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Area Studies Collections

Peggy K. Pearlstein and Barbara A. Tenenbaum*

arrow graphicINTRODUCTION
Area Studies Reading Rooms
The Experiences of Women
Foreign-Language Newspapers and Periodicals
Women's Publications
Special-Format Divisions






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Posting ceiling prices in foreign languages. Howard Liberman, photographer. 1942. Prints and Photographs Division. LC-USE6-D-006196 (b&w film neg.)

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Vais broit . . . azoyfil vayse penitslekh frish broit far alemen. Mayne oygen tsinden zikh on mit hunger. White bread, so many small slices of fresh, white bread for all of us. My eyes lit up with hunger.1

From its very beginnings, the Library of Congress has collected works in foreign languages. Today the Library's book collections number more than eighteen million volumes. Half of these are works written in languages other than English, representing about 450 different languages and 35 scripts. In many instances, the Library is considered to be the best repository outside the country of origin for Western-language books, periodicals, and other materials about a particular culture. Its non-roman-script-language collections are generally the largest and most extensive in the world outside of the countries where those languages are spoken. Foreign-language items published in the United States form yet another substantial segment of the Library's collections.

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“Le Tragedie del Lavoro.” Il Progresso Italo-Americano. March 28, 1911 (News MF 2297). Serial and Government Publications Division.

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The Library's foreign-language collections and adjunct sources on different cultural groups are an important and often untapped resource for study of the origins and development of women's history in the United States. This discussion of the Area Studies collections suggests ways for researchers to avail themselves of the many opportunities afforded by these materials throughout the Library of Congress.

*Authored the original chapter in American Women: A Library of Congress Guide for the Study of Women's History and Culture in the United States (Library of Congress, 2001), from which this online version is derived. Others who contributed to this effort are identified in the Acknowledgments.

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