Skip Navigation Links The Library of Congress >> Researchers
Manuscript Reading Room (Library of Congress)
  Home >> Online Collections

Online Collections from the Manuscript Division

Manuscript Division materials in the collections listed below are available as digital images or as searchable text. Please read about copyright restrictions before making use of these documents. Many are included in the Library's page for collections in manuscript/mixed materials format.

African American OdysseyAfrican American Odyssey
This Special Presentation of the Library of Congress exhibition, The African-American Odyssey: A Quest for Full Citizenship, showcases the Library's incomparable African-American collections. The presentation was not only a highlight of what is on view in this major black history exhibition, but also a glimpse into the Library's vast African-American collections. Both include a wide array of important and rare books, government documents, manuscripts, maps, musical scores, plays, films, and recordings.

American Colony in JerusalemAmerican Colony in Jerusalem
This presentation features letters, scrapbooks, photograph albums, and other documentation from Part I of the American Colony in Jerusalem Collection. The full collection in the Manuscript Division of the Library of Congress represents well over 10,000 items stemming from the history of the American Colony, a non-denominational utopian Christian community founded by a small group of American expatriates in Ottoman Palestine in 1881.

American Life Histories: WPA Folklore Project ManuscriptsAmerican Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Folklore Project, WPA Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1940
These life histories were compiled and transcribed 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. The histories describe the informant's family education, income, occupation, political views, religion and mores, medical needs, diet and miscellaneous observations.

American WomenAmerican Women: A Gateway to Library of Congress Resources for the Study of Women's History and Culture in the United States (Manuscript Division section)
The Manuscript Division holds collections of notable women who were involved in the suffrage and abolition campaigns, as well as the papers of first ladies, of women who achieved various “firsts”in history, and of women who were pioneers in fields formerly restricted to men. Also obtained were the records of women's voluntary associations and national reform and trade organizations founded and supported by women. Other holdings include letters and diaries documenting women's everyday existence and revealing women's hopes, disappointments, and accomplishments.

Hannah Arendt PapersThe Hannah Arendt Papers at the Library of Congress
The papers of the author, educator, and political philosopher Hannah Arendt (1906-1975) are one of the principal sources for the study of modern intellectual life and constitute a large and diverse collection reflecting a complex career. With over 25,000 items (about 75,000 digital images), 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. The entire collection has been digitized and is available to researchers in reading rooms at the Library of Congress, the New School University in New York City, and the Hannah Arendt Center at the University of Oldenburg, Germany. Parts of the collection and the finding aid are available for public access on the Internet.

The Clara Barton Papers at the Library of Congress
Philanthropist, nurse, educator, and lecturer. Correspondence, diaries, reports, legal and financial papers, organizational records, lectures, writings, scrapbooks, printed matter, memorabilia, and other papers relating to Barton's work to provide relief services during the Civil War and the Franco-Prussian War, the work of the American National Red Cross which she founded, and the National First Aid Association of America.

Alexander Graham Bell Family PapersThe Alexander Graham Bell Family Papers, 1862-1939
The online version of the Alexander Graham Bell Family Papers at the Library of Congress comprises a selection of 4,695 items (totaling about 51,500 images). This presentation contains correspondence, scientific notebooks, journals, blueprints, articles, and photographs documenting Bell's invention of the telephone and his involvement in the first telephone company, his family life, his interest in the education of the deaf, and his aeronautical and other scientific research. Included among Bell's papers are pages from his experimental notebook from March 10, 1876, describing the first successful experiment with the telephone, during which he spoke through the instrument to his assistant the famous words, "Mr. Watson--Come here--I want to see you." Bell's various roles in life as teacher, inventor, celebrity, and family man are covered extensively in his papers.

Harry A. Blackmun PapersThe Harry A. Blackmun Papers at the Library of Congess
The papers of Harry Andrew Blackmun (1908-1999), lawyer, judge, and associate justice of the United States Supreme Court, are housed in the Manuscript Division at the Library of Congress. The collection spans the years 1913-2001 with the bulk concentrated from 1959 to 1994. Selected materials from the collection -- including the 38-hour oral history video interviews and associated transcript -- have been digitized and are now publicly available online. Other case materials have been digitized but must be viewed at a special workstation in the Manuscript Reading Room.

