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See the Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights at NYPL this week

American history buffs should hightail it to the New York Public Library for a rare chance to view centuries-old copies of the historic documents.

Photograph: Jonathan Blanc / NYPL

Just in time for the Fourth of July, the New York Public Library has dug up priceless copies of the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights from its Manuscripts and Archives Division and will display them at the library’s flagship location at the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building from July 1 to 3. The documents are rarely viewable to the public due to their age and delicacy, but the three-day “Foundations of Freedom” exhibit will present the two pieces of history together to library visitors (for free!) for the first time.

Both manuscripts were donated to the library by John S. Kennedy in 1896, and they give parents and kids a peek at the process behind the creation of the historic documents. The copy of the Bill of Rights is one of 14 original copies distributed to the states in 1789, and contains the first ten amendments of the Constitution, plus two more that were never ratified. This version of the Declaration was handwritten by Thomas Jefferson in the days after its ratification on July 4; an original draft, it contains several sections, including one about slavery, that were removed from the official version.

Foundations of Freedom” will be on display at the NYPL, Stephen A Schwarzman Building from Mon July 1–Wed July 3.

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