with the bold text in the example below: The Skychi Travel Guide : What are the Races Depicted on The Library of Congress?

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

What are the Races Depicted on The Library of Congress?

Library of Congress Rear
Library of Congress Rear

I became curious about the origins of the Ethnological Heads on the Library of Congress after my tour guide Tom racially insulted me. 
Read Library of Congress Depicts 5 African Faces of 33 Races.

I emailed the Library of Congress on February 23, 2013:

[Question]: What  are the races or countries of origins of the African or African American faces on the back of the Library of Congress building? The tour guide mentioned there are 33 races on Library of Congress. I took photos of all them. I really would like to know what the 3 races represented on the building? What are the 5 African races on the back of the building?

I received this response on January 26, 2013:

Dear Ms. Temple:

   Thank you very much for your inquiry.  While we are always here to advise and refer, we do not perform basic and other types of research for the public or answer classroom assignments.

   In response to your query on the ethnological faces on the back of Library of Congress, you may wish to consult the Library's publication On These Walls by John Cole which is available via the Internet at http://www.loc.gov/walls/intro.html.

  We hope you find this information useful.

                                      Very truly yours,

                                      Angel D. Batiste, Ph.D.
                                      Area Specialist

Theses are the some of my findings from my research:

The Library of Congress was completed in 1897 to display America's Cultural Nationalism. The separate building was suggested by Librarian of Congress Ainsworth Rand Spofford in 1871. Today the main building is known as the Thomas Jefferson Building for its founder. The Library of Congress was a showcase of American achievement surpassing the grandeur of European Libraries. This building inspired America's optimism for the future.

"Today it is recognized as a unique blending of art and architecture, a structure that celebrates learning, nationalism, and American turn-of-the-century confidence and optimism. The Jefferson Building also reflects its own time and prejudices. It emphasizes the achievements of western civilization, and most of the names and images on its walls evoke a society dominated by western thought."

Library of Congress Front Ethnological Head
Library of Congress Front Ethnological Head


                 The Ethnological Heads
"One of the Jefferson Building's most striking exterior features are the thirty-three ethnological heads that surround it, serving as keystone ornaments of the first story windows. Otis T. Mason, curator of the Department of Ethnology in the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, was the special advisor for this project. In Herbert Small's 1897 Handbook of the New Library of Congress, this undertaking is described as "the first instance of a comprehensive attempt to make ethnological science contribute to the architectural decoration of an important public building." The heads themselves, created by William Boyd and Henry Jackson Ellicott, were based on information provided by Professor Mason. The list of the races represented, as described by Small, and the location of the keystones follow.
Starting at the north end of the front entrance pavilion, the first head is that of a Russian Slav, located beneath the portico bust of Demosthenes. Continuing across the west front, the heads are: Blonde European; Brunette European; Modern Greek; Persian (Iranian);
On the south side: Circassian; Hindu; Hungarian (Magyar); Semite, or Jew; Arab (Bedouin); Turk
On the east side: Modern Egyptian (Hamite); Abyssinian; Malay; Polynesian; Australian; Negrito (Indian Archipeligo); Sudan Negro; Akka (Dwarf African Negro); Fuegian; Botocudo (South America); Pueblo Indian (Zunis of New Mexico);
On the north side: Esquimaux; Plains Indians (Sioux, Cheyenne, Comanche); Samoyede (Finn); Korean; Japanese; Ainu (northern Japan);
On the west front: Burman; Tibetan; Chinese"

So Old Tom was correct that The Library of Congress depicts a Blonde European and a Brunette European races.

Library of Congress Interior
Library of Congress Interior

The Scientific Racism system employed by Otis T. Mason, curator of Ethnology for the National Museum of Natural History. He believed in German anthropologist Gustav Friedrich Klemm theory that European Culture is "active" and everyone is "passive".  Klemm also believed in a stepwise evolution of cultures leading to technology as a representation of a culture's stage of development. This theory was dismissed as chauvinistic and unfounded.

The Ethnology beliefs of that late 1890's and 1900's were the theme of the 1893 Chicago World's Fair or Columbian Exposition in Chicago which was attended by 27 million people.

