Library of Congress International Collections

Library of Congress International Collections The international collections of the Library of Congress are the largest in the world with millions of items in hundreds of different languages and scripts.
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The Library of Congress’ international collections contain millions of items in hundreds of languages and scripts. These collections include books, manuscripts, newspapers, magazines, films, audio recordings, and much more! There are rarities and there are contemporary newspapers and magazines. The Library’s four area studies division reading rooms — African and Middle Eastern, Asian, European, and Hispanic — are happy to be your point of contact at the Library for your research in the fields of international studies. African and Middle Eastern Reading Room http://www.loc.gov/rr/amed/ Asian Reading Room http://www.loc.gov/rr/asian/ European Reading Room http://www.loc.gov/rr/european/ Hispanic Reading Room http://www.loc.gov/rr/hispanic/. If you are looking for more information about the Library of Congress, please visit http://www.loc.gov/ We are unable to answer detailed reference questions from this page. For detailed research help, visit our Ask a Librarian service at http://www.loc.gov/rr/askalib/. To view our comment and posting policy, visit https://www.loc.gov/legal/comment-and-posting-policy/

Mission: The Library of Congress's mission is to engage, inspire, and inform Congress and the American people with a universal and enduring source of knowledge and creativity.

Operating as usual

This week’s virtual tour of colonial Singapore features the Cavenagh Bridge, pictured in this color photochrom by the Ph...
01/20/2021

This week’s virtual tour of colonial Singapore features the Cavenagh Bridge, pictured in this color photochrom by the Photoglob Co. in Zurich, circa 1890-1910, https://www.loc.gov/item/2017657642/?loclr=fbint. Completed in 1869 with Indian convict labor, it is the oldest bridge spanning the Singapore River to survive in its original form. At its inception, the bridge served to connect the government quarter on the north bank with the commercial center on the south bank. The steel structure was imported from Glasgow by P&W MacLellan and its suspension construction was a novelty in the region at the time. The Cavenagh family coat of arms adorns the crossbeams at both ends of the bridge, a reminder of the namesake of the bridge, Sir William Orfeur Cavenagh, the last governor appointed by the British East India Company to Singapore. Today, Cavenagh Bridge is a pedestrian bridge and has been gazetted as a national monument.

The first performance of Goethe’s “Faust” took place January 19, 1829 in the Braunschweig (Germany) court theater. Johan...
01/19/2021

The first performance of Goethe’s “Faust” took place January 19, 1829 in the Braunschweig (Germany) court theater. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832) is one of the greatest German literary figures, and his “Faust,” Part I, originally published in 1808, is perhaps the most important and most cited work in German literature.
In Part I of “Faust,” Mephistopheles, the Devil, tempts the aging scholar Faust with a return to youth and love. This leads to Faust’s seduction and desertion of Gretchen, who then, in despair, drowns their child. The story includes other tragedies resulting from Faust’s original temptation. At the end of the play, Gretchen is redeemed and ascends to heaven. Part II continues to the eventual redemption of Faust.
The book cover is from an 1877 edition of “Faust” showing the main characters of the story, https://lccn.loc.gov/09011648?loclr=fbint.

The third Monday in January is a Federal Holiday in the United States to honor the life and work of Martin Luther King, ...
01/18/2021

The third Monday in January is a Federal Holiday in the United States to honor the life and work of Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr. King’s activities primarily concerned the civil rights and equality of the people of the United States, but he also argued for universal human rights for all around the globe. Dr. King was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. For many, “MLK Day” is now a day of service, see e.g., https://americorps.gov/newsroom/events/mlk-day?loclr=fbint.
A good introduction to the Library’s collections on civil rights is the online exhibit, “The Civil Rights Act of 1964: A Long Struggle for Freedom,” at https://www.loc.gov/exhibits/civil-rights-act/civil-rights-era.html?loclr=fbint.
Photograph courtesy of Levon Avdoyan.

