Press Release
August 27, 2012

National Archives Celebrates the 225th Anniversary of the U.S. Constitution in September

Constitution 225th Anniversary 1787-2012 National Archives

More Information

Washington, DC— The National Archives will celebrate the 225th anniversary of the signing of the U.S. Constitution throughout September with a first-ever document display, a variety of public programs, online educational activities, and special Constitution-related social media posts.

For information about special events and public programs at the National Archives Building in Washington, DC, to access teaching and learning resources, and to connect with the National Archives through social media, visit our Constitution Day page [].

The special document display and all public programs, except for the naturalization ceremony, are free and open to everyone. Unless otherwise noted, programs listed below will be held in the William G. McGowan Theater of the National Archives Building, located just off the National Mall at Constitution Avenue and 7th Street, NW. Metro accessible on the Yellow and Green lines, Archives/Navy Memorial/Penn Quarter station. Attendees should enter through the Special Events entrance on 7th and Constitution Avenue, NW.  Fall museum hours are 10 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. daily.

Special Display September 14-19:  The "fifth page" of the Constitution

For the first time in the history of the National Archives, the Resolutions of the Constitutional Convention–sometimes referred to as the "fifth page" of the Constitution–will be on view. This document, signed by George Washington, who presided over the Constitutional Convention, describes how the Constitution was to be ratified and put into effect. It will be on display in the East Rotunda Gallery of the National Archives Building.

The Naturalization Ceremony

The National Archives continues its tradition of holding a naturalization ceremony for petitioners seeking American citizenship on Constitution Day, Monday, September 17 at 10 a.m. in the Rotunda of the National Archives Building. This year’s ceremony features 225 petitioners to be sworn in as new citizens in front of the original Constitution on its 225th anniversary. The ceremony is closed to the public, but open for press coverage. Presented in partnership with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia and the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services. Please note: the National Archives Experience will open to the public at 11:30 a.m. following the ceremony.

Educational Resources

The National Archives offers several opportunities for learning about the Constitution online or on your mobile device:

  • On the special DocsTeach Constitution Day page [], educators can locate primary sources from the holdings of the National Archives that document the creation and structure of our government. DocsTeach is an online teaching tool that helps educators to find and create interactive learning activities. Visitors will find primary sources related to such topics as "checks and balances," "representative government," and other concepts found in the Constitution. The DocsTeach Constitution Day page also features activities to share with students, such as "The Constitution at Work," which uses primary sources to demonstrate the Constitution in action in our everyday lives.
  • You can learn about the Constitution through documents in the holdings of the National Archives on iTunes. A special Constitution iBook for iPad and other resources will be available from the National Archives on iTunes U and in the iBookstore in September. To access these resources from your computer or Android device, see "Teaching & Learning Resources" [].

Social Media

The National Archives will use its numerous social media platforms to engage the public in learning about the Constitution in new and interesting ways.

  • For the first two weeks of September, Prologue Magazine's Pieces of History blog will feature posts about the creation, conservation, and interpretation of the Constitution, from myths and misconceptions to its special display cases to its legal meaning during the Civil War.

  • On Twitter (@usnatarchives), the National Archives will feature a "Tweet the Preamble" contest. Twitter followers will be asked to summarize the Preamble of the Constitution in just 140 characters (using #Constitution225). The winner will be chosen by the Archivist of the United States and will receive a pocket Constitution from the Foundation for the National Archives.

Related Public Programs

There will be a variety of public programs [] held in the McGowan Theater, including book lectures, films, panel discussions, and a birthday celebration.

Wednesday, September 5 at noon – Book Talk: For Liberty and Equality: The Life and Times of the Declaration of Independence Law historian Alexander Tsesis, author of a history of the Declaration of Independence from its creation in 1776 to the present, discusses the numerous ways the document has influenced American politics, laws, and society. A book signing will follow the program.

Wednesday, September 12 at 7 p.m. –Discussion: The Constitution Turns 225 Yale Law Professor Akhil Amar and special guest Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas explore the past, present, and future of the nation's founding document. This program is presented in partnership with the Federalist Society and the Constitutional Accountability Center. A book signing will follow the program. Free tickets to this program will be distributed at 6 p.m. on a first-come, first-served basis.

Saturday, September 15 at noon – Film: Inherit the Wind Nominated for four Academy Awards®, this fictionalization of the 1925 Scopes "Monkey Trial" stars Spencer Tracey, Fredric March, and Gene Kelly. (The real trial pitted William Jennings Bryan against Clarence Darrow over the teaching of evolution in schools.) Directed by Stanley Kramer. (1960; 127 minutes)

Monday, September 17 from noon to 2 p.m. Birthday Celebration Program: Happy Birthday, U.S. Constitution! In a special program in celebration of the signing of the U.S. Constitution, the first 225 guests will join the Founding Fathers for cake after their performance in the McGowan Theater.

Wednesday, September 19 at noon—Film: Crisis: Behind a Presidential Commitment A landmark in American documentary films, Robert Drew's cinéma vérité work chronicles how President John F. Kennedy, along with his brother Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, clashed with Alabama Governor George Wallace over racial integration at the University of Alabama in 1963. (1963; 52 minutes)

Wednesday, September 19 at 7 p.m.—Panel Discussion: The Constitution and the War of 1812 The 2012 Claude Moore Lecture: Journalist Roger Mudd moderates a discussion on "What So Proudly We Hailed: Messages and Lessons from the War of 1812" with panelists Pietro Nivola and Benjamin Wittes from the Brookings Institution and Peter Kastor from Washington University in St. Louis. The Center for the Constitution at James Madison's Montpelier and the Brookings Institution are partners in this program, which comes on the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812.

Wednesday, September 26 at noon —Book Talk: The President's Czars: Undermining the Congress and the Constitution The word "czar" may seem inappropriate in a republic, but it has been used to describe independent executive branch officials with significant authority over a policy area. Mark Rozell discusses the history of the Presidential czars since President Franklin D. Roosevelt's administration. A book signing will follow the program.

Saturday, September 29 at noon—Film: 12 Angry Men Directed by Sidney Lumet, 12 Angry Men takes place entirely in a jury room. When Juror #8 (Henry Fonda) is not convinced of a boy's guilt, an exploration of the issue "beyond a reasonable doubt" ensues. (1957; 95 minutes)

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The National Archives and Records Administration is an independent Federal agency that preserves and shares with the public records that trace the story of our nation, government, and the American people. From the Declaration of Independence to accounts of ordinary Americans, the holdings of the National Archives directly touch the lives of millions of people. The National Archives carries out its mission through a nationwide network of archives, records centers, and Presidential Libraries, and online [].

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For press information, contact the National Archives Public Affairs staff at 202-357-5300.

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