tv Library of Congress Manuscript Division CSPAN September 24, 2017 12:30pm-1:31pm EDT
items contained in 11,000 collections. up next, the library of congress curator jeff flannery talks about its history, and we see some of the items, including presidential letters, war memorandums, and the rough draft of the declaration of independence. the u.s. capitol historical society hosted this event. it lasts about an hour. william: the library of congress we have been coming to again and again this month. this is the fourth installment of the series. in the past we have focused , mostly on architecture. you might recall we had house thee had a speaker on folklife collection, but this one is different to me. it speaks very clearly and closely to my heart as a historian. i know visitors that come to d.c., they want to go to library of congress, and they go straight for the jefferson building and they are in awe and they should be. researchers cannot wait to read
in the main reading room. it lends a certain something to the seriousness of what they are doing. that is the way it should be, but scholars are really know the score walk right past the jefferson building and go into -- you may not like the way it looks, but the madison building is where it is at. that is where the manuscripts collection is, and there are 60 million items. this is from the website. 60 million items over 11,000 separate collections, truly the greatest manuscript treasure of american history and culture. to talk to us about that collection is jeff flannery, an old friend of the society in particular friend of scholars who work in american history, like my former colleagues and i. for 40 years, put together a document history project, and it
brought us to jeff virtually every week. he and his staff helped us produce those volumes. jeff is the head of the reference and services section. he has been in the management for 31 years, and that is all i will say. i know you are much more eager to hear from him that about him. jeff. [applause] jeff flannery: well, thanks for coming today, and i feel especially honored to be here at the invitation of the united states capitol historical's ready. chuck and lauren have been very -- historical society. chuck and lauren have been very helpful in preparing the talk. it is a great honor to be here to speak to the group. the purpose of my talk today is for the manuscript division, but it is more than that. i want the audience to know who
we are, who the manuscript division is, how we work. and our place at the library, the role of scholarships. i am hoping that you will be enlightened to some degree by my remarks, and then afterwards if you have questions, i would be glad to answer them. i will rely on technology that many of the people whose papers are at the library of congress would have had no inkling of. power points. that is many of these folks predeceased us. there are some questions about the division. i will start with the basics. what is the manuscript? how do historians use manuscript collections? how is the manuscript reading room different from the main room and other reading rooms, and how do we achieve our mission? that is questions about the collection, then we will talk
about access. what kind of subjects are covered by the collection? how does one find manuscript material that is relevant to research? what resources are available to help with research, and are any of the materials online? i will spare you the suspense. there is a lot online. and if you visit us, what do you need to know before coming in? is it called? my colleagues have an issue with that. i can answer in the affirmative, it is cold. you might want to bring a sweater or jacket if you are doing extended research. what is the manuscript, and how to researchers use it? i don't want to trip over my definition, so i will read a little bit of this. it is an unpublished handwritten or typed document that has historic or literary value.
that is the basic definition. there is much more detail, but that is the basic one. how does the manuscript reading room differs from the reading rooms? we are format driven, format based. we only provide access to unpublished materials primary , source materials. and what is the mission of the definition? we were established as a separate unit in 1897. the library is, was established in 1800. we are the oldest federal cultural institution. sorry for the the smithsonian. they cannot claim that. and we moved to the magnificent jefferson building as a separate unit. the mission of the division is to acquire, organize, describe, and make accessible original materials that primarily document american history and
culture. so what is a manuscript? manuscripts are unpublished primary source documents that include many types, diaries, correspondence, notebooks, accounts, journals. logs, scrapbooks, press clippings, photographs, everything. handwritten and type written. originals carbon, letterpress, , microfilm, computer diskettes. here is some typical examples. we have a letter written by thomas jefferson on the left to his daughter patsy, giving some fatherly advice. next to it is a commission for robert todd lincoln in the union
army as an officer, signed by his father. next to that is a typescript draft of a book called the origins of totalitarianism by a political philosopher. next to that is a map of jefferson, washington dc. he drew in an accompanying letter. that is not a manuscript. that is sigmund freud's pocket watch. it came with his papers. we have taken it, but it is not a manuscript. we put them in boxes, put them on shelves. there are stacks. they are always limited to members of the public, but that is where we keep the material. it is housed off of the reading room.
