The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

July 28, 2013

Library of Congress offers magazine


The Library of Congress has a free, bimonthly magazine that can be viewed/downloaded at Designed “to tell the library’s stories, to showcase its many talented staff, and to share and promote the use of the resources of the world’s largest library,” the current issue (Volume 2, Number 4) as well as all previous issues are available on the website.

This July/August issue includes an article about a rare book written decades ago in Kenya by the father of the 44th U.S. president. “Otien, The Wise Man” was written in a Kenyan dialect and published in 1959 “to promote literacy at a time when adult illiteracy was widespread.” The 40-page volume is thought to be one of only four in existence. “The Library of Congress acquired its copy of ‘Otien, The Wise Man’ in March 1967 — 41 years before the author’s son was elected president.”

In addition to the magazine’s feature articles, its departments include Online Offerings, Technology at the Library, Books That Shaped Us, Page from the Past, News Briefs, Shop the Library, and Last Word.

LOC photos online

The Library of Congress has recently finished a project begun in 2008 of digitizing a collection of 400 old panoramic postcards — “a big part of American history.” Visit to see a sampling of these images. A search for postcards relating to Chicago resulted in 1,463 “hits.”

To access the library’s Prints & Photographs Online Catalog, visit, where all collections are listed, along with links to descriptions as well as the photos themselves. The collections include baseball cards, cartoons, drawings, Civil War glass negatives and related prints (where a surname search can be made), the Liljenquist Family Collection (of more than 700 rare ambrotype and tintype photographs of Civil War soldiers, both north and south), the Gladstone collection of African American Photographs, and more.

Research guides

The Library of Congress provides online access to many of its books. For example, at click on “online catalogs” and then conduct a search. An interpretation of the call numbers can be helpful because the LOC classification system differs slightly from the familiar Dewey Decimal System. At is a research guide to explain the LOC call numbers.

This guide has been provided by Virginia Tech (Virginia Polytech Institute & State University), which has also created other helpful guides. Go to to find links to various guides (in PDF format), including a Civil War Research Guide.

The LOC, too, has a helpful guide, U.S. Civil War: Selected Resources, at Following the overview, there are links to digital resources (maps, music and sound recordings, photographs, resource guides, etc.), external resources, selected bibliography and search tips.

As we continue to commemorate the sesquicentennial of the Civil War, these two guides can be helpful for gaining a greater appreciation of our country’s activities during that war.

Queries, as well as a general exchange of genealogical material that readers would like to share, will be printed in the column for free. Contact Joan Griffis by e-mailing