Wednesday, January 2, 2013
A glimpse of history
Although the National Archives has a facsimile of the document on permanent display, viewing of the original is limited to only a few days a year to protect it from more damage from handling and light exposure. The Emancipation Proclamation is rarely displayed, while the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill or Rights are on permanent display. This is because the Charters were written on very durable parchment made from animal skin and are sealed in a special environment, while the Proclamation was written on both sides of poor-quality 19th-century paper.
The display was only open for three days and as you can imagine, the lines were long ... for me it meant 1-1/2 hours outside the Archives building, then another half hour or so inside before I actually reached the display case. Because they wanted to push through as many people as possible, we weren't allowed to stop and actually look at it - bummer!
What we saw was two original pages and two high-resolution facsimiles (because he wrote on both sides of the paper). The document was so very very faded from light exposure, and the lighting in the Rotunda was so dim, I couldn't make out any of the words. But I'm glad to have had a chance to see it ... part of our country's history.
Sew forth and sew on til later...