Arts and Humanities Information
from Federal Government Sources

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Digitized collections of primary source material

Reference Shelf

American Memory Project

American Memory Project Arranged by Topic

National Endowment for the Humanities 

Our Documents [Facsimiles and Transcripts of the 100 Most Influential Documents in United States History]

Smithsonian Institution

Smithsonian Magazine

Search the Smithsonian Institutions Catalogs and Collections

Search for Specific Works of American Art in the National Museum of American Art


Archives of American Art (Smithsonian)

The Archives of American Art provides researchers with access to the largest collection of documents on the history of the visual arts in the United States. The collection totals more than thirteen million items, consisting of the papers of artists, dealers, critics, art historians, curators, administrators and the records of art dealers, museums, and other art-related businesses, institutions, and organizations.

Art in the United States Capitol

Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum

The only museum in the United States devoted exclusively to the study of historical and contemporary design. The NDM investigates the uses, structures,effects and meanings of the products of design and their roles as forces for communication and change in our daily lives.

Freer Gallery of Art

The Freer Gallery houses a world-renowned collection of art from China, Japan, Korea, South and
Southeast Asia and the Near East. Visitor favorites include Chinese paintings, Japanese folding
screens, Korean ceramics, Indian and Persian manuscripts, and Buddhist sculpture.

Hirshorn Museum and Sculpture Garden (SI Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art)

A museum of modern and contemporary art whose original nucleus of more than 6,000 works was a gift from Joseph H. Hirshhorn, a self-made millionaire, financier and mining magnate (1899-1981).

National Museum of African Art Collections

A leading center for the visual arts of Africa. The National Museum of African Art (NMAfA) fosters and sustains an interest in and an understanding of the diverse cultures in Africa as they are embodied in aesthetic achievements in the visual arts.

National Museum of American Art

The largest resource in the world for the study of American art. The collection of works in all media reflects 200 years of American artistic achievement. Colonial portraiture, 19th-century landscape, American impressionism, 20th-century realism, New Deal projects, American crafts, contemporary photography, graphic arts, and the creativity of self-taught artists are featured in the museum's galleries.

National Portrait Gallery

A free public museum for the exhibition and study of portraiture and statuary depicting men and women who have made significant contributions to the history, development, and culture of the people of the United States, and the artists who created such portraiture and statuary.


Daguerreotype Photographs

The Library of Congress' daguerreotype collection consists of approximately 600 photographs dating from 1839 to 1862.

Panoramic Photograph Collection

The Panoramic Photograph Collection contains approximately four thousand images featuring
American cityscapes, landscapes, and group portraits. These panoramas offer an overview of the
nation, its enterprises and its interests, with a focus on the start of the twentieth century when the
panoramic photo format was at the height of its popularity. Subject strengths include: agricultural life;
beauty contests; disasters; engineering work such as bridges, canals and dams; fairs and expositions;
military and naval activities, especially during World War I; the oil industry; schools and college
campuses, sports, and transportation. The images date from 1851 to 1991 and depict scenes in all
fifty states and the District of Columbia.

Presidential Portraits

The Library of Congress has extensive resources for the study of the United States presidents and
first ladies. Frequent requests for presidential portraits inspired Prints and Photographs Division staff
to compile this ready reference aid of formal and informal pictures in the division's custody. The
selected images include at least one likeness of each of the forty-one presidents and most of the first

Touring the United States at the Turn of the Century

This collection of photographs from the Detroit Publishing Company Collection includes over
25,000 glass negatives and transparencies as well as about 300 color photolithograph prints, mostly
of the eastern United States. The collection includes the work of a number of photographers, one of
whom was the well known photographer William Henry Jackson. A small group within the larger collection includes about 900 Mammoth Plate Photographs taken by William Henry Jackson along several railroad lines in the United States and Mexico in the 1880s and 1890s. The group also includes views of California, Wyoming and the Canadian Rockies.

National Museums

Anacostia Museum (Smithsonian)

A community based and constituency focused museum that increases public awareness of the Black experience through research, programs and exhibitions. It is a national resource for the identification, documentation, protection, and interpretation of African American history.

National Museum of the American Indian

The Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian is dedicated to the preservation, study,
and exhibition of the life, languages, literature,history, and arts of Native Americans

Portraits of American Indians from the National Portrait Gallery

National Museum of American History

The National Museum of American History is devoted to collecting, preserving, and interpreting artifacts as a special class of historical evidence--and as principal expressions of human creativity.

