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Romanian Collections at the Library of Congress

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Overviews of the Collections

Romanian Collections at the Library of Congress

Grant Harris
Head, European Reading Room


The Romanian collections at the Library of Congress are the largest in the Americas and probably the largest outside of Romania and Moldova. Monographic works either published in Romania or which pertain to Romania total approximately 40,000 titles. The vast majority of these works are in the Romanian language, with approximately ten percent in English. There are also large numbers of pertinent monographs in German, French, Hungarian, Russian and Italian, with many other languages represented as well. The above numbers are for monographic titles. If we include multi-volume sets, annuals and bound periodicals, the Library is in possession of nearly 75,000 volumes. The vast majority were published after 1945. More than 3,000 earlier titles are present, with a few dating back to the seventeenth century. Music, maps, photographs and other formats are also well represented.

European Reading Room

The European Reading Room's reference collection includes approximately 350 volumes pertaining to Romania, such as dictionaries, encyclopedias, atlases, histories, biographical directories, bibliographies and other reference sources. In addition the reading room makes available for onsite use numerous bibliographic databases of periodical literature, many of which contain citations or texts pertaining to Romania. The professional multilingual staff makes the European Reading Room a natural starting place for research on Romania.

Rare Books

Thomas Jefferson's personal library of 6,500 volumes, acquired by the U.S. Congress in 1815, included a monumental work by Moldovan prince Dimitrie Cantemir - Histoire de l'Empire Othoman... (Paris, 1743). That copy was among the many volumes from the original Jefferson Collection which were destroyed in a calamitous fire in the Capitol on Christmas eve, 1851. Subsequently the Library replaced the title and obtained a copy of the English version, The History of the Growth and Decay of the Othman [sic] Empire (London, 1734). Cantemir composed this history in Latin during the years 1714-1716, while in exile as an advisor to Peter the Great. It was published only posthumously, first in English, after his son took the manuscript to London. It is the first substantial history of the Ottoman Empire in any European language, and it remained the preferred text for the next century. Three other important works by Prince Cantemir are housed in the Rare Book Reading Room:
  • Kniga Systima. St.-Petersburg, 1722. Discusses the Moslem religion.
  • Historisch-Geographisch- und Politische Beschreibung der Moldau, nebst dem Leben des Verfassers und einer Landcharte.  Frankfurt, 1771.
  • Hronicul Romano-Moldo-Vlahilor. Iasi, 1835-1836. Composed during the last years of Cantemir's life, it remained in manuscript form for more than a century. Because he had sided with Peter the Great in 1711 in an unsuccessful attempt to repel the Ottoman presence, the work could not be published in Romanian territories until the Turkish stronghold had weakened. It is Cantemir's history of the Moldovans, Wallachians and Transylvanians, stressing their common Latin origins.
Rare Books also possesses copies of several other early works which describe Romanian territories:
  • Latomus, Sigismund. Jacobi Franci Relationis historica continvatio, Jacobi Franci Historische beschreibung aller denckwurdigen historien, so sich hin und wider in Europa, in hocyh und nider deutschland, auch in franckreigh, Schott und Engeland, Hispanien, Hungarn, Polen, Siebenburgen, Wallachey, Moldaw, Turckey, ... Franckfurt am Mayn, 1615.
  • Spontone, Ciro. Historia della Transilvania. Venetia, 1638.
  • Carra, Jean-Louis. Histoire de la Moldavie et de la Valachie. Avec une dissertation sur l'etat actuel de ces deux provinces. Jassy, 1777.


The Library has runs of over 1,100 Romanian non-newspaper serials from the past and present, on all subjects. These include journals, annuals, conference proceedings and other periodic literature. LC has retrospective newspaper holdings for over 100 titles, from 24 Romanian cities. However, many are short runs from the 1940s, especially during World War II. Lengthier runs exist for several titles after WWII, some continuing to the present. LC currently receives the dailies Adevarul, Dreptatea, Romania libera, Romaniai magyar szó, and Allgemeine Deutsche Zeitung. In 1962, LC received 27 daily newspapers from 16 cities. During the 1970s-80s the number was reduced to about 20 newspapers from 11 cities. A decision was made in the 1980s to reduce the number of provincial papers, since at that time they republished much from the central newspapers. In the early 1990s LC made further reductions in the number of current foreign newspapers due to the high cost of microfilming them for long-term preservation. Efforts are being made to again obtain microfilm for regional and ethnic newspapers from Cluj, Iasi, Timisoara and Târgu-Mures.

