The Library of Congress in the Capitol, 1800-1897
Oil on Canvas
Great Experiment Hall
In 1783 Representative James Madison introduced a resolution to create a library that would give the Congress access to works about the laws of nations and about American history and affairs. The Library of Congress was founded in 1800 and located in one room in the Capitol; as the collection grew, more and more space was required. This mural depicts the library in the Capitol in 1890, when it had grown to occupy almost the entire west central section of the building. Librarian of Congress Ainsworth Spofford is shown seated at the left.
Left: The teacher and children in a "little red schoolhouse" represent an important part of American education in the 1800s.
Right: Students attend a land grant college, symbolic of the national commitment to higher learning.
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