Press Release
Press Release · Tuesday, June 12, 2001

Press Release
June 12, 2001
National Archives to Feature a Calligrapher at July 4th Festivities

Washington, DC. . . Have you ever wondered what kinds of feathers were used to make pens in the 18th century? Or what kind of ink the founding fathers used to write the historic documents that are preserved at the National Archives? Or how long it took to engross the original Declaration of Independence?

Come to the National Archives on July 4th and see free demonstrations throughout the afternoon that will answer all of these questions. Brody Neuenschwander, an internationally recognized calligrapher, will demonstrate the entire process of creating a document using 18th century techniques. He will show visitors how to make ink from tree galls mixed with gum arabic, and vitriol; how to cure swans' feathers and how to carve them into the exact shape for pens; and how the calligraphy from the now-famous introduction of the Declaration of Independence was written.

The demonstrations will take place between 2 PM and 6 PM on the Portico of the National Archives Building, located on Constitution Avenue, between 7th and 9th Streets, NW. The presentations, which are free and open to the public, will last approximately 45 minutes, with a 15-minute break in between each one.

July 4th is the last opportunity to view the Charters of Freedom-the Declaration, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, before the National Archives Rotunda closes temporarily for renovation on July 5th. The Rotunda will reopen in 2003.

The calligraphy demonstrations are part of a day-long celebration at the National Archives. Other special events planned for July 4th include the final raising of the Charters of Freedom from their protective underground vault at 9:15 AM. Visitors may view this ceremony on the video wall on the Constitution Avenue steps of the National Archives Building. From 9 AM to 10 AM, the public may meet George and Martha Washington, Thomas Jefferson and other time travelers. At 10 AM, the National Archives will host its annual patriotic program on the Constitution Avenue steps which includes a dramatic reading of the Declaration of Independence and a concert of American music. Copies of the Declaration of Independence will be available to sign throughout the day. At 7 PM, the Charters of Freedom will be lowered into the vault for the final time-this ceremony will be accessible to visitors on the video wall. For more information about these and other free events at the National Archives, the public may call 202-501-5000.

Additional Information on Brody Neuenschwander:

Brody Neuenschwander, a native Texan, who currently lives in Belgium is coming specially to the United States to participate in the July 4th festivities at the National Archives. Mr. Neuenschwander is a graduate of Princeton University. He earned a M.Phil. and a Ph.D. from the Courtauld Institute in London. He is currently a professor in the Typography Department of the National Academy of Fine Arts in Brussels and a free-lance calligrapher. His work has been exhibited in major galleries in Brussels, Padua, Paris, London, and The Hague. Examples of his work includes the design of the United Kingdom Christmas Millennium stamp, artwork for a series on life in the Middle Ages for Time-Life Books, presentation scrolls and citations for the U.S., British, and Belgian governments, and artwork for several Peter Greenaway films and operas.

For additional PRESS information, please contact the National Archives Public Affairs staff at (301) 837-1700 or by e-mail. Visit the National Archives Home Page on the World Wide Web at


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