If you’ve ever attended a public demonstration, read a newspaper, served on a jury, or taken part in any other number of civic activities, you can thank the Bill of Rights.
The first 10 amendments of the U.S. Constitution celebrated their 225th anniversary in 2016. To mark the occasion, the National Archives launched “Amending America,” a celebration of the Bill of Rights and constitutional amendments that includes “The Bill of Rights and You,” a traveling pop-up exhibit that you can see at KFL through January.
The Bill of Rights and other constitutional amendments have fundamentally shaped America’s history. According to the National Archives, more than 11,000 amendments have been proposed since the Constitution was written in 1787. Most have failed to be enacted, but the 27 amendments that have been ratified have guaranteed free speech and voting rights, ended slavery, and more. The pop-up exhibit illustrates the origins of the bill of rights, how each amendment protects citizens, and how Americans exercise the rights outlined in those amendments. The exhibit is organized by the National Archives and Records Administration and the National Archives Traveling Exhibits Service. A collaboration with the Maine Humanities Council and the Federation of State Humanities Councils has brought “The Bill of Rights and You” to Kennebunk Free Library.
Exhibit co-curator Jennifer Johnson says, “The Bill of Rights represents the Founder’s vision that it would be the people, through votes, that could change the Constitution with enough consensus. And when the people desired a Bill of Rights, our first ten amendments were added to our governing charter.”
Be sure to check out this guide to the exhibit, which includes online resources, links to information, and opportunities to participate in discussions about the Bill of Rights and constitutional amendments. The National Archives has also released an e-book about the exhibit called Amending America.
You can explore materials related to the Bill of Rights in the library’s collection here. We can also request items from libraries throughout Maine through Minerva – don’t hesitate to ask!