Milestone Documents of U.S. History
June 18, 2005 3:16 PM   Subscribe

100 Milestone Documents. High-quality viewable and downloadable documents of American History, from 1776 to 1965. Of course the usual suspects are available, but you can also see items like the Patent for the Cotton Gin (1794) and the Check for the Purchase of Alaska (1868). Also downloadable PDFs, transcripts, and background information on each document. (Warning: flash)
posted by marxchivist (12 comments total)
Very cool, MarxArchivist (oops, did I spell that right?)!
posted by caddis at 3:29 PM on June 18, 2005

Nice, thanks. The Declaration of Independence and Constitution are amazing, powerful reads. It's satisfying to be able to see the original docs, all handwritten, or read the transcripts.
posted by nickyskye at 3:44 PM on June 18, 2005

That's one hell of a check.
posted by grouse at 3:47 PM on June 18, 2005

Nice. Thanks Marxchivist.
posted by login at 4:12 PM on June 18, 2005

About $95 million in today's money, grouse...given that my tiny house in northern Virginia is assessed at about a half million, and there's no gold or oil on my my really tiny lot, I'd say that was money well spent. All of Alaska for all the houses in about 5 blocks of my house? Yeah, I'd do it!

That is a very, very cool site, Marxchivist.
posted by 1016 at 5:31 PM on June 18, 2005

This is awesome. I just wish I could zoom in on some of the handwritten pages. Oh well.

There's something very powerful about reading Lincoln and Washington's speeches in their own handwriting - probably as close as we'll get to a "reading" in their own voices. Brings out a bit of my inner patriot.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 6:07 PM on June 18, 2005

One helluva damned fine post, Marxchivist! My wife is teaching American history starting this fall; it's bookmarked for her future reference.
posted by Doohickie at 8:05 PM on June 18, 2005

I'm glad people enjoyed this, y'all are quite welcome. I wanted to complain about a bunch of the crap that has been posted here lately, but I thought I'd try and find a decent link to post instead.
posted by marxchivist at 8:18 PM on June 18, 2005

kudos, marxchivist. You rock.
posted by Doohickie at 9:25 PM on June 18, 2005

wow, the declaration looks so faded and worn... it's striking how inevitably things deteriorate, even under such close protection. It's also interesting looking at the change in style over time, from the handwritten calligraphy to the neat typewritten column. I guess any historical documents now would be done in microsoft word...
posted by mdn at 4:25 PM on June 19, 2005

This is fricken cool as hell. Kudos to the poster.
posted by kjh at 4:36 PM on June 19, 2005

XQUZYPHYR: the declaration looks so faded and worn

A couple interesting things from NARA's website:

"One later theory as to why the Declaration was aging so soon after its creation stems from the common 18th-century practice of taking "press copies." Press copies were made by placing a damp sheet of thin paper on a manuscript and pressing it until a portion of the ink was transferred. The thin paper copy was retained in the same manner as a modern carbon copy. The ink was reimposed on a copper plate, which was then etched so that copies could be run off the plate on a press. This "wet transfer" method may have been used by William J. Stone when in 1820 he was commissioned by Secretary of State John Quincy Adams to make a facsimile of the entire Declaration, signatures as well as text."


"The Declaration and Washington's commission as commander in chief were mounted together in a single frame and hung in a white painted hall opposite a window offering exposure to sunlight. There they were to remain on exhibit for 35 years, even after the Patent Office separated from the State Department to become administratively a part of the Interior Department. This prolonged exposure to sunlight accelerated the deterioration of the ink and parchment of the Declaration, which was approaching 100 years of age toward the end of this period."
posted by marxchivist at 7:40 PM on June 19, 2005

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