Tag Archives: Library of Congress

The 50th Anniversary of The Civil Rights Act of 1964


In case you are visiting Washington, DC in the coming year, plan a visit to the Library of Congress’ new exhibit “The Civil Rights Act of 1964: A Long Struggle for Freedom.” The exhibit which recognizes the 50th anniversary of the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is open to the public Monday-Saturday 8:30 am- 4:30 pm until September 12, 2015.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 (PL 88-352, 78 Stat. 241, enacted July 2, 1964) outlawed discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin.  It provided injunctive relief against discrimination in public accommodations and segregation in public education. It enforced the constitutional right to vote, ending unequal voter-registration requirements. The law is a landmark piece of civil rights legislation.

The Library of Congress’ free exhibit “The Civil Rights Act of 1964: A Long Struggle for Freedom” highlights the legal and legislative challenges and victories leading to its passage. The exhibit highlights the individuals, both prominent leaders and private citizens, who participated in the process. The exhibit contains more than 200 items from correspondence to photographs, newspapers, legal briefs, drawings and posters. It also includes audio-video stations throughout the exhibit showing film clips of dramatic events related to the civil rights era such as protests, sit-ins, boycotts and other public actions. An introductory film narrated by Julian Bond focuses on the significance of the legislation.  Another video explores the impact of the Civil Rights Act. There are six themes in the exhibit: Prologue, Segregation Era, World War II and the Post War Years, Civil Rights Era, Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Impact.

Much of the exhibit’s documentation comes from NAACP Records in the Library’s Manuscript Division and the Prints and Photographs Division. The audio-visual materials come from the Library’s American Folklife Center’s Civil Rights History Project and the Library’s National Audio-Visual Conservation Center.  Newman’s Own Foundation with additional support from HISTORY® provided funding for the exhibition. Further details about the exhibit can be found at http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/civil-rights-act/


~Betty Thomas~

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Links We Love Weekly Round-Up — March 17, 2014


Want a Better Work/Life Balance?  How to Spend More Time Chilling When You’re Done Billing

As any practicing lawyer learns within about a week of beginning her career, the concept of the work/life balance is sort of a fiction. Practically speaking, there simply aren’t enough hours in the day to achieve any sort of actual, equal balance between your life and your work.

SCOTUSblog Internship

The principal focus of the internship (which is a paid one) will be assisting Tom with the “Petition of the day” and “Petitions to watch” features on the blog and maintaining the case pages. This will require roughly ten to twenty hours of work a week on a flexible work schedule, which can be accomplished remotely.  The position will begin in April, and the expected commitment would be through December 2014.

Historians Unravel the Mystery of Cryptic Lincoln Note

Historians believe they’ve unraveled the mystery of a cryptic note Lincoln penned that doesn’t identify the recipient by name and has a section clipped out. Researchers at the Papers of Abraham Lincoln project concluded Lincoln was writing to an ally to ask him to maintain a secret relationship with a political insider during the 1860 election campaign. Lincoln asked his cohort to “keep up a correspondence” with the person. The use of that phrase gave researchers their best clue. They ran it through a searchable database they are compiling of Lincoln’s papers and found several matches.

IRS Produces YouTube Video for Same-Sex Couples

The Internal Revenue Service has created a new video for YouTube that aims to provide useful tax tips for married same-sex couples.  The video is the latest addition to the IRS’s YouTube channel containing short instructional videos covering more than 100 topics, ranging from tips for victims of identity theft to taking advantage of the new simplified home office deduction. The videos have been viewed more than 5 million times.

Why Edward Snowden Chose SXSW for His First Live Video Appearance

Edward Snowden isn’t ready to come back to the U.S. in person yet, but on Monday, he will be here virtually. The NSA whistleblower will be on a South by Southwest panel with his lawyer, Ben Wizner, and ACLU technologist Chris Soghoian. Every news network in the world is salivating for a one-on-one interview with Snowden, but he instead chose to talk to a room full of technophiles in Austin.

Magna Carta is Coming to the Library of Congress

Today, the Library of Congress announced officially that Magna Carta is coming to the Library!  Lincoln Cathedral inLincoln, England, is loaning the Library its exemplification of a 1215 King John Magna Carta.  The historical document will be part of the exhibition, Magna Carta: Muse and Mentor, which opens November 6, 2014 and continues through January 19, 2015.  The Law Library’s very own Nathan Dorn is the curator for the exhibition.

12 Historic Bars Every Book Nerd Needs to Visit

Channel your inner literary lush by drinking where the greats drank.

U-M Law Student Diana Peloquin Talks about Her Win on ‘Jeopardy!’

U-M law and social work grad student Diana Peloquin played David to “Jeopardy!”‘s most recent incarnation of Goliath, 11 time champion Arthur Chu, on an episode that aired Wednesday night.

