The Popular Edge, Pop-Up and Book Arts News

May 29, 2008

Thomas Jefferson’s Library–Recreated

Filed under: art classes, books, libraries, teaching kids — Tags: , , , , , — popularkinetics @ 12:00 am

Biblia, from the Thomas Jefferson library

Many people know of the Library of Congress and take time to visit it’s beautiful Jefferson Building while here in Washington, D.C. But they may not realize that the core of the library was Thomas Jefferson’s own collection of books. Jefferson was an avid reader and acquired books throughout his lifetime. He eventually amassed the largest personal collection in the United States at the time. Then came the War of 1812, when the British burned Congress’s first library of 1000 titles. Jefferson offered to sell his library of 6,487 volumes to Congress. They purchased it for $23,950 in 1815. Sadly, a second fire in the library in 1851 destroyed approximately 4000 of those books.

Over the past ten years, the Library of Congress has been attempting to re-create the original Jefferson collection. Working with book dealers in the U.S. and Europe, they have managed to locate copies of most of the books. (There are still about 300 very rare books that are missing and may never be found.) The books are on display at the library, in the same configuration that they were at Jefferson’s Monticello home: in a spiral, organized into the categories of memory, reason, and imagination. The exhibit is behind glass, but visitors can look through the books digitally on computers using touch-screen technology to turn the pages.

To see photos of some of the books in Jefferson’s Library, visit the exhibit at http://myloc.gov/exhibitions/jeffersonslibrary/Pages/default.aspx

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1 Comment »

  1. Very interesting, thanks!

    Comment by The Blah Story — May 29, 2008 @ 1:30 am


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