 1935-1955
Title: Architecture and Interior Design for 20th Century America: Photographs by Samuel Gottscho and William Schleisner , 1935-1955
Arendt, Hannah ~ Papers ~ 1898-1977
Title: The Hannah Arendt Papers at the Library of Congress
Baseball and Jackie Robinson ~ Multiformat ~ 1860-1969
Title: By Popular Demand: Jackie Robinson and Other Baseball Highlights, 1860s-1960s
Baseball Cards ~ 1887-1914
Title: Baseball Cards, 1887-1914
Bell, Alexander Graham ~ Papers ~ 1862-1939
Title: Alexander Graham Bell Family Papers at the Library of Congress
Bernstein, Leonard ~ Multiformat ~ ca. 1920-1989
Title: The Leonard Bernstein Collection, ca. 1920-1989
Broadsides and Printed Ephemera ~ ca. 1600-2000
Title: An American Time Capsule: Three Centuries of Broadsides and Other Printed Ephemera
California, First-Person Narratives ~ Books ~ 1849-1900
Title: "California as I Saw It": First-Person Narratives of California's Early Years, 1849-1900
Chautauqua Performers ~ Advertising Flyers ~ 1904-1940
Title: Traveling Culture: Circuit Chautauqua in the Twentieth Century
Chesapeake Bay and Washington, D.C. ~ Books ~ 1600-1925
Title: The Capital and the Bay: Narratives of Washington and the Chesapeake Bay Region, 1600-1925
Civil War Era ~ Band Music ~ Multiformat
Title: Band Music from the Civil War Era
Civil War Images ~ Multiformat ~ 1861-1865
Title: Civil War Treasures from the New-York Historical Society
Civil War Maps ~ 1861-1865
Title: Civil War Maps
Civil War ~ Brady Studio and Others ~ Photographs ~ 1861-1865
Title: Selected Civil War Photographs
Coca-Cola Advertising ~ Films ~ 1951-1999
Title: Fifty Years of Coca-Cola Television Advertisements: Highlights from the Motion Picture Archives at the Library of Congress
Conservation Movement ~ Multiformat ~ 1850-1920
Title: The Evolution of the Conservation Movement, 1850-1920
Continental Congress and Constitutional Convention ~ Documents ~ 1774-1789
Title: Documents from the Continental Congress and the Constitutional Convention, 1774-1789
Coolidge Era ~ Multiformat ~ 1924-1929
Title: Prosperity and Thrift: The Coolidge Era and the Consumer Economy, 1921-1929
Copland, Aaron ~ Multiformat ~ 1900-1990
Title: The Aaron Copland Collection, ca. 1900-1990
Curtis, Edward ~ North American Indian Photographs ~ Ca. 1900
Title: Edward S. Curtis's The North American Indian: Photographic Images
Daguerreotype Photographs ~ 1839-1864
Title: America's First Look into the Camera: Daguerreotype Portraits and Views, 1839-1862
Dance Manuals ~ Books ~ 1490-1920
Title: An American Ballroom Companion: Dance Instruction Manuals, ca. 1490-1920
Depression Era to World War II ~ FSA/OWI ~ Photographs ~ 1935-1945
Title: America from the Great Depression to World War II: Photographs from the FSA and OWI, ca. 1935-1945
Edison Companies ~ Film and Sound Recordings
Title: Inventing Entertainment: the Early Motion Pictures and Sound Recordings of the Edison Companies
Environment, Natural ~ Photographs ~ 1891-1936
Title: American Environmental Photographs, 1891-1936: Images from the University of Chicago Library
Factories, Westinghouse ~ Films ~ 1904
Title: Inside an American Factory: Films of the Westinghouse Works, 1904
Federal Theatre Project ~ Multiformat ~ 1935-1939
Title: The New Deal Stage: Selections from the Federal Theatre Project, 1935-1939
Film, Animated ~ 1900-1921
Title: Origins of American Animation
Fine, Irving ~ Multiformat ~ 1914-1962
Title: The Irving Fine Collection: Ca. 1914-1962
Flutes ~ Dayton C. Miller ~ Multiformat
Title: Dayton C. Miller Flute Collection
Folk Culture and Natural Environment, West Virginia ~ Multiformat ~ 1992-1999
Title: Tending the Commons: Folklife and Landscape in Southern West Virginia
Folk Culture, Florida ~ Multiformat ~ 1937-1942
