Featured Exhibition in the National Archives Museum's Lawrence F. O'Brien Gallery
Making Their Mark: Stories Through Signatures
A signature can be as routine as a mark on a form or as extraordinary as a stroke of the pen that changes the course of history. Through their signatures, for example, the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence simultaneously committed the brave (or dangerously foolish) act of treason against King George III and created a new nation.
Well-known signatures are found throughout the records of the National Archives. Equally important are the multitude of marks by people unknown to history. All of these documents represent fascinating stories to be discovered.
“Making Their Mark: Stories Through Signatures,” now on display in the Lawrence F. O’Brien Gallery of the National Archives Museum, features original signatures from the National Archives’ nationwide holdings, including records from the Presidential libraries. They illustrate the many ways people have placed their signatures on history, from developing a signature style to signing groundbreaking policy into law. From Hollywood to Washington, DC, a variety of letters, patents, photographs, artifacts, and pieces of legislation are featured in this exhibition.
The stories in these records, of famous and infamous, known and unknown individuals are all part of our nation’s history, all making their marks on the American narrative. The exhibition also explores the different ways to “sign” a document, from John Hancock’s famous pen strokes to the current evolution of electronic signatures.
The exhibit also features a collection of 50 pens used by Presidents Kennedy and Johnson to sign important pieces of legislation like the Peace Corps Act and the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The collection is on loan from the Lawrence F. O’Brien family.
“Making Their Mark: Stories Through Signatures” is made possible in part by the Foundation for the National Archives with the generous support of Lead Sponsor
Major additional support provided by the Lawrence F. O’Brien Family and members of the Board of the Foundation for the National Archives.
Family and educational programming related to “Making Their Mark” is sponsored in part by Fahrney’s Pens, Cross, and Parker Pen Company – Newell Rubbermaid.
Past Featured Exhibits
Bad fashion, odd fads, and disco dance music sum up the 1970s for many Americans. But the ’70s were much more than leisure suits, streaking, and disco. Profound changes in our politics, society, and economy took root.
“Searching for the Seventies: The DOCUMERICA Photography Project” draws on the National Archives’... Read more
For two weeks in fall 1962, with the leaders of the two superpowers locked in a standoff, the world teetered on the brink of thermonuclear war. Soviet Premier Nikita Krushchev had secretly deployed a nuclear strike force in Cuba, just 90 miles from the United States. When President John... Read more
Food. We love it, fear it, and obsess about it. We demand that our government ensure that it is safe, cheap, and abundant. In response, the Federal Government has been a factor in the production, regulation, research, innovation, and economics of our food supply. It has also attempted, with... Read more
Lee Puey You was detained on Angel Island for 20 months before being deported under the Chinese Exclusion Act; 20 years after her first landing in America, she succeeded in becoming a U.S. citizen. Young Rock Fee was placed aboard a ship and deported to China after immigration officials... Read more
In the spring of 2003, just days after Coalition forces took over Baghdad, 16 American soldiers assigned to search for nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons entered Saddam Hussein’s flooded intelligence building. In the basement, under four feet of water, they found thousands of books and documents... Read more