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The Spectral Scholarly Ghost of the Library of Congress


In 1897, the Library of Congress was blessed with its own building, now known as the Jefferson Building, because his sale of books to the Library of Congress after the War of 1812 had been nucleus of Library’s collection.  Not only was the building designed to be as fireproof as possible, but it was the first government building to incorporate electricity into its design from the get goes in the nation’s capital.

The main reading room of the Jefferson Building was rumored to have a ghost. There was a certain seat people would complain was too cold or too warm to the touch or they just felt uncomfortable sitting there. It was as if someone else was occupying the seat and did not want to share it.

These complaints first emerged after World War, twenty years after the library room had been opened to the public.  Through some sleuthing of the sign-in book, it was suspected the ghost was Cecil Balda, an independent scholar who had come to the room every day for several yeas before the United States entered World War I.  He had interrupted his legal studies to volunteer for the US Army during World War I in 1917.  However, he had the misfortune to die in a training accident and never made it to the Western Front to see action.  Perhaps his spirit was in some way is trying to complete his studies and did not want to be disturbed.

After World War II, the building was modernized to have a more up-to-date ventilation, heating, and air conditioning system.  Since then, nobody has complained of his presence.  Perhaps he completed his studies, the new climate control system masks his presence, or he simply the Library of Congress is no longer a congenial place to purse research.

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