Did the British burn all the books? Remembering the war of 1812 and the first Library of Congress

by Sabrina I. Pacifici on August 5, 2012

Via LLRX.com: Did the British burn all the books? Remembering the war of 1812 and the first Library of Congress

  • Nicholas Pengelley has once again contributed his expertise as a historian, librarian, writer, and scholar with his article on the War of 1812, from the Canadian perspective. This month marks the anniversary of events that are largely overlooked on our Nation’s Capital, yet had an overarching impact on many aspects of our lives as librarians, researchers, students and citizens. The Library of Congress was at the time of the British invasion in the summer of 1814 a solid working collection, with an emphasis on law and parliamentary history, but with a smattering of works considered as entertainment. If it still existed, a number of the works on its shelves would be counted as great rarities and doubtless displayed in glass cases. This library perished in the flames of war, but it was created anew the following year – arising phoenix-like from the ashes on the foundation of Thomas Jefferson’s personal library of nearly 7,000 volumes, which he sold to the nation for $23,950. Nick offers us many lessons and food for thought – not the least that the rush into the embrace of technology’s myriad applications should be complemented by acknowledging how the deliberation and actions of individuals 200 years ago continues to enrich our society, and our lives.”
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