The National Archives to Display Executive Orders Integrating the Armed Forces and Federal Workforce For 75th Anniversary
Press Release · Friday, July 21, 2023

Washington, DC

Update: President Biden will deliver the Truman Civil Rights Symposium Keynote address on July 27. The program will now begin at 6:45 p.m. ET. Watch the livestream.

In honor of the 75th anniversary of President Truman’s Executive Orders desegregating the federal workforce and the military, the National Archives will display Executive Orders 9980 and 9981 as featured documents, from July 25 through July 31, 2023, in the National Archives Museum in Washington, DC.

The National Archives will also host the keynote address, “Freedom to Serve,” as part of the Truman Civil Rights Symposium. To watch the free livestream on July 27 at 7 pm ET, go to 

The National Archives Museum in Washington, DC, is located at 701 Constitution Avenue, NW, enter on Constitution Avenue at 9th Street, NW. Free admission and fully accessible. Museum hours are 10 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. Metro accessible on the Yellow and Green lines, Archives/Navy Memorial/Penn Quarter station. Timed ticket entry is available but not required. Reserve a ticket at

Featured Document Display
West Rotunda Gallery, National Archives Museum

Executive Orders 9980 and 9981, signed by President Truman in 1948
In 1940, President Franklin D. Roosevelt upheld segregation in the Armed Forces, believing integration would threaten military efficiency and increase racial tension. Harry S. Truman based part of his 1948 campaign for President on civil rights. After winning that election, President Truman was stymied by congressional inaction and called for a special session of Congress. 

On July 26, President Truman signed Executive Orders 9980 and 9981 ending racial segregation in the  federal workforce and in the U.S. Armed Forces. Without Congress’s blessing, the President of the United States can issue an executive order, which carries the force of law. Truman and his advisers hoped a desegregated military and workforce could be a model for the rest of American society.

A month earlier, Truman had signed the Women's Armed Services Integration Act on June 12, 1948, further codifying equality in the U.S. Armed Services. The act granted women the right to serve as permanent, regular members of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and the recently formed Air Force. In the 75 years since, more than two million women have served in our Armed Forces. 

Special Event: 
Tune in at 7:30 p.m. ET, on Thursday, July 27, and join us for the keynote address, “Freedom to Serve,” hosted at the National Archives Building as part of the Truman Civil Rights Symposium

To RSVP to the livestream, go to 

About the National Archives Museum
The National Archives Museum, created by the National Archives in partnership with the National Archives Foundation, has transformed the visitor experience at the National Archives’ Washington, DC, building, and includes the Rotunda (home to the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights), the David M. Rubenstein Gallery and its Records of Rights permanent exhibition, the award-winning Public Vaults permanent gallery, the William G. McGowan Theater, the Lawrence F. O’Brien Gallery for special exhibits, the Digital Vaults online exhibit, and the DocsTeach website. These components make the rich resources of the National Archives accessible to Americans nationwide. 

About the National Archives
The National Archives and Records Administration is an independent federal agency that serves American democracy by safeguarding and preserving the records of our Government so 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 online at

Related Online Resources

Executive Order 9980: National Archives Catalog
Executive Order 9981: National Archives Catalog
Women's Armed Services Integration Act
Blog post: Executive Order 9981: Equality in the military
Blog post: Women in the military, part one and part two 
Special Topics Page: African American history
Special Topics Page: Women’s history


This page was last reviewed on July 26, 2023.
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