Press Release
Press Release · Monday, October 1, 2001

Press Release
October 1, 2001

National Archives Exhibition Opens at the New York Public Library

Washington, D.C. … On Friday, October 5, the new National Archives traveling exhibition "American Originals" opens at The New York Public Library at Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street in New York City. This opening marks the beginning of a three-year effort by the National Archives and Records Administration to share some of the rarely-seen jewels of its collection with the American people. New York is the first venue for this major exhibition, which is scheduled to travel to eight cities, including New York, during the next three years.

In conjunction with "American Originals," there will be a special display of the original, signed Emancipation Proclamation. This landmark document will be on display at The New York Public Library from Friday, November 16 through Monday, November 19. It will also be on special display for four days at each of the other venues.

"American Originals" showcases original documents that have charted the course of American history. The exhibition is drawn from the vast holdings of the National Archives, which preserves and makes available to the public those records of the United States government that have been identified as having permanent value. These original documents are the raw stuff of history. They are physical links to the past - pieces of history in its most unprocessed form. While some of the documents announce their own importance with flourished signatures and wax seals, others are deceptively routine in appearance. All of them have passed through the hands of the most notable figures in our nation's history, and hold messages beyond their years.

In addition to the Emancipation Proclamation, some of the highlights of "American Originals" at The New York Public Library include:

  • Official voting record of the 1787 Continental Convention;
  • Louisiana Purchase Treaty, signed by Robert Livingston and James Monroe in Paris, April 30, 1803;
  • Deed of Gift of the Statue of Liberty, July 4, 1884;*
  • John F. Kennedy's handwritten draft of his inaugural address, January 17, 1961.
    * Document will be exhibited only in New York.

"'American Originals' gives us an invaluable opportunity to share our nation's rich historical resources with Americans around the country. The traveling exhibition is scheduled to coincide with an extensive renovation of the National Archives Building in Washington, D.C. When we reopen the Rotunda in 2003, the Charters of Freedom will be more accessible to all Americans and our renovated building will have better public areas to showcase our nation's documentary heritage," said John Carlin, Archivist of the United States.

"American Originals" will be on display from October 5, 2001, through January 5, 2002, at The New York Public Library's Humanities and Social Sciences Library at Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street in New York City in the D. Samuel and Jeane H. Gottesman Exhibition Hall. In conjunction with "American Originals," the Library will present a complementary exhibition, "The Public's Treasures: Americana from The New York Public Library," in the Edna Barnes Salomon Room from September 7, 2001, through January 26, 2002. Exhibition hours are Monday and Thursday through Saturday from 10 A.M. to 6 P.M.; Tuesday and Wednesday from 11 A.M. to 7:30 P.M.; closed Sundays (except November 18, 2001, 11 A.M. to 5 P.M.), and national holidays. Admission is free. For more information about this and other exhibitions at The New York Public Library, the public may call 212-869-8089 or visit the Library's website at

In addition to the display at The New York Public Library, "American Originals" is currently scheduled to travel to the following locations:

  • Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, Chicago, Ill. (Feb. 8, 2001-April 28, 2002);
  • Ohio Historical Society, Columbus, Ohio (May 24-Sept. 2, 2002);
  • Jimmy Carter Presidential Library, Atlanta, Ga. (Sept. 27, 2002-Jan. 5, 2003);
  • Union Station Kansas City, Kansas City, Mo. (Jan. 31-May 4, 2003);
  • Witte Museum, San Antonio, Tex. (May 31-Sept. 1, 2003);
  • Los Angeles Public Library, Los Angeles, Calif. (Oct. 4, 2003-Jan. 4, 2004); and
  • Old State House, Hartford, Conn. (Jan. 30-May 9, 2004)

Support for this exhibition at The New York Public Library has been provided by The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History.

Corporate support in New York has been provided by Bank of America logo

Support for The New York Public Library's Exhibitions Program has been provided by the Pinewood Foundation and by Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III.

For additional information on the traveling exhibition, contact the National Archives public affairs staff at 301-837-1700. For additional information on the exhibition at The New York Public Library, contact Sabina Potaczek and Herb Scher at 212-221-7676.


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