26 Jul Reunited with Documentation
Welcome back to my blog!
These last two weeks have been pretty great and filled with a lot of learning opportunities. One of the things accomplished was our last field visit, to do what remained of hand sketching and measurements for the row house. We also had a tour of the Library of Congress, which was super fun and exciting (at least for me). I will explain why further on. For this blog I’m going to be talking a little bit more about the Library of Congress for all the folks that maybe aren’t as familiar.
The Library of Congress is the main research arm of the U. S. Congress, and is also the largest library in the world.1 It contains a variety of books, recordings, photographs, newspapers, maps and etc. between all of their collections. Everything started in 1800; as part of the act that relocated the national government from Philadelphia to Washington, $5,000 were provided to buy books for the use of Congress.2 By 1902 Thomas Jefferson approved the position for the Librarian of Congress, being this position appointed by the President. As the federal government and Washington expanded and grew rapidly economically, Ainsworth Spofford successfully advocated for a national library that could be used by both congress and the people.2 We can visit the Jefferson Building (which was built by 1897) today thanks to his efforts .
Figure 1. Construction of the Library of Congress, Jefferson Building.
The library is located in Washington, DC and its collections are homed in 3 buildings in Capitol Hill, but the Jefferson Building is the most beautiful I’ve seen so far. You don’t need to visit the library to access their collections, you can go online where they have tons of resources available 24/7.3 The collections have more than 168 million items which include books, manuscripts, films, maps even sheet music and sound recordings.
Part of the collections that are at the Library of Congress are the surveys and drawings conducted by the Heritage Documentation Program by HABS, HAER or HALS. As part of the HDP intern experience we visited the Library of Congress for a tour to see where our finished products will be stored for generations to come. I had been looking forward to this day all summer since the drawings submitted for the Leicester B. Holland and Charles E. Peterson Prize are also part of the collection, so I was eager to see one of the entries I had participated in, in person, at such an important place. I was surprised when the archivist had chosen one of the projects I worked on with the Polytechnic University of Puerto Rico (Lazaretto of Goats Island – PR), which won the Holland Prize on 2016,4 as an example of contemporary HABS documentation. It was a very exciting and rewarding moment. We saw a variety of examples of projects from photographs, beautiful drawings of pedestal ideas for the Statue of Liberty, sketches from architects, even wallpapers. I never imagined they had wallpaper. It was just a snapshot of things we could find there. Then we walked to the Jefferson building which was incredible and beautiful. The amount of architectural detail everywhere is mesmerizing. I could be there all day just trying to look at the finer details. It’s a must go, so add it to your list!
This internship has influenced me in so many ways thus far, and the visit to the Library of Congress has inspired me even more and confirmed that I’m in the field I want to pursue a career in. Historic Preservation is important. Our heritage is important and needs to be preserved for future generations. I will continue to enjoy what’s left of this experience thanks to LHIP and HABS.
See you in my last Blog,
3.Library of Congress research website https://www.loc.gov/
4.Lazaretto – Goats Island. Leicester B. Holland Prize winner 2016. https://www.loc.gov/item/pr1526/
5.Heritage Documentation Program Collections with the Library of Congress Search. https://www.nps.gov/hdp/coll.htm
Handy, Levin C, photographer.
Construction of the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. Photograph. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, www.loc.gov/item/2007664045/>.