Home Lifestyle Celebrate July 4th online with the National Archives’ 1st virtual ceremony

Celebrate July 4th online with the National Archives’ 1st virtual ceremony

WASHINGTON — The National Archives will host a virtual Independence Day celebration on July 4, 2020, in partnership with the nonprofit National Archives Foundation. The event will take place at 4 p.m. on @USNatArchives Facebook page and YouTube channel.  Several hours of additional educational programming will be offered throughout the day.

For 50 years, the National Archives has hosted a reading of the Declaration of Independence at its iconic home in Washington, D.C. to celebrate the founding of the United States. This year, the National Archives will lift the words of the Declaration of Independence off of its well-worn and much-loved parchment and bring them to homes across the country through this virtual program.

Host and narrator Soledad O’Brien will capture the patriotic spirit of the occasion and allow Americans across the country to take part in the Archives celebration. 

“Two hundred forty-four years ago, our founding fathers declared our independence and mutually pledged their lives, fortunes and sacred honor. Today, as in 1776, we face fear, uncertainty, and challenges to our lives, economy, and general welfare. Throughout our history, as a nation united, we have confronted and overcome such threats. Let us continue to stay united as we strive for a more perfect – and more healthy – union,” said David S. Ferriero, archivist of the United States.

The program will include the Declaration of Independence reading ceremony complete with reenactors representing Thomas Jefferson, George Washington and John Adams, as well as a day of live educational programming featuring those historical reenactors teaching the importance and providing greater understanding of the founding of our nation. 

“Our Archives 4th of July program is always special to our guests and the entire Archives Museum family,” said James J. Blanchard, chair and president of the National Archives Foundation Board. “This year, during these difficult times, our virtual program will be shared with millions more Americans and inspire all of us to renew the American dream.”

The National Archives education team will host a series of programming leading up to and beyond the July 4th celebration entitled, Virtual Journey of the Declaration of Independence educational program series on the @USNatArchives Facebook page. For the full schedule of programs from June 11 through August 2, visit www.archivesjuly4.org/schedule/virtual-journey.

July 4th at the National Archives is made possible in part by the National Archives Foundation with the generous support of John Hancock and AARP.


The virtual July 4th Schedule will be as follows: 

  • 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. EST July 4th family programming including welcome remarks from Archivist of the United States David S. Ferriero, a discussion with Thomas Jefferson and other historical reenactors, and educational activities. Register here. 
  • 4:00 p.m. EST July 4th ceremony airs on @USNatArchives Facebook page and YouTube page. 

Related online learning:  

  • Join the National Archives Education team for the Virtual Journey of the Declaration of Independence via the @USNatArchives Facebook page (through August 2, 2020).  See: Virtual Journey schedule and video playlist (National Archives YouTube Channel)
  • Check out DocsTeach American Revolution-related resources 
  • Join on-demand Distance Learning webinars on the Declaration of Independence (free but registration is required)
  • Related online exhibits highlight struggle for equal and civil rights
  • “Records of Rights” permanent exhibit explores the ongoing struggle of Americans to define, attain, and protect the ideals of freedom enshrined in our nation’s founding documents. The “Bending Towards Justice” section showcases the drive for civil rights for African Americans. Online curators’ tour here.  
  • “Rightfully Hers: American Women and the Vote” commemorates the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment by looking beyond suffrage parades and protests to the often overlooked story behind this landmark moment in American history. This is the cornerstone of a nationwide initiative that includes free public programs, a traveling exhibition, “pop-up” displays, and expanded educational resources. Online curator’s tour here.  

Related public domain videos on the National Archives YouTube Channel:

  • The Dunlap Broadside and the Fourth of July
  • Learn about the iron-gall ink used to write the Declaration
  • Learn how conservators care for the Declaration of Independence

Follow the events on Social Media 

Join in the #ArchivesJuly4 conversation on social media. The online events will be live at 4 p.m. July 4 on @USNatArchives Facebook page and YouTube channel. 

Related Presidential Library Activities 

 “THE USO: HOW IT ALL BEGAN, with your host Sheppy Green” In 1941, FDR created the United Services Organization, more simply and popularly known as the USO, to ‘bring a little bit of home’ to the young Americans who were serving in the Armed Forces across the globe. Since 2004, the Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum has honored that tradition by hosting its own USO-style show for packed houses. Join host Sheppy Green for a brief history of the creation of the USO, with additional entertainment from performers the Library has featured over the years. The program will air on the Library’s official social media accounts Wednesday, July 1 at 2 p.m.

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