Washington’s Birthday (Presidents Day)
On the third Monday in February, we honor our first President, George Washington, whose birthday is February 22. We also traditionally honor President Abraham Lincoln, whose birthday is February 12. Records in the National Archives relate to all our Presidents, and the Presidential Libraries and Museums are a unique resource for the modern Presidents since Herbert Hoover.
George Washington’s Birthday was the first Federal holiday to honor an individual's birth date. In 1885, Congress designated February 22 as a holiday for all Federal workers. Nearly a century later, in 1971, the Uniform Monday Holiday Law changed the date to the third Monday in February. The position of the holiday between the birthdays of Washington and Abraham Lincoln gave rise to the popular name of Presidents Day. Explore selected documents and images from the National Archives Catalog related to Washington’s Birthday.
Tuesday, February 8, at 1 p.m. Eastern Time
George Washington: The Political Rise of America’s Founding Father
Bob Drury has written an inspiring account of Valley Forge, the Continental Army winter camp where George Washington turned the tide of the American Revolution.
The Indian World of George Washington
Colin G. Calloway discusses the relationship between George Washington and Native American leaders of the 18th century.
George Washington and the Paparazzi
This Inside the Vaults video short highlights a letter written by President George Washington to his friend Gov. Henry Lee of Virginia on July 3, 1792, turning down the request of the artist William Williams, who wished to paint the President's portrait. Mount Vernon associate curator Laura Simo explains that Washington was weary of frequently posing for portraits during his Presidency.
Edward G. Lengel chronicles how this self-educated man built the Mount Vernon estate into a vast, multilayered enterprise; prudently managed meager resources to win the Revolutionary War; and as President, helped establish the national economy on a solid footing.
Missing Lincoln Documents
This Inside the Vaults video short tells the story of formerly missing letters between President Abraham Lincoln and Union surgeons that were returned to the National Archives in 2011. The letters are dated shortly after the Battle of Antietam and request that the President appoint a chaplain to serve the wounded, dying, and dead in hospitals.
Lincoln's Greatest Speech: The Second Inaugural
The film features actor Richard Dreyfuss giving a dramatic reading of the speech, followed by historical analysis. Filmmaker Ken Kebow and author Ronald C. White, Jr.
Why Lincoln Still Matters
On the 207th anniversary of the birth of Abraham Lincoln, a panel of Lincoln scholars will discuss how Lincoln can still guide and inspire our nation in the face of 21st–century challenges. Panelists include Harold Holzer, Martha Hodges, Craig Symonds, and Lucas Morel.
Lincoln's Gamble: How the Emancipation Proclamation Changed the Course of the Civil War
Todd Brewster examines the most critical six months in Abraham Lincoln's Presidency, when he issued the Emancipation Proclamation, fought with his generals, and coped with bouts of depression. a book signing follows the program.
More videos from the National Archives
Videos from the Presidential Libraries
By George, IT IS Washington’s Birthday! (Winter 2004)
The Surprising George Washington (Spring 1994)
Text Message: President’s/Presidents’/Presidents Day?
Unwritten Record: Images of the Week: Presidential Portraits
Hoover Heads (blog of the Herbert Hoover Library)
Forward with Roosevelt (blog of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library)
JFK Library Archives (blog of the John F. Kennedy Library)
Learn about the Presidential Libraries, which document the lives and administrations of Presidents Herbert Hoover through Barack Obama.
Founders Online contains correspondence and other writings of six Founding Fathers