Discovery v. selection

February 12, 2008

This Library of Congress news release about finding three genuine photos of Abraham Lincoln’s second inauguration sent a couple of chills down my spine. The addition of these three brings the total to four.

It also got me thinking about how much has changed in 143 years. As we library students are repeatedly reminded, the problem for future researchers investigating W’s second inauguration isn’t going to be a lack of visual resources but rather a flood of images that would need to be filtered and read for unique information.  Between now and then, those of us who curate information in some way are going to have to make choices about which images get preserved so we will try to guess what will be important to them, but regardless, there still aren’t going to be a grand total of four images available. Probably.

Librarian thoughts aside, there is something incredible about seeing unstaged photos from an event that was so important to our country’s history. I look at these photos and it’s like I can almost feel the drizzle, the cold, the expectations and hopes and energies of the people (many of them soldiers) gathering to see the president  who has led them into a war for the future of the country.
And seriously, I never get tired of reading the second inaugural address that these photos preface.


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