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Albanian Collections at the Library of Congress

Special Collections

The sections below outline the range of Albanian special collection-type materials in the Rare Books & Special Collections Reading Room, the Geography & Map Reading Room, the Recorded Sound Research Center and the Prints & Photographs Reading Room at the Library of Congress. Be sure to check back regularly for updates to this guide.

Rare Books and Special Collections Reading Room

The Library of Congress holds a number of rare books regarding Albanian subjects. Most are western commentaries on the life and military feats of the 15th century Albanian national hero, Scanderbeg. They are presented below.  Additionally, the Rare Books and Special Collections Reading Room also holds an illuminated manuscript which the Albanian students of the Royal University of Rome addressed to President Woodrow Wilson during the Paris Peace Conference.  The 16 page manuscript details their plea for American support of Albanian independence.  It is now digitized and can be examined online through the portal.

Geography & Maps Reading Room

The Library of Congress holds a variety of maps depicting Albania throughout the 20th century. They can be consulted in the Geography & Map Reading Room. A smaller number, discussed below, are now digitized and can be accessed through the Library's website,

The Library's digitized maps of Albania date from the onset of independence in 1913 to the present. Many of the maps from World War I, like Andre Radovitch's 1915 map of Albania or the 1918 Ordinance Survey of Albania' s borders focus on borders. The turbulence of the period resulted in a stunning display of cartographic craftsmanship. Antonio Soares' 1914 Mappa Humorístico da Europa depicting European countries as different types of animals is a good example of this. The rest of the digitized maps, like the one shown above, depict Albania's administrative divisions. A somewhat unique departure from this, is Harta Ekonomike e Shqiperise për Shkollat map used for students in economics students which points out Albania's regional industries.

Researchers interested in accessing these and other physical maps should consult the web page of the Geography & Map Reading Room. The Geography and Map Division (G&M) has custody of the largest and most comprehensive cartographic collection in the world with collections numbering over 5 million maps, 100,000 atlases, 8,000 reference works, over 500 globes and globe gores, 3,000 raised relief models, over 130,000 microfiche/film, and a large number of cartographic materials in other formats.

Recorded Sound Research Center

The Library of Congress holds a variety of sound recordings, moving pictures, and webcasts on a diverse range of Albanian topics. This section presents a few of the different genres of Albanian and provides detail on where in the Library they may be found.

The Library's Albanian sound recordings, like other types of materials in the general collections, often connect to Albanian history. One such example, is a selection of the Italian composer Antonio Vivaldi's arias, which include excerpts from his 1718 opera, Scanderbeg. Perhaps the most unique example of sound recordings, is the interview that the then Albanian Foreign Minister Faik Konica gave to NBC Radio's host Hilmar Baukhage in April 1939, commenting on Italy's unfolding invasion of Albania. The rare interview was identified through a collaboration of the Library of Congress' former Albanian specialist, Grant Harris, and the National Library of Albania's director, Dr. Etleva Domi. Researchers can examine these records by ordering them in advance at the Library's Recorded Sound Research Center.

The Recorded Sound Research Center provides access to the commercial and archival audio holdings of the Library of Congress. The collection dates from 1926 when Victor Records donated over 400 discs to the Library's Music Division to supplement its print and manuscript holdings. In the custody of the Motion Picture Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division since 1978, the collection has grown to include over 2 million items encompassing audio formats from cylinders to CDs. The holdings complement the field recordings of the American Folklife Center and the moving image collections served in the Moving Image Research Center.

A third recording reflects the Albanian folk music tradition. The American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress is a repository of countless recordings representing the sound recording of diverse ethnic communities throughout the United States, including the Albanian-American diaspora. Included below is the June 19, 2008 recording of AFC's sponsored concert featuring the well-known folk singer Merita Halili and her husband Raif Hyseni's Albanian orchestra music.

Finally, a number of webcasts of Library of Congress events relating to Albania over the years are also described. They are digitized and viewable via the links included below.

Archival Collections

The Library of Congress holds the Albanian National Archive's catalog of Ottoman manuscripts. Researchers of the Ottoman period of rule in Southeast Europe may find this unique source a good reference tool. It can be consulted in the Africa and Middle Eastern Reading Room.