The parallel experiences of the United States and Russia in exploring,
developing and settling their frontiers and the meeting of those
frontiers in Alaska and the Pacific Northwest is the focus of a new Web
site created by the Library of Congress under a special congressional
appropriation. Beginning December 15, the site is available at

 "Meeting of Frontiers" includes more than 2,500 items, comprising some
70,000 images, from the Library's rare book, manuscript, map, prints and
photograph, film and sound recording collections that tell the stories
of the explorers, fur traders, missionaries, exiles, gold miners and
adventurers that peopled both frontiers and their interactions with the
native peoples of Siberia and the American West.
 The site is completely bilingual, in English and Russian, and is
intended for use in U.S. and Russian schools and libraries and by the
general public in both countries. Scholars, particularly those who do
not have ready access to major research libraries, will benefit from the
wealth of primary material included in “Meeting of Frontiers,” much of
which has never been published or is extremely rare. Intended to appeal
to students and for use in schools, the site features such colorful
characters as John Ledyard, an acquaintance of Thomas Jefferson who
attempted to walk across
Siberia, and Perry McDonough Collins, a lawyer and businessman who
became the American Commercial Agent to the Amur River in 1856 and who
developed a plan, partially carried out, to build a telegraph link from
America to Europe via the Bering Straits and Siberia.

 Collections available in “Meeting of Frontiers” include the Frank G.
Carpenter Collection of photographs from Alaska in the 1910s; the John
C. Grabill Collection of photographs of 1880s frontier life in Colorado,
South Dakota and Wyoming; the Yudin Collection of papers from the
Russian-American Company (1786-1830); and selections from the Alaska
Russian Church Archives.

 "Meeting of Frontiers" is a pilot project that was developed in 1999 at
the Library of  Congress by a team of Library staff and American and
Russian consultants. The pilot will be expanded in the coming years
through the addition of materials from the Library's own  collections,
from the Elmer E. Rasmuson Library at the University of Alaska Fairbanks
and from other U.S. institutions. It will also feature materials from
partner institutions in Russia, including the Russian State Library in
Moscow, the National Library of Russia in St. Petersburg and the
Institute of History of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of
Sciences in Novosibirsk.

 "Meeting of Frontiers" is funded by a special appropriation in the
Library's FY 1999
budget, which is intended for the Library to obtain digital copies of
unique and rare materials from Russia and to make those materials freely
available through the Internet. Additional support for development of
the project in Russia is being provided by the Open Society Institute of
Russia. "Meeting of Frontiers" is the Library's first major digital
project involving international material and extensive cooperation with
foreign institutions to obtain materials for the Library's collections
in digital form. It is the first component of an international digital
library that will build
upon the Library's National Digital Library Program ( The
National Digital Library Program aims to bring more than 5 million items
of American history to citizens everywhere as a Gift to the Nation for
the Library's Bicentennial on April 24, 2000.  The Library of Congress,
founded April 24, 1800, is the nation's oldest federal cultural
institution. It preserves a collection of 115 million items -- more than
two-thirds of which are in media other than books. These include the
largest map and film and television collections in the world. In
addition to its primary mission of serving the research needs of the
U.S. Congress, the Library serves all Americans through its popular Web
site ( and its 22 reading rooms on Capitol Hill.

 “We will celebrate with pride our first 200 years of Library history,”
said Librarian of Congress James H. Billington. “During that time, the
Library has grown into the world's largest repository of knowledge and
creativity, which it has preserved for all generations of Americans. We
want to take advantage of this opportunity to energize national
awareness of the critical role that all libraries play in keeping the
spirit of creativity and free inquiry alive in our society.”

Please direct questions about this press release to Guy Lamolinara at
(202) 707-9217. Please direct questions about the Frontiers exhibition
to [log in to unmask]

Judith K. Graves
Educational Services
National Digital Library Program
Library of Congress
Washington, D.C.  20540-1320
[log in to unmask]     (V)202/707-2562   (F) 202/252-3173