Eyes of the Nation: A Visual History of the United States (Library of Congress)

Arthur Rothstein; Portraits. Image and original data from: Virga, Vincent, and Curators of the Library of Congress

In 1997, the Library of Congress published Eyes of the Nation: A Visual History of the United States (New York: Knopf, 1997). The book offered a pictorial overview of American history, with approximately 500 illustrations. Most of these illustrations reproduced public domain objects within the Library of Congress' special collections (e.g. prints, posters, maps, manuscript pages, photographs, designs, movie stills, cartoons, etc.). According to James H. Billington, the Librarian of Congress, these images were selected from the library's vast collections to “show how Americans have viewed themselves, and have been viewed by others, in the course of this great work-in-progress that is the United States.” (Eyes of the Nation, preface).

Simultaneous with the publication of the book, a CD (and later DVD) version with many more images of objects from the Library of Congress was published by ArtLook. A selection of works from both the original book, as well as the larger body of digital images produced for the CD/DVD version, are now available in the Artstor Digital Library. Since its publication, Eyes of the Nation has been widely used in K-12 curriculum. It will also be of interest to more advanced scholars and teachers of American Studies, as well as those engaged in specialized disciplines such as African-American Studies, Women's Studies, or Native American Studies.