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Celebrating a Glorious Document

Essex County Herald, June 28, 1895. //chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84023416/1895-06-28/ed-1/seq-1/

While doing a bit of research, the image featured here caught my eye, so I just had to click-through to know more.  As you can see, this image features the signatures of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, and the Fourth of July provided a good excuse to highlight it.

The accompanying article is an interesting story about the document’s travels. Of course, it only tells the story until 1895 when this article was published.  For more information, the National Archives has written a great piece on its travels, that provides a summary for the first half of the 20th Century – including a stay at the Library of Congress.

According to the Archives piece, in 1903 President Roosevelt directed that the records of the Continental Congress were to be turned over to the Library of Congress, and at the time, mention was made of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.  While nothing seems to have been done at the time, a 1920 report on the physical condition of the Declaration indicated that its condition was sufficient to exhibit if certain precautions were taken. On September 29, 1921, President Harding signed Executive Order 3554 transferring custody of both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution to the Library of Congress. The transfer was made and on February 28, 1924, the shrine that held the Declaration of Independence was dedicated at the Library of Congress.  It was removed to Ft. Knox in December 1941 after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, but made the move back to the Library in October 1944. The final leg of its journey happened in December 1952, when it made the trip down Pennsylvania Avenue with a formal enshrining ceremony  on December 15, 1952.

The Declaration of Independence returned: 1944. //www.loc.gov/item/2016647868/

If you want to read more, I recommend a more detailed article written by the Library’s Historian, John Cole, in a 1997 Information Bulletin article detailing the Library’s history with both the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence: //www.loc.gov/loc/lcib/9708/declare.html, as well as an article by Milton O. Gustafson, “The  Empty  Shrine: The Transfer of the Declaration  of  Independence and  the Constitution  to the National  Archives” that was published in the July 1976 issue of The American Archivist.

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