National Archives Shares Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation in NY September 21-24
Press Release · Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Display marks sesquicentennial of Abraham Lincoln’s Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation

Washington, DC…To mark the sesquicentennial of Abraham Lincoln’s Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, two original versions of President Abraham Lincoln’s momentous Proclamation will be displayed together for the first time. This historic showing at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in New York on September 21–24 is part of the New York State Museum’s traveling exhibition “The First Step to Freedom: Abraham Lincoln’s Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation.”

Lincoln’s handwritten Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation (from the New York State Library) along with the U.S. Government’s official signed version of the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation (from the National Archives) will be on rare display. These historic documents will be shown alongside Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s manuscript of the speech he delivered at the New York Civil War Centennial Commission’s Emancipation Proclamation Observance on September 12, 1962. This manuscript is also from the New York State Library. The New York State Museum and the New York State Library are divisions of the New York State Education Department.

The Schomburg Center is located at 515 Malcolm X Boulevard, in New York City. For free timed reservations [] or call 212-491-2207.

Exhibition hours are:
Friday, September 21:             12 – 8 pm
Saturday, September 22:         10 am – 4 pm
Sunday, September 23:           10 am – 8 pm
Monday, September 24:          12 ­– 8 pm

“As a milestone on the path to slavery's final abolishment, the Emancipation Proclamation has assumed a place among the great documents of human freedom.  We are honored to share this official Preliminary Proclamation in the ‘First Step to Freedom’ celebration,” said Archivist of the United States David S. Ferriero.

“This 150th anniversary exhibition presents a very special occasion to bear witness to a transformative moment in American History,” said Schomburg Center Director Dr. Khalil Muhammad. “The Schomburg Center is proud to be the first stop on the ‘First Step to Freedom’ tour. As the premiere institution for all things relating to Black history and culture, the Schomburg Center is honored to house these foundational documents for all of New York City to see.”

“Fifty years ago, at the centennial anniversary of its signing, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke of the importance of the Emancipation Proclamation,” State Education Commissioner John B. King, Jr. said. “He argued that the Emancipation Proclamation proved government could be a powerful force for social justice, but the promise of equality remained unfulfilled. And today, as we celebrate the 150th anniversary, the Proclamation is an important reminder that America is still a work in progress.”

About the official Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation from the National Archives
This ribbon-bound document represents the transformation of the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation from intent to action. Only after Lincoln’s handwritten draft was transcribed, affixed with the Seal of the United States, and signed by the President on September 22, 1862, did the Proclamation carry the force of law. The official Emancipation Proclamation signed by Lincoln on January 1, 1863, is also held by the National Archives.

Original Emancipation Proclamation to be displayed in Washington Dec. 30, 2012 – Jan.1, 2013
The National Archives commemorates the 150th Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation with a free rare display of the original document from December 30, 2012, through January 1, 2013. The document will be on display in the East Rotunda Gallery of the National Archives Building in Washington, DC, located on Constitution Avenue at 9th St., NW. This is the original Emancipation Proclamation, which was affixed with the Great Seal of the United States and Lincoln’s signature on January 1, 1863. For display schedule and related programs and events, view the Calendar of Events online at

The National Archives and Records Administration is an independent Federal agency that preserves and shares with the public records that trace the story of our nation, government, and the American people. From the Declaration of Independence to accounts of ordinary Americans, the holdings of the National Archives directly touch the lives of millions of people. The National Archives carries out its mission through a nationwide network of archives, records centers, and Presidential Libraries, and online at

The National Archives at New York City is an integral part of the tri-state area's internationally renowned network of research and cultural institutions. Holdings consist of Federal records from New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture is a research unit of The New York Public Library. For over 80 years the Center has collected, preserved, and provided access to materials documenting Black life, and promoted the study and interpretation of the history and culture of peoples of African descent. Educational and Cultural Programs at the Schomburg Center complement its research services and interpret its collections. Seminars, forums, workshops, staged readings, film screenings, performing arts programs, and special events are presented year-round. More information about Schomburg’s collections and programs can be found at

The New York Public Library provides free and open access to its physical and electronic collections and information, as well as to its services. Eighty-seven branch libraries provide access to circulating collections and a wide range of other services in neighborhoods throughout the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island. Research and circulating collections combined total more than 50 million items. The New York Public Library serves more than 18 million patrons who come through its doors annually and millions more around the globe who use its resources at

The New York State Museum offers direct services to the public including permanent and temporary exhibit programs, a full slate of 200 public programs a year, educational programs for school-aged children and direct access to collections for researchers and other interested parties. The Museum’s collections include over 12 million specimens and artifacts that reflect over 170 years of research in the earth sciences, biology, and human history.

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

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