The Museum is interested in how objects are made, how they are used, how they express human needs and values, and how they influence society and the lives of individuals.

National Museum of Natural History

The National Museum of Natural History is one of the most popular museums at the Smithsonian. Some 6 million visits are made each year to the permanent exhibits of gems, fossils, birds, mammals, and human cultures. The Museum also produces and hosts a variety of thought-provoking temporary exhibits.

Literature, Film and Writers

Ex-Slave Narrative Collection

The interviewing of former slaves was begun in the Ohio River Valley by the Federal Emergency
Relief Administration in 1934 and was extended to other areas between 1936 and 1938 by the WPA
Federal Writers' Project (FWP) under the direction of John A. Lomax. Federal field workers met with
informants who had been slaves in households and plantations of varying sizes and had been trained in
many slave occupations.

African American Perspectives

A panoramic and eclectic review of African-American history and culture, spanning almost one hundred years from the early nineteenth through the early twentieth centuries, with the bulk of the material published between 1875 and 1900. Among the authors represented are Frederick Douglass, Booker T. Washington, Ida B. Wells-Barnett, Benjamin W. Arnett, Alexander Crummel, and Emanuel Love.

Edward Albee

Portrait of Albee

Hannah Arendt Papers

The papers contain correspondence, articles, lectures, speeches, book manuscripts, transcripts of Adolf Eichmann's trial proceedings, notes, and printed matter pertaining to Arendt's writings and academic career.

Truman Capote

Portrait of Capote

Willa Cather

Portrait of Cather

Countee Cullen

Portrait of Cullen

William Faulkner

Portrait of Faulkner

F. Scott Fitzgerald

Portrait of Fitzgerald

Langston Hughes

Portrait of Hughes

William Somerset Maugham

Portrait of Maugham

Henry Miller

Portrait of Miller

Eugene O'Neill

Portrait of O'Neill

Walt Whitman

The Feinberg-Whitman Collection, purchased by the Library over the last decade with the assistance
of anonymous benefactors, probably is the largest and most important group of materials relating to
American poet Walt Whitman (1819-1892) ever assembled.

Early Editions of Walt Whitman

Copies of every publication cited in A Concise Bibliography of the Works of Walt Whitman, With a Supplement of Fifty Books About Whitman (New York and Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1922. 106 p. The collection contains nearly one hundred copies of Leaves of Grass, included both issues of the first edition published in Brooklyn in 1855; an autographed copy of the exceedingly rare Memoranda During the War (Camden, N.J.: 1875-76); and one of the five known copies (the Library received a second copy through copyright deposit) of Letters Written by Walt Whitman to his Mother from 1866 to 1872 (New York and London: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1902), a work which was edited by Thomas B. Harned, Whitman's close friend and an executor of his literary estate.

Recovered Notebooks of Walt Whitman

This collection offers access to the four Walt Whitman Notebooks and a cardboard butterfly that
disappeared from the Library of Congress in 1942. They were returned on February 24, 1995.

American Films 1913-1948 from the United Artists Collection

The earliest surviving preprint material for approximately three thousand motion pictures from the pre-1949 film library of Warner Brothers pictures. The collection contains fifty silent features (1913-30), 750 sound features (1927-48), 1,800 sound shorts (1926-48), and 400 cartoons, among them Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies. While consisting largely of Warner Brothers releases, the collection includes nearly two hundred sound features released by Monogram Pictures Corporation and a number of Popeye cartoons produced by Fleischer Studios. Most motion pictures exist in the original black-and-white or Technicolor camera negatives.


Core Documents of American History from the Revolutionary period to present. In addition to document, this section includes political speeches, women's suffrage, Federal Writer's Project, etc.

Words and Deeds in American History - Main Page

Approximately ninety representative documents spanning from the fifteenth century to the
mid-twentieth century. Included are the papers of presidents, cabinet ministers, members of
Congress, Supreme Court justices, military officers and diplomats, reformers and political activists,
artists and writers, scientists and inventors, and other prominent Americans whose lives reflect our
country's evolution.

Words and Deeds in American History by 25 Year Increments


Today in American History

On April 1, 1997, the Library of Congress began offering Today in History, a presentation of
historic facts highlighted by items from the American Memory collections.

