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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 Colonial Music Institute.

These events are open to children 8-12 years old, with at least one adult per group of four children. Guests will be treated to movies in the William G. McGowan Theater before turning in for the night, and will enjoy a pancake breakfast (flipped by our very own Archivist of the United States David S. Ferriero!) in the morning.

Tickets are $125 per participant or $100 for Foundation members, NARA employees, and contractors.

We hope to see you at the sleepover on August 2—and don’t forget to bring your sense of adventure!


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 University of Puerto Rico Rio Piedras Campus. She is fluent in both English and Spanish and comes to us with a wide variety of writing, editing, and social media skills. Currently, Ortiz manages the University of Puerto Rico’s Student Association for Comparative Literature Facebook page. She’s also published short stories in the English department’s bilingual magazine Tonguas, and edited and published online short stories in “El Pergamino” (The Parchment). Her previous internship was at the Univision Television Network in Washington, DC, where she published, edited video, and wrote news pieces in Spanish as part of the local and national crew.

“I am very excited to be a part of the National Archives, and I hope I can do as much as I can for this new project to be a success,” Ortiz said. “Thank you so much for this opportunity, and I look forward to working with you all.”

In Spanish:

La oficina de Comunicaciones de los Archivos Nacionales tiene el placer de presentar a nuestra interna de Diversidad e Inclusión Idaliz Marie Ortiz Morales. La señorita Ortiz estará trabajando en un proyecto piloto que ayudara a expandir nuestros medios de comunicación social a las audiencias de habla hispana.

Después del inglés, el español es el segundo idioma más utilizado en los Estados Unidos. Según una encuesta realizada por la Oficina del Censo de los Estados Unidos en el 2012, el español es el idioma principal que se habla en los hogares de más de 38.3 millones de personas. El desarrollo de la prensa digital y el auge por los medios sociales ha expandido la manera en que los hispanos tienen acceso a las noticias, por ejemplo, a través de sus computadoras y celulares. Este proyecto piloto es una manera de poder introducir los servicios, actividades y eventos especiales de los Archivos Nacionales a un público más amplio.

Este verano, Idaliz  nos estarán ayudando a expandir, mediante una plataforma bilingüe, nuestras paginas de Facebook, Instagram y Twitter. De igual forma, estará redactando artículos, relacionados con los documentos de herencia hispana que se encuentran en nuestros archivos, para el blog “Pieces of History”.

“Al hacer esto, vamos a tener la oportunidad de presentar todas las exposiciones y actividades públicas que están ocurriendo dentro o en colaboración con el museo y dar una visión histórica de nuestra colección a la comunidad hispana”, explicó Idaliz. “También voy a trabajar en un proyecto  en el que voy a preparar los comunicados en español. Estos comunicados son para el uso futuro durante el Mes de la Hispanidad en septiembre donde se presentarán nuestras colecciones en los archivos y las exposiciones públicas que habrán dentro del museo.

Idaliz es de Guayama, Puerto Rico y estudia Literatura Comparada en la Universidad de Puerto Rico Recinto de Río Piedras. Habla con fluidez tanto el Inglés como el Español y llega a nosotros con una amplía capacidad para la escritura, la edición y los medios sociales. Actualmente, Idaliz administra la página de la Asociación de Literatura Comparada (Comparada ¿Con que?) de la Universidad de Puerto Rico. También ha publicado cuentos cortos en la revista bilingüe Tonguas del Departamento de Ingles de su universidad. También ha editado y publicado cuentos cortos para la página en línea “El Pergamino”. Su ultimo internado fue con la cadena de televisión Univision en Washington D.C., donde publicó, edito videos y escribió piezas de noticias diarias en español como parte del equipo local y nacional.

“Estoy muy emocionada de ser parte de los Archivos Nacionales y espero hacer todo lo que pueda para que este proyecto sea un éxito”, dijo Idaliz. “Muchas gracias por esta oportunidad y espero con gran interés el poder trabajar con todos ustedes en las distintas partes de este proyecto”.

Join the Fourth of July Conversation on Social Media

Every year, Independence Day at the National Archives is an exciting and celebratory day.

In addition to signing a facsimile of the Declaration of Independence, hearing “America the Beautiful” performed by an international champion whistler, and mingling with Thomas Jefferson and Abigail Adams, you can join us this year in tweeting, Instagram-ing, and sharing on Facebook.

Whether you are celebrating the Fourth of July near or far, you’re invited to join our conversation on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram using the #ArchivesJuly4 hashtag.  In addition to our live conversations about the program on the steps of the National Archives, you can also participate in two  exciting social media projects!

What’s a #ColonialSelfie?

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Snap a #ColonialSelfie and share it with us on Twitter.

Inspired by a certain celebrity group shot at the Oscars, we invite you to post a #ColonialSelfie on Twitter! While out enjoying your Fourth of July, snap a picture with a Founding Father and show us on Twitter. If you don’t run into Thomas Jefferson or Benjamin Franklin, be creative; your #ColonialSelfie can be with anything that was in fashion in 1776! Don’t forget to use the #ColonialSelfie hashtag, and send it to us on Twitter at @USNatArchives.


