How is the Jefferson writing box related to the nation's historical memory?

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Well, the importance of this object to me, it's sort of-- it can really say quite a lot about just the nature of museums and the way people thought about saving things and what was important to them in its time and also the way-- it's sort of almost a comment upon the-- what Jefferson described as the imaginary value of sort of superstitious relics that were gaining importance, the things that were associated with the American Revolution and to my way of thinking, this is the first national object, I mean, after the physical calligraphy that's on the Declaration that you see at the National Archives. This is where it was drafted and as soon as someone sets pen to paper and thinking in those terms, you're literally making a nation and so in that sense, I think in a national museum, this is the primary artifact. This is object no. 1 from which I think you could really benefit and start with this and then go from there. You could talk about freedom, liberty, democracy. You could talk about slaves. You could talk about traveling and you could talk about copying. You could talk about any number of things, but to me, that's really what I would like people to understand about it.


Interview with Larry Bird, National Museum of American History, May 31, 2006.