The National Archives Presents Its First Signature Film Online
Press Release · Wednesday, January 4, 2006

“Democracy Starts Here ”

Washington, DC. . . For the first time, the National Archives Experience new signature film Democracy Starts Here is viewable online at

The eleven-minute film features personal stories that reveal how the records of the National Archives make a difference in the lives of real people. A researcher discovers the important impact her great-grandfather, a school teacher born in 1817, had on African-Americans voting in Louisiana. Thousands of Holocaust survivors received some restitution 60 years after World War II following a discovery of records at the Archives by a researcher. A young inventor who secured a patent for in-line skates recounts his search through the patent records. Through these personal stories and rare footage, the signature film shows how the preservation of our country's records protects the rights of American citizens, documents the actions of the government, and helps shape the evolving national experience.

Produced by the Discovery Channel as a gift from Discovery Communications to the National Archives Experience, Democracy Starts Here combines innovative editing techniques with state-of-the-art technology and poignant interviews to bring alive the stories found among the documents of the National Archives.

In addition to the more familiar parchment and paper, the Archives holds 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 recordings. Democracy Starts Here features some of this rare footage, photographs, and sound recordings that serve as an introduction to the National Archives Experience by revealing how the records and holdings of the Archives touch the lives of ordinary Americans.

"Understanding our records is key to understanding our history," stated Allen Weinstein, Archivist of the United States, in announcing the Internet unveiling of the new film. "As custodians of America's national memory, the National Archives is grateful for the generous support of both the Foundation for the National Archives and Discovery Communications in making Democracy Starts Here, which truly deepens the public’s understanding of all that we hold at the National Archives."

Democracy Starts Here is also shown daily every 20 minutes from 10:30 AM to 4 PM in the William G. McGowan Theater of the National Archives Building located at Constitution and 9th Street NW. (Occasional special day-time programs may pre-empt the showing of the film. The public may call 202-357-5000 for exact listings.)

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For press information, contact the National Archives Public Affairs Staff at 202-357-5300.


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