Evolution of the Conservation MovementThe Evolution of the Conservation Movement, 1850-1920
This presentation documents the historical formation and cultural foundations of the movement to conserve and protect America's natural heritage, through books, pamphlets, government documents, manuscripts, prints, photographs, and motion picture footage drawn from the collections of the Library of Congress. The collection includes a report prepared by Frederick Law Olmsted in 1865 and a private souvenir album documenting the 1899 Harriman Alaska expedition.

Prosperity and ThriftProsperity and Thrift: The Coolidge Era and the Consumer Economy, 1921-1929
This collection assembles a wide array of Library of Congress source materials from the 1920s that document the widespread prosperity of the Coolidge years, the nation's transition to a mass consumer economy, and the role of government in this transition. The collection includes nearly 150 selections from twelve collections of personal papers and two collections of institutional papers from the Manuscript Division. It is particularly strong in advertising and mass-marketing materials and will be of special interest to those seeking to understand economic and political forces at work in the 1920s.

Carl SaganFinding Our Way in the Cosmos: From Galileo to Sagan and Beyond
Like our ancestors, we look up at the heavens and wonder. What is the structure of the universe? How significant are we? Are we alone? In Carl Sagan’s words, “we are a way for the cosmos to know itself.” To commemorate the acquisition of The Seth MacFarlane Collection of the Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan Archive, the Library of Congress presents an exploration of these questions across the breadth of its collections and offers a first glimpse into Carl Sagan’s papers.

Frederick Douglass PapersThe Frederick Douglass Papers at the Library of Congress
The papers of the nineteenth-century African-American abolitionist who escaped from slavery and then risked his own freedom by becoming an outspoken antislavery lecturer, writer, and publisher contain approximately 7,400 items (38,000 images) relating to Douglass' life as an escaped slave, abolitionist, editor, orator, and public servant. The papers span the years 1841 to 1964, with the bulk of the material from 1862 to 1895. The collection consists of correspondence, speeches and articles by Douglass and his contemporaries, a draft of his autobiography, financial and legal papers, scrapbooks, and miscellaneous items.

Frontline Diplomacy: Foreign Affairs Oral History CollectionFrontline Diplomacy: The Foreign Affairs Oral History Collection of the Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training
This collection presents a window into the lives of American diplomats. Transcripts of interviews with U.S. diplomatic personnel capture their experiences, motivations, critiques, personal analyses, and private thoughts.  These elements are crucial to understanding the full story of how a structure of stable relationships that maintained world peace and protected U.S. interests and values was built. The interviews in the collection are mostly with Foreign Service Officers but there also are some with political appointees and other officials.

Freedom's FortressFreedom's Fortress: The Library of Congress, 1939-1953
This presentation tells the history of the Library of Congress during a particularly important period. From 1939 to 1953 the Library underwent a myriad of changes that established the institution as one of America’s foremost citadels of intellectual freedom. Archibald MacLeish and Luther Harris Evans, Librarians of Congress during this time, adopted new administrative procedures that improved the Library’s ability to acquire collections and made it a more vital resource both for Congress and the public during and after the war.

"I Do Solemnly Swear ...""I Do Solemnly Swear ...": Presidential Inaugurations
A collection of approximately 400 items or 2,000 digital files relating to inaugurations from George Washington's in 1789 to George W. Bush's inauguration of 2001. This presentation includes diaries and letters of presidents and of those who witnessed inaugurations, handwritten drafts of inaugural addresses, broadsides, inaugural tickets and programs, prints, photographs, and sheet music. The collection has been organized chronologically by presidential inauguration and an effort has been made to offer a balanced number of items for each inaugural event.

Warren G. HardingWarren G. Harding-Carrie Fulton Phillips Correspondence
The Warren G. Harding-Carrie Fulton Phillips Correspondence (240 items; 1910-1924) consists primarily of letters written by President Harding (1865-1923), before and during his tenure as a U.S. senator, to his paramour Carrie Fulton Phillips (1873-1960), wife of a Marion, Ohio, store owner. Also included are drafts and notes for correspondence written by Phillips during her approximately fifteen-year relationship with Harding, as well as a handful of other related items.

