Press/Journalists

Press Release
June 17, 2003


Declaration of Independence Broadside to Join National Archives July 4th Festivities

Day-Long Family Festival to Take Place at Union Station in Washington, DC

Washington, DC -- The National Archives and Records Administration and the Declaration of Independence Road Trip announced today that one of the 25 remaining original printed broadsides of the Declaration of Independence, will be displayed on Friday, July 4th at Union Station (50 Massachusetts Avenue, NW) in Washington, DC. This day-long event begins at 11 AM and will continue until 5 PM. Formal ceremonies, which include a dramatic reading of the Declaration of Independence, begin at 2 PM. This popular family event is free and open to the public.

Known as the Dunlap broadside, this original copy of the Declaration of Independence was printed on the evening of July 4, 1776. Producer Norman Lear acquired a Dunlap broadside of the Declaration in June 2000 with the goal of bringing the "People's Document" directly to Americans -- especially young people -- to inspire them to participate in civic activism, to exercise their rights, and above all, to vote.

The original handwritten Declaration of Independence contains the original 56 signatures of the signers. It is held in trust for the American people by the National Archives and will return to public display in the Rotunda of the National Archives Building in Washington, DC, on September 18, 2003.

Archivist of the United States John W. Carlin said "I am really delighted that Mr. Lear has agreed to join with us in our annual celebration of the Declaration of Independence. The National Archives applauds Mr. Lear's commitment to making this original printed version of the Declaration of Independence more accessible to citizens everywhere."

"The Declaration of Independence is our nation's birth certificate and is a constant reminder of the freedoms that all Americans enjoy," said project founder Norman Lear. "It is an honor to join with the National Archives at Union Station to celebrate July 4th in Washington, DC."

Highlights of the day's events include:

  • Special showing of the Dunlap Broadside printed by Philadelphia printer John Dunlap on the night of July 4th, 1776.
  • A video presentation highlighting the history of the Declaration of Independence and its relevance to contemporary America narrated by Reese Witherspoon; a 14-minute film featuring a theatrical reading of the document by several well-known actors produced by Norman Lear and Rob Reiner in Independence Hall; and a rendition of America the Beautiful by more than fifty leading country music singers.
  • Dramatic reading of the Declaration of Independence.
  • Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin, and other historical figures portrayed by "Time Travelers" from the nationally-acclaimed acting troupe of the American Historical Theatre, will mingle with the crowd and describe their roles in American history.
  • National Archives specialists will demonstrate how to do genealogy research at the National Archives.
  • The Capital Children's Museum will join the National Archives in various children's activities (making petitions, seal activities, guess the Presidents).
  • History book fair and book signings for young and old alike.
  • Patent puzzles. View popular patents that are among the holdings of the National Archives.'
  • National Archives conservators will host informal workshops on preservation of important family records and photographs.
  • National History Day participants from across the country will present winning exhibits, performances, documentaries, and papers from their national contest in June.

When the National Archives in Washington, DC reopens its Rotunda on September 18, 2003, it will not only unveil the newly re-encased Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Bill of Rights, but the start of a whole new National Archives Experience that will educate and inspire all Americans. The National Archives Experience will help visitors, both in person and online, discover and share in the spirit embodied in documents as diverse as the Emancipation Proclamation, Edison's patent application for the light bulb, census data, and recordings of Franklin Roosevelt's Fireside Chats.

The National Archives Experience will continue to unveil new components through 2004.

About the National Archives: The National Archives will celebrate the 227th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence with its traditional Fourth of July event, held this year at Union Station. The program theme, "Freedom's Journey, A National Archives 4th of July" will include a day-long program with patriotic music, a dramatic reading of the Declaration of Independence and free family activities. For more information visit the National Archives online at www.archives.gov.

About the Declaration of Independence Road Trip: The Declaration of Independence Road Trip, is a non-profit, nonpartisan project that is taking the Declaration of Independence on a three and a half year, nationwide tour. The Home Depot is the Presenting Sponsor of the DOI Road Trip. The United States Postal Service is the Official Carrier and AXA Financial, Inc. is a Proud Sponsor of the Declaration of Independence Road Trip. For more information about the Declaration of Independence Road Trip, please visit the web site at www.IndependenceRoadTrip.org.

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