Featured Document Exhibit at the East Rotunda Gallery

Featured Document Exhibit

The National Archives Museum’s “Featured Documents” exhibit is made possible in part by the National Archives Foundation.

Currently on Exhibit in the East Rotunda Gallery
March 3, 2016 - April 27, 2016

The Civil Rights Act of 1866

The Civil Rights Act of 1866 survived President Andrew Johnson’s veto and was voted into law by a two-thirds majority in both houses of Congress. It was the first attempt at civil rights legislation after the 13th Amendment abolished slavery. Its landmark language attempted to put African Americans on equal footing with whites and paved the way for the 14th Amendment.

After the destruction of the Civil War, some believed Congress was warranted on trying to remove the marks left behind by slavery. The act conveyed the ideals of the Radical Republicans, who saw the end of the Civil War as an opportunity to create an egalitarian society. Opponents argued that this was an unprecedented and unwanted intrusion into local government by the Federal Government.
East Rotunda Gallery, March 3 - April 27, 2016

The Civil Rights Act of 1866
"An Act to protect all Persons in the United States in their Civil Rights, and furnish the Means of their vindication," April 9, 1866
National Archives, General Records of the U.S. Government

 


Upcoming Featured Documents

Harvey Milk's letter to President Carter

In 1978, San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk wrote to President Carter asking for his support in defeating  a ballot proposition that would have banned gay men and lesbians from working in California school districts. Milk’s letter and a portion of a speech he gave will be on display
East Rotunda Gallery, April 28 - June 29, 2016

The Civil Rights Act of 1866
Letter from Harvey Milk from the holdings of the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library

 


Previous Featured Documents

The Tuskegee Airmen: Fighting on Two Fronts

On January 16, 1941, the War Department announced it was creating the nation’s first African American fighter squadron that would train at a new airfield in Tuskegee, Alabama. After graduation from flight school, these pilots—along with their support personnel and later training classes—formed the nation’s first African American fighter unit, whose members became known as Tuskegee Airmen. The Airmen fought for freedom on two fronts: against Nazism in Europe and against discrimination at home. On view are a flight report from a mission flown in support of the Anzio, Italy invasion and a petition sent to the War Department by officers protesting discriminatory practices in the Army Air Forces.
East Rotunda Gallery, January 7, 2016 – March 2, 2016

Sortie Report
“Sortie Report” from an air mission flown by the 99th Fighter Squadron over Italy, January 28, 1944
National Archives, Records of the Army Air Forces

 


California’s Certificate of Ratification of the 13th Amendment

On January 31, 1865, Congress approved a resolution proposing an amendment abolishing slavery and sent it to the states for approval. At that time, approximately 200 to 300 enslaved Africans were in the technically “free” state of California. Many worked on gold claims of white southern slave owners. Slavery was formally abolished in California and the rest of the United States when the 13th Amendment was ratified On December 18, 1865.
East Rotunda Gallery, December 3 2015 - January 6, 2016

 


Coca-Cola Bottle and Patent

Today the Coca-Cola bottle is one of the most recognizable containers in the world, but until the Coca-Cola Company launched a competition to design a distinctive bottle in 1915, nearly all soft drink bottles looked the same. The design patent of the winning bottle design and an original contoured "Coke" bottle will be on display.
East Rotunda Gallery, October 29 - December 2, 2015

Design patent No. 48,160 for bottle or similar article, November 16, 1915.
Design patent No. 48,160 for bottle or similar article, November 16, 1915.
National Archives, Records of the Patent and Trademark Office

The National Archives Museum’s “Special East Rotunda Gallery Exhibition” is made possible in part by the National Archives Foundation through the generous support of The Coca-Cola Company.

 


Instrument of Surrender Marks the End of World War II

Seventy years ago this September, Japanese representatives signed the official Instrument of Surrender, thus formally ending the Second World War. Both pages of the original will be on view from August 27 through September 3. From September 4 through October 28, the original first page will be on display with a facsimile version of the signature page.
East Rotunda Gallery, August 27 through October 28.

Instrument of Surrender 9/2/1945 (page 1)
Instrument of Surrender 9/2/1945 (page 1)
National Archives, Records of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff

 


Selma Marchers’ Statements to the FBI

On March 7, 1965 civil rights organizers attempted a march from Selma to Montgomery. This day is now known as Bloody Sunday due to the violence of the Alabama state troopers. Among those wounded on Bloody Sunday were John Lewis of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee and 60-year-old Stella Davis. In her statement to the FBI, Davis noted that she “was near the front of the line of marchers when we had crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge and were met by a line of Alabama State Troopers.” Overcome by tear gas, Davis fell to the ground breaking her wrist. John Lewis told the FBI, “I was hit with a night stick and fell to my knees. When I attempted to get up I was struck a second time.”

In large part due to the efforts of civil rights activists in Selma and elsewhere, President Johnson submitted the Voting Rights Act to Congress. He signed it into law on August 6, 1965.

Articles of Association, 10/20/1774 (page 1)
Statement of John Lewis regarding Selma "Bloody Sunday" March
National Archives, Records of the Federal Bureau of Investigation

 


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This exhibition was created by the National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, DC, with support from the the National Archives Foundation.

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