Zora Neale Hurston PlaysThe Zora Neale Hurston Plays at the Library of Congress
A selection of ten plays written by Hurston (1891-1960), author, anthropologist, and folklorist. Deposited in the United States Copyright Office between 1925 and 1944, most of the plays remained unpublished and unproduced until they were rediscovered in the Copyright Deposit Drama Collection in 1997. The plays reflect Hurston's life experience, travels, and research, especially her study of folklore in the African-American South. Totaling 1,068 hundred images, the scripts are housed in the Library's Manuscript, Music, and Rare Books and Special Collections Divisions.

Thomas Jefferson PapersThe Thomas Jefferson Papers at the Library of Congress
The complete Thomas Jefferson Papers from the Manuscript Division at the Library of Congress consists of approximately 27,000 documents. This is the largest collection of original Jefferson documents in the world. Document types in the collection as a whole include correspondence, commonplace books, financial account books, and manuscript volumes. The collection is organized into ten series or groupings, ranging in date from 1606 to 1827 and documents the broad range of Jefferson's intellectual and political interests.

Letters of Delegates to CongressLetters of Delegates to Congress
The twenty-six volumes of the Letters of Delegates to Congress, 1774-1789 aims to make available all the documents written by delegates that bear directly upon their work during their years of actual service in the First and Second Continental Congresses, 1774-1789. Although letters from delegates comprise the preponderance of the entries, there are many diaries, public papers, essays, and other documents. This work builds on an earlier eight-volume edition of Letters of Members of the Continental Congress edited by Edmund C. Burnett.

Abraham Lincoln PapersAbraham Lincoln Papers at the Library of Congress
The complete Abraham Lincoln Papers at the Library of Congress consists of approximately 20,000 documents. The collection is organized into three "General Correspondence" series which include incoming and outgoing correspondence and enclosures, drafts of speeches, and notes and printed material. Most of the 20,000 items are from the 1850s through Lincoln's presidential years, 1860-65. Treasures include Lincoln's draft of the Emancipation Proclamation, his March 4, 1865, draft of his second Inaugural Address, and his August 23, 1864, memorandum expressing his expectation of being defeated for re-election in the upcoming presidential contest.

Machen Family PapersLewis H. Machen Family Papers
The Gresham family material in the Lewis H. Machen Family Papers consists of seven diaries kept by Georgia teenager LeRoy Wiley Gresham (1847-1865) during the Civil War, and approximately 550 items of correspondence, primarily letters exchanged by members his family’s inner circle. Among the principal figures represented, all from Macon, Georgia, are John Jones Gresham, an attorney, judge, and plantation owner; his wife Mary Baxter Gresham; and their children, Thomas, LeRoy, and Minnie. Following Minnie's marriage to Arthur Machen in 1873, and for the years of her residence in Baltimore, Maryland, the papers consist largely of letters she received from her husband, family, and friends.

James Madison PapersThe James Madison Papers
The James Madison Papers from the Manuscript Division at the Library of Congress consist of approximately 12,000 items captured in some 72,000 digital images. They document the life of the man who came to be known as the "Father of the Constitution" through correspondence, personal notes, drafts of letters and legislation, an autobiography, legal and financial documents, and miscellaneous manuscripts. The collection is organized into six series dating from 1723 to 1836.


Meeting of Frontiers Meeting of Frontiers
Meeting of Frontiers
is a bilingual, multimedia English-Russian digital library that tells the story of the American exploration and settlement of the West, the parallel exploration and settlement of Siberia and the Russian Far East, and the meeting of the Russian-American frontier in Alaska and the Pacific Northwest.

 

Patsy T. Mink Papers
In 2007, the Manuscript Division celebrated the completion of a 3½-year project to process the rich and voluminous papers of former Hawaii representative and Title IX advocate Patsy T. Mink (1927-2002), which had been donated to the Library in 2003 by Mink’s husband and daughter. Congresswoman Mink was a vigorous and tireless champion of women's rights, an early and vocal opponent to the Vietnam War, and a leader on issues involving education, the environment, welfare, and civil rights. With her election in 1964, Mink became the first woman of color and the first Asian American woman to serve in Congress.

