The Library of Congress was established in 1800, during the term of President John Adams, and as a guest of the Colonel John Washington-Katherine Montgomery Chapter NSDAR in Washington, D.C., I had the opportunity of visiting it.The Library, originally housed at the White House, lost all of its books when the British set fire to the House in 1814. It was restored through the purchase of Thomas Jefferson’s personal collection of books in 1815. Then about 70 percent of it was lost again, due to a chimney fire in the White House. The Library was finally moved to separate housing to assure its safety but very few books remained.
However, in 1870, Librarian Ainsworth Spofford convinced Congress to pass a copyright law, which required all applicants to send the Library two copies of all books, maps and manuscripts. This has assured the Nation of a truly fine collection. Today, there are hundreds of miles of book stacks, in over 480 languages, housed in several locations, and all are available to any person who frequents the Library, with his/her Library card in hand.
The Library building, constructed in the late 1800s, is beautiful, and it is open to the public, for tours or personal use. If you’re visiting Washington, I strongly recommend you place the Library on your list of places to see. See an original Gutenberg Bible, an almost completely re-assembled set of the books purchased from Thomas Jefferson, or visit one of the featured exhibits. Or just while away some time in the genealogy room!!
by Betsy Pessetto
1st Vice Regent