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
June 30 - August 31, 2016

100th Anniversary of the Organic Act Creating the National Park Service

President Woodrow Wilson signed the Organic Act on August 25, 1916 “to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life therein, and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner … as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.” This legislation created the National Park Service, bringing the management and preservation of national parks under the administration of a single agency.
East Rotunda Gallery, June 30 - August 31, 2016

An Act to Establish a National Park Service
An Act to Establish a National Park Service, 8/25/1916. (General Records of the U.S. Government, National Archives)


Upcoming Featured Documents

An Act to establish the National Museum of African American History and Culture

The Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) was established by an act of Congress on December 16, 2003. Efforts to create a national museum dedicated to African American history and culture date to the early 20th century. In celebration of the opening of the NMAACH, a 1927 pamphlet showing an early design for an African American memorial museum, and the act that was ultimately passed in 2003 will be on display.
East Rotunda Gallery, September 1 - November 9, 2016

Previous 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


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


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.


Keep up on Social Media

Visiting the East Rotunda Gallery

Other Exhibits:

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