In Order to Form a More Perfect Union
Resources for Constitution Day: Federally funded educational institutions must provide educational programs for students on Sept. 17 about the U.S. Constitution
By Brenda Walton
What is Constitution Day?
Constitution Day is observed every year on September 17 to honor the signing and adoption of the Constitution of the United States of America by the Founding Fathers in Philadelphia on September 17, 1787.
Also, Constitution Day is known as Citizenship Day, which was the name of the holiday until 2004, as its purpose was to “recognize all who, by coming of age or by naturalization, have become citizens.” Citizenship Day, in turn, was inspired by “I Am an American Day,” created in the 1940s to celebrate citizenship. The official name of the holiday is now Constitution Day and Citizenship Day.
The Constitution is the supreme law of the United States. It is the founding document that delineates the national framework of our government.
Where is the Constitution Located?
The Constitution’s home is the National Archives building in Washington, D.C. It is located on the upper level of the National Archives in the Rotunda for the Charters of Freedom.
Why Did Constitution Day Start?
I always wondered how commemorating the Constitution’s birthday became a condition to participation in Title IV programs. The late Senator Robert C. Byrd believed that students lacked significant knowledge about the U.S. Constitution. Senator Byrd proposed an amendment that was passed by both Houses of Congress, which gave rise to Constitution Day.
In researching Constitution Day, I found some ideas and resources you can use to craft your celebration.
- The National Archives website provides Constitution Day activities and materials.
- The Library of Congress American Memory site provides numerous resources on the Constitution that can be found at this link.
- The National Endowment for the Humanities provides content on the Constitution through the EDSITEMENT website.
- The U.S. Senate has posted material from the Legislative Branch.
- We also encourage you to access information about the Constitution on the National History Education Clearinghouse site at www.teachinghistory.org. The NHEC is funded by the U.S. Department of Education under contract No. ED-07-CO-0088. The NHEC homepage features special, highlighted information on teaching resources for Constitution Day.
PL 108-447, “Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2005,” Dec. 8, 2004; 118 Stat. 2809, 3344-45 (Sec.111).
Brenda Walton is Global’s Senior Subject Matter Expert