Historical Documents

Printer’s Manuscript of the Book of Mormon Sells for $35 Million

Adjusting for inflation, Bill Gates’ $30.8 million purchase of Leonardo da Vinci’s Codex Leicester in 1994 remains the most expensive manuscript sale

Alexander served as the first U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, and was a prominent Founding Father before his untimely death.

Get Your Hamilton Fix With This New Trove of Digitized Documents

The Library of Congress has uploaded 12,000 items relating to the 'ten-dollar Founding Father without a father'

The Whiskey Rebellion

The First Presidential Pardon Pitted Alexander Hamilton Against George Washington

How to handle the Whiskey Rebellion was the first major crisis faced by the new government

A painting of Franklin’s return to Philadelphia from Europe in 1785 shows him flanked by his son-in-law (in red), his daughter and Benjamin Bache (in blue), the grandson he’d taken to France as a sort of surrogate son.

What Led Benjamin Franklin to Live Estranged From His Wife for Nearly Two Decades?

A stunning new theory suggests that a debate over the failed treatment of their son's smallpox was the culprit

Franklin’s lifelong quest was spreading scientific knowledge to regular people.

Benjamin Franklin Mocked Eclipse Astrology to Elevate Science

The founding father used his almanacs to promote a scientific understanding of celestial events—often with withering humor

Criseyde and Her Maidens Listening to a Reading, by Warwick Goble, from The Complete Poetical Works of Geoffrey Chaucer, 1912.

The Timelessness of Millennial-Bashing

Even in the 14th century, writers blamed younger generations for ruining everything

John Quincy Adams Kept a Diary and Didn’t Skimp on the Details

On the occasion of his 250th birthday, the making of our sixth president in his own words

A civil war marker in commemoration of the Battle of Atlanta is unveiled as Georgia Historical Society board member Bill Todd, left, looks on during a ceremony Monday, April 11, 2011 in Atlanta.

When It Comes to Historical Markers, Every Word Matters

Who tells the story has a significant impact on what story is told

Chicago Library Seeks Help Transcribing Magical Manuscripts

Three texts dealing with charms, spirits, and all other manners of magical practice are now accessible online

This famous Capitol Hill painting shows the June 28, 1776 moment when the first draft of the Declaration of Independence was brought to the Second Continental Congress. Its painter, John Turnbull, was trying to capture the drama of the moment, but the painting isn't historically accurate.

Suggested Alternative Dates for Independence Day

The reason Independence Day is on July 4 isn’t very robust

Colorized Footage Is a Vivid Reminder that History Didn't Happen in Black and White

A new Smithsonian Channel series takes a fresh, vibrant look at five decades of historical footage

John Trumbull's painting, Declaration of Independence, depicting the five-man drafting committee of the Declaration of Independence presenting their work to the Congress.

At Its Core, the Declaration of Independence Was a Plea for Help From Britain’s Enemies

The intended audience for the document could be found in the royal houses of France and Spain

In his journal, Earl Shaffer, who walked in 16-mile stages, documented his 124-day odyssey.

The Army Veteran Who Became the First to Hike the Entire Appalachian Trail

His journal and hiking boots are in the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History

Draft of The Balfour Declaration with handwritten notes, 1917

How a Single Paragraph Paved the Way for a Jewish State

The Balfour Declaration changed the course of history with just one sentence

The practical advice in the handbook was intended to help married couples from having too many children.

This Infamous 19th-Century Birth Control Pamphlet Got Its Writer Imprisoned

Charles Knowlton did three months hard labor and was fined $50

A slave fortress in Cape Coast, Ghana

A Digital Archive of Slave Voyages Details the Largest Forced Migration in History

An online database explores the nearly 36,000 slave voyages that occurred between 1514 and 1866

The second parchment Declaration of Independence

Found: A Second Parchment Copy of the Declaration of Independence

Likely commissioned in the 1780s by James Wilson, the handwritten copy's signatory order appears to emphasize national unity

Men liberated from concentration camp, 1945

Sealed Files of the United Nations War Crimes Commission Will Finally See Light of Day

The massive archive has already revealed that war crimes charges against Hitler were drawn up as early as 1944

Sigmund Freud, G. Stanley Hall, C.G. Jung, A.A. Brill, Ernest Jones, and Sándor Ferenczi posed at Clark University, Worcester, Massachusetts in September, 1909.

When Freud Met Jung

The meeting of the minds happened 110 years ago

The Titanic leaving Belfast on April 2, 1912. The black streak can be seen just above the water line.

A Coal Fire May Have Helped Sink the 'Titanic'

A new documentary claims the <i>Titanic</i>’s hull was weakened before it struck an iceberg

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