and as chuck had mentioned earlier, we have 65 million items and 11,000 plus collections. now an item can be a single scrap of paper. it can be this scrapbook here by newton chittenden, who was an amateur anthropologist that documented native americans in the pacific northwest in the early 19th and 20th centuries. the definition can vary. it can be 400 pages in a diary. it could also be a rough draft of the declaration of independence by thomas jefferson. this is among the top treasures. this is jefferson's draft with annotations by, or revisions by john adams and benjamin franklin. and again it is not even kept in , the division itself. we have it in a vault under strict climate and temperature control and safety concerns.
why, what is the purpose? why do we need it? they have crossed everything out. it cannot be that important. why is it special? according to my colleague, i will not take the wraps, but there are 86 changes on that. i did not count them. scholars come back to these changes and revise -- what were the intents of the founders in the declaration? these are debates still going on today. scholars need access to these original source materials to interpret these documents. and as i said, not every document might have, be as valuable as a rough draft, but they are all important.
they are unique. that is another characteristic of the collections. this is a letter written by theodore roosevelt to one of his sons, dated 1890. he was not yet president, but he was serving on the civil service commission. he is writing to his son. he says -- his son's name was theodore too, but he was called blessed ted. i sent you a picture letter because you are not old enough to read writing. you will be glad to see your, when he comes back? do you want to play in the barn with him and go swimming when he returns? your loving father. he gives him a little story. a pony and a cow go out to see the world, they meet up there -- meet a bear and are frightened. he chases them as fast as they can run. when they get home in safety they make up their minds they will never run away again. [laughter] jeff flannery: one can only imagine the older theodore
roosevelt was getting a letter we got thise saying kid running around, give him some control. but manuscripts are special, not only because they are unique, irreplaceable documents written by famous people in american history. many collections are not related to historical figures at all but document important moments in history from a variety of perspectives, including science, literature, art, architecture, politics. the documents that the authors speak for themselves. compare the private and public lives of an individual even to discover something new. individuals who come to the manuscript reading room do so for all sorts of reasons. dissertation, writing articles, discover material for exhibits,
track down evidence or track down legal argument or hypothesis, find an ancestor, or look to artistic inspiration for novels or music. everyone over high school age with a serious research idea can use the collection. this is our organization and division. there are three sections. we have a staff of historical specialists and administrative staff who have curatorial responsibilities, divided by subject era or historical periods. these are responsible for acquiring collections. with donor relations. and work on outreach and exhibits. many of the collections that come to the manuscript division, buy gifts or copyright deposit. we purchase material sometimes, but we have a limited budget. when the collections are required, preparation goes to
work. they will arrange and describe collections. they will create finding aids, box lists, and they stack them. and the reference staff, where i work, we actually serve the collections. we will physically bring the material out to the reading room. we answer questions about the collections. in person, phone, letter, or email. these are some of our staff who work on the materials for acquisitions. this is dr. michelle who is one of our acquisition specialists with the lincoln papers. of course this is what our , archivists get to deal with, and technicians, sometimes materials will show up in boxes. maybe underneath on the bottom
of the picture. a lot of times they come in a suitcase and have mold, so we have to get the library conservators and preservation folks to treat that. it gives you that excitement, opening something for the first time and going through it and sorting it. you are probably the first to put eyes on these things since the person that wrote the letter. it is a very exciting time when the collections come into the division. i have been known to put my nose back there and start looking around. archivists don't like that. this is one of our processing areas. you need a lot of space, so we have these tables. they start the process of sorting materials, putting it in order, getting some intellectual control over collections of documents. after they are finished organizing materials, they will
put them on the shelf. you might think those are books in the foreground. they are not. they are bound items where we have tipped in the actual documents onto the backing page. this was a common preservation method up until world war ii where -- excuse me, many of the things were organized chronologically. after that professional practice changed, and you went into a series of boxes were you put the materials in acid-free fullers and stored them in acid-free boxes -- folders and stored them in acid-free boxes. when you visit us, this is where you go, the manuscript reading room. this is where the researchers interact with the materials as well as get guidance from the
staff. our reading room can be busy. obviously after hours. we can have as many as 10,000 researchers visit us over a year. it fluctuates between 8500 and 1000. people fill up the seats, someone looking at a folder of robert oppenheimer tapers, -- papers, the atomic scientists and next to him is someone looking at the charles dean papers, architecture drawings by the famous designers. and behind them someone trying to trace any ancestor in the -- trace an ancestor in the records of the naacp that we have. it changes from one table to another. this is the way the reading room used to look. this is in the jefferson building. you cannot accommodate 40 or 50 people in that space, but it gives you a sense of historical
research perhaps back in the 1930's or 1940's. you can see the bound volumes, many collections were that way. that table kind of lent itself to looking at that. that is a vision of the past. some of the oldest material that we have of manuscript came to the library with a purchase of thomas jefferson's library in 1815. you probably know when the british burned the capital, they burned the books that came with the original library they have started collecting in 1800. jefferson offered his library for sale to rebuild the collection. part of that were manuscripts. they have been in the library since 1815. among these were the records from the virginia company. jefferson was cognizant of the historical documents.
