Changing America: The Emancipation Proclamation, 1863, and the March on Washington, 1963

December 14, 2012 – September 7, 2014

From the Liljenquist Family Collection at the Library of Congress.

National Museum of American History
1300 Constitution Ave., NW
Washington, DC

2nd Floor, East Wing, African American History and Culture Gallery

See on Map Floor Plan

The National Museum of African American History and Culture and the National Museum of American History commemorate two events that changed the course of the nation: The 1863 Emancipation Proclamation and the 1963 March on Washington. These events were the culmination of decades of struggles by individuals—both famous and unknown—who believed in the American promise that this nation was dedicated to the proposition that “all men are created equal.” Such objects as the inkstand used by President Abraham Lincoln in 1862 to draft the document that would become the Emancipation Proclamation and the pen President Lyndon Johnson used to sign the Civil Rights Act of 1964 reveal how these two events—separated by 100 years—are linked together in a larger story of freedom and the American experience. Other highlights include:

  • the top hat Abraham Lincoln wore to Ford's Theater the night he was assassinated on April 14, 1865
  • shards of stained glass from the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, where four young black girls were killed in an explosion on September 15, 1963
  • Harriet Tubman’s lace handkerchief and collar
  • a marshal's armband from the March on Washington and the guitar played by singer Joan Baez

Related iPad app: Changing America: To Be Free

No photography permitted