2014 Press Releases

National Archives Continues February Celebration of Black History Month
Press Release · Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Washington, DC

Special display of the original Emancipation Proclamation February 15–17
Special display of 12 Years a Slave Manifest February 21–March 30

The National Archives continues its celebration of Black History Month with two featured document displays: the original Emancipation Proclamation, February 15-17; 12 Years a Slave: The Kidnapping Record of Solomon Northup, February 21-March 30; related programs, and a new Civil Rights-themed exhibit. All are free and open to the public.

The National Archives Building in Washington, DC, is located on Constitution Avenue at 9th Street, NW. The building is open 10 AM —5:30 PM daily, and is fully accessible. Metro: Yellow or Green lines, Archives/Navy Memorial station.

Featured Document Display: Original Emancipation Proclamation

February 15–17, 2014, David M. Rubenstein "Records of Rights" permanent exhibit
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. The Emancipation Proclamation is displayed only for a limited time because of its fragility, which can be made worse by exposure to light, and the need to preserve it for future generations.

Related Emancipation Proclamation Family Days February 15 and 17

National Archives Boeing Learning Center, 10 AM–3 PM
Free, interactive Emancipation Proclamation Family Days will take place in the Boeing Learning Center on Saturday, February 15, and Monday, February 17. Free Emancipation Proclamation coloring books will be given out while supplies last.

Featured Document Display: 12 Years a Slave: The Kidnapping Record of Solomon Northup

February 21 - March 30, 2014, Rotunda Gallery
From the birth of the American republic to the abolition of slavery, kidnapping for sale into slavery was a constant threat to free black people in the United States. In 1841, Solomon Northup, a free-born African American from New York, was kidnapped by two white men and enslaved for 12 years in the deep South before he could prove his legal right to freedom. However, his liberation from bondage was exceptional–most enslaved free blacks never regained their freedom.

Kidnappers gave their victims aliases to hide their true identities. In his personal narrative, 12 Years a Slave, Solomon Northup recounts that he first heard the name he would be known by as a slave, "Plat Hamilton," in New Orleans when it was called from this slave manifest of the brig Orleans, April 27, 1841.

Related National Archives’ staff connection to Solomon Northup!

The National Archives’ Pieces of History blog details a National Archives staff connection to Solomon Northup. Read this fascinating account at http://blogs.archives.gov/prologue/?p=13029

Black History Month Book Talks

These book talks will be held in the William G. McGowan Theater, and book signings will follow. To verify the date and times of the programs, call the National Archives Public Programs Line at: 202 357-5000, or view the Calendar of Events online.

Wednesday, February 12, at 7 P.M.
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.

Wednesday, February 19, at noon
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.

New David M. Rubenstein "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.

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

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