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Bill of Rights
During the debates on the adoption of the U.S. Constitution, its opponents charged that the Constitution as drafted would open the way to tyranny by the central government. Fresh in their minds was the memory of the British violation of civil rights before and during the Revolutionary War, so they demanded a "bill of rights" that would spell out the immunities of individual citizens. Several state conventions, in their formal ratification of the Constitution, asked for such amendments. Others ratified the Constitution with the understanding that the amendments would ...
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U.S. National Archives and Records Administration
Engrossed Declaration of Independence
On July 4, 1776, the Second Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence, in which the American colonies set forth a list of grievances against the British Crown and declared that they were breaking from British rule to form free and independent states. On July 19, 1776, Congress resolved that the Declaration passed on the 4th be "fairly engrossed on parchment with the title and stile [sic]: 'The unanimous declaration of the thirteen United States of America'...and that the same, when engrossed, be signed by every member of Congress ...
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U.S. National Archives and Records Administration
Letter Written in Cipher on Mourning Paper by Rose Greenhow
Rose O'Neal Greenhow was a spy for the Confederacy during the American Civil War. As a young woman in Washington, she befriended many influential politicians, including President James Buchanan and South Carolina Senator John C. Calhoun, who played a role in shaping her dedication to the South. During the Civil War, Greenhow wrote ciphered (secret code) messages to the Confederates, providing information about Union military plans. Confederate President Jefferson Davis credited her with helping the South win the First Battle of Bull Run. Greenhow sent a message about Union ...
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U.S. National Archives and Records Administration
Photograph of Richard M. Nixon and Elvis Presley at the White House
This photograph shows Elvis Presley meeting with President Richard M. Nixon at the White House on December 21, 1970. That morning, Presley personally delivered a hand-written note to the security guard at the northwest gate of the White House, saying that he wanted to meet Nixon to present him with the gift of a World War II-era pistol and ask for credentials as an agent in the national war on drugs. Convinced that Presley was sincere and believing that he could be an asset in the fight against drug use ...
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U.S. National Archives and Records Administration
Constitution of the United States
The Federal Convention convened in the State House (Independence Hall) in Philadelphia on May 14, 1787, to revise the Articles of Confederation. Because the delegations from only two states were present initially, the members adjourned from one day to the next until a quorum of seven states was obtained on May 25. Through discussion and debate it became clear by mid-June that, rather than amend the existing Articles of Confederation, the convention would draft an entirely new framework for the government. All through the summer, the delegates debated, drafted, and ...
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U.S. National Archives and Records Administration
George Bush, Captain of the Yale Baseball Team, Receives Babe Ruth's Manuscript of His Autobiography Which He Was Donating to Yale
George Herman (“Babe”) Ruth was the most celebrated American athlete of the 1920s, a period that has been called the Golden Age of Sports for its extraordinary hero-athletes in baseball, football, golf, boxing, horse-racing, and other sports. Ruth was born to German-American parents in Baltimore in 1895. He began his major-league career in 1914 as a pitcher for the Boston Red Sox, winning 89 games in six years. In 1920 he was sold to the New York Yankees and converted to being an outfielder, where he made his mark as ...
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U.S. National Archives and Records Administration
President John F. Kennedy Greets Peace Corps Volunteers, White House, South Lawn
This photograph shows President John F. Kennedy greeting Peace Corps volunteers on the South Lawn of the White House on August 9, 1962. Kennedy first proposed what became the Peace Corps in a speech at the University of Michigan on October 14, 1960, in which he challenged students to give two years of their lives to helping people in countries of the developing world. At the time, Kennedy was a member of the U.S. Senate campaigning for the presidency. Following his election, he signed an executive order establishing the ...
