Lawrence F. O’Brien Gallery

Amending America

Coming soon! “Amending America”

March 11, 2016—September 4, 2017

It is possible to amend the Constitution, but it’s not easy. Only 27 times—out of more than 11,000 tries—has Congress reached consensus to amend the Constitution. Explore the National Archives’ new exhibit “Amending America” to discover the remarkably American story of how we amended, or attempted to amend, our Constitution in order to form a more perfect union. The 3,000 square foot exhibit includes petitions, interactives, landmark documents, and political cartoons addressing issues including child labor, prayer in schools, free speech, suffrage, civil rights, and more.
Lawrence F. O’Brien Gallery, March 11, 2016 - September 4, 2017


"The Bill of Rights and Beyond" circa 1991

photo (NARA ID: 24520428)
This poster was created by the Bicentennial Commission to help Americans understand how the Constitution had changed through amendments since it was written in 1787. Today the Bill of Rights is 225 years old. One more amendment was added to the Constitution in 1992, bringing the total to 27.


Petition for a constitutional amendment to hold national referendums on declarations of war, circa 1938

photo (NARA ID: 24200391)
The decision to declare war is a critical power given to Congress. But after World War I and during the Great Depression, these war-weary petitioners sought an amendment that would “give the people the opportunity to vote on whether or not we are to be plunged into another foreign war.”


“Amending America” was created jointly by the outreach staff at the Center for the Legislative Archives and the exhibits staff in the National Archives Museum. It was developed in partnership with the National Archives Foundation through generous support from AT&T, HISTORY®, and the Lawrence F. O’Brien Family.