Samuel F. B. Morse Papers at the Library of Congress Samuel F. B. Morse Papers at the Library of Congress
This online presentation comprises about 6,500 items, or approximately 50,000 images, that document Morse's invention of the electromagnetic telegraph, his participation in the development of telegraph systems in the United States and abroad, his career as a painter, his family life, his travels, and his interest in early photography, religion, and the nativist movement. Included in the collection are correspondence, letterbooks, diaries, scrapbooks, printed matter, maps, drawings, and other miscellaneous materials. The collection includes the original paper tape containing the first telegraph message, "What hath God wrought?," sent on May 24, 1844.

Daniel P. Moynihan PapersThe Daniel P. Moynihan Papers at the Library of Congess
An overview of the papers of educator, politician, sociologist and diplomat Daniel atrick Moynihan (1927-2003). Moynihan is best known as a U.S. senator from the state of New York; he began his senatorial career in 1977 and served as a Democratic Party leader in Congress until he left Capitol Hill in January 2001. At well over a million items, the Moynihan collection in the Manuscript Division is one of the largest manuscript collections of personal papers at the Library of Congress.

Phillips/MatheePhillips/Mathée Collection
The Phillips/Mathée Collection spans the years 1913-2014, but only one item is dated later than 1972. The collection is a companion to the Warren G. Harding-Carrie Fulton Phillips Correspondence, also held by the Manuscript Division. The papers center on Isabelle Phillips Mathée, daughter of Carrie Fulton Phillips, the paramour of Warren G. Harding, and Isabelle's husband, William Helmuth Mathée. Included are photographs of Isabelle and her mother, Carrie, letters from President Harding to William Helmuth Mathée, and correspondence, legal papers, and news clippings concerning the discovery in 1964 of Harding's correspondence with Carrie Phillips and the subsequent legal proceedings. The final folder contains a statement from the four grandsons of Isabelle and William Mathée conveying their thoughts about these papers and the Warren G. Harding-Carrie Fulton Phillips Correspondence.

Polish Declarations of Admiration and FriendshipPolish Declarations of Admiration and Friendship for the United States
A presentation of the first 13 manuscript volumes of a larger collection of 111 volumes compiled in Poland in 1926 and delivered to President Calvin Coolidge at the White House to honor the 150th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. Richly illustrated with original works by prominent Polish graphic artists, the collection includes the greetings and signatures of national, provincial, and local government officials, representatives of religious, social, business, academic, and military institutions, and approximately 5 ½ million school children. This searchable online presentation is a complete facsimile of the six oversized presentation volumes and the seven volumes of secondary school signatures.

By Popular Demand: Jackie RobinsonBy Popular Demand: Jackie Robinson and Other Baseball Highlights, 1860s-1960s
2007 marks the 60th anniversary of Jackie Robinson's rookie season for the Brooklyn Dodgers. When he stepped onto Ebbets field on April 15th, 1947, Robinson became the first African American in the twentieth century to play baseball in the major leagues -- breaking the "color line," a segregation practice dating to the nineteenth century. Jackie Robinson was an extremely talented multi-sport athlete and a courageous man who played an active role in civil rights. This presentation was created to commemorate his achievements and describe some aspects of the color line's development and the Negro Leagues. Materials that tell his story, and the history of baseball in general, are located throughout the Library of Congress.

Born in Slavery: WPA Slave NarrativesBorn in Slavery: Slave Narratives from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1938
Contains more than 2,300 first-person accounts of slavery and 500 black-and-white photographs of former slaves. These narratives were collected in the 1930s as part of the Federal Writers' Project of the Works Progress Administration (WPA) and assembled and microfilmed in 1941 as the seventeen-volume Slave Narratives: A Folk History of Slavery in the United States from Interviews with Former Slaves. This online collection is a joint presentation of the Manuscript and Prints and Photographs Divisions of theLibrary of Congress and includes more than 200 photographs from the Prints and Photographs Division that are now made available to the public for the first time.

Charles Wellington ReedCharles Wellington Reed Papers, 1776-1926
The papers of Civil War soldier and artist Charles Wellington Reed (1841-1926) span the years 1776-1926, with the bulk of the material concentrated in the period 1862-1865, when he served with the Ninth Independent Battery, Massachusetts Light Artillery. The collection includes approximately seven hundred sketches previously bound in two volumes and correspondence relating primarily to the Civil War. Other items consist of articles, citations and military papers, clippings, a diary, maps, Reed’s Medals of Honor, photographs, and printed matter. The material is arranged alphabetically by type of material.

