Inaugural Programs and Special Display at the National Archives
Press Release · Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Washington, DC

George Washington’s First Inaugural Address and Inaugural Bible on Display

As the inauguration of the 45th President of the United States approaches, the National Archives presents a series of public programs and family activities focusing on historic presidential inaugurations, including a special display of George Washington’s first inaugural address in 1789 and the Bible upon which he swore his presidential oath.  

These programs are free and open to the public and will be held in the William G. McGowan Theater (unless otherwise noted) of the National Archives Museum in Washington, DC. Attendees should use the Special Events entrance on Constitution Avenue at 7th Street, NW.  Metro accessible on the Yellow and Green lines, Archives/Navy Memorial/Penn Quarter station. Reservations are recommended and can be made online. For those without reservations, seating is on a first-come, first-served basis. The theater doors will open 45 minutes prior to the start of the program. Late seating will not be permitted 20 minutes after the program begins.

FEATURED DOCUMENT DISPLAY: The First Presidential Inauguration: George Washington: Our Precedent-setting President
On display in the East Rotunda Gallery through January 25. Museum hours 10 a.m. until 5:30 p.m.
The first and last pages of George Washington’s handwritten inaugural address and the Washington Inaugural Bible – on loan from the St. John’s Lodge No.1, Ancient York Masons, in New York City. On April 30, 1789, George Washington placed his hand upon a Bible and took the oath as the first president of the United States. The oath was administered on a second-floor balcony of Federal Hall, above a crowd assembled in the streets to witness this historic event. The Bible used for the occasion was provided by St. John’s Lodge No. 1, Ancient York Masons. President Washington and members of Congress then retired to the Senate Chamber, where Washington delivered the first inaugural address to a joint session of Congress. Washington humbly noted the power of the nation’s call for him to serve as president and the shared responsibility of the president and Congress to preserve “the sacred fire of liberty” and a republican form of government.

The National Archives Museum’s “Featured Document” exhibit is made possible in part by the National Archives Foundation through the generous support of Ford Motor Company Fund.

Family Activities—Presidential Inaugurations
Throughout January, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Boeing Learning Center

Have you ever wanted to hear John F. Kennedy’s inauguration speech? Or see Ronald Reagan's inauguration parade? Come to the Boeing Learning Center in January and engage in hands-on activities related to presidential inaugurations.

BOOK TALK: Three Days in January: Dwight Eisenhower's Final Mission
Tuesday, January 17, at noon
Live stream on YouTube
In his debut book, political journalist Bret Baier looks at the three days between Dwight Eisenhower’s prophetic "farewell address" on the evening of January 17, 1961, and his successor John F. Kennedy’s inauguration on the afternoon of January 20. A book signing follows the program.

FILM SCREENING: Premiere of CNN film The End: The Last Days of the Obama White House
Tuesday, January 17, at 7 p.m.
In partnership with CNN Films, we present a premiere screening of a new documentary film: The End: Inside the Last Days of the Obama White House. The film offers an extraordinarily candid and intimate portrait of the people working closest to the Obamas. Viewers go inside the offices, sit in meetings, and see first-person reflections of the ambitions, achievements, heartbreak, and history of the past eight years, told through the people who have shared the Obamas’ journey. Executive produced for CNN Films by Toby Oppenheimer, Amy Entelis, Susan Chun, and Courtney Sexton. Following the screening, CNN’s Jake Tapper will moderate a panel discussion. Please note: Seating will be limited.

FILM SCREENINGS: From the Vaults: Presidential Inaugurations
Wednesday, January 18 and Thursday, 19, at noon
In celebration of the 2017 presidential inauguration, the National Archives presents a selection of archival motion pictures drawn from the holdings of the National Archives related to the ceremonial inaugural events.

Friday, January 20, at 11:30 a.m.
The President’s swearing-in ceremony will be shown live in the William G. McGowan Theater.


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For media inquiries, please contact: National Archives Public and Media Communications at (202) 357-5300 or via email at

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This page was last reviewed on January 11, 2017.
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