freedom archives


Constitution of the United States

Item From: General Records of the United States Government. (05/14/1787- 09/17/1787)

The Federal Convention convened on May 14, 1787 in Philadelphia’s Independence Hall to revise the problematic Articles of Confederation. Since only two states had delegations present, any substantive debate was postponed until a quorum of seven states was attained on May 25th. After exhaustive deliberation well into the middle of June, the Convention concluded that the Articles were not salvageable and needed to be replaced with something that represented their collective interests while ensuring their continued independence.

Through subsequent closed sessions, the delegates continually debated, drafted and redrafted the articles of this new Constitution until it resembled the one we have today. The main points of contention were how much power was apportioned to the Federal Government, how many Congressional representatives were allotted to each state, and whether these representatives would be directly elected by their constituents or appointed by their state legislatures.

This new Constitution was the cumulative result of many minds coming together to conceptualize and debate the future course of the country. Through subsequent generations it has been amended and reinterpreted many times, but its continued success stems from adherence to these early promises of representation and compromise.


Freedom Archives: Cointelpro 101

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COINTELPRO 101 exposes illegal surveillance, disruption, and outright murder committed by the U.S. government in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s. “"Cointelpro”“ refers to the official FBI COunter INTELligence PROgram carried out to surveil, imprison, and eliminate leaders of social justice movements and to disrupt, divide, and destroy the movements as well. Many of the government’s crimes are still unknown. Through interviews with activists who experienced these abuses first-hand and with rare historical footage, the film provides an educational introduction to a period of intense repression and draws relevant lessons for present and future movements. Interviews in the video include: Muhammad Ahmad,Bob Boyle, Kathleen Cleaver,Ward Churchill, Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, Priscilla Falcon, Geronimo Ji-Jaga Pratt, Jose Lopez, Francisco ‘Kiko’ Martinez, Lucy Rodriguez, Ricardo Romero, Akinyele Umoja, and Laura Whitehorn.


Not only was Muhammad Ali a Heavyweight Boxing Champion, he was also a Minister in the Nation Of Islam under the leadership of The Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad.

The 1990’s - models: Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista, Tatjana Patitz, Christy Turlington, Cindy Crawford - photographer: Peter Lindbergh - fashion editor: Brana Wokf - hair: Christiaan - make-up: Stepanie Marais - British Vogue January 1990

  • featured designer: Giorgio di Sant'Angelo
  • “inspired by George Michael’s Freedom! ‘90 video

In his Annual Message to Congress (State of the Union Address) on January 6, 1941, Franklin Roosevelt presented his reasons for American involvement, making the case for continued aid to Great Britain and greater production of war industries at home. In helping Britain, President Roosevelt stated, the United States was fighting for the universal freedoms that all people possessed.

As America entered the war these “four freedoms” - the freedom of speech, the freedom of worship, the freedom from want, and the freedom from fear - symbolized America’s war aims and gave hope in the following years to a war-wearied people because they knew they were fighting for freedom.            

To honor the 75th anniversary of FDR’s Four Freedoms Speech, the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum joined forces with the National Archives Motion Picture Preservation Labs to create new enhanced versions of the speech in HD and Ultra-HD (4K) file formats. These new versions were transferred directly from the original 35mm film stock. Audio from the original disk recordings were then synced with the new video files to create an entirely new resource.

Read more about the project and the history of the speech.

Video - Copyright Sherman Grinberg Film Library –



Learn about the Conservation and Re-encasement of the Declaration of Independence (and solve an Independence Day Mystery!)

via preservearchives

Kitty Nicholson, retired Supervisory Conservator at the National Archives, details the conservation of the Declaration of Independence and shares a small mystery in an exclusive video on the National Archives YouTube Channel

Watch the following video and see if you can help solve the mystery!

Happy Independence Day!


