When you give a talk at the Library of Congress, they don’t pay you with money. They reward you something far more valuable. Your compensation is to have their researchers dig whatever gems you would like to see out of their collection of 134 million items.
Some years ago a Dinotopia fan and Library staffer named Sirikanya Schaeffer invited me there to speak and asked me what I would like to see afterward. I told her I was dying to look at some original Nineteenth century explorer’s journals like those of Arthur Denison. I also asked to study a few of the handwriting primers from the first half of the 19th Century, the kind of thing they would use to teach writing in one-room schoolhouses more than 150 years ago.
The researchers covered two large tables with jaw-dropping specimens, and let us very carefully turn the pages. There were delicate little watercolors of people getting haircuts in China in the 1840s. And there were gorgeous examples of lettering guidebooks showing the standard Copperplate and Roundhand alphabets for the aspiring penman. For a bookworm and retro-maniac like me, this was hog heaven, and it was one of the key inspirations for Journey to Chandara.
Please post a comment: What would YOU choose to see at the Library of Congress?