The National Archives Museum is located on the National Mall in Washington, DC. No trip to DC is complete without a visit to the National Archives because it houses some of the most famous documents in American history.
First, expect to go through security. In fact, expect to go through security dozens of times on your trip to DC. You even have to go through security to park or collect your car if you are downtown. Once you’re through the line, though, there are many things to see.
There are no pictures allowed in the National Archives. These documents are hundreds of years old, and photography is forbidden to protect the historical documents. This is why our post is lacking in photos.
The main features of the National Archive are three historical documents, all of which are located in the same room. The Constitution, the Bill of Right, and the Declaration of Independence are closely guarded and surrounded by a few beautiful murals of the Founding Fathers. We loved standing next to the historic documents and looking for names that we knew such as Thomas Jefferson or John Adams.
We were impressed when we asked a security guard who the peg-legged person in the picture represented. He gave us about a five minute answer. Everyone in DC is nice, and they all seem to know their stuff, so ask around. Seeing these documents in person was really meaningful and opened up some great conversations with our boys.
There are a few other things to see in the Archives. We enjoyed the Emancipation Proclamation, which was issued by Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War. There is also a document of payment from Charles Ingalls paying off his farm (he is featured prominently as “Pa” in the Little House on the Prairie series). Our boys especially enjoyed creating their own Seal of the United States and watching movies of US Presidents in their youth.
Plan to spend close to two hours in the National Archives Museum. It is free to visit and is a great place to learn about the birth of the United States of America.