May 28, 1998 Declaration of Independence Rough Draft Again on View in "Treasures"

Press Contact: Yvonne French (202) 707-9191

Thomas Jefferson's rough draft of the Declaration of Independence will go on display June 19 in "American Treasures of the Library of Congress," a permanent, rotating exhibition that features different significant documents every three months, giving the public the opportunity to experience the richness and diversity of the Library's American historical collections. The Declaration of Independence draft was also displayed last summer.

The draft, in Jefferson's own hand with revisions by Benjamin Franklin and John Adams, will be displayed with other materials that reveal the process of creating this monumental document, including a small fragment, also in Jefferson's handwriting, which predates the rough draft. The documents will remain on view until the end of August.

"American Treasures continues to display more than 200 selections from the Library's incomparable collections arranged in the manner of Thomas Jefferson's own library, the seed from which the present Library of Congress grew," said Librarian of Congress James H. Billington.

The selection of rare books, music, manuscripts, maps, photographs, drawings, audio clips and videotapes gives visitors a firsthand look at a cross section of the vast repository that has been called "America's Memory." Highlights of the exhibition include the contents of Lincoln's pockets on the night of his assassination, early baseball cards and a photograph of the Wright brothers' first flight taken at the instant of takeoff.

Other highlights of the new installation include:


The earliest known map of Manhattan and its environs. Dating from 1639, it may have been drawn by Johannes Vingboons, a West India Company cartographer, to encourage settlement in the Dutch colony, which had been founded only 15 years before.

John Steinbeck's poignant description of the Joad family's arduous trek west in his corrected typescript for The Grapes of Wrath, and Dorothea Lange's photographs of migrant laborers in the fields of California.

Walt Whitman's diary tracing his work as medical aide and correspondent in Washington during the Civil War, along with his published war poems, eyeglasses, walking stick, and pen -- all part of the Library's Whitman collection.

An April 15, 1912, edition of the New York Herald, which brings into focus how little newspapers knew of the early details of the sinking of the Titanic.


Olaudah Equiano's 1794 narrative account of his childhood and eventual capture in Africa, his enslavement in the United States, and his subsequent life aboard British merchant vessels.

A selection of rare law books including The Trial of William Weems, James Hartegan, William McCauley, Hugh White, Matthew Killroy, William Warren, John Carrol, and Hugh Montgomery For the Murder of Crispus Attucks (Boston: 1770) and The Farmer's Assistant or Every Man His Own Lawyer (1815).

An early daguerreotype of Samuel F.B. Morse paired with Morse's first telegraph message sent from the U.S. Capitol to the Mount Claire depot in Baltimore on May 24, 1844.


Color lithograph of the First Nine of the Cincinnati (Red Stockings) Base Ball Club (1869) and a baseball card prototype of the Champions of America: The Atlantics of Brooklyn (1865), among the earliest known baseball cards in existence.

Leonard Bernstein's annotated copy of Romeo and Juliet and his transformation of Shakespeare's classic in his West Side Story full-score manuscript.

Ayn Rand's manuscript and typescript pages from The Fountainhead and a recording of the author's own voice describing her work as a philosopher and a fiction writer.

The exhibition is made possible by a generous grant from the Xerox Foundation.

Highlight tours, or "Treasure-Talks" of noteworthy and intriguing objects on display in the exhibition are conducted by curators from the Library's custodial divisions. These talks are held on Wednesdays from 12:00 to 12:30 p.m. in the Treasures Gallery at the case where the object to be discussed is on display. For a current schedule of Treasure-Talks, consult the Library's Web site at

The "American Treasures" exhibition is available on- line at The on-line version of the exhibition allows viewers to see 145 items from the exhibition and read about their significance to our country's history. Because items in the physical exhibition change every three months, the site is a good way to see most of what has been on display since the exhibition opened in 1997. It also allows those who can't come to Washington to view the exhibition, and those who are planning a trip to familiarize themselves with it in advance. The material provided on-line can also be used as source documents by history teachers and researchers.

An audio tour featuring selections from the Library's collection of sound recordings provides an array of memories, many of them drawn from the early years of radio and TV broadcasting archived in the Library's collections. Listeners can hear both narration about and the actual voices of presidents, poets and other famous figures, including Theodore Roosevelt, Robert Frost and Woodrow Wilson. The random-access audio device also features music, including the voices of Beverly Sills and Jelly Roll Morton. Visitors may rent the wand for $2.50.

Harry N. Abrams Inc. has published a companion volume with an introduction by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Garry Wills and a foreword by Librarian of Congress James H. Billington. American Treasures in the Library of Congress: Memory/Reason/Imagination ($39.95) is available in the Library sales shops and wherever books are sold.

The exhibition is on the second level of the gloriously restored, 100-year-old Thomas Jefferson Building, located at First Street and Independence Ave. S.E. near the Capitol South Metrorail station. Exhibition hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday. The Library is closed on Sundays and federal holidays. Both the building and the exhibition are barrier-free and accessible to persons with disabilities. Entrance is free.

Groups of 10 or more are requested to call the Visitor Services Office at (202) 707-9779 to arrange a tour. For recorded information about the exhibition, call (202) 707- 3834, (202) 707-6200 TTY.

Note to press: slides and prints of Thomas Jefferson's rough draft of the Declaration of Independence and other selected items are available from the Public Affairs Office. Call (202) 707-9191 for delivery of duplicates.


PR 98-088
ISSN 0731-3527