National Archives News

Celebrating the 225th Anniversary of the Bill of Rights

December 15 is designated as Bill of Rights Day to commemorate the ratification of the document on December 15, 1791. This year marks the 225th anniversary. Learn more about the Bill of Rights through our public programs, family activities, and online resources.

"Amending America" Exhibit

Take a virtual tour of our "Amending America" exhibit, which highlights the remarkably American story of how we have amended, or attempted to amend, the Constitution in order to form a nation that more closely mirrors our ideals.

Amending America: How Do We Amend?

This animated short, made for the “Amending America” exhibit, describes how an amendment can be proposed and ratified. It also illustrates how our Founders included Article V, which made the Bill of Rights possible. 

 

I

Why the Bill of Rights?

In celebration of the Amending America” exhibit, a panel discusses the story behind the Bill of Rights, the ratification of the Constitution, and the First Federal Congress. Panelists include Joseph Ellis, Jack Takeover, and Kenneth Bowling.

The Charters of Freedom

On Bill of Rights Day in 1952 the Charters of Freedom—the Constitution, Declaration of Independence, and Bill of Rights went on display together for the first time.

Washington, DC, Events

​December 1, at 7 p.m.
The 14th Amendment’s Shield of National Protection: A Constitutional Guarantee of Liberty and Equality

National Archives Building, William G. McGowan Theater

View on YouTube
A distinguished panel will discuss how the 14th Amendment and implications for today's most important issues, including racial discrimination, gun rights, marriage equality, economic liberty, and gender equality. Presented in partnership with the National Constitution Center and the Constitutional Accountability Center. 

December 1–17, 10 a.m.–4 p.m
Featured Activity in the ReSource Room
Boeing Learning Center

Since it was ratified on December 15, 1791, the Bill of Rights continues to be a foundation of American liberty, guaranteeing citizens the freedoms we enjoy. Come to the Boeing Learning Center to explore the amendment process and the Bill of Rights through hands-on activities.

December 15, 1 p.m.–4 p.m.
Bill of Rights Family Day
Boeing Learning Center

Many of the rights and freedoms we enjoy today are possible because of the Bill of Rights. Join us for hands-on activities about the Bill of Rights, the Constitution, and amendments. Presented in part by AT&T, Seedlings Foundation, and the National Archives Foundation.

December 15, at 7 p.m.
The Bill of Rights in the 21st Century

National Archives Building, William G. McGowan Theater

Reserve a Seat
A distinguished panel of judges discuss how the Bill of Rights affects Americans in modern times and the impact of technology. Moderated by Jess Bravin from the Wall Street Journal, panelists include Judge Thomas Griffith, United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit; Judge Patricia Millett, United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit; and Judge Andre M. Davis, United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. Presented in partnership with the Constitutional Sources Project. 

December 28, 10 a.m.– 4 p.m.
Amending America Family Day
Boeing Learning Center

Only 27 times out of 11,000+ proposals have Americans amended the Constitution. Come explore some of the successful—and not so successful—proposals and learn how we can change the Constitution. Presented in part by AT&T, Seedlings Foundation, and the National Archives Foundation.

Washington, DC, Exhibits

The Bill of Rights is on permanent display in the Rotunda for the Charters of Freedom
The Rotunda for the Charters of Freedom is the permanent home of the  Declaration of IndependenceConstitution of the United States, and  Bill of Rights. Come visit seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (Last admission is 30 minutes prior to closing; closed Thanksgiving Day & Christmas Day)

" Amending America" is on exhibit in the National Archives Museum in Washington, DC, until September 4, 2017
The "Amending America" exhibit highlights the remarkably American story of how we have amended, or attempted to amend, the Constitution in order to form a nation that more closely mirrors our ideals. Amending America also has a website commemorating the Bill of Rights Anniversary. 

 

 

 

Nationwide Events and Exhibits

Bill of Rights Traveling Exhibit

"Amending America: The Bill of Rights" traveling exhibit will be at the following venues:

National Conversations

National Conversations on #RightsandJustice

Explore the range of contemporary issues, addressing the tension between individual rights and collective responsibilities, a process that begun with the Bill of Rights. The National Conversations will be held across the country in 2016 and 2017. Each program will have a central topic. Grounded in documents from the National Archives collections, they will explore stories of American's past. These will be starting points from which we will look forward, wondering what new stories wait to be written. 

Truman Library, Independence, MO

A More Perfect Union How Critical Presidential Elections Reshaped the Constitution, March 4–December 31, 2016

To mark the Presidential election year and the although anniversary of the Bill of Rights, this exhibition examines the evolution of the American government through the Constitutional amendment process, and it highlights some key Presidential elections that pushed that process forward. Featuring a number of original materials from the Truman Library, the National Archives, and from other institutions, the exhibition is particularly interactive in that it contains multiple participatory activities to engage visitors. The show also includes clips of Presidential campaign commercials, the first televised Presidential debate, and other videos.

 

Teaching & Learning Resources

The Bill of Rights and You

Explores how the Bill of Rights was created and what it means for us today.

Download the high-resolution posters at  www.archives.gov/amending-america/visit/bill-of-rights-pop-up.

 

 

Articles and Blog Posts

Top