Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Secret Lives of Interns: The Fourth of July!

4th of July Celebrations from an Aspiring Archivist’s Perspective!

A blog post by Brittney Baltimore

The 4th of July is always a time for celebration in my family, not only the celebration of our nation’s independence, but also birthday celebrations for my Dad. My Dad is without a doubt a history buff, and I am inclined to think that I inherited my love of history from him.

4th of July fireworks display! c. Chris Thompson

He recently brought to my attention a very interesting article about the Declaration of Independence. Using spectral imaging technology, the Library of Congress has recently discovered that Thomas Jefferson originally wrote the word “subjects” in the Declaration of Independence and later smudged it out to write the word “citizens” instead. I find this a very interesting discovery because it reveals the mindset of the early colonists. They no longer wanted to identify themselves as subjects of the crown but had difficulty finding the words to identify themselves because they were forming a country and government that had never been achieved before, a government based on the ideals of freedom and democracy.

Declaration of Independence, Philadelphia: John Dunlap, July 4, 1776.
Broadside. Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Library of Congress (36.01.00)

Library of Congress preservation director Dianne van der Reyden ended the article by stating that the recent research and discovery illustrates why it is so important to keep and protect original documents because the discovery could have only been detected by Jefferson’s original draft. I think this is a very important discovery, not only because we have enriched and gained a better understanding of our history during the founding days of our country, but a large scale discovery such as this gained a lot of media attention. Those who know very little about archives, collections or history can gain some understanding and appreciation as to the role that archivists and conservators have in preserving and teaching United States history. Personally, a discovery such as this provides me validation that my aspiring career path is one that I am very interested and passionate about; it also highlights archivists’ importance in preserving our countries past and teaching and providing access to our history in hopes of gaining understanding of our country’s present and future.

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