David M. Rubenstein Gallery

David M. Rubenstein Gallery / Records of Rights

Records of Rights: a permanent exhibition in the new David M. Rubenstein Gallery, National Archives, Washington, DC

Now Open!

America’s founding documents—the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights—are icons of human liberty. But the ideals enshrined in those documents did not initially apply to all Americans. They were, in the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., “a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir.” “Records of Rights” allows visitors to explore how generations of Americans sought to fulfill this promise. The exhibition showcases original and facsimile National Archives documents and uses an innovative 17-foot touch screen interactive table to illustrate how Americans throughout our history have debated issues such as citizenship, free speech, voting rights, and equal opportunity.

Landmark Document Case

An Act to Establish the Federal Courts of the United States, 09/24/1789 (Judiciary Act of 1789) The Judiciary Act of 1789 will be on display through December 16. Article III of the Constitution, establishing the Judiciary Branch, is more of a sketch than a blueprint. The job of defining the structure and operations of the national judicial system fell to the First Congress. With the Judiciary Act of 1789, Congress established a multitiered Federal court system operating alongside state courts. It gave the Supreme Court the original jurisdiction provided for in the Constitution and limited jurisdiction in the district and circuit courts. The act successfully addressed thorny issues and calmed public fears of a powerful, independent judiciary. Its basic structure still stands.


Magna Carta

photoBegin your exploration of "Records of Rights" by viewing the original 1297 Magna Carta, on display courtesy of David M. Rubenstein.

Federal holiday icon All National Archives research rooms, museums, and Presidential libraries will be closed on Thursday, November 27, for Thanksgiving Day.

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The "Records of Rights" exhibition and the David M. Rubenstein Gallery are made possible in part by the Foundation for the National Archives, through the support of David M. Rubenstein.