Document on Display

Thousands flock to Michigan's Henry Ford Museum for a rare glimpse of the Emancipation Proclamation

Jul 06, 2011 | By TFK Kid Reporter Gabrielle Healy

On September 22, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation. The document freed slaves around the country and forever changed the face of the nation. Today, the Emancipation Proclamation is stored in the National Archives, in Washington, D.C., along with many other important documents, such as the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights. It is so delicate that it is rarely removed from its climate-controlled environment.

Christian Overland, executive vice president of the museum, spoke with TFK Kid Reporter Gabrielle Healy about the significance of the Emancipation Proclamation.
COURTESY HEALY FAMILY
Christian Overland, executive vice president of the museum, spoke with TFK Kid Reporter Gabrielle Healy about the significance of the Emancipation Proclamation.

But last month, for exactly 36 hours, the famous document went on display at the Henry Ford Museum, in Dearborn, Michigan. More than 20,000 people waited in line, some for up to seven hours, for a rare chance to see the Emancipation Proclamation in person.

A Rare Opportunity

The famous document was shown at the Henry Ford because the museum is celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. "The Emancipation Proclamation is a document for all America, wherever you come from, whoever you are, whoever you want to be," Christian Overland, executive vice president of the museum, told TFK. "It's a document that binds us."

Museum visitors lucky enough to see the Emancipation Proclamation in person also had a chance to learn from the nation-changing document. "Think about Lincoln writing that document—he was courageous," said Overland. "I hope people are inspired by that courage. I hope everyone who sees that document walks away with a little bit of what Abraham Lincoln saw. It redefines democracy every day."