Sunday, June 24, 2012

Solberg, Woods, and the Library of Congress

Thorvald Solberg (1852-1949) was the nation's first Register of Copyrights in the Library of Congress. He served in that capacity from 1897 to 1930. Harriet de Krafft Woods served in the Copyright Office of the Library of Congress from 1900 to 1922. In May of 1922 she was appointed by Congress as Superintendent of Buildings and Grounds for the Library of Congress, the first woman to serve in that capacity. I recently acquired a postcard that ties these two individuals together in an unusual way. The postcard which depicts Wisconsin Street in Milwaukee, WI was mailed by Henrietta Solberg, Thorvald Solberg's sister, on August 1, 1904 to Mrs. Woods in the Copyright Department of the Library of Congress. The messages on the postcard reads: "Dear Mrs. Woods, Please send my brother's address to 742 N. Hoyne Av., Chicago and greatly oblige. Yours sincerely, Henrietta Solberg". Woods at the time may have served as an assistant to Solberg. She would eventually work her way up to become head of one of the Copyright Office's most important divisions. It is unclear why Solberg's sister didn't have his address. Perhaps he was out of the country on one of his numerous trips abroad. Woods only held the position of Superintendent of Buildings and Grounds for one month, from June 1, 1922 to July 1, 1922. That is because Congress abolished the position as a position appointed independently of the Librarian of Congress. Woods, however, continued to perform the responsibilities for the position as an administrative assistant to Herbert Putnam, the Librarian of Congress.  In his report for 1922  Putnam indicated that this change was one of the most significant events of the year. Also in his report, Putnam sang the praises of Woods.

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