Proud American

Yale library displays early copy of Declaration of Independence

An early printed copy of Declaration of Independence is now on display at a Yale University library for rare books. 

The document will be on display at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library through Thursday. It's normally kept in a drawer in the library's sub-basement, the New Haven Register reports. 

The broadside was made by John Dunlap, the official printer of the Continental Congress, in Philadelphia on July 4, 1776, to publicize the adoption of the Declaration of Independence.

It's "one of the 26 known copies of the historic first printing" still in existence, the library said. 

The document predates the calligraphic version of the Declaration of Independence, which was created later and signed by John Hancock and the rest of Congress in August of that year.

"This is literally hot off the floors of Congress and one of the interesting things is there's no manuscript before this date that matches the text," Beinecke Library curator George Miles told the Register. "So whatever kind of text that the Congress voted on has been lost. We assume [Dunlap] would have been at the press, setting type from a paper copy of some kind, but that has never been found."

There is no record of how many copies Dunlap printed. The library says online that he "printed approximately 200." 

The document at Yale, which the school got in 1936, doesn't indicate to whom it was sent, according to Miles. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.