he took great care preserving items, collecting them. these go back to the founding of the jamestown colony in 1607. you can see some books, different records documenting the establishment of that colony. another significant -- i just love this picture. this is how i look in the morning sometimes. this is peter force, he was a former mayor of the. he was a -- of washington dc. he was a public printer. he started gathering documents for the american revolution. he was gathering the american archives. he never finished but got six or seven volumes printed. he transcribed letters related to the revolution.
in doing that project, he collected tens of thousands of documents and transcribed other documents that went into his collection. the library -- not the library, congress purchased for the library in 1867 for the sum of $100,000. that was big money back then, and formed the basis of the collection. in the 19th century, the state department had custody of many important manuscript collections, principally the letters of washington, jefferson, james madison, james monroe, and these accumulated, the accumulated these papers over time. by the early 20th century they were deemed such historical interest that they needed a more fitting repository to make these accessible to the research community.
in 1903, president theodore roosevelt by executive order transferred custody to the library of congress. and again since we bound those volumes in the early 1930's, and you can see some of the washington papers, they are arranged chronologically. it is also a demonstration that the division's collecting interest has evolved since its concentration of clinical and diplomatic history. since world war ii, the division has selected cultural history, -- has collected material documenting cultural history, science and the archives of nongovernmental organizations. the focus is still primarily on american history. among the crown jewels are the papers of 23 american presidents, the library's
collecting predates the library that the national archive system and the presidential library system that was inaugurated with herbert hoover and franklin roosevelt and extended to the present. the library of congress still has, as a single institution, has more presidential papers than any other institution. we don't have papers of every president before hoover and roosevelt. john quincy adams and john adams' papers are at the massachusetts historical society and the ohio historical society has rutherford b. hayes and others. we have the most significant collection of papers in one place. more treasures can be found in these papers. this is a copy of the dunlap broadside inside the washington papers.
it is technically a fragment because you see the bottom -- -- the bottom has been cut off. the dunlap broadside was the first printing of the american declaration, about 100 copies or so were done and sent to different colonies are they sent one to king george iii. i guess they wanted him to read it. they still have their copy in england. there are 200 today. one went on the market a few years back and sold for over $1 million, so it can get you an idea. this is washington's personal copy. john hancock, the president of the continental congress, sent washington this copy and asked him to read it to the troops. they were in new york, and he did. washington had it read for the troops, and they got so excited and wound up about it, they went down to the bottom of new york city and pulled down the statue
of king george iii. they later brought it down and turned it into bullets for the american army, which i thought was interesting, now the american army was shooting pieces of george iii at the british. that is a close-up of it. what kind of subjects are covered by the collections? how do researchers find manuscript material that is relevant? what resources are available? i think i answered that. we are adding things on line to our website. almost any subject you can think of, jefferson very famously, when he offers his library to congress, said there would be no subject a member of congress could not refer to in his library.
