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Tag: National Archives Museum

Now On Display: The Civil Rights Act of 1964

Today’s post comes from David Steinbach, intern in the National Archives History Office.

President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the 1964 Civil Rights Act as Martin Luther King, Jr., others look on, 07/02/1964. (The Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library)

President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the 1964 Civil Rights Act as Martin Luther King, Jr., others look on, 07/02/1964. (The Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library)

On July 2, 1964, with Martin Luther King, Jr., directly behind him, President Lyndon Johnson scrawled his signature on a document years in the making—the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the landmark legislation.

The first and the signature pages of the act will be on display at the National Archives Rubenstein Gallery in Washington, DC, until September 17, 2014. These 50-year-old sheets of paper represent years of struggle and society’s journey toward justice.

The most comprehensive civil rights legislation since the Reconstruction era, the Civil Right Act finally gave the Federal Government the means to enforce the promises of the 13th,  14th, and 15th Amendments. The act prohibited discrimination in public places, allowed the integration of public facilities and schools, and forbade discrimination in employment.

But such a landmark congressional enactment was by no means achieved easily. Indeed, developments within the civil rights movement were critical in motivating the bill’s movement through Congress. The push for legislation accelerated in May 1963, when nightly news broadcasts displayed footage of Eugene “Bull” Connor cracking down on demonstrations in Birmingham, Alabama.

In this atmosphere, President … [ Read all ]

Archivist welcomes visitors back to the National Archives

Archivist of the United States David Ferriero welcomes a visitor to the reopened National Archives Museum on October 17, 2013.

Archivist of the United States David Ferriero welcomes a visitor to the reopened National Archives Museum on October 17, 2013.

At 1 p.m. on October 17, the doors to the National Archives Museum on Constitution Avenue opened for the first time since September 30. Archivist of the United States David Ferriero greeted the first visitors to enter the building.

“It’s really nice to see people roaming the halls again. I’m proud of the fact that we were able to open our doors as quickly as we did,” said Ferriero. “It’s clear that our visitors are extraordinarily grateful to spend this special time with the documents.”

The message from the Archivist and other staff was “We’re happy to be back,” and the visitors’ feelings were the same.

Visitors had come from across the country and around the world. One couple from St. Louis, MO, had been in Washington three years ago but missed the National Archives. This time they were determined to come to the Archives. Two other California visitors came from the north and south: Los Gatos and Orange County.

Visitors from Italy were among the first people to enter the reopened building, and they were followed by people from several countries. A couple from Japan had been in Washington since Friday and were happy to be able to visit the Federal museums after all. Two men from the United Kingdom—one from London … [ Read all ]