The print of the Declaration of Independence will be shown in Altoona as part of the community’s 150th anniversary. Victoria Veatch, spokeswoman for the Altoona Area Historical Society, says the museum is borrowing the document from the State Historical Society of Iowa.
“They’ve had to go through and get a special casing just to bring it over for us,” Veatch says. “We do have to have a police presence for it. We had to go through and get a new security system and just make sure the museum is up-to-date and up to code on that kind of stuff.” This print was donated to the State Historical Society in 1947 by Altoona resident Mary Thornton Davenport. Her great-grandfather, Matthew Thornton, was a delegate to the Continental Congress from New Hampshire and he signed the original Declaration of Independence in 1776.
Veatch says the fact the document is coming back to Altoona for this limited showing is creating a real buzz. “We’re going to have a special night on Wednesday, for historical society members only,” Veatch says, “and then we’re going to have it on display Thursday from 5 to 8 p.m. for the general public and Friday from 10 to 5, Saturday 12 to 8 and Sunday 12 to 5.”
The declaration will be on display as part of an exhibit called, “Celebrate Community,” which showcases city celebrations and the documents that helped shape Altoona into what it is today.
“They are going to have copies of the declaration that people can buy and take home to hang on the wall,” Veatch says. “It will be a fun event for everybody and we hope people come out for that and also stay and see all of the fun things we have planned for our 150 year celebration.” The print measures about 24 by 30 inches and Veatch says it’s one of perhaps two dozen prints that survived the decades.