A new exhibition entitled, “Making Their Mark: Stories Through Signatures” is coming to the National Archives in Washington, D.C. Here’s a blurb from the Archives describing the exhibit:
“Signatures are personal. The act of signing can be as simple as a routine mark on a form, or it can be a stroke that changes many lives. Signatures can be an act of defiance, or a symbol of thanks and friendship. “Making Their Mark: Stories Through Signatures” will draw from the billions of government records at the National Archives to showcase a unique collection of signatures and tell the stories behind them.
illustrate the many ways people have placed their signature on history, from developing to signing Power The stories in these records, of famous and infamous, known and unknown individuals, are part of our s history, all having made their marks on the American narrative.”
The exhibit contains the signed documents of many notable (Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, Franklin Roosevelt, etc.) and famous (Jackie Robinson, Katharine Hepburn, Michael Jackson, etc.) individuals. It also contains documents from unknown people who wrote of the world around them such as a Japanese American in an interment camp signing a loyalty oath during WWII.
The collection also contains the signatures of infamous individuals like Adolf Hitler, Saddam Hussein, and presidential assassin, John Wilkes Booth.
The National Archives houses the paper evidence collected by the government during the investigation into Lincoln’s assassination. Therefore, they have a multitude of documents written by or owned by Booth to display. For this exhibit, the Archives is displaying one of the most intriguing notes that John Wilkes Booth ever signed: his note to Vice President Andrew Johnson.
John Wilkes Booth left this note for the Vice President in the hours leading up to the assassination. His short message, “Don’t wish to disturb you Are you at home? J Wilkes Booth” has been the subject of inquiry ever since. Conspiracy theorists attempt to use this note as evidence of the Vice President’s complicity in Lincoln’s murder, but most historians seem to believe that, in the moments leading up the tragic events, Booth was making sure all his targets were accounted for in order to topple the entire head of the government: Lincoln, Johnson, and Secretary of State William Seward.
I am not personally aware if this note has ever been on public display before this exhibit. The “Making Their Mark: Stories Through Signatures” exhibit runs from March 21st, 2014 until January 5th, 2015. After that, it is likely this fascinating artifact, and all the others, will be returned to the vaults of the National Archives. Don’t miss the opportunity to see John Wilkes Booth’s note to Vice President Johnson on display at the National Archives.
“Making Their Mark: Stories Through Signatures” Exhibit eGuide. Download the guide HERE and turn to page 22 for a back view of Booth’s note. I’ve also tweeted the page on Booth so check out my Twitter account @BoothieBarn.