Skip to site content
group travel leader select traveler small market meetings

Emancipation Proclamation comes to Tennessee

Emancipation Proclamation image courtesy Foundation for the National Archives

NASHVILLE – The fragile piece of paper that changed the course of history is coming to the Tennessee State Museum in Nashville in 2013. The Emancipation Proclamation declared millions of slaves legally free when Abraham Lincoln signed it in 1863.

The document rarely leaves the National Archives in Washington, D.C., but will travel as part of the National Archives’ multimedia exhibit Discovering the Civil War. The exhibit will open on February 12, 2013 (Lincoln’s birthday) and continue through September 2013.

“It is an incredible honor for Tennessee to host the Emancipation Proclamation, a document whose significance to the history of this country, and this region in particular, cannot be overstated,” said Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam when he announced the coming exhibit.

The manuscript will only be visible to the public at intervals during a to-be-determined six-day period in 2013 to mark the document’s 150th anniversary. However, the Discovering the Civil War exhibit will continue beyond this viewing to present many perspectives of the War from other contemporary documents on display.

“Discovering the Civil War is a fresh, interactive exploration of a well known historic chapter, piecing together original letters, diaries, photos, maps… and proclamations to portray the Civil War through a vibrant multimedia experience,” said Lois Riggins-Ezzell, executive director of the Tennessee State Museum. “The unique approach of the exhibit and the great relevance of the National Archives makes it all the more gratifying that Nashville has been chosen as the sole Southeastern city located in the heart of the former Confederacy for an installation.”

The exhibit’s 12 themed sections will incorporate interactive features and social media tools for a more personal examination of the war. Some of these themes include “Spies and Conspiracies,” “Prisoners and Casualties” and “Emancipation.”

Currently the exhibit is on display at the Houston Museum of Natural Science in Houston, Texas, until April 29. For more information, visit or