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Washington, D.C.

Friday, October 29, 2004

Sight: #32

Highlights: Interesting historical documents on display, including the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights.

Lowlights: No camera flash allowed due to the sensitive nature of the documents.

Address: 700 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20408-0001

Hours: 10am to 5:30pm - the day after Labor Day through March 31, 10am to 7pm - April 1 through Friday before Memorial Day, 10am-9pm - Memorial Day Weekend through Labor Day

Admission: Free!


Addl Website:

Personal Rating:   (5 thumb max)

Approximately 1 to 3% of the documents and materials produced by the United States Federal government requires archival. It is within the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) that such articles are kept, forever preserving their place in history. Most of this information is made available to the public for research purposes, whether you're looking into your family's history, or perhaps interested in learning more about some historical event or topic that interests you.

Prior to the creation of the NARA, individual government agencies were responsible for archiving their own important documents and materials. A wide spectrum of participation was realized, ranging from superb to outright irresponsible.

Once the NARA was officially established by the signing of the National Archives Act by President Roosevelt in 1934, a monumental task was initially required to gather, then organize, all archived information that was scattered about the Capitol. During their search efforts, archivists frequently found reams of disorganized files that had been carelessly stored; many of the records were damaged by fire, insects, water, and sunlight. Since then, the NARA has grown to be a world-leader in the science of document archival.

The top dog of the NARA is a chief administrator called the Archivist of the United States. Since 1934, twelve individuals have been assigned its duties. In addition to a myriad of other tasks, the most important responsibility of the administrator is manage the amendment ratifications to the U.S. Constitution.

Most of the documents archived at the NARA are public domain, meaning they have no copyright protection. Anyone can go into the NARA and use such documents however they wish, word for word if desired, without any adverse effect.

National Archives Building is the original headquarters of the NARA. Of the many things it archives, the most popular and sought after are the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. These and other important documents are on public display in the NARA's main chamber, the Rotunda for the Charters of Freedom.

Are you interested in checking out some of America's most important and treasured documents? Yes? Well, before we go in I have to warn you, usage of flash cameras is strictly prohibited because the documents are sensitive to light. So, set your camera appropriately, and let's get going!

Description & Pics

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