The semiquincentennial of the United States of America provides a unique opportunity to reflect on the origins of our democratic republic and recognize the evolution of our country from its origins to the present day. Entrusted with the collection and preservation of the historical record, archival institutions seek to support:
- commemorations of the creation of the United States,
- reflections on how the creation of the United States has responded to societal, environmental, political, and economic change, as well as how the state has become an agent of some of that change, and
- explorations of our history as a society of diverse communities who have worked to create a more perfect union.
The records and documents we hold are written by those who were present at the time of change, reflecting their thinking and reasons for continuing to move the experiment of our democracy forward.
Our democratic republic was initiated with the drafting of the Declaration of Independence in 1776 and fully formed with the adoption of the Constitution in 1789. Since that time, our country has evolved in every way imaginable:
- Our population has grown to be the most diverse in the world;
- We have established and eliminated institutions that have changed business, society, and the planet itself;
- We have developed the land that forms our country and sought ways to protect it for future generations;
- We have responded to demands for increased rights and protections with revised statutes and amendments to the Constitution.
Archival repositories in the United States range from large government institutions to small private collections, and from academic archives to repositories of business. These institutions collect, preserve, and make available the essential evidence of the story of the United States and its people. Without these repositories, it would be impossible to interpret the way our country has developed.