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Tag: Rotunda

I am an American

September 17 marks the annual celebration known as Constitution Day and Citizenship Day.

On the morning of June 18, 2014, in the Rotunda of the National Archives Building First Lady Michelle Obama congratulated a room full of 35 new American citizens and their families. Her speech marked the culmination of a process that individuals have taken part in since the founding of this nation—becoming naturalized citizens of the United States of America.

First Lady Michelle Obama, Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Charles Johnson, and new citizen Juan Cua Monroy lead the new citizens in the Pledge of Allegiance in the National Archives, June 18, 2014. (Photo Credit: Jeff Reed, National Archives)

First Lady Michelle Obama, Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Charles Johnson, and new citizen Juan Cua Monroy lead the new citizens in the Pledge of Allegiance in the National Archives, June 18, 2014. (Photo Credit: Jeff Reed, National Archives)

Naturalization is the process by which a non-citizen acquires citizenship. Over the course of U.S. history, the process of naturalization has been subject to differing degrees of pomp and circumstance.

In 1940, Congress passed a resolution authorizing the President to issue an annual proclamation designating the third Sunday in May as “I Am An American Day.” Many towns and cities celebrated the new holiday with special ceremonies recognizing newly naturalized citizens.

In 1952, Congress re-named the holiday and moved it to September 17, but its purpose remained the same. Now called “Citizenship Day,” it commemorated the signing of the Constitution on September 17, 1787, and recognized “all who, by coming of age or by … [ Read all ]

Two more sleepover opportunities at the National Archives!

Due to the popularity of the inaugural Rotunda sleepover in January, the National Archives and the Foundation for the National Archives (FNA) have partnered to host summer and fall sleepovers for children 8 to 12 years old. The sleepovers are scheduled for August 2 and October 18.

The Foundation is giving away 3 free tickets–enter the drawing before May 19!

One hundred children and parents will have a chance to explore our documents in fun and educational ways before rolling out their sleeping bags to spend the night in the Rotunda with the Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Bill of Rights.

NARA and the Foundation for the National Archives will be hosting Rotunda sleepovers in August and October. Space is limited, so be sure to sign up if you’re interested in attending!

NARA and the Foundation for the National Archives will be hosting Rotunda sleepovers in August and October. Space is limited, so be sure to sign up if you’re interested in attending!

This summer’s sleepover theme is “Explorers Night,” and will feature hands-on activities to help young explorers investigate–through music, chats with historical figures, games, 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.

Sleepover participants get to try their hand at a variety of historical activities. Here, one young participant practices writing with a quill.

Sleepover participants get to try their hand at a variety of historical activities. Here, one young participant practices writing with a quill.

“Our first-ever sleepover in January was incredibly popular, drawing families from around the country–many of whom had never visited … [ Read all ]

Sleepover at the National Archives!

sleepover

You can’t snuggle with the Constitution, but you can sleep next to it! This sleepover in the Rotunda is open to children ages 8-12, accompanied by an adult. Registration fees are $125 per person (discounted to $100 per person for Foundation members).

Participants get to meet author Brad Meltzer, who will set the way for an evening of historical missions and discovery. Learn to decode Civil War ciphers, write with a quill pen, dress up in period clothing, and play with historic toys and games from our patent collection.

Children will also get to meet journalist and author Cokie Roberts, and interact with historical characters Abraham Lincoln and Amelia Earhart. The evening wraps up with a selection of Oscar-nominated short films in the William G. McGowan Theater.

Participants will receive the first two books in Brad Meltzer’s brand new children’s series, I am Abraham Lincoln and I am Amelia Earhart. Written by Meltzer and illustrated by Christopher Eliopoulos, each book tells the real-life story of an ordinary person who changed the world.

Schedule

7 p.m.         Check-in & Orientation
8 p.m.         Museum Exploration and Activities
9:30 p.m.   Movie Shorts from the Oscars
11 p.m.        Lights Out
7:30 a.m.    Breakfast, Shopping, and Trivia
9 a.m.          Departure

For more information go to the Foundation’s sleepover page. To register, download the Sleepover Registration packet, … [ Read all ]

A homecoming for six pages of parchment

Transfer of Charters of Freedom to the National Archives, 12/13/1952 (ARC5 928179)

Although the National Archives Building was nearly completed in 1935, the Rotunda sat empty.

Then, on December 13, 1952, an armored Marine Corps personnel carrier made its way down Constitution Avenue, accompanied by two light tanks, four servicemen carrying submachine guns, and a motorcycle escort. A color guard, ceremonial troops, the Army Band, and the Air Force Drum and Bugle Corps were also part of the procession. Members of all the military branches lined the street.

Inside the personnel carrier were six parchment documents. The records were in helium-filled glass cases packed inside wooden crates resting on mattresses.

The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were going to the National Archives.

In 1926, $1 million was appropriated for a national archives building, and in 1930 President Hoover appointed an Advisory Committee for the National Archives to draw up specifications for the building. John Russell Pope was selected as architect, and a year later, ground was broken. By 1933, the cornerstone of the building had been put in place by President Herbert Hoover. Staff were working in the unfinished building by 1935.

But despite this flurry of activity, the vault-like building did not house the founding documents that we call the “Charters of Freedom.”

The documents had been shuttled around to various buildings for various reasons. They started out in the Department of State, and as the capital moved … [ Read all ]

Medal of Honor is now on display at the National Archives

The Medal of Honor for Sgt. James Hill in its presentation box.

 

The Medal of Honor is the highest honor in recognition of “gallantry in action.” Yet when President Abraham Lincoln signed “An act to further promote the efficiency of the Navy” into law on December 21, 1861, the creation of this honor is just a paragraph in section seven.

Only 200 “medals of honor” were authorized by Lincoln to be awarded to enlisted members of the Navy “during the present war.”  Over the years, the medal has changed, going through revisions to the design, the rules under which it was awarded, and the inclusion of officers and members of the other branches of service. 

It has been awarded fewer than 3,500 times.

One medal is currently on display through January 17, 2012, in the Rotunda of the National Archives.

This Medal of Honor was awarded to Sgt. James Hill, 14th New York Artillery, for extraordinary heroism on July 30, 1864, at Petersburg, Virginia, for capturing a flag and shooting a Confederate officer who was rallying his men.  Hill died in captivity at Andersonville, Georgia, before the medal could be presented.  The medal was designed by William Wilson & Sons, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1862.

The display also includes a letter of recommendation to another soldier. After the Civil War ended, the historian of the 37th Massachusetts Regimental Association, … [ Read all ]