Title: Florida Folklife from the WPA Collections, 1937-1942
Folk Fiddle Music, Southern Appalachian ~ Henry Reed ~ Multiformat ~ 1966-1967
Title: Fiddle Tunes of the Old Frontier: The Henry Reed Collection
Folk Music, California ~ Sidney Robertson Cowell ~ Multiformat ~ 1930s
Title: California Gold: Northern California Folk Music from the Thirties. Collected by Sidney Robertson Cowell
Folk Music, Dust Bowl ~ Charles L. Todd and Robert Sonkin ~ Multiformat ~ 1940-1941
Title: Voices from the Dust Bowl: the Charles L. Todd and Robert Sonkin Migrant Worker Collection, 1940-1941
Folk Music, Southern U.S. ~ John Lomax and Ruby Lomax ~ Multiformat ~ 1939
Title: Southern Mosaic: The John and Ruby Lomax 1939 Southern States Recording Trip
Great Plains ~ Photographs ~ 1880-1920
Title: The Northern Great Plains, 1880-1920: Photographs from the Fred Hultstrand and F.A. Pazandak Photograph Collections
Hispanic Music, Rio Grande ~ Juan Bautista Rael ~ Multiformat ~ 1940s
Title: Hispano Music & Culture from the Northern Rio Grande: The Juan B. Rael Collection
Jazz ~ William P. Gottlieb ~ Photographs ~ 1938-1948
Title: William P. Gottlieb: Photographs from the Golden Age of Jazz
Jefferson, Thomas ~ Papers ~ 1606-1827
Title: The Thomas Jefferson Papers at the Library of Congress
Landscape and Architectural Design ~ Multiformat ~ 1850-1920
Title: American Landscape and Architectural Design, 1850-1920: a Study Collection from the Harvard Graduate School of Design
Liberia ~ Maps ~ 1830-1870
Title: Maps of Liberia, 1830-1870
Life Histories, Federal Writers' Project ~ Manuscripts ~ 1936-1940
Title: American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936 - 1940
Lincoln, Abraham ~ Multiformat ~ 1850-1909
Title: Mr. Lincoln's Virtual Library
Lincoln, Abraham ~ Papers ~ ca. 1850-1865
Title: Abraham Lincoln Papers at the Library of Congress
Lincoln, Abraham, and Civil War ~ Sheet Music ~ Alfred Whital Stern ~ 1859-1909
Title: "We'll Sing to Abe Our Song": Sheet Music about Lincoln, Emancipation, and the Civil War, from the Alfred Whital Stern Collection of Lincolniana
Manuscript Division ~ Selected Highlights
Title: Words and Deeds in American History: Selected Documents Celebrating the Manuscript Division's First 100 Years
Maps ~ 1500-1999
Title: Map Collections: 1544-1999
McKinley, William, and Pan-American Exposition ~ Films ~ 1901
Title: The Last Days of a President: Films of McKinley and the Pan-American Exposition, 1901
National Parks ~ Maps
Title: Mapping the National Parks
Native American Culture, Pacific Northwest ~ Multiformat
Title: American Indians of the Pacific Northwest
New York City ~ Films ~ 1898-1906
Title: The Life of a City: Early Films of New York, 1898-1906
Nineteenth-Century Books ~ 1850-1877
Title: The Nineteenth Century in Print: Books
Nineteenth-Century Periodicals ~ 1850-1877
Title: The Nineteenth Century in Print: Periodicals
Omaha Indian Music ~ Multiformat
Title: Omaha Indian Music
Panoramic Maps ~ 1847-1929
Title: Panoramic Maps
Panoramic Photographs ~ 1851-1991
Title: Taking the Long View: Panoramic Photographs, 1851-1991
Portraits of Creative Americans ~ Carl Van Vechten ~ Photographs ~ 1932-1964
Title: Creative Americans: Portraits by Carl Van Vechten, 1932-1964
Posters, WPA ~ 1936-1943
Title: By the People, For the People: Posters from the WPA, 1936-1943
Prairie Settlement, Nebraska ~ Photographs and Letters ~ 1862-1912
Title: Prairie Settlement: Nebraska Photographs and Family Letters, 1862-1912
Presidential Inaugurations ~ Multiformat ~ 1789-1997
Title: "I Do Solemnly Swear...": Presidential Inaugurations
Presidents and First Ladies ~ Portraits
Title: By Popular Demand: Portraits of the Presidents and First Ladies, 1789-Present
Puerto Rico Books and Pamphlets ~ 1831-1929
