Monday July 05, 2021

The Ipswich town clerk has served as steward for 245 years of a nationally significant object of American history, the town’s original copy of the Declaration of Independence Broadside. To celebrate the July 4th holiday and share this document with the community and beyond, the library has mounted a special exhibition highlighting this object and its history in the context of the foundation of the United States government.

The show highlights Ipswich’s role in the fight for independence from Great Britain and the experience of indigenous and enslaved people during this time of great turmoil. Both original documents and reproductions from the Library’s local history and special collections are included. “We often think of the Declaration of Independence and the Revolutionary War as national history removed from our local experience in small towns and cities. These documents reconnect us to the individuals living during this tumultuous time in the history of this continent. Ipswich residents learned of the declaration from this very document printed in Salem and read aloud to the community. Alongside the broadside we are presenting contemporaneous documents to help contextualize this time in Ipswich for viewers.

A bill of sale for an enslaved teenage boy helps us to understand the range of experience during a time we have historically referred to as our fight for independence. It is critical for us to consider who was and was not gaining independence. This is a unique opportunity to see these objects in person.” Meghan Fahey Petersen, Library Archivist.

In addition to the exhibition the Children’s Room is presenting a complimentary display with both a tactile and audio visual component. The exhibition will be on view from July 1 through September 30th outside the Ipswich Room Archives at the Library, at 25 North Main Street, Ipswich.

For more information contact the Acting Library Director, Lilly Sundell-Thomas, at lsthomas@ipswichlibrary.org or 978-356-6649.

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