Freedom's Fortress

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Biographical Sketches

Lessing J. Rosenwald (1891-1979)

In 1943 Lessing Rosenwald, a Sears, Roebuck and Company executive and bibliophile, gave the first of many gifts to the Library of Congress. His initial gift of illustrated books and manuscripts consisted of about five hundred titles. The gift included books, plates, proofs, and engravings of William Blake; books printed by William Caxton; a 13th-century Bible; 11 different 15th-century editions of Boccaccio; English and French editions of Thomas Harriot’s A Brief and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia, and many other works. According to Luther Harris Evans, the collection "constitutes…a landmark both in the development of the Library of Congress and in its relations to the book-collecting world."

Gertrude Clarke Whittall (1867-1965)

Gertrude Clarke Whittall, one of the Library’s great patrons, gave many gifts in support of its music and poetry programs. In 1935 she presented her collection of five Stradivari instruments to the Library and also set up the Gertrude Clarke Whittall Foundation to further encourage musical events at the Library. In 1950 she established the Gertrude Clarke Whittall Poetry and Literature Fund and furnished the Poetry Room in the Library’s Thomas Jefferson Building. She also gave the Library the manuscripts of such artists as A. E. Housman, Edwin Arlington Robinson, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and Dante Gabriel Rossetti.

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Rosenwald and Luther Evans
descriptive record icon enlarge image icon   Photograph of Lessing J. Rosenwald (left) and Luther Harris Evans, 1947.
Library of Congress Archives (Series: Photographs, Illustrations, Objects), Manuscript Division, Library of Congress.



Gertrude Clarke Whittall
descriptive record icon enlarge image icon   Photograph of Gertrude Clarke Whittall, undated.
Library of Congress Archives (Series: Photographs, Illustrations, Objects), Manuscript Division, Library of Congress