2014 Press Releases

National Archives to Display Original Emancipation Proclamation February 15-17
Press Release · Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Washington, DC

Special display celebrates Black History Month and new Records of Rights exhibit

The National Archives celebrates Black History Month with a free special display of the original Emancipation Proclamation from February 15–17, 2014, 10 AM–5:30 PM, and related programs throughout the month. The display will be in the new David M. Rubenstein "Records of Rights" permanent exhibit in the National Archives Building in Washington, DC, on Constitution Avenue at 9th Street, NW. 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.

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.

Related programs for Black History Month

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.

Wednesday, February 5, at 7 p.m., William G. McGowan Theater
The Trials of Muhammad Ali
This unconventional sports documentary (2013; 94 minutes) investigates the extraordinary and complex life of Muhammad Ali outside the boxing ring. From joining the controversial Nation of Islam and changing his name from Cassius Clay to Muhammad Ali to refusing to serve in the Vietnam War in the name of protesting racial inequality to continuing his global humanitarian work, Muhammad Ali remains an inspiring and controversial figure. The film’s director, Bill Siegel, will introduce the film and answer audience questions.

Wednesday, February 12, at 7 p.m., William G. McGowan Theater
The Gettysburg Story
Join us on the birthday of President Abraham Lincoln for a special screening of filmmaker Jake Boritt’s monumental work, The Gettysburg Story (2013, 60 min). Aerial cinematography, motion-control time lapse, and 3-D animated maps bring the stories of Lincoln, Lee, Meade, and others to a new generation. The Gettysburg Story is narrated by actor Stephen Lang (Gettysburg, Gods & Generals). The evening will also include a screening of The Wheatfield, a short film written and performed by Lang, which provides the poignantly stirring tale of the Battle of Gettysburg centered through the eyes of an aged Union Soldier. Following the screening will be a discussion with Boritt, Lang, and Civil War scholar Gabor Boritt. A book signing will follow the program.

Thursday, February 13, at 11 a.m., Jefferson Conference Room
The Dawn of Freedom: Researching of Records of the Freedmen’s Bureau
Retired archivist Reginald Washington discusses the importance, availability, and research strategies of the Freedmen’s Bureau records for African American genealogical research.

Wednesday, February 19, at noon, William G. McGowan Theater
Slavery’s Exiles: The Story of the American Maroons
Sylviane Diouf, Curator of Digital Collections, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture discusses the lives of "maroons"–men, women, and children who escaped from slavery and made the Southern wilderness their home. They lived alone or in communities, hiding in the mountains of Virginia and the low swamps of South Carolina. Diouf discusses how the American maroons reinvented themselves, defied slave society, and enforced their own definition of freedom. A book signing follows the program.

About the related new permanent "Records of Rights" Exhibit

The new permanent exhibit at the National Archives, "Records of Rights," uses original documents, photographs, facsimiles, videos, and interactive exhibits to explore how Americans have worked to realize the ideals of freedom enshrined in our nation’s founding documents and how they have debated issues such as citizenship, free speech, voting rights, and equal opportunity. Exploring many stories—and showcasing the drive for civil rights for African Americans, women, and immigrants–the new exhibition chronicles the past and current generations whose efforts to secure equality under the law have shaped the country we live in today.

The National Archives is fully accessible. To verify the date and times of the programs, call 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.

Related Emancipation Proclamation eBook

The National Archives’ "The Meaning and Making of Emancipation" 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 [https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/meaning-making-emancipation/id587569455].

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 [www.archives.gov/publications/ebooks/]. 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 [www.scribd.com/doc/117165086/The-Meaning-and-Making-of-Emancipation].

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

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

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