MAKING THEIR MARK exhibition at the National Archives


“Making Their Mark: Stories Through Signatures”
features original signatures from the National Archives extensive nationwide holdings.
They illustrate the many ways people have placed their signature on history,
from developing a signature style to signing groundbreaking policy into law. Each
story in the exhibit illustrates the many ways people have left their mark on history
or popular culture. Signatures illustrate the power of original
records and the important role the National Archives has in preserving our nation’s history.
Nearly half of the items in the exhibit come from our presidential libraries and our
field offices nationwide. From John Hancock’s distinct swirling signature,
to legislation allowing the auto pen to authenticate a law or document, technology
has changed how we sign. President Clinton signed the Electronic Signatures
and Global and National Commerce Act on June 30, 2000 and he used
digital signature technology to do so. Presidents often use several pens to sign
important legislation. And these fifty pens were used by President Kennedy or President
Johnson to sign bills passed between 1961 and 1965.
After the New York Giants won their fourth Super Bowl in 2012, the team and coaches
presented this autographed football to President Obama.
The LA Lakers signed this shirt and presented it to President Reagan in 1988 and it is
signed by team members including Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
Michael Jackson, “The King of Pop,” patented this shoe so he could perform his
gravity-defying dance moves on stage. A signature can be many things; beyond written
signatures there are examples of signature style.
These boots are a signature item, coming from the George H.W. Bush Presidential
Library Museum. The boots were given to President Bush by bootmaker Tony Lama.
Just a few years after the successful introduction of Mickey Mouse, this rarely seen
illustration is an exhibit from a copyright infringement lawsuit that Walt Disney filed
against a company who created a copycat mouse named Milton.
In 1937, Richard Nixon submitted this application to be a special agent in the FBI. It
wasn’t until Nixon was Vice President of the United States that he learned what
happened. Director of the FBI J. Edgar Hoover told him that he had been accepted but
due to budget cuts, his appointment was held back.
This marriage certificate between Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun is affixed with their
signatures as well as witnesses Joseph Goebbels and Martin Bormann.
Accompanying it is the U.S. Army’s English translation.
“Making Their Mark: Stories Through Signatures” draws from the billions of government
records at the National Archives to showcase a unique collection of signatures and tell
the fascinating stories behind them.

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