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Guide to the Papers of the Librarians of Congress, 1800-2015

This research guide describes the papers of thirteen Librarians of Congress. Users will find biographical information, collection descriptions, and links to primary and secondary sources regarding their work and tenure at the institution


As the nation's library, the Library of Congress (LC) has had a special role in the development of librarianship in the United States. Those who have served as Librarians of Congress were often at the center of America's scholarly and cultural communities, and they brought both vision and practical skills to the work, implementing technical innovations and collecting models that impacted libraries across the nation and the globe.

This research guide describes primary source collections for studying the Librarians of Congress. The Manuscript Division holds the personal papers of thirteen Librarians of Congress. Each collection is different: some Librarian's papers contain many boxes of various types of material, while others contain a single document. The descriptions of these collections are arranged in this guide chronologically within a historical framework. There is a link to each Librarian's collection, as well as supporting online information. Visual materials including photo albums from each collection are found in the Prints and Photographs Division. There is a link to each Librarian's photographs.

In addition to the papers of individual Librarians, a separate collection, the LC Archives, contains administrative records, correspondence, publications and images related to the Librarians of Congress. The LC Archives dates from 1800 to the present. It is a rich source of documentation from 1899-1954, including the tenures of Librarians of Congress Herbert Putnam, Archibald MacLeish, and Luther Evans. The LC Archives also contains Librarian's letterbooks that record out-going correspondence between 1843-1954. Note: The Librarian's letterbooks series is missing correspondence from 1887-1897.

In 2015, a records schedule for Library of Congress records, including those of the Librarians of Congress, was approved by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). The Library of Congress now applies a retention schedule to identify permanent records to be transferred to the NARA. Contact LC Records Management at [email protected] for more information.

Librarians of Congress, 1800-2015