Bill of Rights Day, December 15
The National Archives and Records Administration joins in the national celebration of the Bill of Rights, the first 10 amendments to the Constitution, which spell out our rights as Americans. It guarantees civil rights and liberties such as freedom of speech, press, and religion. It sets rules for due process of law and reserves all powers not delegated to the Federal Government to the people or the states. The original joint resolution proposing the Bill of Rights is on permanent display at the National Archives in Washington, DC.
The Conventions of a number of the States, having at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added: And as extending the ground of public confidence in the Government, will best ensure the beneficent ends of its institution.
The link to this video shows the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence loaded in an armored truck at the Library of Congress, taken to the National Archives Building in a procession, and carried up the building's steps. Then on Bill of Rights Day 1952, President Harry Truman and Chief Justice Vinson speak in a ceremony at the National Archives on the importance of the document
"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 to make it possible to amend our Constitution
Why the Bill of Rights?
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.
The Bill of Rights and the First Federal Congress
In this video, Charlene Bickford, Director of the First Federal Congress Project, discusses the NHPRC-funded project and the anniversary of the ratification of the Bill of Rights by the First Federal Congress:
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 Independence, Constitution of the United States, and the 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)
Teaching and Learning Resources
- DocsTeach: Amending America Helps educators locate primary sources from the National Archives that document the creation and structure of our government.
- James Madison debates the Bill of Rights
- Professional development for educators via webinar
- eBook: Congress Creates the Bill of Rights
Distance learning programs for the K-12 classroom
eBook: Putting the Bill of Rights to the Test student workbook
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.
- Ratifying the Bill of Rights . . . in 1939 by Mary Ryan (Winter 2016)
- The Bill of Rights at 225 by Jessie Kratz (Winter 2016)
- Celebrating the Bill of Rights by David Ferriero (Winter 2016)
- A New Era Begins for the Charters of Freedom by Mary Lynn Ritzenthaler and Catherine Nicholson (Fall 2003)
- Travels of the Charters of Freedom by Milton Gustafson (Winter 2002)
- Bill of Rights Day: Celebrating Our Most Precious Freedoms, Pieces of History
- Bill of Rights Day: the People's Vote, Pieces of History
- George Mason and the Bill of Rights, Pieces of History
- Bill of Rights Day, Pieces of History
- The Bill of Rights Goes to the States, Pieces of History
- The Bill of Rights: 14 Originals, Pieces of History
- Read more "Pieces of History" blog posts about the Bill of Rights
- Elbridge Gerry and the Constitutional Convention, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights, Text Message
- Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Welcomes New American Citizens National Archives News
Founders Online website lets you read James Madison's words about the Bill of Rights.