Featured Document Exhibit at the East Rotunda Gallery

Featured Document Exhibit

The National Archives Museum’s “Featured Documents” exhibit is made possible in part by the National Archives Foundation.

Currently on Exhibit in the East Rotunda Gallery
June 8 - July 26, 2017

50th anniversary of Thurgood Marshall's barrier-breaking Supreme Court nomination

On June 13, 1967, President Lyndon B. Johnson nominated U.S. Solicitor General and distinguished civil rights lawyer Thurgood Marshall to be the first African American justice to serve on the Supreme Court of the United States. Marshall had already made his mark in American law, having won 29 of the 32 cases he argued before the Supreme Court, most notably the landmark case Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka (1954). As an associate justice on the highest court in America, Marshall continued his lifelong fight against discrimination to protect the constitutional rights of the most vulnerable Americans. To commemorate this anniversary, a facsimile of President Johnson's letter nominating Thurgood Marshall to the Supreme Court and pages from Marshall's opinion in Regents of the University of California v. Bakke (1978) are on display.
East Rotunda Gallery, June 8 - July 26, 2017

Message of President Lyndon B. Johnson
Message of President Lyndon B. Johnson Nominating Thurgood Marshall of New York to be an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, 6/13/1967.
National Archives, Records of the U.S. Sentate (NAID 306369)


Previous Featured Documents

Mobilizing for War: The Selective Service Act in World War I

On May 18, 1917, Congress passed the Selective Service Act, which authorized the Federal Government to temporarily expand the military through conscription. The act eventually required all men between the ages of 21 to 45 to register for military service. Under the act, approximately 24 million men registered for the draft. Of the total U.S. troops sent to Europe, 2.8 million men had been drafted, and 2 million men had volunteered. To commemorate this anniversary, the draft registration cards Irving Berlin, Al Capone, Duke Ellington, Marcus Garvey, Harry Houdini, Fiorello LaGuardia, Norman Rockwell, and Babe Ruth are on exhibit.

East Rotunda Gallery, May 4 - June 7, 2017

World War I Draft Registration Card for George Herman Ruth.
World War I Draft Registration Card for George Herman Ruth.
National Archives, Records of the Selective Service System (NAID 641780)


Making the World Safe for Democracy: The U.S. Enters World War I

As World War I broke out across Europe in the summer of 1914, the United States remained neutral in the conflict for more than three years. German acts of aggression in early 1917, however, brought the Americans into the war. President Woodrow Wilson made a special address before a joint-session of Congress asking for a declaration of war against Germany which was overwhelmingly supported in both houses. On April 6, 1917, the U.S. entered World War I after President Wilson signed a joint resolution declaring war against the Imperial German Government.

East Rotunda Gallery, April 4 - May 3, 2017

Joint Resolution of April 6, 1917
A Joint Resolution of April 6, 1917, Public Resolution 65-1, 40 STAT 1, Declaring that a State of War Exists Between the Imperial German Government and the Government and the People of the United States and Making Provision to Prosecute the Same.
National Archives, General Records of the U.S. Government (NAID 5916620)


Jeannette Rankin: 100th Anniversary of the First Congresswoman

Four years before all American women were granted the right to vote by the 19th amendment, Jeanette Rankin was the first woman elected to Congress. She was sworn in on April 2, 1917. In commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the first Congresswoman, Rankin's credentials certifying that she was duly elected as Representative-at-large for Montana will be on display. Upon learning of her landmark election, Rankin foretold, “I may be the first woman member of Congress, but I won’t be the last.” Over the past 100 years, more than 300 women have been elected or appointed to the U.S. Congress.

East Rotunda Gallery, January 26 – April 3, 2017

Jeannette Rankin's credentials
Credentials of Jeannette Rankin.
National Archives, Records of the U.S. House of Representatives


Alexander Hamilton's Report of the Secretary of the Treasury on the Subject of Manufactures

December 5 marks the 225th anniversary of Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton's Report on Manufactures, the final of Hamilton's seminal reports on the economy, national debt, and financial condition of the early republic. This original document, submitted to the U.S. House of Representatives, outlines Hamilton's insights on the importance of manufacturing to the emerging nation.
West Rotunda Gallery, December 1, 2016 - January 31, 2017

The Refugee Act of 1980
Report of the Secretary of the Treasury on the Subject of Manufactures, December 5, 1791, Records of the U.S. House of Representatives


The First Presidential Inauguration: George Washington's First Inaugural Address and Inaugural Bible

Since the country’s first inauguration of George Washington as President, Presidential inaugurations have been important civic rituals in our national political life. On April 30, 1789, in the temporary capital of New York City on the second floor balcony of Federal Hall, George Washington placed his hand upon a bible and publicly swore his oath before a cheering crowd.  He then delivered his inaugural address to a joint-session of Congress in the Senate Chamber in Federal Hall. The rituals observed during Washington’s first inauguration are the foundation upon which inaugural traditions are based today. 

(George Washington's Inaugural Bible is on loan courtesy of St. John's Lodge No. 1, Ancient York.)

East Rotunda Gallery, January 5, 2017 – January 25, 2017

Senate copy of President Franklin Roosevelt's Joint Address to Congress, December 8, 1941
George Washington's First Inaugural Address, 4/30/1789, page 1.
National Archives, Records of the U.S. Senate. NAID 1634180


“A Date Which Will Live in Infamy”

Seventy-five years ago on December 8, 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt addressed a joint session of Congress. He asked for a declaration of war in response to Japan’s attack on the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, thus launching the United States into the Second World War. On display is the U.S. Senate’s copy of President Roosevelt’s famous “Infamy” speech.
East Rotunda Gallery, November 10, 2016 – January 4, 2017

Senate copy of President Franklin Roosevelt's Joint Address to Congress, December 8, 1941
Senate copy of President Franklin Roosevelt's Joint Address to Congress, December 8, 1941, page 1 National Archives, Records of the U.S. Senate. NAID 595426


100th Anniversary of the Organic Act Creating the National Park Service

President Woodrow Wilson signed the Organic Act on August 25, 1916 “to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life therein, and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner … as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.” This legislation created the National Park Service, bringing the management and preservation of national parks under the administration of a single agency.
East Rotunda Gallery, June 30 - August 31, 2016

An Act to Establish a National Park Service
An Act to Establish a National Park Service, 8/25/1916. (General Records of the U.S. Government, National Archives)


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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.