It is traditionally speculated that January gets its name from the early, uniquely Roman god, Janus, although the month ...
01/17/2021

It is traditionally speculated that January gets its name from the early, uniquely Roman god, Janus, although the month is also associated with the goddess Juno. The two faces of Janus look both forward and back and this deity was invoked at beginnings and transitions such as those having to do with particular dates or activities. Doorways and arches symbolized his influence. Armies heading from peace to war would march through ceremonial gateways in prescribed ways to ensure success. The head of Janus could be found in many structures, sometimes even with four faces.
The image is a detail from “L’antiquité expliquée et représentée en figures…” (Antiquity Explained and Represented in Sculptures...), pp. 30-31, Vol.1, 1722, https://lccn.loc.gov/05001446?loclr=fbint; HathiTrust, https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/009282153?loclr=fbint.
The author of the work, Bernard de Montfaucon (1655-1741), a French army captain, Dominican monk, and respected scholar was himself a transitional figure in the fields of paleography and archaeology.

January is Hot Tea Month. Let us appreciate the long voyage of the tealeaves to our cup. The ink drawing from ca. 1878 s...
01/16/2021

January is Hot Tea Month. Let us appreciate the long voyage of the tealeaves to our cup. The ink drawing from ca. 1878 shows a branch, leaves, and blossoms of a tea tree (camellia), https://go.usa.gov/xAVX7. This and the more than 2,500 other ukiyo-e genre prints are freely available online from Library’s Prints & Photographs Division, https://go.usa.gov/xAVXZ. The collection comprises prints and drawings by Japanese artists of the 17th through early 20th centuries including Hiroshige, Kuniyoshi, Sadahide, and Yoshiiku.

Another candid shot of a colleague working steadfastly with incoming materials. In the blogpost interview, https://go.us...
01/15/2021

Another candid shot of a colleague working steadfastly with incoming materials. In the blogpost interview, https://go.usa.gov/xAmZ9,” reference librarian Matt Young describes his work at the Library as the Russian Specialist in the European Division.

Albert Schweitzer, (1875-1965) was born on January 14 in German (now French) Alsace. In 1952, he was awarded the Nobel P...
01/14/2021

Albert Schweitzer, (1875-1965) was born on January 14 in German (now French) Alsace. In 1952, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his “altruism, reverence for life, and tireless humanitarian work, which has helped making the idea of brotherhood between men and nations a living one.”
The very talented Schweitzer was a theologian and philosopher, author, as well as a noted organist. In 1913, he finished his studies to become a doctor of medicine and with his wife, Hélène Bresslau, set off to Lambaréné, today’s Gabon, where he worked with the locals to set up a hospital. The rest of Schweitzer's life was spent at Lambaréné, interspersed with occasional organ concerts and fundraisers.
Schweitzer's legacy has been clouded by accusations of colonialism. However, his concept of reverence for life is still an inspiration for many. The picture is from https://go.usa.gov/xAEYc.

Our virtual tour of colonial Singapore starts with two organizations central to its functioning: the Singapore Club and ...
01/13/2021

Our virtual tour of colonial Singapore starts with two organizations central to its functioning: the Singapore Club and the General Post Office. Both were located in buildings in the commercial core of the city, on the site of the demolished Fort Fullerton that had protected the mouth of the Singapore River. The Singapore Club—an all-male, European institution whose members comprised the island’s top tycoons and bureaucrats—was housed in the Chamber of Commerce and Exchange Building (opened in 1879) pictured on the right side of the color photochrom. Down from the Exchange Building was the General Post Office (completed in 1885), somewhat obscured in the photo, but with its carriage entrance and the wrought iron tips of its roofs visible. Postal service in Singapore began in the early 1800s with a three-person staff but quickly grew. In the 1920s, the General Post Office building and the Exchange Building were destroyed to make way for the Fullerton Building, which is now a hotel. (Photochrom ca. 1890-1910 by the Photoglob Co. in Zurich), https://www.loc.gov/item/2017657649/?loclr=fbint.

