First Printing of Declaration of Independence on View through July 9

June 20, 2017

By Michael Morand

The Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library will mark the anniversary of the nation’s founding with a special display of a major document of U.S. history from its collections.

All are welcome to visit and see one of the 26 known copies of the historic first printing of the Declaration of Independence. Often referred to as the Dunlap Broadside in honor of John Dunlap who printed approximately 200 copies in Philadelphia on July 4, 1776, the broadside was soon distributed throughout the thirteen states. A digital image of the Dunlap Broadside can be viewed by clicking here.

The Dunlap Broadside will be on view on the library’s mezzanine during regular exhibition hours through Sunday, July 9, 2017. The Beinecke Library’s ground floor and mezzanine exhibition spaces are open to the public with no admission charge.

The library will also display the July 15, 1776, edition of The Connecticut Courant and Hartford Weekly Intelligencer, which printed the text of the Declaration on page two, following a front page report on speeches in Parliament on the growing support for the cause of independence.

The Pennsylvania Evening Post was the first newspaper to print the text, on July 6, followed soon by five other Philadelphia newspapers, and then other newspapers in the U.S. The Courant, which published weekly like most newspapers at the time, was one of four papers in the state to publish the Declaration early on, beginning with New London’s Connecticut Gazette on July 12, The Courant and The Norwich Packet on July 15, and New Haven’s The Connecticut Journal on July 17.

In addition to the temporary display, visitors can also see materials on permanent exhibition at the Beinecke Library, including: the Gutenberg Bible, the first Western book printed from movable type; John James Audubon’s Birds of America; the 1742 Library of Yale College, the first books in the original Yale library; and a collection of incunabula, the earliest printed books in the West, from 1455 to ca. 1500.

The library also arranges special public exhibitions for extended periods throughout the year. This spring and summer, all are welcome to explore Happiness: The Writer in the Garden, with a companion exhibition, Bird-Watching, on view through August 12.

The Beinecke Library is located at 121 Wall Street. Its ground floor and mezzanine exhibition spaces are open to the public Monday, 10 am – 7 pm; Tuesday – Thursday, 9 am – 7 pm; Friday, 9 am – 5 pm; Saturday, 12 – 5 pm; and Sunday, 12 – 4 pm.

Visitors are also encouraged to make plans to see other markers of U.S. history related to the Declaration of Independence located nearby the Beinecke Library.

Immediately north of the library, the Grove Street Cemetery, 227 Grove Street at High Street, is the burial site of Roger Sherman, a signatory of the Declaration and one of the Committee of Five – led by Thomas Jefferson and including John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and Robert Livingston – charged by the Second Continental Congress with drafting and presenting the Declaration of Independence. The first chartered burial ground in the U.S., the cemetery is free and open to the public daily 9 am – 4 pm.

A few blocks south of the Beinecke Library, the Yale University Art Gallery, 1111 Chapel Street, holds numerous works of art related to the founding of the nation. Its collections include John Trumbull’s painting, “The Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776,” a depiction of the Committee of Five presenting the document to John Hancock.  The Gallery is free and open to the public Tuesday – Friday, 10 am – 5 pm; Saturday – Sunday, 11 am – 5 pm.