Title: Puerto Rico at the Dawn of the Modern Age: Nineteenth- and Early-Twentieth-Century Perspectives
Quilts and Quiltmaking ~ Multiformat ~ 1978-1996
Title: Quilts and Quiltmaking in America, 1978-1996
Railroads ~ Maps ~ 1828-1900
Title: Railroad Maps, 1828-1900
Ranching Culture, Nevada ~ Multiformat ~ 1945-1982
Title: Buckaroos in Paradise: Ranching Culture in Northern Nevada, 1945-1982
Religious Petitions, Virginia ~ 1764-1802
Title: Early Virginia Religious Petitions
Revolutionary Era ~ Maps ~ 1750-1789
Title: The American Revolution and Its Era: Maps and Charts of North America and the West Indies, 1750-1789
Roosevelt, Theodore ~ Films ~ 1898-1919
Title: Theodore Roosevelt: His Life and Times on Film
San Francisco and 1906 Earthquake ~ Films ~ 1897-1916
Title: Before and After the Great Earthquake and Fire: Early Films of San Francisco, 1897-1916
Sheet Music ~ 1850-1920
Title: Historic American Sheet Music, 1850-1920
Sheet Music ~ 1870-1885
Title: Music for the Nation: American Sheet Music, 1870-1885
Slave Narratives, Federal Writers' Project ~ Multiformat ~ 1936-1938
Title: Born in Slavery: Slave Narratives from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1938
Small Town Life, Mid-Atlantic ~ Stereoscopic Photographs ~ 1850-1920
Title: Small-Town America: Stereoscopic Views from the Robert Dennis Collection, 1850-1920
Song Sheets ~ ca. 1800-1880
Title: America Singing: Nineteenth-Century Song Sheets
Southern U.S. ~ Personal Narratives ~ 1860-1920
Title: First-Person Narratives of the American South, 1860-1920
Spanish-American War ~ Films ~ 1898-1901
Title: The Spanish-American War in Motion Pictures
Sunday Schools ~ Books ~ 1815-1865
Title: Sunday School Books: Shaping the Values of Youth in Nineteenth-Century America
Texas Border ~ Photographs ~ 1900-1920
Title: The South Texas Border, 1900-1920: Photographs from the Robert Runyon Collection
Transportation, Global ~ Photographs ~ 1894-1896
Title: Around the World in the 1890s: Photographs from the World's Transportation Commission, 1894-1896
Turn-of-the-Century America ~ Detroit Publishing Company ~ Photographs ~ 1880-1920
Title: Touring Turn-of-the-Century America: Photographs from the Detroit Publishing Company, 1880 - 1920
U.S. Congress ~ Documents ~ 1774-1873
Title: A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation: U.S. Congressional Documents and Debates, 1774-1873
Upper Midwest ~ Books ~ ca. 1820-1910
Title: Pioneering the Upper Midwest: Books from Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, ca. 1820-1910
Variety Stage ~ Multiformat ~ 1870-1920
Title: The American Variety Stage: Vaudeville and Popular Entertainment, 1870-1920
Washington, D.C. ~ Theodor Horydczak ~ Photographs ~ 1923-1959
Title: Washington as It Was: Photographs by Theodor Horydczak, 1923-1959
Washington, George ~ Papers ~ 1741-1799
Title: George Washington Papers at the Library of Congress, 1741-1799
Western U.S. ~ Photographs ~ 1860-1920
Title: History of the American West, 1860-1920: Photographs from the Collection of the Denver Public Library
Whitman, Walt ~ Notebooks ~ 1850s
Title: Poet at Work: Recovered Notebooks from the Thomas Biggs Harned Walt Whitman Collection
Woman Suffrage ~ Books and Pamphlets ~ 1848-1921
Title: Votes for Women: Selections from the National American Woman Suffrage Association Collection, 1848-1921
Woman Suffrage ~ Photographs and Prints ~ 1850-1920
Title: By Popular Demand: "Votes for Women" Suffrage Pictures, 1850-1920
Work and Leisure ~ Films ~ 1894-1915
Title: America at Work, America at Leisure: Motion Pictures from 1894-1915
World War I and 1920 Election ~ Recordings
Title: American Leaders Speak: Recordings from World War I and the 1920 Election
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