National Archives Celebrates Grand Opening of the McGowan Theater
Press Release · Friday, September 10, 2004

Washington, DC

Press Release
August 31, 2004


National Archives Celebrates Grand Opening of the McGowan Theater

Washington, DC. . . .The National Archives announces the grand opening of the new William G. McGowan Theater on Friday, September 10, 2004. This state-of-the-art facility is the starting point for a visit to the National Archives Experience.

Beginning September 10, all visitors will be invited to this new theater to see "Preserving the Charters of Freedom," a short film produced by Middlemarch Films for NOVA/WGBH (Boston) and PBS that explores the dramatic story of the preservation and re-encasement of the Charters of Freedom and the importance of these documents to our nation's history. In addition, the National Archives celebrates the opening of the theater with special events listed below.

The McGowan Theater will be one of the nation's leading centers for documentary film and a prominent forum for the discussion and exploration of great issues of American democracy and government. The National Archives is the world's largest repository of non-commercial film with more than 300,000 reels of motion picture film and 200,000 sound and video recording. The 290-seat McGowan Theater will showcase screenings of this rare footage, as well as a wide range of documentary film series.

The McGowan Theater is located in the National Archives Building on The National Mall, in Washington, DC. The public entrance is on Constitution Avenue, between 7th and 9th Streets, NW, and is fully accessible.

All of the events listed below are free and open to the public.

Opening events:

Friday, September 10
Women and Our Political Inheritance
7 p.m.

Panelists Dorie McCullough Lawson, Amy Schapiro, and former Congresswoman Patricia Schroeder discuss the role of women in the transmission of the "American Idea" across generations.

Saturday, September 11
Film Festival
Noon to 5 p.m.

  • The Plow that Broke the Plains (1936) & The River (1937) noon
    Two classic documentaries from the Depression Era. (60 minutes)

  • Prelude to War (1942) 2:00 p.m.
    The first in the World War II-era Why We Fight series. (54 minutes)

  • Answer to Stalin (1948) 4:00 p.m.
    March of Time newsreel describing U.S. response to Russian aggression. (20 minutes)

  • The Road to the Wall (1962)
    CBS Films uses the Berlin Wall as a focal point to trace the rise of communism

  • The March (1963) 5:00 p.m.
    The civil rights march on Washington in August 1963. (30 minutes)

  • Nine from Little Rock (1964)
    Profiles of the nine African American students who integrated Central High, Little Rock, AK, 1957. (21 minutes)

Saturday, September 11
8:30 p.m.
The Fog of War
The 2004 Academy Award-winner for best documentary feature. Directed by Errol Morris, this film is a fascinating examination of the life and career of Robert S. McNamara, who was both witness to and participant in many of the crucial events of the 20th century. (106 minutes)

Sunday, September 12
Our Founding Fathers and the Charters of Freedom
2-5:30 p.m.

Guest speakers include Walter Isaacson, author of Benjamin Franklin ; Joel Achenbach, author of The Grand Idea: George Washington's Potomac and the Race to the West; Stanley Weintraub, author of General Washington's Christmas Farewell: A Mount Vernon Homecoming, 1783 ; John Ferling, author of Adams vs. Jefferson: The Tumultuous Election of 1800 ; Joseph Ellis, author of Founding Brothers and the forthcoming His Excellency: George Washington; Richard Brookhiser, author of Gentleman Revolutionary: Gouverneur Morris, the Rake Who Wrote the Constitution; and Charles Rodenbough, author of Governor Alexander Martin: Biography of a North Carolina Revolutionary War Statesman.

Sunday, September 19,
The First Federal Congress Project: Its Mission and Impact
2-5 p.m.

Speakers include Charlene Bickford, Project Director, First Federal Congress Project; Kenneth Bowling, Co-Editor, and William diGiacomantonio, Associate Editor, Documentary History of the First Federal Congress, 1789-1791; members of the National Historic Publications and Records Commission; and Richard Baker, Senate Historian.

Sunday, September 26
The Supreme Court of the 1940s and Military Justice
2-5 p.m.

Washington, DC, Court of Appeals Judge John M. Ferren will discuss his book, Salt of the Earth, Conscience of the Court: The Story of Justice Wiley Rutledge (University of North Carolina Press, 2004). Judge Ferren will be joined by a panel of law clerks who served the Supreme Court justices in the 1940s as well as by experts on the Supreme Court's jurisprudence governing military commissions.

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The William G. McGowan Theater was made possible through the generosity of the William G. McGowan Charitable fund, a foundation established to give financial assistance to organizations and causes that reflect the vision, concerns, and lifetime experiences of telecommunications pioneer William G. McGowan.

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For press information, contact the National Archives Public Affairs staff at 202-501-5526 or 301-837-1700.


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