Press/Journalists
Press Release
December 27, 1999
Last Chance to See National Archives Exhibition "American Originals"

"My dear Mr. Secretary: It is hard to find a satisfactory 'official' name for the war, but the best, I think, that has been suggested is 'The World War,' and I hope that your judgment will concur. . . . Cordially and faithfully yours, Woodrow Wilson" 31 July, 1919.

"Dear Mr. President: First I would like to introduce myself. I am Elvis Presley and admire you and have great respect for your office. I talked to Vice President Agnew in Palm Springs 3 weeks ago and expressed my concern for our country. . . Sir I can and will be of any service that I can to help the country out. . . .I can and will do more good if I were made a Federal agent at large. . . Respectfully Elvis Presley P.S. I believe that you Sir were one of the top ten outstanding men of America."

Washington, DC. . . These two letters are part of a selection of original documents featured in "American Originals: Part IV," a major National Archives Rotunda exhibition that closes to the public on Monday, January 3, 2000.

"American Originals" presents some of the most treasured documents in the holdings of the National Archives and Records Administration. The exhibition, displayed in the cases that flank the permanent display of the Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Bill of Rights, offers glimpses of American history -- the glorious and the inglorious -- in its most unprocessed form. These letters, maps, photographs, and official documents have passed through the hands of Abraham Lincoln, Susan B. Anthony, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, and Elvis Presley, connecting us physically to another moment in time.

Highlights of this exhibition include:

  • Ledger of Benjamin Franklin, Postmaster General of the colonies, 1776;

  • Journal of Continental Congress showing entry for July 4, 1776;

  • George Washington's nomination of Thomas Jefferson for Secretary of State, September 25, 1789;

  • President Abraham Lincoln's pardon of Private Patrick Murphy, found guilty of desertion; the pardon was signed on April 14, 1865, the day President Lincoln was assassinated;

  • Letter from Annie Oakley to President William McKinley offering to raise a company of "50 Lady sharpshooters," in the event of war with Spain, April 5, 1898;

  • The warrant of arrest for Lee Harvey Oswald, November 22, 1963;

  • Sequence of events of dinner for the Prince and Princess of Wales, hosted by President and Mrs. Reagan, November 1985.

"American Originals" presents a tiny sampling of the billions of documents preserved in the National Archives. It represents the larger historical record that documents our national experience in all its complexity. While offering intimate contact with the past, it attests to the accountability of a government that lays itself open, through its records, to the scrutiny of present and future generations. The records of the nation are held in the National Archives Washington, DC building, in its new state-of-the-art facility in College Park, Maryland, in regional archives located throughout the United States and in ten Presidential libraries.

For additional information about this and other exhibitions, the public may call the National Archives Public Events Line at 202-501-5000.

For additional PRESS information, please contact the National Archives Public Affairs staff at (301) 837-1700 or by e-mail.

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