Our Collection

At the Institute’s core is the Gilder Lehrman Collection, one of the great archives in American history. More than 70,000 items cover five hundred years of American history, from Columbus’s 1493 letter describing the New World to soldiers’ letters from World War II and Vietnam. Explore primary sources, visit exhibitions in person or online, or bring your class on a field trip.

Inside the Vault

Thursday, February 4 at 7:00 p.m. ET

Phillis Wheatley and Elizabeth Keckley were born into slavery, became free, and built a lasting legacy. Join us on February 4, 2021, from 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. ET (4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. PT) as we learn about their lives and take a close look at the poetry of Phillis Wheatley (1753-1784) and the autobiography of Elizabeth Keckley (1818-1907), one of the most sought-after dressmakers in Washington DC.


    Click here to view the documents and additional resources before the program.

    Everyone who registers will be sent a Zoom meeting link and instructions in the confirmation email.

    PD certificates will be sent to all who attend the entirety of the program.

    For more information, please contact us at firstfriday@gilderlehrman.org.

    Inside the Vault: Highlights from the Gilder Lehrman Collection is an online program that highlights unique primary sources from the Gilder Lehrman Collection. From iconic historical treasures, such as the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Emancipation Proclamation, to personal letters that reveal the contributions of ordinary American citizens, each session will investigate primary sources and discuss their background, impact, and potential use in the classroom.

    This event is for teachers, students, families, and everyone with an interest in American history.

    Upcoming Programs

    February 18, 2021: Frederick Douglass: Advocate for Equality 

    Most people know Frederick Douglass as an abolitionist, but his fight for equality did not end with the Thirteenth Amendment. Join us on February 18, 2021, from 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. ET (4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. PT) as we examine four documents written by Frederick Douglass during the 1870s and 1880s that exemplify his fight against the rise of the Jim Crow Era.

    March 4, 2021: Lucy Knox: Loyalist’s Daughter, Patriot’s Wife, and Witness to the American Revolution 

    During the siege of Boston in 1775, 19-year-old Lucy Knox gave up everything she knew and left Boston with her husband’s sword hidden in her clothes. She would never see her parents or siblings again. Lucy’s letters to her husband, Henry Knox, provide valuable eyewitness testimony to the experience of Americans during the Revolutionary War. Join us on March 4, 2021, from 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. ET (4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. PT) as we examine Lucy’s letters and learn about her experiences with smallpox, the dangers of the war, and her divided family.


    View full archive of past sessions