National Archives: See Great Documents on Display



If you have a love of history, or want to instill it in others, research the budget flights to Washington DC, and check out some of the vital documents of our nation’s history with a visit to the National Archives.  The National Archives is the repository for documents related to the business of running the country, which in turn are made available for public viewing.  Thee aren’t some dry and dusty pieces of paper, though, these are some of the most legally and historically significant documents of our country’s history.

The most significant documents to me are those related to the founding of the country and, in fact, they are some of the most often visited displays.  The Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution are proudly displayed in a Rotunda, with the original documents preserved and displayed in glass cabinets. Original murals, recently restored, surround the room and depict the Founding Fathers and signers of the documents.  It’s almost like they are looking down at you and the documents.

National_archives rotundaThe Magna Carta, the only original copy on permanent display in the United States, is not currently available for viewing as it as been removed for a year in preparation for re-encasement.  On my visit I had the opportunity to see it, and as I looked at it all I could think was that this document in front of me dated back to 1297 – that’s over 700 years ago!

After studying these documents in text books for so many years, the thrill of seeing the REAL THING left me a little speechless.  This is history, right in front of me.  It’s hard to think of much to say that can compete with that.

The Archives also maintains military records, including an impressive collection of photographs from WWI and WWII, along with the Presidential Libraries, and other more routine records.  If you’re interested in research, many of these resources can be access online.

Location:  Constitution Avenue NW, between 7th & 9th Street.  The closest Metro stops are Archives-Navy Memorial (yellow and green lines).

Hours:  The Archives are open during the Spring and Summer (March 15th through Labor Day) from 10 am-7 pm; during the Fall and Winter closing is at 5:30 pm.

Admission:  FREE

Time:  An hour and a half should give you plenty of time to view the key documents, allowing for some crowd factor.

Photo credit:  Dan Smith via wikimedia commons (exterior); Rick Dikeman via wikimedia commons (interior)

Note:  This post was sponsored by JetAbroad; the opinions expressed are those of the author.

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Mary Jo Manzanares is a traveler, travel blogger, and podcaster. In addition to her blog, Traveling with MJ, she hosts the Where Else to Go podcast, and is the founder and the editor-in-chief of The Traveler’s Way, an online travel magazine. Her travel ethos is value luxury - luxury for real people - and her goal is to help travelers know when to splurge and when to save. Mary Jo has been a speaker at various industry events around the world. When she’s not traveling, Mary Jo likes lingering over a cup of coffee, wandering in a museum, sipping wine at a cafe, and sharing it all with friends and readers. Her most recent travels were to Stockholm, a Baltic cruise, and Universal Orlando Resort.

2 Responses to “National Archives: See Great Documents on Display”

  1. March 31, 2011 at 12:36 am #

    I think some people spend too much time learning other country’s history and culture that they look past their backyard. But you really can’t appreciate all that foreign culture and history without a glimpse of what we have.

    • April 2, 2011 at 7:50 pm #

      I think we all are guilty of not seeing that which is directly in front of us. We miss those gems in our own backyard.

      That said, though, we’re the young kid on the block, and we’d do well to look at the hundreds (and hundreds) of years that some of the other countries have on us. So much of our history relates to Europe, so it’s good to know where some of our beliefs, traditions, and documents came from.

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