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Speculative Annotation

Go to Speculative Annotation!

Annotate a selection of historic items from the Library's collections from 2021 Innovator in Residence Courtney McClellan

About the Project

Speculative Annotation is a dynamic website, presenting items from the Library’s collections for students, teachers, and other users to annotate through captions, drawings, and other types of markmaking. Working with curators at the Library of Congress and students and teachers in the classroom, Innovator in Residence Courtney McClellan designed the tool to support the types of conversations students and educators want to have with historical objects. The website includes unique design features such as hand-made stamps, as well as a specific color palette to distinguish items from annotations. You can read a conversation about annotation and its role in the classroom with Courtney. You can read about Courtney's curation of the featured mini collection of LC items, and her final thoughts on the residency. Code and Readme for the open-source application can be found in the Github repository External.

Inspiration and Goals

Courtney developed the idea for Speculative Annotations through her work with public ritual, civic engagement, and creative notetaking as record. She is inspired by the work of artists such as Wendy Red Star, Tony Cokes, and Laura Owens.

The goals of the project are to:

  • Place K-12 students in direct conversation with primary sources from Library of Congress collections
  • Share these items with contextual aids including lesson plans, curator annotations, and links to the original items on the Library's website
  • Provide a space for users of all ages to have a depth of experience with a curated selection of free to use Library of Congress items
  • Connect items from history with the day-to-day experience of citizens and application users

About Courtney

Courtney McClellan is the 2021 Innovator in Residence at the Library of Congress. She is a visual, research-based artist who lives in Atlanta, G.A. and works in a range of media including sculpture, performance, photography, and writing. In subject, McClellan's work addresses speech and civic engagement. She has served as studio art faculty at Virginia Commonwealth University, the University of Georgia, and Georgia State University. Most recently, she served as the 2019-2020 Roman J. Witt Artist in Residence at the University of Michigan. You can contact Courtney with feedback or questions about the project at

Special Thanks

Special thanks goes to Speculative Annotation Web Developer Adam Arling, UX Consultant Jess Vu, and Graphic Designer Olivia Graham. The full list of contributors is on the About page of the application.

Connect with #AnnotateLOC

If you are an educator interested in giving feedback on the project, please email Please use #AnnotateLOC to share annotations and how you are using the tool in your classroom!

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