King Gustav I Vasa of Sweden (ca. 1496-1560) held his coronation on January 12, 1528 in Uppsala Cathedral—four and a hal...
01/12/2021

King Gustav I Vasa of Sweden (ca. 1496-1560) held his coronation on January 12, 1528 in Uppsala Cathedral—four and a half years after being elected king on June 6, 1523. Gustav’s life and reign saw both internal and external discord during a gory time in Nordic history. He is best remembered for bringing about Sweden’s Independence from Danish rule, forcefully converting the country to Protestantism, and his able, though authoritarian, administrative style. The two images showing different facets of Gustav’s personality are from https://go.usa.gov/xAUFM (left) and https://go.usa.gov/xAUFJ (right).

Today’s time travel takes us to 17th-century Constantinople, now Istanbul in Turkey. This magnificent city grew rich in ...
01/11/2021

Today’s time travel takes us to 17th-century Constantinople, now Istanbul in Turkey. This magnificent city grew rich in a location ideal for trade—with access to both the Black Sea and the Mediterranean, via the Bosporus, the Sea of Marmara and the Golden Horn. The city has stood for two and a half millennia despite fires, earthquakes, and invasions.
The digitally available images in the following works bring the time travel to life: the 1680 “Relation nouvelle d’un voyage de Constantinople,” https://lccn.loc.gov/05003030?loclr=fbint (follow HathiTrust link), and the map in the 1618 atlas, “Civitates orbis terrarum,” vol. 1, image 114 of 272, https://www.loc.gov/resource/g3200m.gct00128a?loclr=fbint.
The lines link the respective locations of the Hagia Sophia and the Sultan’s Palace complex from different vantage points.

January 10 is National Houseplant Day. My sister-in-law gets her amaryllis to bloom for the holidays precisely as requir...
01/10/2021

January 10 is National Houseplant Day. My sister-in-law gets her amaryllis to bloom for the holidays precisely as required, while mine appears whenever it feels like it. A mystery! Whether you are a houseplant enthusiast or not, enjoy this pretty picture of an amaryllis in “Plantae selectae…” (Selected plants…) https://lccn.loc.gov/05036426?loclr=fbint by the well-known German painter and plant illustrator Georg Dionysius Ehret (1708-70) from. Until Linnaeus (1707-78) referred to this plant as amaryllis, it was known by a variety of names, e.g., belladonna, narcissus, lilio, etc.

The Library’s rare collections never fail to amaze. Not sure? Delve into the blogpost “The Testimony of the Mad Arab,” h...
01/09/2021

The Library’s rare collections never fail to amaze. Not sure? Delve into the blogpost “The Testimony of the Mad Arab,” https://go.usa.gov/xANy9, and judge for yourself! The Library’s shelves are full of stories. Will you be able to handle this story of a book from another story? Hint: H. P. Lovecraft.
The atmospheric photo of the Library’s Jefferson Building from 1900 is at https://go.usa.gov/xANyA.

Continuing to celebrate Orthodox Christmas, we go to the charming railroad station church (https://go.usa.gov/xAN5h) at ...
01/08/2021

Continuing to celebrate Orthodox Christmas, we go to the charming railroad station church (https://go.usa.gov/xAN5h) at Obozersky (Obozerskii), about 80 miles south of Arkhangelsk in northwest Russia, where the current temperatures vary between 15F to 5F (-9C to -15C). The chapel was photographed in 2001 by Professor William Brumfield, who donated 1,000+ photographs taken in northern Russia to the Library’s “Meeting of Frontiers” Collection.

Celebrating Orthodox Christmas, we showcase the Ethiopian collection at the Library of Congress, and its 2020 acquisitio...
01/07/2021

Celebrating Orthodox Christmas, we showcase the Ethiopian collection at the Library of Congress, and its 2020 acquisition of a rare Gospel book printed in Rome in 1548. Here is a set of three images depicting the Annunciation, Nativity, and Epiphany. For more information about the work, go to https://go.usa.gov/xA8PZ.

Year in Review: From the African & Middle Eastern Division, a 17th century Armenian calligraphy sheet featuring the “thr...
01/06/2021

Year in Review: From the African & Middle Eastern Division, a 17th century Armenian calligraphy sheet featuring the “three Magi.”

