White House Announces Initiatives on Teaching American History and Civics
Press Release · Tuesday, September 17, 2002

Washington, DC

At a White House Rose Garden ceremony this morning, marking the 215th anniversary of the signing of the United States Constitution, President George W. Bush announced three major initiatives to promote the teaching of history in American schools, including the launch of Our Documents.

President Bush described Our Documents as "an innovative project that will be run by the National Archives and the National History Day. This project will use the Internet to bring one hundred of America's most important documents from the National Archives to classrooms and communities across the country, provide lesson plans, and to foster competitions and discussions about these defining moments in our history."

This initiative, created by the National Archives and National History Day in collaboration with the Corporation for National and Community Service and the USA Freedom Corps, will promote public understanding of the importance of rights and responsibilities in our democratic society. Such an exploration of the nation's civic legacy will encourage national reflection on the meanings of citizenship in a democratic society.

Following the ceremony, Archivist John Carlin said, "I am very proud that the National Archives can be a part of this important initiative. I believe that this program will encourage every American to engage in a dialogue about what it means to be a citizen. To understand the foundations on which our nation is built is crucial to participating in our democracy in a meaningful way."

Our Documents revolves around 100 milestone documents, drawn primarily from the holdings of the National Archives and Records Administration, that have shaped the course of American history. These national treasures reflect the diversity of America, its unity, and the commitment of this nation to continue the work of forming "a more perfect union."

Highlights of the Our Documents initiative include:

  • A project web site featuring three new documents each week;
  • A national vote on the ten most significant documents in American history that will be launched next year;
  • A sourcebook assisting teachers in using Our Documents in their classrooms;
  • A student competition to engage young people in an exploration of their nation's history;
  • A teacher competition to encourage educators to develop lessons incorporating the milestone documents in classroom teaching.

For more information about Our Documents, visit or contact the National Archives Public Affairs staff at 301-837-1700. For copies of the President's remarks or for more information on the initiatives announced today, go to


This page was last reviewed on August 16, 2018.
Contact us with questions or comments.