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Across the Pond

Today’s post comes from James Zeender, Senior Registrar. 

Earlier this year, the National Archives signed an agreement with the British Library to allow the Delaware ratification of the Bill of Rights to be shown alongside four original Magna Carta parchments for the Great Charter’s 800th birthday. The exhibition opens March 13, 2015, and runs through September 1, 2015. This will be the first time this wonderful national treasure has traveled outside the United States.

Our own David M. Rubenstein Gallery in the National Archives Building features a 1297 copy of the Magna Carta in the Records of Rights exhibit, which opened last December.

Delaware’s ratification of the Bill of Rights, 01/28/1790. (General Records of the U.S. Government, National Archives).

Delaware’s ratification of the Bill of Rights, 01/28/1790. (General Records of the U.S. Government, National Archives).

In September 1789, the First Congress passed 12 resolutions to amend the Constitution (collectively known as the Bill of Rights). Afterwards, a clerk in the House of Representatives prepared 14 copies on large sheets of parchment with iron gall ink. All were signed by Vice President John Adams, Speaker of the House Frederick Muhlenberg, Secretary of the Senate Samuel Otis, and Clerk of the House John Beckley.

President George Washington then sent copies to the 11 states which had ratified the Constitution as well as to North Carolina and Rhode Island, which had not yet done so. The President kept the 14th as the Federal Government’s record … [ Read all ]

Sleepover at the National Archives!

Feeling adventurous? Sign up for the Sleepover at the National Archives on August 2 and explore some of history’s most exciting frontiers!

The event is co-hosted by the National Archives and the Foundation for the National Archives.

It’s not too late to sign up for the Rotunda sleepover on August 2! “Explorers Night” will feature activities that take campers to the Arctic, Outer Space, and the American West.

It’s not too late to sign up for the Rotunda sleepover on August 2! “Explorers Night” will feature activities that take campers to the Arctic, Outer Space, and the American West.

Building off of our “History, Heroes, and Treasures” theme, this summer’s sleepover turns the spotlight on ”Explorers Night.” The sleepover will feature hands-on activities to help young explorers investigate—through scavenger hunts, dress-up, music, and more—some of the greatest adventures of all time. Campers will journey to the Arctic, visit Outer Space, and discover the American West as they explore the National Archives Museum’s treasured records in a unique after-hours experience.

Young explorers will have the opportunity to chat with famous pioneers like Matthew Henson, Meriwether Lewis, and Louise Arner Boyd about their incredible voyages into uncharted territory. They will also get the chance to learn about the life of an astronaut through artifacts straight from the National Air and Space Museum—like the “space toilet” and “living and working in space” discovery stations—and engage in fun activities with NASM staff members. The night will feature music from the Lewis and Clark era with special performances by David & Ginger Hildebrand from the … [ Read all ]

Bienvenidos!

The National Archives Communications Office is pleased to introduce our Diversity and Inclusion Intern, Idaliz Marie Ortiz Morales. Ortiz will be working on a pilot project to help our social media expand to Spanish-speaking audiences.

After English, Spanish is the second-most-used language in the United States. According to a 2012 survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, Spanish is the primary language spoken at home by 38.3 million people. The development of the digital press and rise of social media has expanded the way Spanish speakers access news stories through laptops and mobile devices. This pilot project is a way to introduce National Archives holdings, services, and events to a larger audience.

This summer, Ortiz will be helping us expand Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram into bilingual platforms. She will also be writing articles for the Pieces of History blog pertaining to Spanish and Latin American documents found in our holdings.

“By doing this, we will be able to present all the exhibits and public activities that are happening in or in collaboration with the museum, and give a historical overview of our archives collection to the Hispanic community,” Ortiz explained. “I will also work on a project preparing Spanish-language communications featuring our archival holdings and public exhibits for future use during Hispanic Heritage Month in September.”

Ortiz is from Guayama, Puerto Rico, and is studying Comparative Literature at the … [ Read all ]

Celebrate the Fourth of July at the National Archives!

Every year, we celebrate Independence Day on the steps of the National Archives Building in Washington, DC. It’s a fun, free event for the whole family!

 

This year, Steve Scully of C-SPAN is our Master of Ceremonies. The Archivist of the United States, David S. Ferriero, will welcome the crowds. Our special guests George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Ben Franklin, Ned Hector, and Abigail Adams will read aloud the Declaration of Independence. This is your chance to boo and huzzah like the colonists of 1776!

George Washington reads from the Declaration of Independence. Photos by Chuck Fazio for the National Archives.

George Washington reads from the Declaration of Independence. Photos by Chuck Fazio for the National Archives.

The 3rd United States Infantry “Old Guard” Continental Color Guard will present the colors, and a soloist from the  United States Navy Band will sing the National Anthem.

After the program, you can go inside and see the original Declaration of Independence in the Rotunda, where it is on permanent display. (Look for the mysterious handprint!) And don’t miss the family activities in the Boeing Learning Center.

Here’s the schedule of events—stay and watch the parade afterwards!

8 a.m. – 9:30 a.m.

Discovering the National Archives

  • Sign a facsimile of the Declaration of Independence on 7th Street and Constitution Avenue.

10 – 11 a.m.

Declaration of Independence Reading Ceremony 

  • Ceremony emcee, C-SPAN host Steve Scully
  • Presentation of colors by the Continental
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Happy 80th Birthday National Archives

Today’s post comes from Jessie Kratz, Historian of the National Archives. June 19 marks the 80th Anniversary of the establishment of the National Archives. 

Eighty years ago on June 19, 1934, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed legislation creating the National Archives. It was the culmination of a 25-year campaign by the historical community to create a National Archives building to house the national government’s records.

At that time, Federal records were scattered around the Washington area in inadequate and unsuitable storage facilities. They were neither organized nor accessible for public use.

War Department Records housed in the Naval Torpedo Station in Alexandria Virginia before being transferred to the National Archives, September 1935 Records of the National Archives National Archives, Washington, DC

War Department Records housed in the Naval Torpedo Station in Alexandria Virginia before being transferred to the National Archives, September 1935, Records of the National Archives
National Archives, Washington, DC

Supporters of a National Archives argued that those records—the written evidence of our national life and achievements—must be preserved for future generations.

In 1926, Congress took the first major step in creating a home for the nation’s records by authorizing construction of an Archives building. It was part of a massive public buildings project to provide office space for government agencies in the Federal Triangle area of downtown Washington, DC.

The Archives building was well under way before Congress created the agency that would occupy it.

View of the construction of the National Archives Building, November 2, 1933 Records of the Public Building Service National Archives, Washington, DC

View of the construction of the National Archives Building, November 2, 1933
Records of the Public Building Service
National

[ Read all ]