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  • Library of CongressLibrary of Congress Washington D. C.
    The oldest cultural institution in the nation is our Library of Congress, that has been split into three buildings in our capitol, and is the biggest library in the world, started by Congress in 1800. Unbelievably, the first collection was destroyed in the War of 1812, but Thomas Jefferson then sold 6487 books to the new library in 1815; which had been his own private collection; and due to financial circumstances necessitated his decision. During the mid19th century, the library experienced some stagnation, but then began to grow and enlarge itself after the Civil War; with the construction of a new building and the moving of all copyrighted materials to it. In the 20th century, it would become even more prominent, with its growth encouraged by the academic and public areas because it seemed like the best place to put books of all nature and status there, rather than in a thousand smaller libraries across the country. The main focus of the library is the answering of research questions by the Congress, for their understanding of various fields that might by part of a bill, with the Congressional Research Service being used for this service, although it is also available to the public, but they cannot check out the books, while Congress, the Supreme Court and other high ranking people in the government.  The library receives a copy of every book, printed material, music, map and pamphlet that goes through the U.S. Copyright Office and since it is the de facto national library, it has always and still continues to advocate literature and literacy by many wonderful projects like the Poet Laureate, American Memory, Center for the Book and American Folklife Center. The collection includes 21,218,408 catalogued books, 11,599,606 books in large print and raised characters, technical reports, music, bound newspapers, monographs and serials, incunabula which are the books that were printed before 1501 and various other printed items; and 109,029.796 materials in the nonclassified section; all in all, 141,847,810 pieces of printed materials. It has gone through some tumultuous periods and difficult, heartbreaking times; like the 1851 fire that destroyed about 35,000 books that included about two thirds of the books that Jefferson sold. In 1852, the Congress appropriated $168,700 to replace the lost books, but not new ones.  During the years of 1865 to 1870, the library would acquire money to build the Thomas Jefferson Building that had all the copyright materials and the international book exchanges; as well as getting the Smithsonian's collection of 40,000 books, and the Peter Force collection, who was a historian. In 1876, it had 300,000 volumes on its shelves, tieing it with the Boston Public Library as the biggest in the country. Less than a quarter of a century later, it held more than 840,000 volumes, when it moved from the capitol building to its new headquarters, with almost 40% coming in through the copyright office. After some changes in 1897, the library would start to grow and evolve more quickly, and by 1939, had over a million volumes. Under the leadership of Archibald MacLeish, from 1939 to 1944, the library devoted the south reading room in the Adams Building to Thomas Jefferson, and had artist Ezra Winter paint four themed murals in the room; as well as creating a democracy alcove in the main reading room for all most important papers belonging to the government which included the Declaration of Independence, Constitution and Federalist papers.

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  • Lincoln MemorialLincoln Memorial Washington D. C.
    There is little doubt that the Lincoln Memorial was constructed to honor the 16th President of the United States; and quite possibly the best President of the United States that we have ever had, or will have. Situated on the National Mall in our nation's capitol, it was dedicated in 1922, with architect Henry Bacon being the main architect and Daniel Chester French the sculptor of Lincoln and Jules Guerin painting the murals. It is only one of a few that have been erected to honor an American president, but perhaps the most recognizable and favored. The building is Greek Doric and a temple styled building, with a huge seated sculpture of Abraham Lincoln and two of his most famous speeches inscribed thereon. It has been the backdrop of numerous well known speeches, like Martin Luther King's "I have a Dream". Other memorials or monuments on the mall include the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, National WWII Memorial, and the Korean War Veterans Memorial; all taken care of by the National Park Service. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1966 and ranked number 7 in the List of America's Favorite Architecture by the American Institute of Architects. Congress appointed the Lincoln Monument Association in 1867 to build the memorial, but a site wasn't picked until 1902, which had been a swampland and the Congress formally authorized the site in 1911; with cornerstone being placed on February 12, 1914, Lincoln's birthday. The stone used in the construction was Indiana limestone and Yule marble from the quarry at Marble, Colorado, with Lincoln's statue being made of Murphy marble from Tate, Georgia. Henry Bacon, was the overall architect, and in 1923 received the Gold Medal of the American Institute of Architects, their highest honor; for his design. Standing alone and different from the normal Romanesque features of the majority of buildings in the capitol at that time, its huge 36 columns were later decided to represent the 25 states of the union and the 11 seceded states of the confederacy; with names and dates of entrance into the union inscribed on top. The states that entered afterwards, were then carved on the exterior attic walls in like manner, and the admission of Hawaii and Alaska were inscribed on a plaque in front of the monument.

January 11, 2011