the division has followed that up. politics, military history, civil rights, art, anything you can imagine in the u.s. experience is documented in our collections. we have a series of catalogs and finding aids that extend back to the early days of the division, in the early 20th century when they published handbooks that provided guidance to what was in the collections to now more modern-day fighting aids. we usually do not describe collections on the item level. we don't list every item. there are some exceptions to that like the presidents' , papers, but we have them on the folder and subject level. every day, well not every day but every month, we are adding content to our online presence
and in some respects, kind of putting ourselves out of business. the presidential papers, up from washington to lincoln, have been digitized. they are all online. we get very little calls for researchers coming in the rooms to look at those collections. one of the largest collections of papers that we have, personal papers, or the papers of daniel patrick moynihan. the collection is 1.3 million items. it is kept in 3100 containers. this is the largest collection of personal papers the division has. and of course we solicited moynihan's papers back in the 1970's when he had served in the kennedy, johnson and nixon administrations at various posts. he was the ambassador to india. little did we realize he would be a three-term senator from new york and add voluminously to
that collection. it is a frequently consulted collection, and is one of our more valuable ones. it also helps to highlight the more than 900 collections we have of members of congress in the division. most of those collections date from the federal congress and the continental congress, and they are of individuals that served before world war ii. after world war ii, congressional collections become much larger. their staffs increase, and they produce more paper, and it makes it difficult to take these collections because of how large they are. we are also one of the centerpieces or the study of -- centerpieces for the study of american judicial history with the papers of dozens of supreme court justices going back to the finding of the nation. thurgood marshall and harry blackmun are two examples, but
we have papers like earl warren, -- papers of people like earl warren, william black, so we are the center for a scholarship on the history of the court. these papers are consulted every day by readers who are interested in how the court came to make decisions, what kind of insight they can gleam from the justices making these decisions. this is an example of one of the papers. this is earl warren, dated in may, something 1954. it is addressed to the chief, by felix frankfurter, an associate justice, and he said dear chief, this is a day that will live in glory. it is also a great day in the history of the court, and not in the least for the deliberation which brought about the result.
he was talking about brown versus board of education, which was a unanimous 9-0 decision that overturned legal segregation in the country. all of the justices recognized the importance of this case, which of course was overcoming the years of precedent set by plessy versus ferguson for legal segregation. frankfurter is congratulating warren because he cobbled together, he got the justices to vote as one, unanimous decision. which would show the public that the court was united in this decision, and one can only imagine if that was a 5-4 decision back in 1954, the opposition to this decision would have been much more enhanced, if it was a more
divided decision. well, one of my favorites, george patton. we have his papers which included diaries. he has an entry from march 5, 1943, where he says, am leaving in a few minutes for algiers, hope for the best. this terminates this volume. general keys will see that gets to you. it is too frank to be shown to anyone but may the of historical value. have a significant collection of his papers, which highlights the division of millie -- many military collections that we have, which documents conflicts from the colonial period up to the present. .
as well as the papers of leaders like john paul jones, john j. pershing, george patton, and admiral william crowell. we are a center for the study of military history. this is one of the things, you can flip a box open a box and go , through it. here is a dispatch received by the uss ranger, air raid on pearl harbor. this is not a drill. that is how the military was spreading the news about the attack. these are from patton's papers. this is a map for the invasion of sicily. you can see on the bottom right-hand corner that it was a classified document at one time labeled "secret." also the top has it, which highlights the fact that we have classified documents which have
top-secret designations. then of course in time these documents become declassified and we stamp it on there so we can prove we are not letting things being declassified before their time. having the agencies waggle their fingers at us. we have records of nongovernmental organizations, the largest of which is the records of the naacp. there are over 3 million items. this is the largest collection we have, the single collection we have. it has over 8600 boxes. it is also the most frequently used collection we have. the division is one of the centers for the studies of civil rights movement in the 20th century. the records of the organization go back to its founding in 1909. and up to the present. we also have the records of other organizations. the records of the national urban league and national
women's party, brotherhood of sleeping car porters, league of women voters, and american colonization society. these are large collections voluminous collection. , but we can also have a collection that is just one piece of paper. this is our lee harvey oswald collection. this is a letter that he wrote in 1962 to the international rescue committee where he is trying to get help for his wife to try to come to the united states. his wife was russian born. we have the papers of reformers and non-politicians. this is booker t. washington's papers. we have the papers of people like susan b. anthony, margaret sanger, and frederick douglass. again it is not just politicians
per se, but also people involved in the reform activities at the library. we also have the papers of many novelists, authors. walt whitman eating most prominent. -- being most prominent. women's papers just recently went online. this, as you might see, is a very famous picture of whitman on the right that circulated in the 19th century because he was very much interested in nature. he wrote about it quite a bit. here he was saying, look, i am so good at nature that butterflies land on my finger. well, that was a cardboard butterfly that he had. we have that in the collection too. in addition to whitman, we have papers of such notable authors as philip roth, ralph ellison, and vladimir nabokov. we also have some papers of
others like archibald macleish. macleish was a poet in the mid-20th century. he did double duty at the library of congress. here is a letter from poppy, ernest hemingway, to macleish in 1943. mcleish had sent hemingway some transcripts of ezra pound's propaganda recordings that he did for the italians in world war ii for mussolini. so hemingway is reacting to that. he is saying, thanks for sending the stats of ezra's rantings, he is obviously crazy. i think you might prove he was crazy as far back as the latter cantos. that is back in the 1920's. he deserves punishment and disgrace, but what he really
deserves most is ridiculed." here he was saying, a lot of people thought that pound became a traitor and should be executed, but here anyway is -- hemingway is saying that may be a little too harsh. we have the papers of many inventors. individuals associated with the history of technology, including alexander graham bell. this is one of the earliest, if not the earliest drawing of the telephone in 1876. the papers of performers like hume cronin and jessica tandy. we have the papers of more than 200 journalists extending back from the founding of the nation up to the present. the division completed the organization of the new york times columnist anthony lewis's papers, making them available.
