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Charters of Freedom

Each year more than a million visitors come to the Rotunda of the National Archives to see our Charters of Freedom: the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights.

The Declaration of Independence

Drafted by Thomas Jefferson between June 11 and June 28, 1776, the Declaration of Independence is at once the nation's most cherished symbol of liberty and Jefferson's most enduring monument.

The Constitution of the United States

The work of many minds and "the Supreme Law of the Land," the Constitution stands as a model of cooperative statesmanship and the art of compromise.

Bill of Rights

Constitutional amendments 1-10 are known as the Bill of Rights. These items spell out the immunities of individual citizens.

"Picturing the Century: One Hundred Years of Photography from the National Archives," commemorates the end of the 20th century with a selection of photographs from the vast and varied holdings of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). NARA photographs vividly capture the sweeping changes of the last one hundred years.


Trying out the new assembly line in Detroit Michigan.


Immigrants Landing at Ellis Island.


Original Wright Brothers Aeroplane ("Kitty Hawk") in first flight, December 17, 1903, at Kitty Hawk, NC. Orville Wright at controls. Wilbur Wright at right (First flight was 12 seconds)


Soldiers being mustered out of Camp Dix, New Jersey.


Mysterious fliers who thrilled a gathering of the K[u] K[lux] K[lan] at a reception of officers of [the] Klan.


Street corner next to Federal Building where U.S. Dept. of Labor handles naturalization of immigrants.


USS Shaw (DD-373) exploding during the Japanese raid on Pearl Harbor.


American servicemen and women gather in front of 'Rainbow Corner' Red Cross club in Paris to celebrate the unconditional surrender of the Japanese.


A street scene in 1946.


A young civil rights demonstrator at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.


SP4 Ruediger Richter (Columbus, Georgia), 4th Bn., 503 Inf., 173 Abn Bde (Separate), lifts his battle weary eyes to the heavens, as if to ask why? SGT. Daniel E. Spencer (Bend, Oregon) stares down at their fallen comrade.


Rising earth greets Apollo VIII astronauts as they come from behind the moon after the lunar orbit insertion burn.


President George Bush is pictured here enjoying Thanksgiving dinner with the troops stationed in the Persian Gulf.