"The 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago provided General Casey, his architect son Edward, and Bernard Green with an example of a cooperative artistic endeavor that combined architecture, sculpture, and painting, and there are many similarities and parallels between the Chicago Exposition and the Library building. Both are artistic ventures on a massive scale and, for the most part, in the same Beaux-Arts design tradition. Many of the artists who contributed works to the Library building either helped design the imperial facades of the Chicago Exposition or exhibited their works within its pavilions; moreover, many of them repeated the idealistic themes and togaed likenesses they produced in Chicago."

St. Louis Forest Park Grand Basin
St. Louis Forest Park Grand Basin

The 1904 St. Louis World's Fair also known as the Louisiana Purchase Exposition
displayed an Ethnology Exhibition just like the Chicago Columbian Exposition. The buildings of the St. Louis World’s Fair also were designed the Beaux Arts style.
"Historians generally emphasize the prominence of themes of race and empire, and the fair's long-lasting impact on intellectuals in the fields of history, art history, architecture and anthropology." It is stated that "19,694,855 individuals were in attendance at the fair.[3]"

People on Exhibit at the St. Louis World Fair
"Following the Spanish–American War, the United States acquired new territories such as Guam, the Philippines, and Puerto Rico. Some natives from these areas were brought to be on "display" at the fair. Such displays included the Apache of the American Southwest and theIgorot of the Philippines, both of which peoples were dubbed as "primitive".[13] Similarly, members of the Southeast Alaskan Tlingit tribe accompanied fourteen totem poles, two Native houses, and a canoe displayed at the Alaska Exhibit.[14]"
"In contrast, the Japan pavilion advanced the idea of a modern yet exotic culture unfamiliar
to the turn-of-the-century Western world,[13] much as it had during the earlier Chicago
World's Fair.[15]"

"Ota Benga, a Congolese Pygmy, was featured at the fair. Later he was given the run of the
grounds at the Bronx Zoo in New York, then featured in an exhibit on evolution alongside 
an orangutan in 1906, but public protest ended that."

"The American businessman and explorer Samuel Phillips Verner traveled to Africa in 1904 under contract from the Louisiana Purchase Exposition (St. Louis World Fair) to bring back an assortment of pygmies to be part of an exhibition.[6] To demonstrate the fledgling discipline of anthropology, the noted scientist W. J. McGee intended to display "representatives of all the world's peoples, ranging from smallest pygmies to the most gigantic peoples, from the darkest blacks to the dominant whites" to show what was commonly thought then to be a sort of cultural evolution.[7]"

The Chicago World's Fair and St. Louis World's Fair had Ethnological Expositions of countries based on scientific racism ("of then popular evolutionary approaches to the study of culture, which say all societies progressing through a set of hierarchic technological and cultural , stages with Western-European Culture at the summit.")

After my tours of the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.; the former location of St. Louis World's Fair at Forest Park; and the Museum of Science and Industry in my hometown Chicago, I realized the connection to scientific racism that exists in these places today.  Chicago is still one of most segregated cities in America as a result of hosting the Chicago World's Fair in 1893 and St. Louis has similar racial tensions due the hosting of the St. Louis World's Fair in 1904.
It is interesting to note that Thomas Jefferson, U.S. third president who initiated the Louisiana Purchase has been honored with the naming of main building of the Library of Congress Thomas Jefferson Building and The Jefferson Memorial Building or The Missouri History Museum in St. Louis.

"From the 17th century, Virginia and other colonies passed laws making the children of
slave mothers born into slavery, regardless of their paternity and of how much European
ancestry they had. The term white slaves was used for those mixed-race or mulatto slaves
with a high proportion of European ancestry. Among the most notable were Sally 
Hemings, who was 3/4 white and believed to be a half sister of Martha Wayles Skelton
Jefferson by their common father John Wayles. Hemings was known for her four surviving
children from her decades-long concubinage with President 
Thomas Jefferson; they were 7/8 European by ancestry, and three passed easily into white
society as adults. (Jefferson freed them all - two informally and two in his will.) Three of
his Hemings grandsons served on the Union side as regular Army in the American Civil 
War; one advanced to the rank of colonel."

Travel is a living history experience sometimes good and sometimes bad into cultural thinking of Americans.

Source: Wikipedia