East Rotunda Gallery
Currently on Exhibit in the East Rotunda Gallery
July 30 – August 26, 2015
Selma Marchers’ Statements to the FBI
On March 7, 1965 civil rights organizers attempted a march from Selma to Montgomery. This day is now known as Bloody Sunday due to the violence of the Alabama state troopers. Among those wounded on Bloody Sunday were John Lewis of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee and 60-year-old Stella Davis. In her statement to the FBI, Davis noted that she “was near the front of the line of marchers when we had crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge and were met by a line of Alabama State Troopers.” Overcome by tear gas, Davis fell to the ground breaking her wrist. John Lewis told the FBI, “I was hit with a night stick and fell to my knees. When I attempted to get up I was struck a second time.”
In large part due to the efforts of civil rights activists in Selma and elsewhere, President Johnson submitted the Voting Rights Act to Congress. He signed it into law on August 6, 1965.
Upcoming Featured Documents
Instrument of Surrender Marks the End of World War II
Seventy years ago this September, Japanese representatives signed the official Instrument of Surrender, thus formally ending the Second World War. Both pages of the original will be on view from August 27 through September 3. From September 4 through October 28, the original first page will be on display with a facsimile version of the signature page.
East Rotunda Gallery, August 27 through October 28.
Previous Featured Documents
Coca-Cola Bottle and Patent
(Special Document Display in the West Rotunda Gallery)
Today the Coca-Cola bottle is one of the most recognizable containers in the world, but until the Coca-Cola Company launched a competition to design a distinctive bottle in 1915, nearly all soft drink bottles looked the same. The design patent of the winning bottle design and an original contoured "Coke" bottle will be on display.
West Rotunda Gallery, June 4–July 29
The National Archives Museum’s “Special West Rotunda Gallery Exhibition” is made possible in part by the National Archives Foundation through the generous support of The Coca-Cola Company.
1774 Articles of Association
In honor of the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta, we present the rarely-viewed Articles of Association issued by the Continental Congress in response to the Intolerable Acts. Like Magna Carta, this act sought to assert the primacy of rights over arbitrary government. The Articles of Association launched a boycott of British goods throughout the colonies in an attempt to secure redress of the colonists’ grievances. But it soon became clear that there was no hope of reconciliation. The boycott may have failed, but the Articles of Association created the union that went on to declare independence.
Articles of Association, 10/20/1774
National Archives, Records of the Continental and Confederation Congresses and the Constitutional Convention
Sketch Showing Lifeboats Stowed and Secured on Board the RMS Lusitania
“Passengers be damned; save yourself first”
100th Anniversary of the Sinking of the RMS Lusitania
There was chaos aboard the rapidly sinking Lusitania when many of the passenger ship’s poorly designed lifeboats proved impossible to lower and launch. As part of witness testimony during the subsequent court proceedings, passenger James Leary described an altercation with a crewman as the ship was sinking. Leary recounted, “I thought, according to law, passengers first.” The crewman replied, “Passengers be damned; save yourself first.”
Taking just 18 minutes to sink, the Lusitania disaster resulted in the deaths of passengers and crew when only six of the ship’s lifeboats were successfully deployed. A drawing of the lifeboat used in the Lusitania liability case illustrates the challenges faced by those on board.
Sketch Showing Lifeboats Stowed and Secured on Board the RMS Lusitania, 12/6/1917
National Archives, Records of District Courts of the United States
Report of Assistant Surgeon Charles A. Leale concerning the death of President Abraham Lincoln
There was a doctor in the house the night President Lincoln was assassinated—Dr. Charles A. Leale, a recently employed surgeon at the U.S. Army General Hospital. Six weeks out of medical school, the 23-year-old doctor went to Ford’s Theatre on April 14, 1865, hoping to catch a glimpse of President Lincoln. In the course of the evening, he found himself attempting to remove a bullet from the President’s skull. Leale was the first medical professional to arrive at the wounded President’s side. His report of the events of that evening takes us to the scene of a crime that irreversibly altered the future of the United States.
Report of Assistant Surgeon Charles A. Leale concerning the death of A. Lincoln (page 1)
National Archives, Records of the Adjutant General’s Office
Unbroken: Records from Louis Zamperini’s Incredible World War II Story
On May 27, 1943, Army Air Force bombardier Louis “Louie” Zamperini’s B-24 airplane crashed into the Pacific Ocean. The former U.S. Olympian survived, only to face months adrift at sea and years as a Japanese POW. His fate unknown in the U.S., Louie was declared dead a year and a day after his plane went down and was “posthumously” awarded a Purple Heart. Louie’s Purple Heart medal (on loan courtesy of Laura Hillenbrand, author of UNBROKEN), copies of the certificate awarding him the Purple Heart and a condolence letter from President Franklin D. Roosevelt to the Zamperini family will be on display. Miraculously, Zamperini survived and was liberated at the end of the war.
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This exhibition was created by the National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, DC, with support from the the National Archives Foundation.