History and Social Sciences

Materials on the history of Romania are extensive. The best coverage is of post-World War II events, but numerous works pertain to earlier periods, such as the Greek and Roman eras, the times of Stephen the Great and Michael the Brave, the Revolution of 1848, the union of Moldavia and Wallachia, and World War I and its aftermath. Other topics with a continuous thread are well covered, such as the nationality problem of German, Hungarian, Gypsy and other ethnic minorities. Most works by prominent Romanian historians can be consulted, such as those of Nicolae Iorga, Alexandru Xenopol, Constantin C. Giurescu, and more recently, Al. Zub and Pompiliu Teodor. Nicolae Iorga himself visited LC in early 1929 and was pleased to note that many of his titles were listed in the Main Reading Room s catalog. Additional resources can be found in the excellent runs of scholarly journals. Concerning materials on politics and government, the most extensive collections discuss the Communist party after World War II, but also its early history and 19th-century socialist movements. Literature on the Iron Guard is available as well, and recent materials discuss the current political scene. Foreign relations materials abound, with many English, French and German sources. The number of monographs devoted to Romanian foreign relations exceeds four hundred. Another strength is to be found in the Library's literature on the social sciences. The materials on economics include several essential monographs and excellent journals, some from as far back as the early years of the 20th century. Among the many statistical sources are several pertaining to demographics, such as the important serials Anuarul demografic (1871+) and Buletinul demografic al Romaniei (1932-1947) as well as materials for nine of the censuses conducted between 1899 and 1977. Rural sociology and anthropology are also well represented.

Romanian Military Archives

During 1998-2000 the Library received microfilm of declassified records from the Romanian Military Archives (Arhivele Militare) covering the early years of the Cold War, primarily 1944-1948. As of June 2000, approximately 500 microfilm reels were available to the public in the European Reading Room. Partial indexes and other information are available online.


The Law Library Reading Room possesses approximately 2,400 titles on Romanian law. It has fairly complete holdings of the official gazette, Monitorul oficial (1867-1949), its successor, Buletinul oficial (1949-1989), and its reversion to Monitorul oficial (Dec 22, 1989-). Other standard legal serials are received from Romania as well. Among the many noteworthy monographic works are the following:
  • Codul Calimach (1954, critical edition), the civil code of Moldova from 1817 to 1865.
  • Legiuirea Caragea (1865, second edition, supplemented), the law code of Wallachia from 1818 to 1865.
  • C. Hamangiu. Codul civil (1934), a nine-volume study of Romanian civil code covering the years 1868-1927.
  • C. Hamangui. Codul general al Romaniei (1909) covering all codes, regulations and statutes of Romania during the years 1856-1900.
Initiated by the Library of Congress, the Global Legal Information Network  provides a database of national laws from contributing countries around the world, including hundreds of Romanian laws.

Geography and Maps

The Geography and Map Reading Room maintains the largest collection in the world of cartographic materials available to the public. It possesses approximately 600 single-sheet maps of Romanian territories, the oldest of which dates back to 1596. There are also more than 35 sets of multi-sheet maps (over 3200 sheets), which are large-scale and highly detailed; these concern transportation routes, geology, soil types, forestry, and other subjects. Nearly 25 Romanian atlases are shelved there, in addition to an outstanding set of monographs and journals pertaining to Romanian geography. Moreover, other collections within the Geography & Map Reading Room contain maps relevant to Romania. For instance, in 1972, the Library acquired the Hauslab-Liechtenstein Map Collection, assembled in the mid-19th century by Franz Ritter von Hauslab, who was a military officer in the Austrian empire specializing in cartography. This collection contains numerous regional maps for Transylvania, Wallachia, Moldova and the Banat from the first half of the 19th century and before.

