National Archives to Display Original Emancipation Proclamation for 150th Anniversary
Press Release · Friday, December 21, 2012

Special viewing hours December 30, 2012, through January 1, 2013, special programs year–long

Washington, DC…The National Archives will celebrate the 150th Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation with a free special display of the original document from December 30, 2012 through January 1, 2013, and special programs throughout the year. These events will be held at the National Archives Building in Washington, DC, on Constitution Avenue at 9th Street, NW. The building is Metro accessible on the Yellow and Green lines, Archives/Navy Memorial/Penn Quarter station. The 150th anniversary celebration of the Emancipation Proclamation is presented in part by the Verizon Foundation.


Refer to Caption Former Slave, Sally Fickland Views the Emancipation Proclamation, 1947

Viewing schedule for the original Emancipation Proclamation

East Rotunda Gallery
Sunday, December 30, 2012 - 10 a.m. –5 p.m.
Monday, December 31, 2012 - 10 a.m. – 1 a.m.
Tuesday, January 1, 2013 - 10 a.m.–5 p.m.

The Emancipation Proclamation is displayed only for a limited time each year because of its fragility, which can be made worse by exposure to light, and the need to preserve it for future generations.

Watch Night Festivities, Monday, December 31, 2012
11:30 p.m. – Performance by Washington Revels Heritage Voices
Midnight – Bell ringing by Harriet Tubman, portrayed by historical re-enactor

Emancipation Proclamation Reading, Tuesday, January 1, 2013 at 9 a.m.
The first hundred guests in line at the main museum entrance at Constitution and 9th Street, NW, by 8:15 a.m. are invited to enter the building to experience the dramatic reading of the Emancipation Proclamation by Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon, musician, song talker, and scholar.

Family Day Programming, Tuesday, January 1, 2013, 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Hands-on family activities
Storyteller Bill Grimmett portrays Frederick Douglass in “Tales of My Friend Mr. Lincoln”
Historical re-enactors will portray Harriet Tubman, Abraham Lincoln and Rosa Parks.

Related programs for the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation

These programs will be held in the William G. McGowan Theater, which is fully accessible. All programs are free and open to the public. Book signings will follow each book talk.

Friday, December 14, at noon
Lincoln’s Hundred Days: The Emancipation Proclamation and the War for the Union
Professor and author Louis P. Masur tells the story of the critical period between September 22, 1862, when Lincoln issued his preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, and January 1, 1863, when he signed the final altered decree. During those hundred days, Lincoln struggled to lead a nation through a war as he debated with foes and worked to meet the expectations of millions of enslaved peoples.

Wednesday, December 19, at noon
The Fire of Freedom: Abraham Galloway and the Slaves’ Civil War
Abraham Galloway was an abolitionist and Union spy who rose out of bondage to become one of the most significant black leaders in the South during the Civil War. Historian David Cecelski discusses the life of Galloway, who led a delegation of black southerners to the White House to meet with President Lincoln to demand the full rights of citizenship. This program is presented in partnership with the National Archives Afro-American History Society.

Thursday, January 10, 2013, at noon
Martin’s Dream: My Journey and the Legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr.
In this candid, thought-provoking, and absorbing memoir, Dr. Clayborne Carson, editor of the King Papers, recounts his decades-long quest to preserve King’s great legacy and to understand King’s “dream.” Taking the reader on a journey of rediscovery, he reveals little-known aspects of Dr. King and shows how our image of him has evolved over generations.

Friday, January 11, 2013, at noon
Envisioning Emancipation: Black Americans and the End of Slavery
The Emancipation Proclamation is one of the most important documents in American history, but what do we really know about those who experienced slavery? Historians Deborah Willis and Barbara Krauthamer discuss the seismic impact of emancipation on African Americans born before and after the Proclamation and through the use of photographs ranging from the 1850s through the 1930s, illustrate what freedom looked like for black Americans in the Civil War era.

Thursday, January 24, 2013, at 7 p.m.
Freedom National: The Destruction of Slavery in the United States, 1861-1865
A distinguished panel argues that for Lincoln and the Republicans in Congress, the two aims of restoring the Union and ending slavery, were intertwined from the very start of the Civil War. Moderated by Annette Gordon Reed, Pulitzer Prize-winning author and Professor of Law and History at Harvard University, panelists include James McPherson, Professor of History Emeritus, Princeton University, and author of Battle Cry of Freedom; Eric Foner, Professor of History, Columbia University and author of The Firey Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery; Edward Ayers, President, University of Richmond and author of America's War: Talking About the Civil War and Emancipation on Their 150th Anniversaries, and James Oaks, Professor of History, City University of New York and author of Freedom National.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013, at noon
A Declaration of Freedom: Lincoln, the Emancipation Proclamation and its Legacy of Liberty
A panel discussion on Lincoln, the Emancipation Proclamation, its meaning to newly freed slaves, and the Proclamation’s legacy in American history features speakers Greg Carr, chair of the Afro-American Studies Department at Howard University; Kenvi Phillips, historian for the Black History Program of the Maryland–National Capital Park and Planning Commission, and Abraham Lincoln scholar John O’Brien. Presented by the National Archives Afro-American History Society.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013, at 7 p.m.
A Whisper to a Roar
A Whisper to a Roar, a film funded by the Moulay Hicham Foundation, tells the heroic stories of democracy activists in five countries—Egypt, Malaysia, Ukraine, Venezuela, and Zimbabwe. (2012; 94 minutes) Following the screening, there will be Q&A with Larry Diamond, Director of Stanford University’s Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law, whose books and lifework inspired the film, and the film’s writer/producer/director Ben Moses, creator and co-producer of the 1987 feature film Good Morning, Vietnam. Presented by the Charles Guggenheim Center for Documentary Film in partnership with the National Endowment for Democracy.

