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Amending America: How do we amend the Constitution?

Our new exhibition, “Amending America,” opens on March 11, 2016.

2016​ ​marks the 225th anniversary of the Bill of Rights, written in 1789 & ratified on December 15, 1791. The original Bill of Rights, on permanent display in the National Archives Rotunda for the Charters of Freedom, is still closely connected to the biggest issues of today–and to each of our citizens.

Here is a sneak peak of a musical number explaining how we amend our Constitution.  This animated video was made in collaboration with HISTORY and shows the story of how we amend, through the proposal and ratification process. It also illustrates why our Founders made it possible to amend, & explains the important role of the Archivist of the United States in the amendment process!

Did you know that more than 11,000 amendments have been proposed in congressional history, but never made it through the approval process? As part of the work preparing for the “Amending America” exhibition, NARA volunteers & staff transcribed & edited over 11,000 entries of proposed amendments to the U.S. Constitution, as recorded by congress from 1787 to 2014. We have made this work available as an open dataset in CSV format, available for anyone to download on and What can you visualize or do with this data? Have suggestions for improvements, let us know!

“Amending America” is on display in the Lawrence F. O’Brien Gallery of the National Archives Museum in Washington, DC, from March 11, 2016 through September 4, 2017. Featuring more than 50 original documents from the National Archives, this exhibit highlights the remarkably American story of how we have amended, or attempted to amend, the Constitution in order to form “a more perfect union.”

Amending America is presented in part by the National Archives Foundation through the generous support of AT&T, HISTORY®, & the Lawrence F. O’Brien Family.


Updated: March 8, 2016 — 7:54 pm

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