New Declaration of Independence Library Guide Released

Washington University Libraries is proud to announce its new Declaration of Independence Library Guide, a resource to help students, researchers, and educators learn more about the Declaration of Independence and the Southwick Broadside that is currently on display at Olin Library. The guide contains links to secondary sources in the library’s circulation, digital resources (including high-resolution reproductions of founding documents), resources for teachers, the Declaration in the news, and other library guides on early American history. Most notably, the guide also provides a list of other rare primary documents in Special Collections’ holdings that are related to the Declaration and its signers.

If you are interested in learning more about the Declaration, we also encourage you to attend our event on July 3rd in which Professor David Konig will give a brief lecture about the document’s history. The lecture will be held at 1PM in Olin Library, room 142, with a reception and display of Special Collections items related to the founding fathers to follow.

Exterior of the Declaration of Independence exhibition

Declaration of Independence exhibition in John M. Olin Library.

About the New Broadside

On May 1, 2018, Washington University Libraries officially unveiled its new permanent exhibit, “A Declaration,” which spotlights a rare broadside copy of the Declaration of Independence printed by Solomon Southwick in Newport, Rhode Island. The exhibit also includes a digitized touchscreen replica of the Declaration with “hot spots” that viewers can tap to learn more about different aspects of the broadside. You can read more about the unique features of this broadside and its history in our post about the exhibit and our in our Q&A with Cassie Brand, curator of rare books.

A copy of the Declaration of Independence at the Olin Library.
James Byard/WUSTL Photos

Washington University hopes that this broadside will encourage students, educators, and visitors to our institution to explore more about our nation’s early history. With that goal in mind, we have compiled a list of resources for learning more about both the Declaration of Independence and the ensuing American Revolution.

Highlights of the Library Guide


Two volumes of Stendhal’s Histoire de la Peinture en Italie, from Thomas Jefferson’s library.

Washington University Libraries owns a substantial collection of primary sources related to the writing of the Declaration of Independence and early American history, including 74 books from the personal library of the primary author of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson, several of which are currently on display with the Declaration. You can read about the relatively recent discovery of these volumes here. The University also owns copies of Critical Reflections on the Character and Actions of Alexander the Great and The History of Rome that were originally from the library of George Washington and contain his bookplate, as well as a number of manuscripts and books written by or to several of the Founding Fathers.

Thomas Jefferson marked the books in his library by adding an I (for J in the Latin alphabet) to the T signature and a T before the I signature. Signatures were letters printed at the bottom of leaves as instructions to the binder. Photo by Joe Angeles.

Explore the entire list of our primary sources in the “Special Collections Resources” section of the new library guide!




About the author

Rose is a PhD candidate in English and American Literature at Washington University in St. Louis. When she is not working on her dissertation on post-1945 asylum novels or blogging about the amazing materials in Special Collections, she fills much of her time reading, writing, gardening, and wrestling.