David M. Rubenstein Gallery

David M. Rubenstein Gallery / Records of Rights

Records of Rights: a permanent exhibition in the new David M. Rubenstein Gallery, National Archives, Washington, DC

America’s founding documents—the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights—are icons of human liberty. But the ideals enshrined in those documents did not initially apply to all Americans. They were, in the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., “a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir.” “Records of Rights” allows visitors to explore how generations of Americans sought to fulfill this promise. The exhibition showcases original and facsimile National Archives documents and uses an innovative 17-foot touch screen interactive table to illustrate how Americans throughout our history have debated issues such as citizenship, free speech, voting rights, and equal opportunity.

Landmark Document Case

The Pentagon Papers

The title page, opening memo and table of contents from the Pentagon Papers are on display in the Landmark Document Case. Portions of the report on the history of the Vietnam War, secretly commissioned by Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara in 1967, were leaked to the New York Times and other media outlets. The U.S. Justice Department attempted to stop publication but on June 30, 1971, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the United States v. The New York Times Company that the constitutional right to a free press overrode other concerns.


Magna Carta

photoBegin your exploration of "Records of Rights" by viewing an original 1297 Magna Carta, on display courtesy of David M. Rubenstein.

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The "Records of Rights" exhibition and the David M. Rubenstein Gallery are made possible in part by the National Archives Foundation, through the support of David M. Rubenstein.