Is the original "Juneteenth" military order located in Washington, D.C.?
The National Archives and Records Administration is the nation’s record keeper of all document and materials created in the course of business of the US federal government.
And it says, yes, it believes it has the original handwritten “Juneteenth” document at its headquarters in Washington.
The order was issued by Union Major General Gordon Granger and it tells two hundred thousand slaves in Texas that they are free.
The handwritten order dated June 19, 1865, it’s from a U.S Army order book and it’s singed by Major F.W. Emery on behalf of Union Major General Gordon Granger.
The National Archives safeguards many of the nation's most important records related to African American history and civil rights, and General Order Number 3 is one of those records,” said Archivist of the United States David S. Ferriero.
He said, "We know from history that certain events took place, and it's always a delight when we can help make history come alive by sharing the actual documentation of those events.”
“A lot of people may not realize we have the original document in our holdings,” said Trevor K. Plante, Director of Archival Operations at the National Archives Building in Washington, DC.
He said, “One of our public affairs specialists reached out to me to see if we had General Order 3. I searched for the document in our holdings in support of this story. I think this is an important record for American history, and more importantly, African American history.”
The printed version is part of the War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies volumes published in the 1880s and 1890s.
The document will be officially digitized and added to the National Archives Catalog, as well as highlighted on NARA’s African American History page.
“This is a perfect time to showcase General Order No. 3 because it’s one way of educating everyone on African American culture, and I believe it supports the National Archives’ overall goal to create and sustain an inclusive, empowering workplace culture that connects employees to the agency’s mission of making access happen,” said Erica Pearson, Director of the Office of Equal Employment Opportunity program at the National Archives.
Juneteenth has been formally celebrated primarily by people in African American communities in Texas since 1866 and later celebrated in other states. Nearly all U.S. states and the District of Columbia currently recognize Juneteenth as an official state holiday or observance. It is the oldest known celebration commemorating the end of slavery in the United States.