Related Emancipation Proclamation ebook

The National Archives has released "The Meaning and Making of Emancipation," an eBook that places the Emancipation Proclamation in its social and political context by presenting related documents from the National Archives' holdings. This eBook is available for free for multiple devices. The interactive Multi-Touch book for iPad is available for download on your computer with iTunes, or on your iPad with iBooks. Visit

For Android phone, Android tablet, iPhone, iPad, Nook, SONY Reader, other mobile device or eReader, or PC or Mac, download “The Meaning and Making of Emancipation” ePub file from Open the ePub file with an eReader app on your phone or tablet, your eReader device, or an online ePub reader for your Mac or PC.
The eBook is also available on Scribd at Excerpts online at .

The National Archives Building is Metro accessible on Yellow or Green lines, Archives/Navy Memorial station. To verify the date and times of the program, call the National Archives Public Programs Line at: 202 357-5000, or view the Calendar of Events online.

The Emancipation Proclamation was issued by President Abraham Lincoln on January 1, 1863, during the American Civil War, formally proclaiming the freedom of all slaves held in areas still in revolt. The issuance of this Proclamation clarified and strengthened the position of the Union government, decreased the likelihood of European support of the Confederacy and, as the Union armies extended their occupation of the southern states, brought freedom to the slaves in those states. The Proclamation invited black men to join the Union Army and Navy, resulting in the enlistment of approximately 200,000 freed slaves and free black people before the War's end.

Although the Emancipation Proclamation did not end slavery in the nation, it placed the issue squarely on top of the wartime agenda. It added moral force to the Union cause and was a significant milestone leading to the ratification of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution in 1865, formally outlawing slavery throughout the nation. The Emancipation Proclamation linked the preservation of American constitutional government to the end of slavery, and has become one of our country’s most treasured documents.

The National Archives and Records Administration is an independent Federal agency that serves American democracy by safeguarding and preserving the records of our Government, ensuring that the people can discover, use, and learn from this documentary heritage. The National Archives ensures continuing access to the essential documentation of the rights of American citizens and the actions of their government. 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 agency supports democracy, promotes civic education, and facilitates historical understanding of our national experience. The National Archives carries out its mission through a nationwide network of archives, records centers, and Presidential Libraries, and on the Internet at

The Foundation for the National Archives is an independent nonprofit that serves as the National Archives’ private-sector partner in the creation of and ongoing support of the National Archives Experience, which includes permanent exhibits, educational programs, traveling exhibits, special events and film screenings, and historical/records-related products, publications, and media. The Foundation helps the public understand the importance of the holdings of the National Archives by presenting the depth and diversity of the records through award-winning, interactive educational exhibits and programs. It generates financial and creative support for the National Archives Experience from individuals, foundations, and corporations who share a belief in the importance of innovative civics education. In addition, the Foundation has taken the Archives nationwide through online initiatives such as the Digital Vaults online exhibit and DocsTeach, a web-based educational resource. These components make the rich resources of the National Archives accessible to Americans nationwide.

The Host Committee for the National Archives’ Emancipation Proclamation 150th Anniversary Commemoration is a distinguished group of civic and community leaders, historians, authors, journalists, and celebrities drawn together by their love of history and their dedication to assisting the National Archives and its Foundation in increasing awareness of the important work of our nation’s official record keeper. Chaired by civil rights leader and Congressman John Lewis, the honorary Host Committee also includes such notables as NBC News Special Correspondent Tom Brokaw; National Museum of African American History and Culture Director Lonnie Bunch, “The Civil War” Director Ken Burns; Libby O’Connell of the History Channel; Harvard University President Drew Gilpin Faust; actor Morgan Freeman; Henry Louis Gates, director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research; House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi; and Alfre Woodard of the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities. Many members of the Host Committee will participate in related National Archives public programs in December 2012, and throughout 2013.

For information on National Archives public programs, call 202-357-5000, or view the Calendar of Events online.


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This page was last reviewed on March 7, 2019.
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