Press/Journalists

Press Release
September 26, 2011

National Archives Celebrates New St. Louis Facility with Documented Rights Exhibit

Exhibit at new National Personnel Records Center illustrates struggle for civil rights

Washington, DC…The National Archives and Records Administration celebrates the opening of its new facility, the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, MO, with Documented Rights, a special exhibition illustrating this nation’s continuing process of defining human and civil rights. Documented Rights opens Monday, October 3, 2011, and runs through March 2, 2012. The exhibit is free and open to the public.

The official dedication of this facility will take place Saturday, October 15, 2011, at 10 a.m. This ceremony is open to invited guests and the press.

Using facsimiles of milestone documents drawn from the National Archives holdings nationwide, the new exhibition focuses on this nation’s struggle for human and civil rights. Documented Rights kicks off the dedication of the newly built National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis. The public is invited to visit the exhibit, see the new building, and learn about the wealth of National Archives holdings both locally and nationwide.

Since the signing of the Declaration of Independence, citizen rights in the United States have been debated, contested, amended, and documented. The Bill of Rights, the first 10 amendments to the Constitution, established basic civil rights. Subsequent amendments and court decisions have continued the process of defining these rights.

Documents in the National Archives give voice to this struggle for personal rights and freedoms. From the Emancipation Proclamation to the five cases that comprised Brown v. Board of Education, Documented Rights features a sampling of documents from all regions of the National Archives. Exhibit highlights include:

  • Holding The Line - a special section appearing exclusively in St. Louis that features documents from the St. Louis holdings, including letters and telegrams pertaining to James Meredith’s dramatic attempts to integrate the University of Mississippi (“Ole Miss”);

  • Examples of efforts waged by Native American organizations in the fight for Indian rights;

  • A glimpse into the 1940s treatment of Japanese Americans by the War Relocation Authority;

  • A court martial order for 2nd Lt. Jackie Robinson who refused to move to the back of the bus on a military post;

  • An early Montgomery Improvement Association booklet written by Martin Luther King Jr.; and

  • Select documents from all five cases of Brown vs. Board of Education Topeka – the landmark ruling that ended school segregation.

Documented Rights first opened at the National Archives at Atlanta, and has travelled to Kansas City, Boston, and Philadelphia. See the online exhibit [www.archives.gov/exhibits/documented-rights]. Funding for the traveling exhibit is provided by the Foundation for the National Archives.

In conjunction with the exhibit, the National Archives at St Louis will sponsor a freemonthly lecture series. The first lecture will be held Thursday, October 20, 2011, at 6 p.m., and will focus on women’s rights. A panel of local scholars and activists will examine the expanding role of women in the struggle for equality and the emerging roles of female soldiers. For large group tours reservations and information on additional programs (lectures scheduled for November through February) and events at the National Archives at St. Louis, email stlpublic.programs@nara.gov or call 314-801-0847.

Exhibition hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. The National Archives at St. Louis is located at 1 Archives Drive off of Dunn Road, next to Hazelwood East Middle School. All visitors to this facility must go through security screening and show photo identification. Free parking is available in the visitor parking lot.

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For press information contact Wanda Williams at (314) 801-9313 or wanda.williams@nara.gov.

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