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U.S. National Archives and Records Administration
Into the Jaws of Death: United States Troops Wading Through Water and Nazi Gunfire
This photograph from the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library in Hyde Park, New York, shows American soldiers landing in Normandy, France, on the morning of June 6, 1944, the beginning of the long-awaited invasion to liberate continental Europe from the grip of Nazi Germany. Most of the troops that came ashore were from the United States, Great Britain, and Canada, with smaller contingents from France, Poland, Belgium, Czechoslovakia, Greece, and the Netherlands. The invading forces confronted formidable obstacles. German defenses included thousands of soldiers dug into bunkers, artillery, mines, barbed wire ...
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U.S. National Archives and Records Administration
Affidavit of Louie Young Stating that He is the Father of Louie Jock Sung, and Deposition of Non Chinese Witnesses (Documents Were Executed in New York City)
In the spring of 1882, the Chinese Exclusion Act was passed by Congress and signed by President Chester A. Arthur. This act provided an absolute ten-year moratorium on Chinese labor immigration. For the first time, Federal law proscribed entry of an ethnic group on the premise that it endangered the good order of certain localities. Passage of the act marked the culmination of several decades of growing hostility in the United States to Chinese immigrants, which was fostered by competition for jobs and racial animosity. These documents, from the records ...
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U.S. National Archives and Records Administration
Treaty of Paris
This treaty, sent to Congress by the American negotiators John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and John Jay, formally ended the Revolutionary War. It was one of the most advantageous treaties ever negotiated for the United States. Two crucial provisions were British recognition of U.S. independence and the delineation of boundaries that would allow for American expansion westward to the Mississippi River. Two duplicate originals of the treaty exist in the American Original file of the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration. They are most easily distinguished from each other ...
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U.S. National Archives and Records Administration
Emancipation Proclamation
Initially, the Civil War between the North and the South was fought by the North to prevent the secession of the South and preserve the Union. Ending slavery was not a goal. That changed on September 22, 1862, when President Abraham Lincoln issued his Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, which stated that slaves in those states or parts of states still in rebellion as of January 1, 1863, would be free. One hundred days later Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation declaring “that all persons held as slaves” within the rebellious areas “are ...
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U.S. National Archives and Records Administration
Illustrated Family Record (Fraktur) Found in Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land-Warrant Application File W3079, for Philip Frey, Pennsylvania
During the American Revolution, the Continental Congress passed laws promising pensions or grants of government-owned land to officers and soldiers who served in the war, as well as to the survivors of those killed. This illustrated family record in the German Fraktur script, hand-colored with large birds, is a birth and baptismal document submitted as part of the application for a pension by Anna Margaretha Kolb, wife of Revolutionary War veteran Philip Frey. From Pennsylvania, Frey served between April 1776 and January 1778. He fought in the battles at Long ...
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U.S. National Archives and Records Administration
Dunlap Broadside [Declaration of Independence]
John Dunlap, official printer to the Continental Congress, produced the first printed versions of the American Declaration of Independence in his Philadelphia shop on the night of July 4, 1776. After the Declaration had been adopted by the Congress earlier that day, a committee took the manuscript document, possibly Thomas Jefferson's "fair copy" of his rough draft, to Dunlap for printing. On the morning of July 5, copies were dispatched by members of Congress to various assemblies, conventions, and committees of safety as well as to the commanders of ...
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U.S. National Archives and Records Administration
Articles of Confederation
On June 11, 1776, the Second Continental Congress appointed three committees in response to the Lee Resolution proposing independence for the American colonies. One of these committees, created to determine the form of a confederation of the colonies, was composed of one representative from each colony. John Dickinson, the delegate from Delaware, was the principal writer. Dickinson’s draft of the Articles of Confederation named the new country "the United States of America." It also provided for a Congress with representation based on population, and gave to the national government ...
