Celebrate the Fourth of July at the National Archives!

Today’s post comes from Mattea Sanders, an intern in the National Archives Office of Strategy and Communications.

Every year, we celebrate Independence Day on the steps of the National Archives Building in Washington, DC. It’s a fun, free event for the whole family!


This year, Steve Scully of C-SPAN is our Master of Ceremonies. The Archivist of the United States, David S. Ferriero, will welcome the crowds. Our special guests George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Ben Franklin, Ned Hector, and Abigail Adams will read aloud the Declaration of Independence. This is your chance to boo and huzzah like the colonists of 1776!

George Washington reads from the Declaration of Independence. Photos by Chuck Fazio for the National Archives.
George Washington reads from the Declaration of Independence. Photos by Chuck Fazio for the National Archives.

The 3rd United States Infantry “Old Guard” Continental Color Guard will present the colors, and a soloist from the  United States Navy Band will sing the National Anthem.

After the program, you can go inside and see the original Declaration of Independence in the Rotunda, where it is on permanent display. (Look for the mysterious handprint!) And don’t miss the family activities in the Boeing Learning Center.

Here’s the schedule of events—stay and watch the parade afterwards!

8 a.m. – 9:30 a.m.

Discovering the National Archives

  • Sign a facsimile of the Declaration of Independence on 7th Street and Constitution Avenue.

10 – 11 a.m.

Declaration of Independence Reading Ceremony 

  • Ceremony emcee, C-SPAN host Steve Scully
  • Presentation of colors by the Continental Color Guard*
  • Performance of “America the Beautiful” by four-time international whistling champion Christopher Ullman
  • National Anthem led by the United States Navy Band Anthem Vocalist
  • Performance by the Fife and Drum Corps*
  • Remarks by Archivist of the United States, David S. Ferriero
  • Dramatic reading of the Declaration of Independence by special guests including Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin,  Ned Hector, Abigail Adams, and George Washington (portrayed by historical reenactors)

* Continental Color Guard and Fife and Drum Corps provided by U.S. 3rd Infantry, the Old Guard.

Stay and enjoy front-row seats for the National Independence Day Parade following the ceremony at 11:45 a.m. This popular family event is free and open to the public. Seating on the Constitution Avenue steps is available on a first-come, first-seated basis.

10 a.m.-5:30 p.m.


  • Rotunda for the Charter of Freedom
    • Declaration of Independence 
    • United States Constitution
    • Bill of Rights
  • Lawrence F. O’Brien Gallery
    • “Making Their Mark: Stories Through Signatures”
  • David M. Rubenstein Gallery
    • “Record of Rights”
    • Magna Carta
  • Public Vaults

11 a.m.–4 p.m.

Family Activities

Inside the National Archives Museum

  • Between noon and 2 p.m., meet Abigail and John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, John Hancock, Thomas Jefferson, and George Washington.
  • Listen to stories of our patriotic past in the Boeing Learning Center: 11 a.m., 12 p.m., 1:30 p.m., 3 p.m.
  • Participate in a variety of hands-on family activities including crafts in the Boeing Learning Center.
  • Taste American Heritage Chocolate in the Visitor Orientation Plaza.

Stay tuned for a post about the Fourth of July Social Media on Thursday!

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