September 9, 2021

The National Archives has placed a ‘Harmful Language Alert’ on the pages with images of the Bill of Rights, the Constitution, and the Declaration of Independence.  The warning with a link, reads, “Harmful Language Alert: see NARA’s Statement on Potentially Harmful Language.”  When clicking the link you are taken to a page which, in part, reads:

The Catalog and web pages contain some content that may be harmful or difficult to view.  NARA’s records span the history of the United States, and it is our charge to preserve and make available these historical records.  As a result, some of the materials presented here may reflect outdated, biased, offensive, and possibly violent views and opinions.  In addition, some of the materials may relate to violent or graphic events and are preserved for their historical significance. 

The National Archives is committed to working with staff, communities, and peer institutions to assess and update descriptions that are harmful and to establish standards and policies to prevent future harmful language in staff-generated descriptions.

You can view the documents and warning messages by going to founding documents

From here, click on the link, under each document, which reads, “View in National Archives Catalog.”  You will then be taken to a page showing an image with the document and the warning at the top of the page.  The image of the Declaration of Independence can be seen, here:  National Archives Declaration of Independence

Clicking on the warning leads you to an explanation of the warning, seen here:  National Archives Harmful Content Warning

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