On Christmas Eve, 1851, a faulty chimney flue started another fire in the Library, consuming about 35,000 volumes, including two-thirds of Jefferson’s original collection. Congress immediately paid for the replacement of Jefferson’s volumes. The current library collection is housed in five different buildings and now includes newspapers, Hollywood films, documents, and other artifacts. The magnificent Jefferson Building in the Beaux Arts style, built in the early 1890s, is a stunning display of the literary genius and symbolic opulence of American architecture that almost overwhelms visitors today.
The special exhibits feature Jefferson’s collection, ancient maps, and, currently, World War I memorabilia, among other artifacts of history and Americana.
Aerial view of the Library of Congress with Thomas Jefferson Building in the foreground and John Adams building top-right
On display in the foyer is one of the three perfect copies in the world of the Gutenberg Bible. God chose to reveal himself in words, encoded in books. Though billions of books have perished since the first scrolls came into existence after the universal flood, the Word of God has never, and will never, pass away. It is no wonder that the Bible collection at the Library of Congress and the Bible Museum in Washington, D.C. are among the most popular stops on Americans’ pilgrimages to the Capitol of our nation.
Gutenberg Bible at the Library of Congress