Yesterday at work I found myself listening to some blues songs recorded in 1941 and 1943, a record of a folk festival at a college in Georgia. A number are gospel songs; a number deal with topical subjects (Roosevelt, Hitler, Joe Louis, Pearl Harbor). I haven’t listened to them all yet, but they are wonderful, and they are all available on the web (free, in MP3 format) through the American Memory Project of the Library of Congress, along with an essay providing some historical context. I sometimes forget just how much wonderful stuff has to offer: animation, beautiful color photos of imperial Russia, old advertising circulars, photojournalism both cheering and chilling, this scan of Amelia Earhart’s handprint that Judith uses as a desktop image. It’s a testament to the diversity of the American artistry (high art and low art both) and craftsmanship, the breadth of public domain works, the hard work of the people at the LOC to make this work available, and the sheer packratdom that is part of the American character, Walden notwithstanding. They call the Smithsonian "America’s attic", but the Smithsonian collects things like Enron ethics manuals and Archie Bunker’s chair. Compare the Smithsonian’s ruby slippers to the LOC’s Oz manuscripts. They’re both recording the American experience, but the Smithsonian takes souvenirs where the Library of Congress takes mementos. None