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Declaration of Independence to Visit Virginia Beach Central Library on Oct. 22

Published: October 15, 2009
The Declaration of Independence is coming to the Meyera E. Oberndorf Central Library for one day only: Thursday, Oct. 22. It is one of only 25 known copies of the Declaration printed on July 4, 1776, and the only one that tours the country.

About 500 students from eight Virginia Beach schools will see the document up-close from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.  No other school tours are available. Public viewing will be from 2 to 6 p.m.

Pearson Education, a national company that specializes in education technology and publishing, is underwriting the document’s visit, along with Declare Yourself, a national nonpartisan, nonprofit campaign that encourages young people over 18 to register and vote.

“We are thrilled and honored to host one of the most famous documents in world history,” said Marcy Sims, director of the Virginia Beach Public Library. “It’s especially appropriate here in Virginia, Thomas Jefferson’s home. I can’t think of a more appropriate historic document to kick off a discussion about democracy in America – especially two weeks before Election Day.”

This copy of the Declaration of Independence has a unique history. On July 4, 1776, Thomas Jefferson completed the final draft of the Declaration and rushed it to the local print shop of John Dunlap in Philadelphia. Dunlap printed about 200 copies on large poster-size sheets of paper called broadsides, which were immediately sent to the colonies and King George to officially declare America independence from England.

In 1989, a flea market shopper bought a frame he admired for $4. Later, he removed a piece of paper wedged between the frame and the painting and found this copy of the Declaration of Independence. It was later authenticated by the Getty Museum as the 25th remaining copy of the Declaration from July 4, 1776.

TV producer and Declare Yourself founder Norman Lear and his wife Lyn bought the copy in 2000 for $8.1 million, with the goal of bringing “the people’s document” directly to the American people.