Q:What exactly is the difference between the National Archives and the Library of Congress? Do they hold different types of materials?
There’s nobody better to answer this than David Ferriero, the Archivist of the United States (AOTUS) himself, straight from his blog:
There’s a common misconception that the National Archives and Records Administration and the Library of Congress are one in the same. This probably stems from the fact that as institutions we have similar missions. Here are just a few differences:
- The National Archives was established by President Franklin Roosevelt in 1934 to centralize federal record keeping; The Library of Congress was established by an act of Congress in 1800 as a reference library for Congress.
- The National Archives is part of the Executive Branch; the Library is part of the Legislative Branch (remember the “of Congress” part of their name).
- The head of the National Archives is the Archivist of the United States (AOTUS); the head of the Library is the Librarian of Congress.
- At the National Archives you can see the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of the United States, and the Bill of Rights, collectively known as the Charters of Freedom; At the Library of Congress you can see Jefferson’s library, the Gutenberg Bible, and the 1507 Waldseemueller map (the map that first named America).
As Americans we are very fortunate to have multiple institutions that are concerned with preservation of our national treasures. At the National Archives, we are thinking about the importance of preserving electronic records and making sure we aren’t losing our virtual memory.
As a kid I had a “talent” for finding four leaf clovers. Stretching before a run recently I looked down and noticed one staring me in the face. And reconnected with my childhood. In fact, over the past weekend I found 23!
We are surrounded every day with messages to “look up,” “look ahead,” “look back,” but not so many to “look down.” Except “mind the gap!” A quick Google search for “look up” results in 560m hits while “look down” only 231m hits. So, while you are looking up for inspiration or ahead for direction or back for perspective, remember to look down. It is amazing what’s at your feet!
Read the full post on the AOTUS blog.
Be it enacted by the Senate and the House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That there is hereby created the Office of Archivist of the United States, the Archivist to be appointed by the President of the United States, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate.
Act of June 19, 1934 (“National Archives Act”), Public Law 73-432, 48 STAT 1122, “to create a National Archives of the United States Government and for other purposes.”
Signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on June 19, 1934, this act established the National Archives to centralize federal record keeping, with the Archivist of the United States as its chief administrator.