Eyewitness Accounts from the National Archives Slated for National Tour
Press Release · Thursday, January 18, 2007

Washington, DC…In February 2007 the National Archives will send its acclaimed multimedia exhibition, "Eyewitness - American Originals from the National Archives," on a six-city, two-year tour. This exhibition was created by the National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, DC, and the Foundation for the National Archives. The national tour of "Eyewitness" is sponsored by The Boeing Company.

"Eyewitness," which features first-person accounts of watershed moments in history, will travel to the following venues:

  • Jimmy Carter Presidential Library, Atlanta, GA (February 2-April 29, 2007)
  • National Constitution Center, Philadelphia, PA (May 25-September 3, 2007)
  • The Ford Museum of the Gerald R. Ford Library and Museum, Grand Rapids, MI (October-December 2007)
  • Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum, Austin, TX (February-April 2008)
  • Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum, Yorba Linda, CA (June-August 2008)
  • Durham Western Heritage Museum, Omaha, NE (October-December 2008)

"Eyewitness" draws on rarely-displayed documents, audio recordings and film footage culled from the extensive holdings of the National Archives and its Presidential Libraries and Regional Archives. History books describe the slaves' fight for freedom or the liberation of concentration camps at the end of World War II, but the power of the original accounts written or recorded by players in these dramas enable visitors to be transported back in time to these events, almost as if they are experiencing them firsthand. Many of the documents come alive in the free audio tour, in which visitors hear actors speaking the words written in the documents.

These gripping, firsthand accounts are vivid and intensely personal, offering the visitor a unique view of events ranging from stunning stories of adventure to grisly tales of war:

"The King list’ned to every Word I said with Dignity but with an apparent - Emotion-whether it was the Nature of the Interview or whether it was my visible agitation, for I felt more than I did or could express, that touched him I cannot say-but he was much affected and answered me with more Tremor than I had spoken with…"
         Letter from John Adams, America’ first Minister Plenipotentiary to Britain, describing his private audience with King George III, 1785.

"…as we came to the center of the city we met a train with a wrecked engine - about fifty cars long. Every car was loaded with bodies. There must have been thousands of them - all obviously starved to death. This was a shock of the first order, and the odor can best be imagined. But neither the sight nor the odor were anything compared with what we were still to see…"
         Letter from Pfc. Harold Porter, a medic with the 116th Evacuation Hospital, to his parents, May 7, 1945, describing the horrors he encountered at the Dachau concentration camp.

"I cast one last look over my shoulder and saw in the President’s car a bundle of pink, just like a drift of blossoms, lying on the back seat. I think it was Mrs. Kennedy lying over the President’s body…"
         Transcript of Lady Bird Johnson’s audio diary describing the events of November 22, 1963.

"The vast loneliness up here of the moon is awe inspiring and it makes you realize just what you have back there on Earth. The Earth from here is a grand [oasis] to the big vastness of space."
          Jim Lovell, crew member of the Apollo 8 spacecraft, December 24, 1968

"The national tour of ‘Eyewitness’ offers Americans across the country a ring-side seat to some of the most noteworthy events in our history," said Archivist of the United States Allen Weinstein. "We are eager to share these eyewitness accounts with people in all parts of the country, and remind them that they do not need to travel to Washington, DC to take advantage of the many resources of the National Archives."

"Eyewitness" was on display at the Lawrence F. O’Brien Gallery at the National Archives Building in Washington, D.C. from June 23, 2006-January 1, 2007.

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For press information or images of the items featured in the exhibition, contact the National Archives public affairs staff at 202-357-5300.


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