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
Through April 11, 2018

Telegram Requesting Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Testimony before the House of Representatives’ Judiciary Committee on the Proposed Voting Rights Act, March 18, 1965

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a driving force behind the march that began in Selma, Alabama on March 7, 1965 to protest the violent denial of African Americans’ right to vote. On March 15, President Lyndon Johnson addressed the nation in support of the Selma marchers. Three days later, Congressman Emmanuel Celler sent this telegram requesting that Dr. King come to Washington, DC, to testify in support of the Voting Rights bill before Congress. Instead, King stayed with the marchers and gave a stirring speech at the Alabama state capital. In large part due to the efforts of Dr. King and other civil rights activists, President Lyndon Johnson submitted the Voting Rights Act to Congress. He signed it into law on August 6, 1965.  

East Rotunda Gallery, through April 11, 2018

National Archives, Records of the U.S. House of Representatives (NAID 5637790)

This exhibit is made possible in part by the National Archives Foundation, through the generous support of United Airlines.


Previous Featured Documents

World War II Holiday Humor: Office of War Information "Santa" Memo

Someone in the Office of War Information (OWI) News Bureau was having a jolly old time writing this memorandum on Christmas Eve 1942. It concerns rumors flying around (by way of a reindeer-led sled) about a “man in whiskers who…will come down many chimneys bringing gifts to hundreds of American homes.” This tongue-in-cheek report from the OWI News Bureau was composed by staff to poke fun at their own bureaucracy. However, even the report’s light-hearted analysis of the “facts” about Santa Claus reveals serious concerns faced by the United States during World War II.

East Rotunda Gallery, November 30, 2017 - January 10, 2018

Office of War Information Santa Memo
National Archives, Records of the Office of War Informatione (NAID 4751483)


The “Yeti Memo”

Believed by some to reside in the Himalayan Mountains, interest in searching for the Yeti, or Abominable Snowman, spiked during the 1950s. This prompted the government of Nepal to issue regulations regarding Yeti-hunting expeditions, which the American Embassy in Kathmandu shared via a Foreign Service Despatch on November 30, 1959.

East Rotunda Gallery, September 28 - November 29, 2017

Foreign Service Despatch 75 from the American Embassy, Kathmandu Regarding Regulations Governing Mountain Climbing Expeditions in Nepal Relating to Yeti
Foreign Service Despatch 75 from the American Embassy, Kathmandu Regarding Regulations Governing Mountain Climbing Expeditions in Nepal Relating to Yeti, 11/30/1959.
National Archives, General Records of the Department of State (NAID 24194175)


Remembering WWI

In commemoration of the 100-year anniversary of American involvement in World War I, the National Archives has preserved and digitized its extensive collection of motion pictures that document wartime activities at home and abroad. The Remembering WWI Featured Document exhibit presents a selection of recently digitized World War I era footage that represents a few of the many American and international experiences in this global conflict.

Much of the newly preserved and digitized WWI collection was made possible in part by a generous anonymous donor. 

East Rotunda Gallery, July 27 - September 27, 2017

"The U.S. In WWI: At Home and Abroad"

Uncover more World War I Centennial Resources at the National Archives.


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)


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


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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.