Friday, May 20, 2011

For the Civil War Buffs Out There

American Libraries offers a fascinating article on one possible cause of the Civil War--overdue library books! Seriously, the article by Rob Lopresti, based on a longer treatment of the same subject that was published by Lopresti and August A. Imholtz in the March 2011 issue of Library and Information History, highlights the "odd scandal" that involved the "New York Times, a library with no catalog, and ... the Dred Scott decision." The Times accused seceding members of Congress of stealing books worth thousands of dollars from the House of Representatives Library with the goal of starting a library in the Confederacy. Subsequent investigation revealed shockingly poor mismanagement of the House Library (there was no catalog; in fact, there were no records of any kind) and lack of adherence to journalistic standards which led the Times reporter to rely on "exaggerated rumors passed on by loose-lipped clerks." You'll have to read the article yourself to figure out the connection to Dred Scott!

1 comment:

Betsy McKenzie said...

Marie, this is such a fascinating post & link! Thank you. I have passed it along to many people, including my husband & a professor, both of whom are Civil War buffs. Thank you for a surprising & wonderful post!