'Big Exhibit' at the National Archives

The National Archives celebrated its 75th year in 2009 with an exhibition featuring big records, big events, and big ideas. BIG! opened Friday, March 13, 2009, in the Lawrence F. O'Brien Gallery of the National Archives Building in Washington, DC. From the 13-foot scroll of the Articles of Confederation, the first constitution of the United States, to the size 22 sneakers of basketball legend Shaquille O'Neal, the items in the exhibition were pieces of the American story-writ large. The exhibition will be on display through January 3, 2010, and is free and open to the public.

Exhibition Highlights

* A section of an enormous 13-by-13-foot Civil War-era map of the Gettysburg battlefield will be shown. With a scale of one inch to 200 feet, it shows the terrain at the site of Pickett's charge, one of the great infantry charges in military history, and the site where President Abraham Lincoln delivered his Gettysburg Address.

* As evidence that William Howard Taft was almost certainly the biggest man to serve as President of the United States, the exhibit presents the 1909 order for a bathtub and other special items to accommodate Taft's 300-plus-pound frame. A replica of the massive tub will be on view.

* The military personnel file of General Douglas McArthur is one of the biggest in the holdings of the National Archives National Personnel Records Center. The many thousands of items in the file chronicle the famous 5-Star General's half-century of military service. Included is a Presidential directive indicating a big clash of power between military and civilian command.

* The National Archives will display one of only 25 surviving copies from the first printing of the Declaration of Independence by John Dunlap. This broadside was inserted into the "rough journal" of the Continental Congress in the July 4, 1776, entry.
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