An exhibit opening June 22 to the public features 150 years of work by the Government Printing Office, including an original preliminary copy of the Emancipation Proclamation.
The copy was printed by GPO in September 1862 and bears faint penciled corrections. Most likely the marks were made by GPO proofreaders. Those corrections were incorporated into the final Proclamation, issued in January 1863.
The preliminary Proclamation is on loan from the Library of Congress through the end of the year.
GPO had printed 15,000 preliminary versions for the War Department, which were distributed to commanders, troops and diplomats.
The exhibit – entitled “Keeping America Informed: United States Government Printing Office: 150 Years of Service to the Nation” – coincides with the printing of a retrospective book detailing the agency’s history.
According to the book, the significance of the document was evident in a letter then-Public Printer John Defrees wrote to President Abraham Lincoln’s secretary, “Only a few events stand out prominently on the page of the history of each century … The proposed proclamation of the President will be that one of this century.”