Loan Receipt Book "M" (1863-1867), Loans to Senator Charles Sumner from Library of Congress
While located in the U.S. Capitol, the Library of Congress kept handwritten records of book loans. These pages list books that Massachusetts Senator Charles Sumner borrowed in the 1860s. Sumner read widely--his borrowings included Homer's Odyssey, works by Voltaire, and Battle-fields of the South.
Library of Congress Archives, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress
Thomas Jefferson believed "there is … no subject to which a member of Congress may not have occasion to refer." His broad approach to book collecting shaped the holdings of the Library of Congress, which Congress established as a resource for its members. Many senators and representatives were voracious readers. During the Civil War, Massachusetts Senator Charles Sumner—a staunch abolitionist who later introduced bills for the Freedmen's Bureau and Thirteenth Amendment—borrowed hundreds of works of literature, philosophy, and history from the congressional library.