Yesterday I played tourist. It is one of the fun things I do from time to time. I usually find something new and interesting.
What I found this time was the National Archives. Now I've been to the Archives before but I usually just went to look at the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. But the Archives has so much more.
Like they had a demonstration on how you get chocolate with samples to taste too. More on that later.
From the Archives' site:
The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is the nation's record keeper. Of all documents and materials created in the course of business conducted by the United States Federal government, only 1%-3% are so important for legal or historical reasons that they are kept by us forever.
Those valuable records are preserved and are available to you, whether you want to see if they contain clues about your family’s history, need to prove a veteran’s military service, or are researching an historical topic that interests you.
And a little information on the holdings there:
The National Archives was established in 1934 by President Franklin Roosevelt, but its major holdings date back to 1775. They capture the sweep of the past: slave ship manifests and the Emancipation Proclamation; captured German records and the Japanese surrender documents from World War II; journals of polar expeditions and photographs of Dust Bowl farmers; Indian treaties making transitory promises; and a richly bound document bearing the bold signature "Bonaparte"—the Louisiana Purchase Treaty that doubled the territory of the young republic.
NARA keeps only those Federal records that are judged to have continuing value—about 2 to 5 percent of those generated in any given year. By now, they add up to a formidable number, diverse in form as well as in content. There are approximately 10 billion pages of textual records; 12 million maps, charts, and architectural and engineering drawings; 25 million still photographs and graphics; 24 million aerial photographs; 300,000 reels of motion picture film; 400,000 video and sound recordings; and 133 terabytes of electronic data. All of these materials are preserved because they are important to the workings of Government, have long-term research worth, or provide information of value to citizens.
There are many exhibits besides the big documents in the rotunda of the Archives. They have an area of original records. One of the most interesting was the David. Rubenstein Gallery:
America’s founding documents—the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights—are icons of human liberty. But the ideals enshrined in those documents did not initially apply to all Americans. They were, in the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., “a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir.” “Records of Rights” allows visitors to explore how generations of Americans sought to fulfill this promise. The exhibition showcases original and facsimile National Archives documents and uses an innovative 17-foot touch screen interactive table to illustrate how Americans throughout our history have debated issues such as citizenship, free speech, voting rights, and equal opportunity.
That's just a little taste of what they have. I'll have a little more in another post later today.