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Law Day 2013 – Realizing the Dream: Equality for All


May 1st is Law Day, a national day to celebrate the rule of law and its contributions to the freedoms that Americans enjoy. The day also provides an opportunity to recognize the role of courts and in our democracy and the importance of jury service.  In 1957, Charles S. Rhyne, President of the American Bar Association lobbied for a day to celebrate our legal system.  President Dwight Eisenhower established by proclamation the first Law Day in 1958 to mark the nation’s commitment to the rule of law. In 1961, Congress issued a joint resolution designating May 1 as the official date for celebrating Law Day, which is subsequently codified (U.S. Code, Title 36, Section 113). Every president since then has issued a Law Day proclamation on May 1 to celebrate the nation’s commitment to the rule of law.

Law Day programs are designed to help people understand how the law keeps us free and how our legal system strives to achieve justice. These programs are conducted by various groups including local bar associations, courts, law libraries and schools. For example, the Library of Congress will be holding a panel discussion on the movement for civil and human rights in America. Carrie Johnson, Justice Correspondent for National Public Radio will be moderating the discussion.

This year’s theme “Realizing the Dream: Equality for All” provides an opportunity to explore the movement for civil and human rights in America and the impact it has had in promoting the ideal of equality under the law.  This year marks the 150th anniversary of the issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation, handwritten by Abraham Lincoln to end slavery in the United States and promote the idea of freedom and equality for all men. This year also marks the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech.  The Civil Rights Movement brought progress in eliminating discrimination based on race, religion, gender, ethnicity, national origin, age, disability and sexual orientation. This year’s Law Day provides an opportunity to focus on the work that still needs to be done to ensure equality for all.


~Betty Thomas~

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Yes, another acronym: DPLA for Digital Public Library of America.


Scheduled for launch on April 18, 2013, the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) will be opening as a portal to a vast array of digitized, special collections from across the United States. The organization’s mission is to give everyone a way to easily access these digital collections through a single virtual place, free of charge.

History. The idea of a nationwide aggregator of digital collections has been around since the early 1990’s.  Organizations such as the Library of Congress, HathiTrust, and the Internet Archive have been building collections. There are also large collections like the Smithsonian and the National Archives. However, there are hundreds of universities, public libraries, museums and other civic minded organizations with isolated collections that could be accessed for everyone’s use. So far the challenges to bringing together these digital collections have included differences in technology, incomplete metadata, and different legal issues such as digital lending, orphan works, international works, metadata ownership, strategies for tiered access, and how to deal with vendors and materials under various kinds of restrictions and copyright.

The DPLA initiative started with a meeting at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study in October 2010 which brought together representatives from foundations, research institutions, cultural organizations, government and libraries to figure out how to best create a national digital library.  In December 2010 the Berkman Center for Internet & Society with funding from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation began the process of planning the launch of the DPLA.  John Palfrey, DPLA board president and head of Phillips Academy gave a TEDx talk about the vision of DPLA in November 2012.

Content. Emily Gore, Director for Content, leads the Digital Hubs Project. Her interest in a national digital library began when she was with the State Library of North Carolina. She managed the former statewide digital library in North Carolina, NC ECHO, and co-directed the South Carolina Digital Library.  In her position, she surveyed more than a 1,000 cultural institutions that carried a variety of materials from US Senator Sam Ervin Jr.’s papers on Watergate to pottery depicting the story of the Cherokee Indians.  The Digital Hubs Project has partnered with seven digital libraries (six state and one regional) and larger cultural collections like Harvard University, Library of Congress, the Smithsonian, Boston Public Library and New York Public Library. The content of these collections varies from photographs, manuscripts, books, newspapers, oral histories to streaming videos. Some of the initial exhibits will focus on immigration, civil rights, prohibition, Native Americans, and the Great Depression.


Technology. Since the project is based on open source code, DPLA has started working with programmers to create apps that will allow people to access DPLA resources on their mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. The Follow that Cab! app allows users to design a search and then get regular updates. The What is Where? app maps collection resources by geographic area so they can easily be searched for local information. Recently, Innovative Interfaces announced that they would integrate access to DPLA into its Encore Synergy platform. This means that patrons of libraries like Charlotte School of Law will be able to access DPLA resources through the library’s catalog.

Future.  An exciting start for DPLA will be the launch on April 18th at the Boston Public Library. Some of the collections mentioned above will be accessible on that date and some of the exhibits will also be available. There is still a lot to be done for the vision of a national digital public library to be complete, but its launch is a start.