here is a letter of an architect. cass gilbert. sometimes they make for the most interesting reading because of their visual eye. they include drawings. it always breaks up the monotony of the text every now and then. here is gilbert visiting washington in 1905. "this is us looking at the senators after dinner." i guess that is what they did for tourist entertainment back then. i said our collections document primarily american history and culture. so i lied to you. we do have the papers of sigmund freud, who was an important figure, but not an american.
how they came to the division is probably -- it could be a whole separate session. they have undergone much study and interest in the years and the library has recently digitized them and put them online. but you have to know your german. they are not in english. this is freud's prescription for the wolfman, a famous case i know nothing about. this is in our collection on the papers of carl sagan. this is what is on voyager out there in space. this is the golden disk. if other life finds out about the planet earth, this is the famous recording of chuck berry's rock 'n roll song. but not only do we have papers that were generated by
americans, we also in the beginning of the 20th century started a project to custody -- copy documents related to american history but from , foreign repositories. as you might remember, the u.s. was not established as an independent country until 1776. the archives of foreign countries have many documents relating to our history, especially france, britain, spain, and germany. starting in the early 1900s, the library sent a team of individuals to identify these documents and started transcribing them. technology being what it was then, you did not have xerox machines, so they had handwritten transcriptions. but as technology progressed, we went to to what was called xerox copies and then microfilm. this is analysis documents copied from repositories in
spain. the important thing to remember is those materials are in their native languages and we do not provide translation services. you will have to know your foreign languages. but not only did we copy materials, but we also acquired materials from -- original materials. this is an illustration from our records of the alaskan-russian church. or their official title, the orthodox greek catholic church of america, the diocese of alaska. the records state from 1733 to 1938. it has over 87,000 items and over 750 boxes. we reproduced it on 402 microfilm reels. these are church records that include registers of birth, marriage, deaths dating from the time of peter the great, along with confession and communion records. they most mostly document
communities in alaska, but also in canada and some part of the continental united states. again those are the original , documents, ledgers and account books. this is another interesting collection. these are the polish declarations of admiration and friendship for the united states. we have over 111 volumes of signatures and artistic drawings that the government of poland commissioned. they had according to one , figure, approximately 1/6 of the population of poland in 1825 -- 1925 signed these volumes. then they gave them to the united states as a gift to celebrate the sesquicentennial in 1926. here is another collection we put online. there is other genealogical interest in the collection.
this is our sister organization, the national archives and records administration. because we have papers of so many prominent government pollinatewe cross with the national archives, which holds the official records of the government. many people sometimes don't know the difference. we have the personal papers of individuals, their personal property that they gave to the library. the official records of the government end up at the archives, of which we are not. hamilton fish is a great example. he was secretary of state under grant. he served in congress. if you -- we have over 350 containers of his papers. if you are studying his life or career or some aspect of it you , will want to come to the library of congress to look at his papers.
but you also want to go to the national archives where the official records of the department of state are housed. so how do you get access to these materials? we have these documents that we generically call finding aids that describe the contents. the documents themselves. case of the, in the moynahan papers, it can be hundreds of papers long. the breakdown by box numbers which allows researchers to request material. it tells other important information, including how the collection was acquired and size and extent. we have links to online sources available and you can go to our webpage for those. you can also call us. we answer the phone in the manuscript division. this is our webpage. our contact information is on the right. there are links that can take you to the finding aids online collections.
