August 12, 2010
National Archives Announces New Initiatives Honoring the U.S. Constitution
Launching of Constitution Facebook page, Special Constitution Day Activities, and New exhibition on the Charters of Freedom
Washington, DC…In anticipation of Constitution Day, the National Archives will unveil a new exhibition: “The Charters of Freedom: Our Nation’s Founding Documents” on September 13, 2010. This exhibit takes a fresh look at these Charters – the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights – all on permanent display in the Rotunda for the Charters of Freedom. The new exhibit surrounds the Charters’ centerpiece cases, using originals and facsimiles of historical documents from the holdings of the National Archives to answer two key questions about each Charter --“How did it happen?” and “Why is it important?” The new exhibit is an attempt to answer questions visitors often ask when they see the Charters.
Constitution Day activities marking the 223rd anniversary of the September 17 signing of this milestone document include daylong special events and programs on September 17 (Constitution Day), an evening with Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer discussing his new book, Making Our Democracy Work: A Judge's View, on September 13, and an evening panel discussion with constitutional scholars on September 21. These events are free and open to the public. For more information see our September Calendar of Events.
In honor of this celebration, the National Archives has launched a Facebook page for the Constitution. Friend the Constitution on Facebook! This new page is interactive forum for the Constitution that encourages open discussion and debate.
Background on the exhibition
Highlights of the new exhibition include “Secrets of the Documents” and special quotes from the Founding Fathers, as well as the following:
- Elizabeth Burgin’s remarkable story— told through original letters — of her escape from New York in a whaleboat and of her heroic role in a successful plot to free solders from British prison ships;
- The fascinating travels of the Declaration of Independence before it was displayed safely at the National Archives: it has had many homes, including government offices, the interiors of safes and other public displays. Wagons, ships, a Pullman sleeper, and an armored vehicle have transported this priceless document; and
- Information about how the National Archives preserves these National Treasures.
The new Charters exhibition also provides answers to the following questions:
- Why is it so dark and cold in the Rotunda?
- What is parchment, and why were the Charters written on it and not paper?
- Did slaves really fight on both sides in the Revolutionary War?
- Which of the original colonies did not sign the Constitution or even send delegates to the Constitutional Convention?
- Are there really “typos” in the Constitution?
- Which of the articles proposed in the original Bill of Rights was not ratified until 1992?
- How were the murals created?
The National Archives Building in Washington, DC, is located on the National Mall and is fully accessible. National Archives Exhibit Hours are 10 a.m.–7 p.m. daily (through Labor Day), and 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. through March 14.
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For Press information, contact the National Archives Public Affairs staff at (202) 357-5300.