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700 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
HOURS: Mar. 15-Labor Day daily 10 a.m.-7 p.m.;
Labor Day-Mar. 14 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m.,
closed Thanksgiving and Christmas Day
The three most important documents in the United States, known as the Charters of Freedom, are found in the great Rotunda of the National Archives in an engineered vault of glass, titanium, and argon gas that fascinates visitors almost as much as the documents themselves.
The Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, and the Constitution are the archives’ most impressive artifacts, but the museum also contains other interesting items as well, including a 1297 copy of the Magna Carta.
The Public Vaults exhibit holds the log of the USS Nevada, opened to December 7, 1941; telegrams sent by Lincoln to dignitaries; and a hilarious video of President George H. W. Bush declaring that he, as president, no longer needs to eat broccoli.
The entryway to the Rotunda is on Constitution Avenue. Jammed in the spring with school groups, visitors should get to the archives first thing in the morning when there is no backup outside, or try to enter at lunchtime or right before closing to avoid lines. Also, Mondays tend to be the least crowded day of the week.
Researchers interested in working in the Archives’ vaults need to bring a government-issued identification card and enter the facility from Pennsylvania Avenue. The DC research center contains military records, census information, immigration records, and more.
© Patricia Nevins Kime from Moon Washington DC, 1st Edition