This online experience is presented by the National Archives Foundation

July 4th at the National Archives

Virtual Events

Join the National Archives celebration of July 4th! With a host of online virtual programming, educational opportunities, and a special presentation of the traditional reading ceremony, this Independence Day will be as patriotic as ever. Stay tuned for more details on our programming and how to log on for the day of celebration! All presentations before the 4pm Reading Ceremony will include an ASL interpreter. If you need ASL interpretation for the 4pm event, please click here.

11:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. ET

Welcome from the Archivist of the United States! The Honorable David S. Ferriero will introduce Patrick Madden, the Executive Director of the National Archives Foundation. Thomas Jefferson tells us the story of how the Declaration of Independence was drafted and engrossed, and will invite you to sign the Declaration in your own style of calligraphy.

Breanne Robertson talks about the copies of the Declaration the Archives has, and she’ll also tell us about the role that the Bill of Rights played in granting citizenship and voting rights to all Americans. Sara Lyons Davis leads a calligraphy craft activity so you can write your own Declaration just like the Founding Fathers!

12:00 - 1:00 p.m. ET

Colonial life wasn’t always easy, and no one knows that more than Martha Washington. She’ll talk about some of her struggles, along with women’s support for the Continental Army with a Q & A moderated by Patrick Madden. And for our dessert course, Sara Lyons Davis will be demonstrating how to make a delicious patriotic ice cream sundae!

What would you do if you suddenly had a brand new country to run? Breanne Robertson discusses new traditions for a new nation.

1:00 - 2:00 p.m. ET

Though 20% of the Continental population was Black, Black soldiers made up only 5% of the Continental Army. Edward “Ned” Hector will talk about his experience as a Black member of the Continental Army and why he fought for American independence. If you have questions, they’ll be answered in the Q & A with Hector moderated by Patrick Madden.

Want to learn more about African Americans' military service? Breanne Robertson tells us more in this follow up session. Sara Lyons Davis leads a drum-making craft activity so you can call your own army into battle!

2:00 - 3:00 p.m. ET

Patrick Madden moderates a conversation with James Armistead Lafayette, an enslaved man whose services to the Continental Army as a spy resulted in victory on the final Battle of Yorktown and the surrender of British General Cornwallis. Join us to hear why Lafayette's battle for freedom didn't end with the Revolution. 

3:00 - 3:45 p.m. ET

How was the famous “stars and stripes” flag designed? Betsy Ross, one of the designers of the American flag, tells the story behind its origins, design, and meaning. Patrick Madden will moderate the conversation.

4:00 - 4:53 p.m. ET

Tune in for a special production of the traditional reading ceremony. This year, the National Archives will lift the words of the Declaration of Independence off of its well-worn parchment and bring them to homes across the country online.

Do you need ASL interpretation for this event? Click here and fill out this form!