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Declaration of Independence on View in Law School Library

A 1776 copy of the Massachusetts Bay Colony’s edition of the Declaration of Independence is on loan to the Law School Library through November 22, 2013.

 
Copy of Declaration on Independence in Harvard Law School Library

October 15, 2013—In 1776, copies of the Massachusetts Bay Colony’s authorized edition of the Declaration of Independence were disseminated to parish ministers of all denominations as a means to let congregants—which at that time meant nearly all residents—know that the colonies had declared independence from Great Britain.

In July, 2013, shortly after purchasing a rare authorized edition of this historical document, Robin and Marc Wolpow offered to lend it to the Harvard Law School Library, where it will be on display in the Caspersen Room through November 22. Marc Wolpow is a 1984 graduate of HLS.

“We were thrilled,” said Karen Beck, manager of Historical & Special Collections at HLS, who arranged the loan. “We considered it such an honor that the Wolpow family thought of us because this is such an important document.”

Ezekiel Russell of Salem, Massachusetts, printed the document on or around July 16, 1776. This particular version is printed as a broadside, or poster-like sheet of paper. On the back is a handwritten inscription, “Independence Declared.”

“It is likely that this is the first public viewing of the document since 1776—when it was actually used to let the public know that the colonies were declaring their independence,” Beck said. “Students have been so excited to see this piece of our country’s history right before their eyes.”

View the the Massachusetts Bay Colony’s edition of the Declaration of Independence in the Caspersen Room of the Harvard Law School Library from 9 am-5 pm, Monday-Friday through November 22.