From the African & Middle Eastern Division, a 17th century Armenian calligraphy sheet featuring the “three Magi.” Read more about this image in “Highlighting the Holidays: An Armenian ‘Three Magi‘ at the Library of Congress,“ http://blogs.loc.gov/loc/2015/12/highlighting-the-holidays-an-armenian-three-magi-at-the-library-of-congress/?loclr=fbint.

Tell each other entertaining and scandalous tales while avoiding the plague (and waiting to be vaccinated)—see, for inst...
01/05/2021

Tell each other entertaining and scandalous tales while avoiding the plague (and waiting to be vaccinated)—see, for instance, Boccaccio’s “Decameron.”

Monday we posted about the scandalous book, "Dangerous Liaisons" (such liaisons to be avoided during a pandemic). Today's featured work, Boccaccio's "Decameron" (ca. 1349-53) consists of stories told by a group of people who have fled from the plague in Florence. The woodcuts from a 1490 German translation demonstrate that two is company, but three is a crowd. Anyone engaged in a love triangle, or planning to spy on others in these days of COVID-19, should do so at a social distance of at least six feet away. These, and other images, may be found in the Library of Congress site, http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.rbc/Rosenwald.0149.1?loclr=fbint. "Cento nouelle, das seind Die hundert neuen Fabelen oder Historien so die gesaget seind worden zu einer pestile[n]czischen Zeiten" (One hundred stories, these are the hundred new fables or histories that have been told at a time of pestilence).

Year in Review: The Asian Division continued adding digitized works to the Chinese Rare Book Collection, which grew to 1...
01/04/2021

Year in Review: The Asian Division continued adding digitized works to the Chinese Rare Book Collection, which grew to 1,980 titles this year. One we featured was "Customs of the indigenous peoples of Taiwan."

“Taiwan fan she feng su” 台灣番社風俗 (Customs of the indigenous peoples of Taiwan) is a multi-color woodblock print album created by court painters, and commissioned by the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) after the Imperial Inspector visited Taiwan around 1744. It contains twelve paintings that depict the daily life of the indigenous people. The scene below portrays students gathering to study (left) and villagers preparing food (right). The artwork in this album offers a fascinating glimpse into the lifestyle and culture of the local people in 18th-century Taiwan, as seen through the eyes of Qing government officials.
View the entirety of “Taiwan fan she feng su” 台灣番社風俗, at https://www.loc.gov/item/2012402171/?loclr=fbint.

Year in Review: This is a time to celebrate the heroes of 2020 and applaud their continuing efforts in 2021. Brava! Brav...
01/03/2021

Year in Review: This is a time to celebrate the heroes of 2020 and applaud their continuing efforts in 2021. Brava! Bravo!

Today’s heroes may be everyday heroes, or ones operating on the frontlines. We may be heroes ourselves! The Library of Congress Muse, Calliope, and “Father” of epic poetry, Homer, remind us that heroism, sung or unsung, is as old as mankind. Read about some heroes celebrated by epic poetry in “Homage to Heroes,” https://blogs.loc.gov/international-collections/2020/04/homage-to-heroes/?loclr=fbint. Links for additional online reading provided! Photo details from www.loc.gov/pictures?loclr=fbint.

Kyŏngbok Palace was the primary royal palace in Korea during the Chosŏn Dynasty (1392-1910). The palace’s main gate, K...
01/02/2021

Kyŏngbok Palace was the primary royal palace in Korea during the Chosŏn Dynasty (1392-1910). The palace’s main gate, Kwanghwamun, featured three doors: the middle door was reserved for the king, while the other two doors were used by ordinary people to visit the place. The area in front of Kwanghwamun served as a space that connected the people with the king during important events.
The original Kyŏngbok palace and Kwanghwamun were destroyed during the 1592 Japanese invasion of Korea. They were not rebuilt until 1864, as an expression of the dignity and splendor of the royal family.
Search for more digitized photos of Korea from the 19th and early 20th century from the Library’s Prints & Photographs Division at https://go.usa.gov/xAkrb.