what do you need to know before visiting the manuscript reading room? you should know a few things. it is on our webpage. sometimes donors impose access restrictions. for a limited duration. a collection may not become immediately available. you should know that before visiting us. sometimes collections are off-site. we are continually growing so we need to find storage. these are space intensive collections. some of the documents still have u.s. classified markings on them. in for disclosure i should mention we have a active preservation program. the division in the library microfilm collections, we microfilm the originals digitize , them and to make the surrogates available. not the originals. that is to preserve them. i don't want anybody to get the impression that they are going to run out after this talk and
get that george washington dunlap broadside. no, we have it on digital edition. we have it on microfilm. you are more than welcome to look at the surrogate, but not the originals. we want these documents to be preserved for future generations. we accept the gifts in perpetuity. the last time i checked that is a long time. we are located in the madison building. not as ornate as the jefferson building. this is the entrance to our meeting room. there are our hours. we have lots of rules when you come in. we want people to treat the documents with respect. again, it is part of our general preservation program. we don't allow you to put your personal belongings in. we have lockers in the front of the room. we will provide you with no paper and even give you a
pencil. again, we have 36 cameras in the room. we want folks to know they are being watched. we have a big monitor there. we have a dedicated security officer at the front of the room that does exit and entrance inspections. these are unique items. many of them are very valuable. we want to ensure they stay in the room and are treated with respect that they should be accorded. we have many important researchers come into the room. i can't tell you all of them, but even some of george's descendents. that is the end of this. i hope some of you have questions. i would be glad to answer them. i want to thank you for your kind attention. perhaps you will get inspired, you're going to write the book and article and go to the manuscript division and do your research. thank you.
[applause] >> i have one in the back, sir. >> i will limit myself to two brief questions. where was the manuscript division in the jefferson building, and where is the preservation room in the madison building? jeff: my understanding is -- where was the main script division in the jefferson building? i believe it was what they call the northwest curtain. it could have changed a couple times over the course of those years. in the 1940's, the division transferred to the adams building, which is the building behind the jefferson building on 2nd street. in 1981, we moved into the madison building. we have been there since 1981.
i forgot the second question. >> we are in a big long preservation room. jeff: the preservation room. our conservation lab is on the ground for of the madison -- ground-floor of the madison building. that is where some of these top treasures are involved. they don't even let me see it. can you imagine that. >> a comment and a question. sometime ago i was using a rather bulky piece of material from the manuscript division, which would have been very awkward to photograph myself. i got a beautiful copy from the library's reproduction services for a very reasonable price. jeff: they would be glad to know it was reasonably priced. [laughter] >> minor question. i was thinking of the photo you had of processing material.
when you take out the letters, do you keep the emblems? -- envelopes? jeff: the practice has changed over the years as you might expect. in the division's earlier years, they kept envelopes, but now the standard practice is that we don't. like i said, do not be surprised if you open up a box of collections and you see envelopes in there. it is hard for us to go back and reprocessed collections. it takes a lot of time and effort. right now we would not keep them unless of course they shed some light on the enclosures. on the letters inside. it could be text or something like that. >> could you talk about what i considered the two stars of the library and the acquisition , process for one, the gutenberg
bible, and secondly, the first map of america? jeff: well, those are outside my area of expertise. i know that the gutenberg bible, if i have it straight and i have some colleagues that might set me straight on that -- that the gutenberg bible was purchased as a special acquisition back in the 1920's or somewhere around there. that was actually -- i think they got special money from congress to do it. the first map, my colleagues in the geography and map division i know much more about that. i might have to defer to them. again one of the strengths of , the library is that we are specialized. i don't get out of the manuscript -- i don't get out
much anyway. i don't get out of the division much. i would be speaking out of turn about those items. the gutenberg bible is in the custody of the library's rare and special book collection division. the map is part of the library's geography map division. i will have to take a pass on that. >> you mentioned the copyright office. those items are published, aren't they? jeff: actually not. the copyright office -- you can copyright anything. i could copyright the text of my powerpoint here today if i wanted to register it. so the manuscript division -- we , don't get a lot of material as transfers from the copyright our -- copyright office.
our most significant collection is a series of dramatic works that go back to the 20th century up to 1970. it is a voluminous collection. it would probably take up more than this room. these are unpublished dramatic works that were sent in to be registered for copyright. many of them were never produced. but it does show -- it does cast a light on american creativity from the early 20th century. for instance, if you were studying the harlem renaissance, the great outpouring in the 1920's of african-american culture and arts, you could find many plays that african-american authors set for copyright but never saw the light of day. so we do get some collections. of course the library builds its collection from the print collection, published collections, music collections built from transfers from the copyright office.
