David M. Rubenstein Gallery

David M. Rubenstein Gallery / Records of Rights

Records of Rights: a permanent exhibition in the new David M. Rubenstein Gallery, National Archives, Washington, DC

America’s founding documents—the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights—are icons of human liberty. But the ideals enshrined in those documents did not initially apply to all Americans. They were, in the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., “a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir.” “Records of Rights” allows visitors to explore how generations of Americans sought to fulfill this promise. The exhibition showcases original and facsimile National Archives documents and uses an innovative 17-foot touch screen interactive table to illustrate how Americans throughout our history have debated issues such as citizenship, free speech, voting rights, and equal opportunity.

2010 Don't Ask Don't Tell Repeal Act

Landmark Document Case

2010 Don't Ask Don't Tell Repeal Act

The “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” military policy regarding gay and lesbian service members began on November 20, 1993 when President Clinton signed the Defense Authorization Act. This new policy allowed lesbians and gays to serve in the military on the condition that they not in any way make public their sexual orientation. Commanders were not to inquire regarding a service member’s orientation as long as they complied with this condition. This policy was overturned in 2010 when President Obama signed the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act. Through March 15, 2015. 


Magna Carta

photoBegin your exploration of "Records of Rights" by viewing the original 1297 Magna Carta, on display courtesy of David M. Rubenstein.

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The "Records of Rights" exhibition and the David M. Rubenstein Gallery are made possible in part by the Foundation for the National Archives, through the support of David M. Rubenstein.