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The Library of Congress in the Capitol, 1800-1897

Allyn Cox

Oil on Canvas


Great Experiment Hall

Cox Corridors


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.



This official Architect of the Capitol photograph is being made available for educational, scholarly, news or personal purposes (not advertising or any other commercial use). When any of these images is used the photographic credit line should read “Architect of the Capitol.” These images may not be used in any way that would imply endorsement by the Architect of the Capitol or the United States Congress of a product, service or point of view. For more information visit www.aoc.gov/terms.


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Taken on December 7, 2011