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Featured Records

  • Harvey Milk Writes to the President
Harvey Milk Writes to the President

Friday, May 31, 2024 – Monday, June 17, 2024
East Rotunda Gallery

Human Rights at the Ballot Box
In 1978, Californians voted on Proposition 6, which would have banned gay men and lesbians from teaching or otherwise being employed by California school districts. The initiative sponsored by State Senator John Briggs was opposed by a number of leading politicians, including former Governor Ronald Reagan and former President Gerald Ford. The Briggs Initiative was ultimately defeated at the polls in November 1978.

Harvey Milk, a gay man elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1977, gave a rousing speech at the city’s 1978 Gay Freedom Day celebration. In it, he challenged State Senator John Briggs, who had sponsored the ballot proposition to ban gays and lesbians from working for California school districts.

Milk emphatically claimed that gays and lesbians were equally entitled to the benefits of freedom and equality.

On the Statue of Liberty it says, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to be free . . . .” In the Declaration of Independence it is written “All men are created equal and they are endowed with certain inalienable rights . . . .” That’s what America is. No matter how hard you try, you cannot erase those words from the Declaration of Independence. No matter how hard you try, you cannot chip those words from off the base of the Statue of Liberty.


San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk to President Carter, June 25, 1978. Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum


Speech of San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk at Gay Freedom Day, June 26, 1978, page 8. Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum

Past Featured Records
  • Memorial Day: Honoring the Fallen
    Memorial Day: Honoring the Fallen

    Thursday, May 16, 2024 – Wednesday, June 12, 2024
    East Rotunda Gallery

    Memorial Day recognizes and honors the U.S. military personnel who died while serving in the Armed Forces. The first national observance of Memorial Day occurred on May 30, 1868, at Arlington National Cemetery. General John... Read more

  • The Purple Heart Battalion
    The Purple Heart Battalion

    Tuesday, April 16, 2024 – Wednesday, May 15, 2024
    East Rotunda Gallery

    The 442nd Regimental Combat Team

    None of us thought we were coming home alive. —Lawson Sakai

    Following Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, the Roosevelt administration required people of Japanese descent living on the... Read more

  • Frances Perkins: Champion of Workers’ Rights
    Frances Perkins: Champion of Workers’ Rights

    Thursday, February 29, 2024 – Monday, April 15, 2024
    East Rotunda Gallery

    “I came to Washington to work for God, FDR, and the millions of forgotten plain common workingmen.” —Frances Perkins

    Chances are you benefit from the legacy of Frances Perkins,... Read more

  • 70th Anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka
    70th Anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka

    Thursday, February 1, 2024 – Wednesday, February 28, 2024
    East Rotunda Gallery

    Equity in Education: 70 Years Later

    On May 17, 1954, the Supreme Court delivered a unanimous ruling in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka that “separate but equal” was unconstitutional in... Read more

  • 250th Anniversary of the Boston Tea Party
    250th Anniversary of the Boston Tea Party
    Thursday, December 14, 2023 – Wednesday, January 31, 2024
    East Rotunda Gallery

    The Destruction of the Tea

    It wouldn’t be known as the “Boston Tea Party” for another 50 years, but the destruction... Read more

  • Diseños: An Impact of Mexican Cession
    Diseños: An Impact of Mexican Cession
    Tuesday, June 20, 2023 – Wednesday, October 18, 2023
    East Rotunda Gallery

     

    At the end of the Mexican-American War, the United States annexed more than half of Mexico’s territory under the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. Under its terms, the U.S. promised to... Read more

  • Celebrating Anna May Wong
    Celebrating Anna May Wong

    Anna May Wong
    National Archives, Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service

    “I want to be an actress, not a freak.”

    Film legend Anna May Wong’s talent could not be contained by the racist casting of early Hollywood movies. Born Wong Liu Tsong in Los Angeles in 1905,... Read more

  • The Maker of Pilots: Willa B. Brown
    The Maker of Pilots: Willa B. Brown

    Willa B. Brown, February 13, 1943
    National Archives, Records of the Office of War Information

    Aviator Willa Beatrice Brown (1906–92) achieved numerous “firsts” in her lifetime, many of them earned through her tireless advocacy to integrate aviation programs. Brown began taking flying lessons in 1934,... Read more

  • Courting Confrontation: The Arrest of Susan B. Anthony
    Courting Confrontation: The Arrest of Susan B. Anthony
    Thursday, November 3, 2022 – Thursday, January 12, 2023
    East Rotunda Gallery

    On November 5, 1872, Susan B. Anthony and 14 other women attempted to vote in Rochester, New York, challenging section... Read more

  • Featured Document Display: Remembering the Hollywood 10: Screenwriter Ring Lardner, Jr.
    Featured Document Display: Remembering the Hollywood 10: Screenwriter Ring Lardner, Jr.

    Thursday, September 8, 2022 – Wednesday, November 2, 2022
    East Rotunda Gallery

    Early in the Cold War, the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) investigated allegations of Communist activity in the film industry. The committee’s mandate was... Read more