Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Library of Congress American Memory Archives

The photo above, by Dorothea Lange, comes with the following information:
The Rural rehabilitation client talking with county supervisor, Farm Security Administration (FSA), Tulare County, California. She says: "Someday I'm going to build my house. Right over there by that garden".
After discussing the Farm Security Administration show at the New Mexico Museum of Art, I discovered this amazing archival database of over 165,000 photographs from the program. The site also contains ample information on the collection, its artists and the process through which this work was obtained. The entire site is searchable; one could easily spend an entire week wandering through these virtual stacks of images, constantly surprised and moved by the what these photographers captured on film.

This FSA collection is merely one part of the astoundingly vast American Memory archives. If one could spend a week with the FSA photos, one could spend a lifetime among all the resources the Library of Congress has offered its audience here. There's no way for me to accurately describe the breadth of the material contained therein, only to say that it's a site that all citizens of this country (and beyond) should take time to consider and enjoy. Here's the American Memory archive's mission statement:
American Memory provides free and open access through the Internet to written and spoken words, sound recordings, still and moving images, prints, maps, and sheet music that document the American experience. It is a digital record of American history and creativity. These materials, from the collections of the Library of Congress and other institutions, chronicle historical events, people, places, and ideas that continue to shape America, serving the public as a resource for education and lifelong learning.