yes? >> the presidential papers that have not gone online. what is the schedule for putting online the ones that have not already been digitized? jeff: there probably is a schedule. i cannot recall. i might go out on a limb and say you would probably see most of them in the next five to 10 years. the 23 collections that we have , probably in the next five to 10 years will be available. i understand they probably have been scanned. it is just a question of getting the right descriptive data up there. those other collections include some of the largest ones we have -- the woodrow wilson papers, william howard taft papers, teddy roosevelt papers. those are some of the largest we have. thousands of containers. hundreds of thousands of documents.
they will get up there, and the library is committed to that. it will take time. >> over 120 years standards have changed in terms of authentication. verification. do you go back on the old ones to apply current standards to them, or once it is locked in it is locked in? jeff: if i understand you right, collecting policy evolved over the years. i think where as in the early 1900s we would take a collection -- we especially took collections of copies, which would be in private hands. i think the thought was that we will accept those photocopies
with the thought that maybe somewhere down the line will get the original. that did happen in some cases. today we might apply a much more rigorous standard to taking copies of something. we want the originals. things could evolve that way. acquisitions are one of the most important tasks that the staff of the division do. how do you evaluate the research potential for a collection? and whether it is worth the library's effort and resources to acquire and process in-house -- and house it? those are all important considerations. a lot of thought goes into that. remember, in 1900 when they did the first census of the division , they had about 25,000 items. we are now north of 65 million.
that does not include our unprocessed. we have to apply much more rigorous standards today than in past. >> a question about the integrity of collections. in the history of the division. the implications are that if the collection has a butterfly or medals, it is part of the collection, it stays in the manuscript division. that was not always the case. some collections have been horribly raped and things have gone to rare books. is there any possibility especially with modern , technology, of things getting back in the collection they belong in, or at least copies of them? jeff: in some cases it is appropriate to transfer materials to another collection.
we get lots of audio tapes in collections and videotapes. they have to go to our sister division, motion picture because , that is a format based issue. perhaps what you are alluding to is our peter forest collection. >> sam johnson. jeff those collections came in : the 19th century. we do not have a rare book division in the 19th century. we do not get a rare book division until the 1930's. at the time, i think i will , defend my predecessors if i can. they made the best decision based on the format and resources about how to make that material available, how to house it. today we might take a longer view at that and not disperse the collections. again it is based on format.
, can we go back and put them back together? that is a difficult task given the state of the library's records. sometimes we have very good records that shed light on when a collection came in, how it was treated, where it went, and sometimes we don't. remember when the library was in , the capital, it was in a cramped area. by 1987 -- we have pictures, things on the floor everywhere. sometimes organizational records -- the library's records may not have been preserved as we have liked them to be. i still think for an institution we do a pretty good job of providence of the collection and things like that. i know scholars want everything in one spot. i don't blame them.
sometimes that is difficult to remember -- difficult to do. remember we are talking about an institution over 200 years of practice. >> jeff, i just want to say don't blame us if you have a tidal wave. we have the c-span audience . thank you. [applause] >> nexen and eight, join us at 7:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. eastern as we continue our series featuring oral history interviews with -- nationally recognized historians. join us on a website at c-span.org/history. you are watching american history tv, all weekend, every weekend on c-span3. newonight on afterwards,
york times magazine contributor suzy hansen on her travels abroad in her book "notes on a foreign country: an american abroad in a post-american world." she is interviewed by the foreign policy co-founder. ofthere is also the question why had he never thought this was a form of propaganda? why had i not but the question where was this concept coming from? and that was the job it was doing for individual americans? i think one thing i was realizing and took a long time to realize is at the very language we use we talk about foreign countries has been kind of determined for us a very long time ago. at especiallyook muslim countries and countries of east as with a catching up with us, or behind us? is it prevents you from being able to see the
country on its own. >> watch afterwards tonight at 9:00 p.m. on c-span2's book tv. september marks the 50th anniversary of the 1957 civil rights act, signed into law by president dwight eisenhower. up next on american history tv, director of the eisenhower presidential library and offered david nichols talk about president eisenhower's role in getting the legislation through congress. they also challenge myths around president eisenhower's civil rights legacy, the u.s. commission on civil rights posted this event. it is 45 minutes. >> presentation scheduled for today. president eisenhower's civil rights legacy and a creation of the u.s. commission on civil rights. 1957,tember 9, president dwight eisenhower signed into law the civil rights
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