AMERICAN MOSAIC #816 - Traveling Archives Exhibit

By Jerilyn Watson


Later this year, documents that tell the story of America will begin traveling around the country. The United States Constitution and other historical papers will be shown in seven cities during the next three years. Shep O'Neal has more.


The historical documents are permanent, valuable records of the United States government. They usually are kept in the National Archives, a museum and research center in Washington, D-C. The documents are being shown in Washington before they are sent around the country. This exhibit will continue until July Fourth.

One important document was shown for only four days, however. The Emancipation Proclamation is in poor condition. Time has weakened its paper and writing. It will travel with the other documents. But it will be shown for four days only in each city.

President Abraham Lincoln wrote the Emancipation Proclamation during the Civil War. It freed the slaves in the Southern states that were rebelling against the Union. Most of the black slaves had been captured in Africa. They were brought to the United States and sold to work on farms.President Lincoln made the proclamation public on January First, Eighteen-Sixty-Three.

Other documents to travel around the country are not as old as the Emancipation Proclamation. One is a statement by President Franklin Roosevelt saying World War Two had begun in Europe. His handwritten announcement says Germany invaded Poland on September First, Nineteen-Thirty-Nine.The exhibit also contains a speech prepared for President Richard Nixon in July, Nineteen-Sixty-Nine. A speech writer wrote it two days before American astronauts landed on the moon. President Nixon was to read the speech if the astronauts never returned. But they landed on the moon and returned safely to Earth. President Nixon was able to make a very different speech.

The National Archives exhibit will be shown first in New York City starting in October. It will then travel to museums and historical centers in Ohio, Georgia, Missouri, Texas, California and Connecticut. During the three years it is traveling, workers in Washington will be repairing the National Archives building. They will clean the wall paintings, improve the safety devices that protect the documents and build a new historical research center.

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