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U.S. National Archives and Records Administration
Active Passage, Saturna Group, Looking West
The Northwest Boundary Survey of 1857-61 was a joint U.S.-British project to survey the border between the United States and Canada from the crest of the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Ocean. Carried out jointly by American and British experts, it involved four years of strenuous work in rugged and heavily forested terrain. James Madison Alden (1834-1922) was a Massachusetts artist who, in 1854, enlisted in the U.S. Navy and worked as a cartographer on a project to chart the California coast. In January 1858, Alden became ...
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U.S. National Archives and Records Administration
To the Woods!
This political cartoon by Clifford Kennedy Berryman (1869-1949) features President Theodore Roosevelt and the Teddy Bear character. Berryman, a cartoonist for the Washington Post, was responsible for the association between Roosevelt and the popular toy bear. In November 1902, Roosevelt took part in a bear hunt in Mississippi. In the course of the hunt, Roosevelt came upon a bear that had been wounded by the hunt’s dogs and at first refused to shoot it, but later ordered that the animal be killed to end its suffering. The Washington Post ...
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U.S. National Archives and Records Administration
Certificate of Ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution, Accompanied by Resolution and Transcript of the Journals of the Two Houses of the General Assembly of the State of Tennessee
The Nineteenth Amendment guarantees all American women the right to vote. The amendment was first introduced in Congress in 1878. Over the years, champions of voting rights pursued different strategies for achieving their goal. Some worked to pass suffrage acts in each state, and by 1912 nine western states had adopted woman suffrage legislation. Others challenged male-only voting laws in the courts. Suffragists also used tactics such as parades, silent vigils, and hunger strikes. Often supporters met fierce resistance as opponents heckled, jailed, and sometimes physically abused them. By 1916 ...
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U.S. National Archives and Records Administration
View from River Valley, "Canyon de Chelly" National Monument, Arizona (Vertical Orientation) by Ansel Adams
In 1941 the U.S. National Park Service commissioned noted photographer Ansel Adams (1902-84) to create a photographic mural for the Department of the Interior Building in Washington, DC. The theme was to be nature as exemplified and protected in the national parks and national monuments of the United States. The project was halted because of World War II and never resumed. The holdings of the Still Picture Branch of the U.S. National Archives include 226 photographs taken for this project, most of them signed and captioned by Adams ...
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U.S. National Archives and Records Administration
Looking Across Lake Toward Mountains, "Evening, McDonald Lake, Glacier National Park," Montana by Ansel Adams
In 1941 the U.S. National Park Service commissioned noted photographer Ansel Adams (1902-84) to create a photographic mural for the Department of the Interior Building in Washington, DC. The theme was to be nature as exemplified and protected in the national parks and national monuments of the United States. The project was halted because of World War II and never resumed. The holdings of the Still Picture Branch of the U.S. National Archives include 226 photographs taken for this project, most of them signed and captioned by Adams ...
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U.S. National Archives and Records Administration
"Cliff Palace, Mesa Verde National Park," Colorado (Vertical Orientation) by Ansel Adams
In 1941 the U.S. National Park Service commissioned noted photographer Ansel Adams (1902-84) to create a photographic mural for the Department of the Interior Building in Washington, DC. The theme was to be nature as exemplified and protected in the national parks and national monuments of the United States. The project was halted because of World War II and never resumed. The holdings of the Still Picture Branch of the U.S. National Archives include 226 photographs taken for this project, most of them signed and captioned by Adams ...
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U.S. National Archives and Records Administration
Taken at Dusk or Dawn from Various Angles During Eruption, "Old Faithful Geyser, Yellowstone National Park," Wyoming (Vertical Orientation) by Ansel Adams
In 1941 the U.S. National Park Service commissioned noted photographer Ansel Adams (1902-84) to create a photographic mural for the Department of the Interior Building in Washington, DC. The theme was to be nature as exemplified and protected in the national parks and national monuments of the United States. The project was halted because of World War II and never resumed. The holdings of the Still Picture Branch of the U.S. National Archives include 226 photographs taken for this project, most of them signed and captioned by Adams ...
Contributed by
U.S. National Archives and Records Administration