Language and Literature

Publications pertaining to Romanian belles-lettres and to the language itself comprise the single largest grouping of materials. Approximately 11,000 titles are included in this category, more than one fourth of the monographs on or from Romania at the Library. The collections of belles-lettres in the original Romanian and in English translation are particularly strong for the 19th and early 20th century; literary criticism is also extensive for that time period. Prominent authors are well represented; for instance, the number of monographs relating to Eminescu exceeds 300. A display in 1989 in the European Reading Room commemorated Eminescu on the 100th anniversary of his death. The Library also maintains the Archive of World Literature on Tape, whereby writers are recorded in the Library's studios reading from their works. The Archive includes readings by poets Caius Traian Dragomir and Ioana Ieronim, novelist Augustin Buzura and critic Nicolae Manolescu. Materials on the Romanian language cover all branches of philology and linguistics. French and German works on Romanian are plentiful for all periods, many from the 19th century. There are numerous grammars in several languages, as well as specialized and bilingual dictionaries.

Music and the Performing Arts

The Music Division maintains excellent resources on Romanian music, beginning with over 100 monographs devoted to Romanian folk songs and folk music. Hundreds more works can be found on specific composers and musicians. There are card catalogs for the considerable printed music, such as scores and sheet music, and the collections are quite rich in the area of sound recordings. For George Enescu, for instance, there are approximately 45 sound recordings, with over 150 books, scores and pieces of sheet music. Enescu's Piano Quartet No. 2 in D minor, Op. 30, had its world premier in the Library's Coolidge Auditorium on October 31, 1947; the Library owns the original manuscript score. George Enescu corresponded on numerous occasions with Harold Spivacke, then Chief of the Music Division. During the 1990s the American Folklife Center acquired the Gheorghe and Eugenia Popescu-Judetz Collection, which focuses on Romanian folk song and dance. These manuscripts, audio recordings, graphic materials, and moving images span the years 1938-1974, and include several thousand notated folk dance variants, more than 3,200 audio-recorded melodies, and approximatley 4,000 notated dance melodies, from all regions of Romania.

The Romanian Presence in America

According to a 1980 source, the ethnic Romanian population in North America exceeds 250,000. The Library of Congress acquires nearly all the monographs published by or about this group and some of the newspapers and other serials. In 1998 the European Reading Room mounted a display on The Romanian Presence in America.

Acquisitions of Romanian Materials

The single largest source for the Romanian collections is Biblioteca Nationala in Bucharest, which has served as the Library's purchasing agent in Romania since 1971. In addition to this source, the Library of Congress has exchanged materials systematically with libraries and other institutes in Romania from the 1920s. These are often libraries at universities and polytechnic institutes throughout Romania, as well as several other sources largely in Bucharest, such as the Romanian Academy Library, museums, archives and other institutions. They provide primarily serials and institutional publications, such as transactions of scientific societies and annual reports. During the 1980s, the Library averaged annual receipts of 1,250 monographs. More than three fourths of these monographs came from Biblioteca Nationala, with our exchange partners providing the rest. In the early 1990s, the numbers dropped to 300-400 titles per year, reflecting the apparent reduction in the publication of original monographs and works of interest to the Library of Congress. The numbers began to increase again in the late 1990s.

Romanian and Moldovan Handbooks Online

The Library's Federal Research Division has compiled more than 100 country study handbooks. The Romanian (1989) and Moldovan (1995) handbooks are available online (unfortunately funding cutbacks have eliminated the possibility of updating the handbooks).

U.S. Congress Website

The Library also maintains the web page for the U.S. Congress. This site can be searched to find U.S. laws and proposed laws concerning Romania, as well as biographical information about U.S. Senators and Congressmen.


Earlier published surveys of the Romanian collections held at the Library of Congress include:
  • Fischer-Galati, Stephen. Rumania, a Bibliographic Guide. Washington: Library of Congress, 1963. 75 pages.
  • Hitchins, Keith. "Romania," pp. 265-270, in East Central and Southeast Europe: a handbook of library and archival resources in North America. Santa Barbara, CA: Clio Press, 1976.
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