Play Instagram Bingo!

Instagram Bingo

What will your Instagram #BINGO look like?

Join in the celebration by playing Instagram Bingo with the National Archives! As you’re out enjoying parades, picnics, and cookouts, see if you can find nine of our Fourth of July–themed scenes. Once you have nine, create a collage, and post it on Instagram with the#BINGO and #ArchivesJuly4 hashtags, and your photo will be reshared by @USNatArchives on Instagram!

Can you find these Fourth of July scenes? You don’t have to be with us in Washington, DC, to participate; we can’t wait to see how everyone celebrates America’s Birthday across the country!

Find nine scenes and share your collage on Instagram:

American flag

patriotic pet

Uncle Sam

parade balloons

Declaration of Independence

town crier

parade crowds

National Archives temporary tattoo

parade dancers

Revolutionary War uniform

marching band

stars and/or stripes

Color guard

fire truck

red, white, and/or blue

fife and drums

military on parade

patriotic picnics

Thomas Jefferson

kids on parade

parade transportation (like motorcycles, vintage cars, horses, bikes)

red wagon

It’s hot—hydrate!



A separate app must be downloaded to create a nine-photo collage, and there are several apps available (most are free) in smartphone app stores. If you are an iPhone user, you can try PicStitchYourMoments, and Pic Collage. Android users can also find PicStitchInstaFrame Maker, and Pic Collage on Google Play. If you have a Windows phone, PicStitch or Cool Collage can be used.

After the festivities are through on the Fourth, we’ll be posting a recap of the day on Tumblr, Facebook, and Flickr.  To read more information about social media at the Fourth of July celebration at the National Archives, visit

John Adams’s vision of July 4 was July 2

By Jim Worsham

John Adams. (National Archives Identifier 532846)

John Adams. (National Archives Identifier 532846)

Today—July 2—was supposed to have been the big day of celebrations, with parades, bells, fireworks, festivals and all that kind of stuff—at least that’s how John Adams envisioned it.

After all, on July 2, 1776, the Continental Congress ended its debate and approved the resolution proposed on June 7 by Richard Henry Lee of Virginia and seconded by Adams:

Resolved: That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved.

The newspapers of the day treated the action as the colonies’ definitive word on the break with Great Britain. And in Adams’s mind, approval of the resolution was worth celebrating, year after year. He was so excited, he wrote one of his many letters to his wife, Abigail, back home in Massachusetts:

The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America.—I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.

Alas, it was not to be. But Adams was close.

Adams had been appointed to the Committee of Five to write a document—a declaration—that told the world why the colonies cut ties with Britain. Thomas Jefferson had been working on a draft, which he gave to Adams and Benjamin Franklin for their review. Then he incorporated their changes into the draft, and submitted that draft to Congress.  The delegates debated it, took out passages critical of the English people and of slavery, and adopted it—on July 4, the day that, every year, we celebrate our independence.


The Declaration of Independence was not signed by any of the delegates until early August, after being engrossed on parchment by Timothy Matlack, a Philadelphia beer bottler who had fine penmanship. Most delegates gathered to sign the parchment copy on August 10, but a few others  signed it later. Eventually, 56 delegates would put their names on it.

This is the copy that is on permanent display in the National Archives Building in downtown Washington, DC. It can be viewed on July 2 or July 4 or any day of the year except Thanksgiving Day and December 25.

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 Color Guard*
  • Performance of “America the Beautiful” by four-time international whistling champion Christopher Ullman
  • National Anthem led by the United States Navy Band Anthem Vocalist
  • Performance by the Fife and Drum Corps*
  • Remarks by Archivist of the United States, David S. Ferriero
  • Dramatic reading of the Declaration of Independence by special guests including Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin,  Ned Hector, Abigail Adams, and George Washington (portrayed by historical reenactors)

* Continental Color Guard and Fife and Drum Corps provided by U.S. 3rd Infantry, the Old Guard.

Stay and enjoy front-row seats for the National Independence Day Parade following the ceremony at 11:45 a.m. This popular family event is free and open to the public. Seating on the Constitution Avenue steps is available on a first-come, first-seated basis.

10 a.m.-5:30 p.m.


  • Rotunda for the Charter of Freedom
    • Declaration of Independence 
    • United States Constitution
    • Bill of Rights
  • Lawrence F. O’Brien Gallery
    • “Making Their Mark: Stories Through Signatures”
  • David M. Rubenstein Gallery
    • “Record of Rights”
    • Magna Carta
  • Public Vaults

11 a.m.–4 p.m.

Family Activities

Inside the National Archives Museum

  • Between noon and 2 p.m., meet Abigail and John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, John Hancock, Thomas Jefferson, and George Washington.
  • Listen to stories of our patriotic past in the Boeing Learning Center: 11 a.m., 12 p.m., 1:30 p.m., 3 p.m.
  • Participate in a variety of hands-on family activities including crafts in the Boeing Learning Center.
  • Taste American Heritage Chocolate in the Visitor Orientation Plaza.

Stay tuned for a post about the Fourth of July Social Media on Thursday!