Search for Events in American History for a Specific Date

The Library of Congress has made the archives of Today in History searchable by date.

Documents from the Continental Congress and Constitutional Convention

The Continental Congress Broadside Collection (253 titles) and the Constitutional Convention Broadside Collection (21 titles) contain 274 documents relating to the work of Congress and the drafting and ratification of the Constitution. Items include extracts of the journals of Congress, resolutions, proclamations, committee reports, treaties, and early printed versions of the United States Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.

Our Documents [Facsimiles and Transcripts of the 100 Most Influential Documents in United States History]

American Life Histories from the Federal Writer's Project

These life histories were written by the staff of the Folklore Project of the Federal Writers' Project
for the U.S. Works Progress (later Work Projects) Administration (WPA) from 1936-1940. The
Library of Congress collection includes 2,900 documents representing the work of over 300 writers
from 24 states. Typically 2,000-15,000 words in length, the documents consist of drafts and
revisions, varying in form from narrative to dialogue to report to case history. The histories describe
the informant's family education, income, occupation, political views, religion and mores, medical
needs, diet and miscellaneous observations.

Speeches of American Political Leaders

The Nation's Forum Collection consists of fifty-nine sound recordings of speeches by American
leaders at the turn of the century. The speeches focus on issues and events surrounding the First
World War and the subsequent presidential election of 1920. Speakers include: Warren G. Harding,
James Cox, Calvin Coolidge, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Samuel Gompers, Henry Cabot Lodge, and
John J. Pershing. Speeches range from one to five minutes.

Women's Suffrage in the United States

The NAWSA Collection consists of 167 books, pamphlets and other artifacts documenting the
suffrage campaign. They are a subset of the Library's larger collection donated by Carrie Chapman
Catt, longtime president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, in November of
1938. The collection includes works from the libraries of other members and officers of the
organization including: Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, Lucy Stone, Alice Stone
Blackwell, Julia Ward Howe, Elizabeth Smith Miller, Mary A. Livermore.

Women's Suffrage in the United States - Pictures

A selection of 38 pictures includes portraits of many individuals who have been frequently requested from the holdings of the Prints and Photographs Division and the Manuscript Division. Also featured are photographs of suffrage parades, picketing suffragists, and an anti-suffrage display, as well as cartoons commenting on the movement--all evoking the visible and visual way in which the debate over women's suffrage was carried out.

Library of Congress Resources Related to the South

American Special Collections: Library of Congress

A complete list (by title) of special collections of the Library of Congress

The South

Architecture of the Southern United States
A systematic record of the early buildings and gardens of nine southern states that was executed between 1933 and 1940 with the financial assistance of thc Carnegie Corporation. Miss Johnston (1864-1952) worked chiefly in Maryland, Virginia, the Carolinas, Georgia, Alabama, and Louisiana and to a lesser degree in Florida and Mississippi.

Civil War Photographs

The best known pictorial records of the American Civil War are the photographs commissioned by
Mathew Brady (1823?-1896), a leading portrait photographer of New York and Washington. At the
outbreak of the war, Brady sent photographers into the field to record the progress of the conflict in
various regions.

Civil War Maps and Papers (Jedediah Hotchkiss Collection)

An outstanding collection of American Civil War maps by Major Jedediah Hotchkiss (1828-1899), a topographical engineer in the Confederate Army. Working principally in West Virginia and Virginia, areas he had toured during his earlier geological studies, Hotchkiss made detailed battle maps which were used, as annotations demonstrate, by Generals Lee and Jackson in planning their campaigns. He also filled several notebooks with topographic and strategic drawings. Hotchkiss's masterpiece, prepared at the request of Stonewall Jackson shows the offensive and defensive points of the Shenandoah Valley from the Potomac to Lexington, Virginia.

Time Line of the Civil War (includes photographs and Sound)

Afro-American Soldiers

Andrew Jackson Collection

Andrew Jackson (1767-1845) collected his correspondence and official papers long before he became
president. Although he took the precaution of designating Francis P. Blair custodian of this material,

the Jackson manuscripts were scattered after the president's death. The Library of Congress has
painstakingly reconstructed the collection through 100 separate accessions, building upon the

important body of correspondence, transcripts, speeches, and orders donated by Blair's grandchildren
in 1903.

Spring Hill College
Spring Hill College

Mobile, Alabama