Pages from the book The Declaration of Independence: Evolution of the Text

The Library of Congress
The Declaration of Independence: Evolution of the Text

This is the second edition of a volume that was published decades ago in black and white. It tells the story of the evolution of the American Declaration of Independence. Many of us learned in history class that Thomas Jefferson wrote the declaration. What we probably didn’t hear is that the early drafts were circulated among most of Jefferson’s peers, and many of them had suggestions and comments on the text. Also, the process of arriving at a final missive to be sent to King George was a very political one. This book tells the story of how the declaration evolved through these many revisions.

We decided that the key ingredient in this project was the documents themselves. The first edition is full of photographs of documents. With full color photography and the world’s best offset lithography at our disposal we chose to present these documents so that they looked like the real thing rather than photographs of documents. We silhouetted each one and added a soft shadow down and to the right, making them appear to rise up off the page. The effect is quite striking.

To this we added elegant typography with its design roots in the historical period, and a “grabber” cover that suggests the “document-based” approach of the book, but still has bookshelf appeal.

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