Q. Is the original Declaration of Independence written on paper?
A. No, the original was engrossed on parchment which is an animal skin specially treated with lime and stretched to create a strong, long-lasting writing support. The printed version is on paper and was read aloud from town squares throughout the colonies, so that those who could not read would receive the news about intended separation from England.
Q. Do other copies of the Declaration of Independence exist?
A. Yes, there are 25 copies known to exist of what is commonly referred to as "the Dunlap broadside," 20 owned by American institutions, 2 by British institutions, and 3 by private owners.
The Dunlap Broadside copies were printed on paper on the night of July 4,— and thus are contemporary with the original Declaration that is engrossed on parchment. Given the great interest in and popularity of the document to the American people, many facsimile copies of the Declaration have been made over the years. These copies have been printed in many sizes and formats as souvenirs and for the purpose of display in governmental and other offices and schoolrooms across the nation.
Q. Was Thomas Jefferson the only person involved in writing the Declaration of Independence?
A. Jefferson was the author of the document and was a member of the Committee of Five that was appointed to draft a statement presenting to the world the colonies case for independence. The committee consisted of two New England men, John Adams of Massachusetts and Roger Sherman of Connecticut; two men from the Middle Colonies, Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania and Robert R. Livingston of New York; and one southerner, Thomas Jefferson of Virginia.
Q. Has the Declaration of Independence always been at the National Archives in Washington, DC?
A. No, after the signing ceremony on August 2, 1776, the Declaration was most likely filed in Philadelphia in the office of Charles Thomson, who served as the Secretary of the Continental Congress from 1774 to 1789. The document probably accompanied the Continental Congress as the body traveled during the uncertain months and years of the Revolution.
On December 13, 1952, the Declaration, along with the Constitution and Bill of Rights were formally delivered into the custody of Archivist of the United States Wayne Grover and enshrined at a ceremony on December 15, 1952, attended by President Harry S. Truman. For more information about the document's travels see Travels of the Declaration of Independence – A Time Line.
Q. Is the encasement bullet-resistant?
A. Yes, the case is constructed of ballistically resistant materials to include the glass.
Q. Who constructed the new encasements and what are they made of?
A. The new encasements, which look like large, deep picture frames, were designed to meet National Archives specifications that ensure the preservation of the Charters for future generations. The encasements were constructed by the National Institute of Science and Technology (NIST) of titanium and aluminum. The frames are gold plated to evoke the style of historic frames.
Q. Are other documents also encased in this way?
A. Yes, the Charters of Freedom – the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the Declaration of Independence – are all encased in this way.
Q. Where can I find more information about the movie National Treasure?
A. Visit the movie web site at http://www.nationaltreasure.com
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