The 15 Most Unexpected Items in the Library of Congress

The 15 Most Unexpected Items in the Library of Congress

Most people’s experience of the Library of Congress is as a repository of documents the Founding Fathers once rubbed their junk on and photos of various Kennedy assassinations where they once went on a field trip, and really, that’s pretty much what it is. Unless you’re a historian or in a Nicolas Cage movie, you probably don’t have much use for it. It’s just a big library, you know? If you want to pick up bookish types, you can do that without getting on a plane.

Which is exactly what they want you to think. In truth, the Library of Congress is a collection of all kinds of historical artifacts, and the people of history were just as bonkers as people are today, so they’ve left behind plenty of weird shit for those poor congressional librarians to catalog. There may very well even be a little of you in there. Don’t believe us? Check out…

Likewise, Mike Myers’s pronunciation of “donkey” demands preservation.

CRACKED SHREK Until Wall-E was added in 2021, Shrek was the only animated movie this century to be inducted into the National Film Registry, so... you know.


Future people must know how we shook our bon-bons.

CRACKED LIVIN' LA VIDA LOCA The Library of Congress maintains a National Recording Registry of only a few hundred of the most culturally significant works of recorded audio, possibly the silliest of which is Ricky Martin's 1999 breakout hit. Not that we're arguing. Livin' La Vida Loca ARTI RICKY MARTIN

LOC / Wikipedia 

It is a special beam, but it still sounds annoying.

CRACKED A 400-POUND 9/11 BEAM Hands down, the Library of Congress' hardest-to-move item is a 400 pound beam from the wreckage of the World Trade Center. Technically, it's not even at the Library, because like your weirdest uncle, not having the storage space for something doesn't mean they won't acquire it.


Moldy Cake

CRACKED MOLDY CAKE FROM THE WEDDING OF A CIRCUS STAR It's remained intact, if unappetizing, since the 1863 wedding of Charles Stratton, A.K.A. General Tom Thumb, the just-under-three-foot star of the P.T. Barnum circus. It was apparently a big story for the newspapers, who had run out of Civil Wars to cover.


A mysterious chocolate map

CRACKED A CHOCOLATE MAP... OF THE GRAND CANYON Why? Fuck you, that's why. Who made it? When? For what purpose? There are few answers here, other than What does the Grand Canyon look like? and Is it delicious?

LOC / Wikipedia 

Lincoln’s knickknacks

CRACKED THE CONTENTS OF LINCOLN'S POCKETS WHEN НЕ DIED Make sure not to carry around anything too weird, in case you're assassinated. Lincoln was in the clear, carrying only a wallet, a handkerchief, a watch fob, a pocket knife, and a pair of glasses held together with string. What a nerd. R. R.TICKETS NOTES Thromitionies U.S.CURRENCY FIVE SITE DOLLARS A 10 Through A Lincoln


Speaking of people whose achievements were primarily not culinary…

CRACKED ROSA PARKS' PEANUT BUTTER PANCAKE RECIPE Parks' brunch of choice might not seem historically significant, but the document actually tells us a lot about the Civil Rights hero's life. It also sounds tasty A.F. sugar wt Six C egg peanut 14c butter milk line T melted with stroithy dry ingredie or oil


A boring recipe

CRACKED THOMAS JEFFERSON'S ICE CREAM RECIPE It's not even a very good recipe. Jefferson was a known foodie, having brought tons of now-classic American dishes to the country, but perhaps his favorite after-dinner yum-yums didn't require preservation. Ice cream 2 bottles of good cream 5.moths of eff sugar mix the yolks Ysugar put the cream on a fire in a cop -sole first milling mashi Gavil then near boiling take A M y pour it gently into themexhin of ster it well. put it on the triggain stims it thoughty the ith a spoon in to


A disembodied hand

CRACKED WALT WHITMAN'S HAND Or at least a bronze cast, which is possibly creepier. It's not clear how this item was created and bestowed, so we're just going to have to assume the ickiest scenario possible. N.H.B. Boster Mass


Freud’s Cocaine

CRACKED FREUD'S COCAINE Technically, it's Freud's friend's cocaine. The Freud collection contains a small stash of cocaine used by Dr. Carl Koller after his buddy Siggy encouraged him to experiment with it (medically, not, like, Paul Thomas Anderson-ly). 8877. Rish now I.Dasia our is this aimin IVV Cocain see with


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