Sunday, November 29, 2015

The Thomas Jefferson Library of Congress building

“I cannot live without books.” ― Thomas Jefferson

FRIDAY we toured the Thomas Jefferson Library of Congress building and were sufficiently enthralled that we went back again yesterday.

Excuse the overdose of photos. It's just too beautiful a building to narrow the selection. Below the pictures, there's a bit of history of the Library taken from the governmental website explaining why the first building of the Library of Congress was named after Thomas Jefferson.

Paul loves maps. Has ever since he was a little, little kid. Here he's studying
some from the 1780's.

From the Library of Congress website:

The Library of Congress serves as the research arm of Congress and is recognized as the national library of the United States. Its collections comprise the world's most comprehensive record of human creativity and knowledge. Open to those age 16 and older without charge or special permission, it is the world's largest library and a great resource to scholars and researchers.

It was established by an act of Congress in 1800 when President John Adams signed a bill providing for the transfer of the seat of government from Philadelphia to the new capital city of Washington. The legislation described a reference library for Congress only, containing "such books as may be necessary for the use of Congress - and for putting up a suitable apartment for containing them therein…"

Established with $5,000 appropriated by the legislation, the original library was housed in the new Capitol until August 1814, when invading British troops set fire to the Capitol Building, burning and pillaging the contents of the small library.

Within a month, retired President Thomas Jefferson offered his personal library as a replacement. Jefferson had spent 50 years accumulating books, "putting by everything which related to America, and indeed whatever was rare and valuable in every science"; his library was considered to be one of the finest in the United States. In offering his collection to Congress, Jefferson anticipated controversy over the nature of his collection, which included books in foreign languages and volumes of philosophy, science, literature, and other topics not normally viewed as part of a legislative library. He wrote, "I do not know that it contains any branch of science which Congress would wish to exclude from their collection; there is, in fact, no subject to which a Member of Congress may not have occasion to refer."

In January 1815, Congress accepted Jefferson's offer, appropriating $23,950 for his 6,487 books, and the foundation was laid for a great national library. The Jeffersonian concept of universality, the belief that all subjects are important to the library of the American legislature, is the philosophy and rationale behind the comprehensive collecting policies of today's Library of Congress.


  1. These are beautiful interior shots.
    Thanks for the great info.

    Noodle and crew

    1. Thank you most kindly. I try to post every other day, but I'm behind, so I may be here a little more frequently for the next few days. :-)