Retiring Library of Congress Archivist Picks Her Favorite Images From Vast Collection

A split image featuring a classic Chevrolet Corvette parked on a road with a speed limit sign, "15 MPH", and dense bushes behind it (left). The right side shows two pigeons perched on a ledge overlooking the Chrysler Building spire in a foggy setting.

The Prints and Photographs collection in the Library of Congress number more than 15 million images. Maintaining the archive is a big job and a retiring librarian has picked her favorite pictures after working there for 34 years.

In Jan Grenci’s final blog post for the Library of Congress Prints and Photos, she shares photos of a gorgeous 1960s Chevrolet Corvette, a hungry cat, and an inspirational message written in grapefruit.

“I’ve had the privilege of working with the collections of the Prints and Photographs Division and seeing a lot of rare, memorable images,” Grenci writes.

A display made up of numerous eggs arranged to spell "LET'S GO AMERICA." The display is part of a larger booth, decorated with stars and stripes at the top and a patterned banner at the bottom that reads "Finest Quality." An American flag is visible in the background.
Exhibit of Grapefruit at the Imperial County Fair, California. Photo by Russell Lee, March, 1942.
A display at an event features a Statue of Liberty replica made of oranges, set atop a pyramid of oranges. The backdrop displays American flags and the words "Let's go America." Overhead, large stars and additional decorations are visible.
To comprehend the scale of the inspirational message. Exhibit of Grapefruit at the Imperial County Fair, California. Photo by Russell Lee, March 1942.
Black-and-white photo of a storefront window display for "Table Supply Store." The display includes signs for "Rice 3 10¢," "Fat Butts 10¢," and "Spaghetti or Macaroni" alongside shelves stocked with various cans and packages.
A black-and-white photo from the 1940s showing a line of young women in a gymnasium practicing a dance routine. They are dressed in shorts and blouses, with their arms extended forward and marching in sync. The gym has high ceilings and tall windows.
Tap dancing class in the gymnasium at Iowa State College. Ames, Iowa. Photo by Jack Delano. May 1942.
Black and white photo of a man smiling, holding bundles of spaghetti in a grocery store. Shelves behind him are stocked with various Italian food products, including pasta and sauces. A scale is visible on the counter in front of him.
Charles Ruggiero, a clerk in a grocery store in New York’s Italian section, wishes the handful of spaghetti he is breaking were Mussolini’s neck. Photo by Howard Liberman. July, 1942.
A three-story building with colorful doors in shades of yellow, green, blue, and red arranged in a grid pattern. The building features white balconies with railings and a swimming pool in the foreground. Stairs are visible on the left side leading to the upper floors.
A colorful motel in Wildwood, New Jersey. Photo by Carol M Highsmith, 2006.
A woman in a polka dot blouse is putting food into the top shelf of an open refrigerator. A fluffy cat stands on its hind legs, reaching up and peering into the lower shelf of the refrigerator. The scene takes place in a kitchen with tiled flooring.
Even the cats know the refrigerators contain plenty of food at the Casa Grande Farms. Pinal County, Arizona. Photo by Russell Lee, 1940.
A cozy living room with a brick fireplace. A black cat sits atop the mantel, which has small plants and a framed mirror reflecting the cat. To the right, a large armchair and a circular-shaped radio are visible. Fireplace tools and a wood holder are to the left.
Cat on a fireplace. Photo by Harris & Ewing, between 1923 and 1929
A black-and-white photo of a classic Chevrolet Corvette parked under a bridge. The car has a sleek, vintage design with prominent front grilles and detailed rims. A sign indicating a speed limit of 15 mph is visible on the right side of the road.
A Chevrolet Corvette in Detroit, August 7, 1964. Photo by Thomas J. O’Halloran
Stereoscopic image showing The National Gallery in Trafalgar Square, London, England. The scene captures a bustling street with people and horse-drawn carriages, surveying a panorama that includes notable buildings and the equestrian statue of Charles I.
The National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, London, England. Circa 1901.
A black and white photograph of two pigeons perched on a ledge. In the background, the iconic Art Deco spire of the Chrysler Building in New York City is visible through a haze. The image captures a classic urban scene with the juxtaposition of birds and architecture.
Two pigeons on a ledge with a view of the Chrysler Building in the background. Photo by Angelo Rizzuto. June 1957.
Black and white image of a man standing near snowy railroad tracks with a luggage bag in hand, watching a distant train emitting smoke. Telecommunication poles and a small building can be seen along the tracks in the background.
Freight train operations on the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad between Chicago and Clinton, Iowa. At the end of the trip, the engine goes off to the roundhouse as conductor Wolfsmith waves goodbye to the engine crew. Photo by Jack Delano, January 1943.

Grenci says that she is not yet sure if she is retiring entirely but says that she has been working at the Prints and Photographs collection in the Library of Congress since 1990.

The blog post can be seen here and the Flickr album with Grenci’s picks can be seen here.

Image credits: Library of Congress