Civil War Soldier in the Wild Cat Regiment: Tilton C. Reynolds A Civil War Soldier in the Wild Cat Regiment: Selections from the Tilton C. Reynolds Papers
Documents the Civil War experience of Captain Tilton C. Reynolds, a member of the 105th Regiment of Pennsylvania Volunteers. Comprising 164 library items, or 359 digital images, this online presentation includes correspondence, photographs, and other materials dating between 1861 and 1865. The letters feature details of the regiment's movements, accounts of military engagements, and descriptions of the daily life of soldiers and their views of the war. Forty-six of the letters are also made available in transcription.

Washington During the Civil War: Horatio Nelson Taft DiaryWashington during the Civil War: The Diary of Horatio Nelson Taft, 1861-1865
Three manuscript volumes, totaling 1,240 digital images, that document daily life in Washington, D. C., through the eyes of Horatio Nelson Taft (1806-1888), an examiner for the U. S. Patent Office. Now located in the Manuscript Division at the Library of Congress, the diary details events in Washington during the Civil War years including Taft's connection with Abraham Lincoln and his family. Of special interest is Taft's description of Lincoln's assassination, based on the accounts of his friends and his son, who was one of the attending physicians at Ford's Theatre the night Lincoln was shot, on April 14, 1865. Transcriptions for all three volumes have been made by Library of Congress staff and are available online along with the digital images.

George Washington PapersGeorge Washington Papers at the Library of Congress
The complete George Washington Papers collection from the Manuscript Division at the Library of Congress consists of approximately 65,000 documents. This is the largest collection of original Washington documents in the world. Document types in the collection as a whole include correspondence, letterbooks, commonplace books, diaries, journals, financial account books, military records, reports, and notes accumulated by Washington from 1741 through 1799. The collection is organized into nine Series.

Poet at Work: Walt Whitman NotebooksPoet at Work: Recovered Notebooks from the Thomas Biggs Harned Walt Whitman Collection
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. The Thomas B. Harned collection of the Walt Whitman papers spans the period 1842 to 1937, with most of the items dated from 1855 to 1892. It was donated in 1918. The collection consists of correspondence, poetry and prose manuscripts, notes and notebooks, proofs and offprints, printed matter, and miscellaneous items, laminated and boxed in seven containers, and supplemented by one manuscript box of ancillary material

Women of Protest: National Woman's Party PhotographsWomen of Protest: Photographs from the Records of the National Woman's Party
The National Woman’s Party, representing the militant wing of the suffrage movement, utilized open public demonstrations to gain popular attention for the right of women to vote in the United States. Their picketing, pageants, parades, and demonstrations—as well as their subsequent arrests, imprisonment, and hunger strikes—were successful in spurring public discussion and winning publicity for the suffrage cause. These photographs include both images that depict this broad range of tactics as well as individual portraits of organization leaders and members. They document the National Woman’s Party’s push for ratification of the 19th Amendment as well as its later campaign for passage of the Equal Rights Amendment.

Words and Deeds in American HistoryWords and Deeds in American History: Selected Documents Celebrating the Manuscript Division's First 100 Years
In honor of the Manuscript Division's centennial, its staff has selected for online display 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. Most of the selected items fall within one of eight major themes or categories which reflect the division's strengths. Each of these themes is the focus of a separate essay containing links to digital reproductions of selected documents.

Wilbur and Orville Wright PapersThe Wilbur and Orville Wright Papers at the Library of Congress
The online presentation of The Wilbur and Orville Wright Papers at the Library of Congress, comprising about 10,121 library items or approximately 49,084 digital images, documents the lives of Wilbur and Orville Wright and highlights their pioneering work which led to the world's first powered, controlled and sustained flight. Included in the collection are correspondence, diaries and notebooks, scrapbooks, drawings, printed matter, and other documents, as well as the Wrights' collection of glass-plate photographic negatives. This online presentation includes the famous glass-plate negative of the "First Flight" at Kitty Hawk on December 17, 1903, as well as diaries and letters in which Wilbur and Orville Wright recount their work that led to that day.

  Top of Page Top of Page
  Home >> Online Collections
  The Library of Congress >> Researchers
  July 30, 2014
Legal | External Link Disclaimer

Contact Us:  
Ask a Librarian