June 7, 1999 Library of Congress Publishes Revised Edition of 1943 Work on Declaration of Independence

Contact: Audrey Fischer (202) 707-0022

A revised edition of the 1943 book, The Evolution of the Text of the Declaration of Independence by Julian P. Boyd, has just been published by the Library of Congress in association with the Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation Inc. The new edition brings together for the first time photographic reproductions of all known drafts of the Declaration of Independence in one large-format book, including a previously unknown fragment in Thomas Jefferson's handwriting that was discovered by Boyd in 1947.

"These seminal documents offer invaluable insight into the minds of the nation's founders on the eve of independence," said Librarian of Congress James. H. Billington.

The Library of Congress first published Boyd's study during World War II as part of a nationwide effort to celebrate America's fundamental freedoms in conjunction with the bicentennial of the birth of Thomas Jefferson. In an introduction to the revised text, Library of Congress manuscript historian Gerard Gawalt notes that "the writing of the Declaration was not an individual undertaking easily prepared, but rather its composition involved diligent, determined cooperation in the midst of wartime chaos and danger." Mr. Gawalt is also the curator of "Thomas Jefferson: Genius of Liberty," a major Library exhibition that will open in April of 2000 as part of the Library's Bicentennial celebration.

For more than 50 years, Boyd's 1943 study has remained the preeminent textual presentation of the nation's most basic document. Serious public and scholarly interest in the evolution of the Declaration of Independence was renewed when the Library first publicly exhibited the fragment of the composition draft in 1995. Both the fragment and the "original Rough draught" will be on display in the "American Treasures of the Library of Congress" exhibition from June 16 through September 4. This permanent exhibition is also accessible on the Library's Web site (http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/treasures/).

The revised edition of the The Evolution of the Text of the Declaration of Independence is distributed by the University Press of New England and is available for $29.95 in the Library sales shops and wherever books are sold. The Library will accept credit card orders at (202) 707-0204.


PR 99-081
ISSN 0731-3527