Year in Review: Like Don Quixote, we’ve all courageously faced formidable challenges this year. What are your hopes and ...
01/01/2021

Year in Review: Like Don Quixote, we’ve all courageously faced formidable challenges this year. What are your hopes and dreams for next year, quixotic or otherwise?

Today’s imaginary travels are those of Don Quixote, the 17th-century literary character overcome by chivalric fantasies. Together with his sidekick, Sancho Panza, Quixote engages in adventures, the most famous of which is the fight against windmills, which he imagines to be giants.
“El ingenioso hidalgo don Quijote de la Mancha” (The Ingenious Hidalgo Don Quixote of La Mancha) by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (1547-1616) is considered a model for the modern novel. Gustave Doré’s illustrations have provided archetypal images of the two main characters.
Many versions of Don Quixote are available online. See, e.g.,
Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra. “El ingenioso hidalgo don Quijote de la Mancha.” Barcelona: Tomás Gorchs, 1863, https://lccn.loc.gov/91208709?loclr=fbint.
Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra. “The history of Don Quixote.” Illustrated by Gustave Doré. London, New York: Cassell, Petter, and Galpin, 1864, https://lccn.loc.gov/45029971?loclr=fbint, HathiTrust, https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/100216646?locltr=fbint.

Year in Review: How are you planning on saying adios to 2020?
12/31/2020

Year in Review: How are you planning on saying adios to 2020?

People in Latin America love to celebrate New Year’s Eve with a great variety of quirky traditions. In the midst of effervescent parties and lots of dancing, those who have gathered to celebrate perform a series of rituals and activities at the stroke of midnight--most of which are meant to bring blessings and good luck during the coming year. Activities include blowing loud whistles and trumpets; eating grapes (twelve to be exact) - one for each month of the new year, and each grape symbolizing a wish or an intention for the new year to come; running around the block with suitcases to wish for a new year full of travel; wearing yellow underwear for good luck; and burning the “Año viejo” (the old year), a scare-crow-like figure dressed as an old man, which is filled with fireworks and lit when the new year hits. Best wishes for a happy New Year!
(Photo: “No. 4, Grapes” (1873) by Ryan C., Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress, http://www.loc.gov/pictures/resource/pga.14145/?loclr=fbint.)

Be a virtual volunteer! Improve access to history by transcribing (making a typed copy of), reviewing, and tagging Libra...
12/30/2020

Be a virtual volunteer! Improve access to history by transcribing (making a typed copy of), reviewing, and tagging Library of Congress documents, see https://crowd.loc.gov/?loclr=fbint. There are a number of collections, or “campaigns,” one can work on. Some have already been completed, such as “Letters to Lincoln.” Read about the experiences of a colleague who encountered German script in these letters, https://go.usa.gov/xAKqs.

The “By the People” crowdsourcing project at the Library of Congress, https://crowd.loc.gov/?loclr=fbint, lets participants transcribe the Library’s handwritten documents directly online for tagging and sharing. What happens when a volunteer encounters old German script? Read about it at "Unlocking the Secrets of German Handwritten Documents," https://go.usa.gov/xw4CA.

Year in Review: This is one of the most viewed posts from the African and Middle Eastern Division - International myster...
12/29/2020

Year in Review: This is one of the most viewed posts from the African and Middle Eastern Division - International mystery page investigated!

International mystery page investigated!
Library staff discovered an interesting page with Hebrew writing as binding on a 1593 book written in Latin and published in Frankfurt, Germany. The book itself detailed the exploits of Frederick II, King of Denmark and Norway (1534-88), https://lccn.loc.gov/17011612?loclr=fbint. Somehow, the Hebrew page had ended up as scrap. As was the custom at the time, such material often ended up as binding material to hold together the back of the book pages. Find out the origin of the Hebrew text (image 3) in Ann Brener’s blogpost, "Worlds within Worlds, Books within Books: Hebrew Manuscripts as Binding for non-Hebrew Books," http://blogs.loc.gov/international-collections/2019/12/worlds-within-worlds-books-within-books-hebrew-manuscripts-as-binding-for-non-hebrew-books/?loclr=fbint

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