#NC-15420-US - Notecards
Also available in Assortment Pack #AST-701
Located midway between the U.S. Capitol and the White House, the
National Archives features a permanent display of the nation's
three most important documents Ñ the Declaration of Independence,
the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Helium pumped into airtight
display cases protects the documents in the 75-foot, half-domed
Exhibit Hall. Each night, and during emergencies, the heavy cases
automatically descend into a vault.
prominently displayed throughout the building are many other momentous
documents, including Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation, the
Louisiana Purchase Treaty and patent drawings for Edison's light
bulb. Many people mine the Archives for more personal gems Ñ items
that help them trace their family history. As the official storehouse
for federal records deemed permanently valuable, the Archives
holds 3.25 billion documents in 21 floors of library stacks and
storerooms, most of which have ceilings lower than seven feet.
John Russell Pope, who also designed the Jefferson Memorial and
the National Gallery of Art, surrounded the neoclassic limestone
building with 72 Corinthian columns, 52 feet high. Pope specified
allegorical artwork on the massive bronze doors, pediment sculptures,
and 13 large medallions near the top of the building. At street
level, four heroic statues bear relevant mottoes such as "What
is Past is Prologue." The columns and sculptural decorations
were carved at the site.
politicians had sought a fireproof depository for important public
documents since the birth of the nation, construction of the National
Archives did not begin until 1931. The site's swampy conditions
delayed completion until 1934.
© 1997 Terry White, Drawing © 1997 Bill Harrah