In these United States, we’ve used unspeakable systemic violence to create a supremacist culture that has and continues to rob black people of freedom. Here, we don’t need to speak the unspeakable. We see it every single day, all of us. But there are people who fight for power, which is to say agency, which is to say freedom. It takes art and passion and standing up next to each another. The tide-buckers and the oppressed have been for centuries fighting tirelessly for the dignity and equality of their own bodies, lives, loves. The political rhetoric in this fight has lately taken to social media, an outlet wholly democratic for other voices to be heard and social awareness to bloom. 

Forty years ago though, it took place in part on the covers of paperback books. The sale of these books — 99 cents in pharmacies and grocery lines across America — helped shape contemporary discourse and design. Stokely Carmichael and Charles Hamilton’s Black Power can be examined as an example of one such publication.

The original design by Larry Ratzkin is unassuming yet profound: a white field, with the giant words “Black Power” centered in a thick, slab-serifed type. No images, no frills. The efficiency of the cover appears so natural that any other is hard to imagine; the design has come to embody the political moment in the late 1960s when Black people began uniting in their struggle for liberation. Other variations, iterations and representations of the movement and the paperback below, originally on view in the gallery annex at Ace Hotel New York. 

This selection was curated by the Interference Archive — a Gowanus, Brooklyn-based archive exploring the relationship between cultural production and social movements, and working to preserve the history of movements in an environment that allows marginalized communities to shape the way their own history is represented. 


George Jackson - 41 year commemoration from Freedom Archives


Norman Rockwell’s famous “Four Freedoms” paintings were first published in “The Saturday Evening Standard” magazine on this day in 1943. Rockwell’s series of oil paintings corresponded to the “Four Freedoms” outlined in President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s 1941 State of the Union address. FDR’s fundamental freedoms for “everywhere in the world” were freedom from want and fear, and freedom of speech and worship.  Rockwell’s “Four Freedoms” were later used in war bond drives. 

Source images (1, 2, 3, 4) from the National Archives and Records Administration. 


Happy 227th #ConstitutionDay!

September 17 is designated as Constitution Day and Citizenship Day to commemorate the signing of the U.S. Constitution in Philadelphia on September 17, 1787. Learn more about the U.S. Constitution through programs, and resources from the National Archives:

Have you ever been to the usnatarchives to see the Constitution in person?  

Bonus question - have you ever slept over in the same room as the Constitution?


A Glimpse of Heaven:
Nearly 2 million Black men came to Washington, D.C. on Oct. 16, 1995 for The Million Man March. The Million Man March was the largest, and most peaceful, demonstration ever witnessed on The Washington National Mall. We gathered at The Million Man March in the spirit of three great principles: Atonement, Reconciliation, and Responsibility.

Tune in @ to watch The Honorable minister Louis Farrakhan deliver a serious message today at 2pm EST.


Louder Than Words: Rock Concert Flyers

From the moment rock and roll hit the airwaves, it has played a crucial role in political and social movements around the world. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio, and the Newseum in Washington, D.C., have partnered on a one-of-a-kind exhibit, Louder Than Words: Rock, Power and Politics, that explores the power of rock to change attitudes about patriotism, peace, equality, and freedom.

The Library and Archives at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has a number of concert flyers in its collections that allow researchers to explore these attitudes and the history that surrounds them. In addition to providing insight into the aesthetic of a particular artist, rock concert flyers portray the ambience and mood of a time period, musical genre, performer, or venue. Flyers allow researchers to piece together what can often be ephemeral aspects of social history, as performers come and go in popularity, political views and social mores shift, and minority groups are stifled by prevailing voices.

Make an appointment to come in and learn more!

Images (top-down, left-right): Flyer for the Ramones, from the Jeff Gold Collection. Electric Eels, from the John D. Morton Flyer and Postcards. Billie Holiday, from the Jazz and Blues Playbills (Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum Collection). Big Mama Thornton, from the Manny and Skippy Gerard Collection. Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, from the Artrock Collection. Sam and Dave, from the Jim Clevo Papers. Lydia Lunch, John Doe and His Band, from the John Seabury Flyers and Posters. R.E.M., from the Jim Clevo Papers. Black Flag, from the Jeff Gold Collection.