National Archives To Display Emancipation Proclamation and ‘Juneteenth’ General Order No. 3, June 17–19
Press Release · Thursday, June 1, 2023

Washington, DC

From June 17 to 19, 2023, the National Archives Museum will display the original Emancipation Proclamation and General Order No. 3. Timed ticket entry is available but not required. Reserve a ticket at The National Archives will host a special Juneteenth Family Day on Saturday, June 17, from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Related programs include author book talks and a panel discussion with a musical performance.  

The National Archives Museum in Washington, DC, is located on Constitution Avenue at 9th Street, NW. The Museum will be open for special extended hours of 10 a.m.–7 p.m. for the Juneteenth weekend, June 17, 18, and 19. Free admission and fully accessible. Metro: Yellow or Green lines, Archives/Navy Memorial station. Reserve timed entry tickets on

Programs and the Emancipation Proclamation and General Order No. 3 Featured Document Presentation are made possible in part by the National Archives Foundation through the generous support of The Boeing Company.

Featured Document Display: The original Emancipation Proclamation
East Rotunda Gallery
President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, as the nation approached the third year of the Civil War. Lincoln’s proclamation, which declared “that all persons held as slaves” within the rebellious states “are, and henceforward shall be free,” was “a fit and necessary war measure for suppressing rebellion.” The Proclamation also declared the acceptance of Black men into military service. By the war’s end, almost 200,000 Black soldiers and sailors had fought for the Union and freedom. 

Despite its expansive wording, the Emancipation Proclamation was limited. The freedom it promised was dependent upon a Union victory in the war. It also only applied in 10 Confederate states, leaving more than half a million men, women, and children in bondage in parts of the Confederacy already under Northern control and in the loyal border states.

Nevertheless, the Emancipation Proclamation promised freedom and a new beginning for several million Americans and fundamentally transformed the character of the war. It recognized the moral force behind the Union cause and strengthened the Union both militarily and politically. As a milestone along the road to chattel slavery’s final destruction, the Emancipation Proclamation has assumed a place among the great documents of the nation.

Related Featured Document Display: ‘Juneteenth’ General Order No. 3
West Rotunda Gallery
The freedom promised in the Emancipation Proclamation was finally delivered to 250,000 people who remained enslaved in Texas two and a half years after President Lincoln’s historic proclamation and two months after Union victory in the Civil War. On June 19, 1865, U.S. Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger issued General Order No. 3, which informed the people of Texas that all enslaved persons in the state were now free. This day has come to be known as Juneteenth, a combination of June and 19th. It is also called Freedom Day or Emancipation Day, and it is the oldest known celebration commemorating the end of slavery in the United States.

Emancipation, however, was not a singular event in United States history. There were many emancipation days as enslaved people obtained their freedom in the decades spanning American independence through the Civil War. They were an important element of the abolition movement, which fought to end chattel slavery and liberate the millions held in bondage across the country. That goal was not fully realized until December 6, 1865, when the requisite number of states ratified the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, legally ending slavery in the United States. 

While Juneteenth has been formally celebrated primarily by people in African American communities in Texas, nearly all states and the District of Columbia recognize Juneteenth as an official state holiday or observance. On June 17, 2021, President Joe Biden signed a bill into law establishing Juneteenth as a federal holiday. 

Related Programs

(In Person Only) Juneteenth Family Day
Saturday, June 17, from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Boeing Learning Center, National Archives Museum  

Free, no registration required
Celebrate Juneteenth—the annual holiday commemorating the end of legal slavery in the United States—with family-friendly art-making and activities in the Boeing Learning Center. Come see the official handwritten General Order No. 3 and learn about Arlington’s Freedman’s Village with educators from the National Archives Museum and Arlington National Cemetery. All ages are welcome! 

(Online only) Symbols of Freedom: Slavery and Resistance Before the Civil War
Thursday, June 15, at 1:30 p.m. ET
Register to attend online; watch on the
National Archives YouTube Channel
Author Matthew J. Clavin will discuss how American symbols inspired enslaved people and their allies to fight for freedom. In the early United States, anthems, flags, holidays, monuments, and memorials were powerful symbols of an American identity that helped unify a divided people. Symbols of Freedom is the surprising story of how enslaved people and their allies drew inspiration from the language and symbols of American freedom. Interpreting patriotic words, phrases, and iconography literally, they embraced a revolutionary nationalism that not only justified but generated open opposition. Joining the author in discussion will be Martha S. Jones, Professor of History, Johns Hopkins University.

(Online only) Vigilance: The Life of William Still, Father of the Underground Railroad 
Wednesday, June 21, at 1 p.m. ET
Register to attend online; watch on the National Archives YouTube Channel

Author Andrew K. Diemer will discuss the remarkable and inspiring story of William Still, an unknown abolitionist who dedicated his life to managing a critical section of the Underground Railroad in Philadelphia, helping hundreds of people escape from slavery. As a conductor for the Underground Railroad, Still helped as many as 800 people escape enslavement. He also meticulously collected the letters, biographical sketches, arrival memos, and ransom notes of the escapees, and authored The Underground Railroad Records, an archive of primary documents that trace the narrative of what had been described as one of the most successful campaigns in American history. Diemer captures the full range and accomplishments of Still’s life, from his resistance to Fugitive Slave Laws and his relationship with John Brown before the war, to his long career fighting for citizenship rights and desegregation until the early 20th century. 

Related Online Resources


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This page was last reviewed on June 15, 2023.
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