Safeguarding the Declaration of Independence Washington, District of Columbia

Courtesy of the Library of Congress

Washington, District of Columbia

(September 1814 - Present)

In 1820 the Declaration was housed at the Department of State, 1500 Pennsylvania Avenue and, in 1841, was moved to the newly constructed Patent Office at Eighth and F Streets, NW, where it hung opposite a window. Aging, prolonged exposure to sunlight, and fluctuating temperature and humidity accelerated the deterioration of ink and parchment. “In a few years, only the naked parchment will remain…” noted a viewer in 1870.

The Declaration was displayed in Philadelphia at the Centennial Celebration. Because of concerns about its condition, the document was removed from permanent display in 1894 and brought out only for special occasions.

Courtesy of the National Archives
and Records Administration

It was transferred to the care of the Library of Congress in 1921. The Declaration was stored for safekeeping at Fort Knox for three years during World War II. Then the document was returned to the Library of Congress until it was moved to the National Archives Building in 1952, where it can be seen today.

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