  • Cottrell, M. (2013, March/April). A digital library for everybody. American Libraries, 44(3/4), 44-47.
  • Digital Public Library of America. (2013, March 5).  Retrieved from http://dp.la/.
  • Palfrey, J. (2012, November 7).  Digital libraries and keeping well in a digital age: John Palfrey at
  • TEDxPhillipsAcademy. [Video file].  Retrieved from http://youtu.be/IBivvdwZkbU

~Betty Thomas~

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“Two Southern Boys Play Las Vegas” and Other Presidential Library Surprises

2003.025: "The Southern Boys Play Las Vegas" by Kristen Helberg. Oil painting on canvas of Bill Clinton playing the saxophone and Elvis Presley playing the guitar. Elvis's guitar neck has "Elvis Presley" on it. Both are wearing white "Elvis-style" jumpsuits. This painting is currently in the "Elvis" exhibit on the ground floor of the Clinton Presidential Center.

Earlier this year, the Clinton Presidential Center, in Little Rock, AR sponsored two special exhibitions honoring Elvis Presley.  The exhibitions featured Artist Kristen Helberg’s fanciful depiction of the musical collaboration between a saxophone-playing Bill Clinton, former U.S. President, and Elvis Presley, the King of Rock and Roll, with both “Southern Boys” attired in Elvis’s signature jumpsuits.  Personally, I was gratified to learn I wasn’t the only one who appreciated the similarities between the two men and that my conviction that Presidential libraries offered something for everyone was apparent.   I was also disappointed not to have seen the painting myself.   I had the privilege of visiting the Clinton Presidential Center in the spring of 2005, only six months after it had opened.  I say privilege because those attending the annual conference of the Southwestern Association of Law Libraries had the library to themselves.

The first Presidential Library I ever visited was the Truman library in Independence, MO.  My parents, sister and I were taking a long weekend trip and what was to be our last family vacation, celebrating my graduation from grad school and my sister’s graduation from undergrad.  We all had differing agendas for the trip and stopping at the library on our way into greater Kansas City was a compromise.  It was also a great success.  There really was something for everyone: cars, fashion,  gifts from foreign heads of state, photos, campaign memorabilia, awards, art work  and, of course, presidential papers.  President Truman and his wife are buried on the grounds of his library and museum.  I subsequently learned that with the exception of John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson and Gerald Ford, every U.S. President since Hoover has been buried near his respective Presidential Library.

As it happens, President Harry Truman was instrumental in the development of the Presidential Library system as we know it today.  He encouraged Congress to pass the first of several acts concerning the preservation of presidential papers and the creation of presidential libraries.  Truman, however, was not the first to create his own library. Many former Presidents (or their heirs) often took charge of their own papers.  Many donated them to the Manuscript Division of the Library of Congress or made arrangements with other societies.  The widow of James Garfield, for example,  created a Memorial Library wing to the family home in Ohio, which is operated by the National Park Service and the Western Reserve Historical Society.

President Franklin Roosevelt donated his personal and Presidential papers to the federal government, creating the formal template for Presidential Libraries.  It was his conviction that a President’s papers were of historical importance and should be available to the public.  Roosevelt not only donated his papers, he pledged part of his Hyde Park, NY home to the government and his friends created a non-profit corporation to fund the construction of a library and museum.  President Truman echoed  Roosevelt’s belief that Presidential  materials should be made available to the public.  He not only followed the model which Roosevelt had created,  but his efforts paved the way for Congress to pass several acts which would facilitate the on-going creation of Presidential  Libraries.

In 1955, Congress passed the Presidential Libraries Act of 1955. This act created a system of libraries which were built with private funds and which are maintained with the support of the National Archives and Records Administration(NARA). This act encouraged other Presidents to donate their papers and other historical materials to the government.  It also helped guarantee the preservation of Presidential papers.  Additional legislation which enabled the system of Presidential Libraries to grow included: The Presidential Records Act of 1978, The Presidential Libraries Act of 1986, and the Presidential Recordings and Materials Preservation Act of 1974. Additionally,  Executive Orders 13489 and 12958 helped to ensure the preservation of presidential papers.

As with any museum, the mission of the respective Presidential libraries and museums is to educate and to position the achievements of each president in a historical context.  Of course, the individual president (or his friends and heirs) also hope to provide the “other side of the story” or a balanced perspective.

For example, at President Gerald Ford’s museum and library one will find information regarding Ford’s pardoning of Richard Nixon and his plan to grant clemency to those individuals who dodged the draft.  In addition to evidence of the president’s efforts toward healing and compassion, one may also view a uniform and medals, returned by an individual in protest of those decisions.    The libraries and museums of both Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton also attempt to juxtapose achievements and controversy.   In other words, the libraries and museums of the respective presidents are not only worth noting, but worth visiting.

~Susan Catterall~

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