News | May 28, 2024

Do-Re-Mi Lyrics from The Sound of Music Lead New Library of Congress Exhibition

Library of Congress

Manuscript treasures including Abraham Lincoln’s handwritten draft of the Gettysburg Address, a map from the Lewis and Clark Expedition, and lyrics from The Sound of Music are among more than 120 items in the new Libary of Congress exhibition Collecting Memories.

Opening June 13 as the inaugural exhibition in the new David M. Rubenstein Treasures Gallery in Washington, DC and on view through December 2025, Collecting Memories will explore how cultures preserve memory, including the role of the Library in preserving collective memories representing entire societies, important moments in history and individual lives. 

The new gallery is devoted to ongoing exhibitions that showcase treasures from across the national library’s collections. It’s the first major component of a multiyear plan, known as A Library for You, to create a new visitor experience with new galleries, exhibitions and interactive spaces. 

Highlights include:

  • Abraham Lincoln’s handwritten draft of the Gettysburg Address in 1863
  • a letter to Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton from her father, documenting the threat of yellow fever in 1801, from the papers of Alexander Hamilton
  • a landmark first map of the newly independent United States compiled, printed and published in America by an American, Abel Buell in 1784
  • the first printed map showing reasonably accurate geographic information about the Western U.S., from the expedition of Lewis and Clark, published in 1814
  • a unique dress made of 45 paper scrolls containing poems and illustrations paying homage to Cuban and American women poets, created by Ruth Behar and Rolando Estévez Jordán
  • Omar ibn Said’s handwritten autobiography in Arabic from 1831, telling the story of how he was captured in West Africa, enslaved and brought to South Carolina, the only known memoir of its kind
  • pioneering civil rights and women’s rights activist and educator Mary Church Terrell’s draft for her autobiography A Colored Woman in a White World
  • playwright Neil Simon’s notebook including The War of the Rosens and what appears to be his first notes for what would become Brighton Beach Memoirs
  • Sigmund Freud’s papers documenting his thoughts on how the brain processes memories
  • one of the earliest printed texts in a North American Indigenous language, a dual-language catechism written in both Spanish and Timucua, a complex and now extinct language, by Franciscan missionary Francisco Pareja in 1627
  • the camera owned by groundbreaking photographer Frances Benjamin Johnston, among the first American women to achieve prominence as a photographer
  • Oscar Hammerstein’s lyric sheet working out the words for the song Do-Re-Mi during the creation of the musical The Sound of Music

“The stories told by these items still inspire and amaze, decades or even centuries after they were created,” said Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden. Philanthropist David M. Rubenstein, who made a transformational lead gift of $10 million to support the visitor experience project, added: “I think it’s important to preserve America’s treasures because the human brain still operates more effectively when it sees something for real."