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Rare copy of Declaration of Independence unearthed - in England

Thursday, April 27, 2017 - 01:42

British and American experts are launching an investigation into how a rare copy of the U.S. Declaration of Independence found its way to an archive in southern England. Linda So reports.

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It's a city rich in history... but Chichester in southeast England has also been hiding an unlikely piece of U.S. history. NATS: DOCUMENTS Archivist Wendy Walker is trying to figure out how a rare copy of the U.S. Declaration of Independence ended up in the West Sussex Record Office. SOUNDBITE: WEST SUSSEX COUNTY ARCHIVIST, WENDY WALKER, SAYING: "This document in a way raises more questions than it answers because how did it get to Sussex, how did it end up here, behind all those questions are the questions of when was it made, where was it made, and why was it made and who was it made for and then how did it get here?" The handwritten manuscript, one of only two parchment copies known to exist, had been stored for more than 60 years in a strong-room among reams of other documents, until it was discovered by two Harvard University researchers. SOUNDBITE: WEST SUSSEX COUNTY ARCHIVIST, WENDY WALKER, SAYING: "To have two Harvard academics turn up on your doorstep and start asking all these fascinating questions about one of your documents, you know, was really exciting." The document is thought to date back to the 1780s, the decade after the original was signed, and most likely was written in New York or Philadelphia. The parchment will now go to the British Library for further scientific tests to try to determine who actually owns it. SOUNDBITE: WEST SUSSEX COUNTY ARCHIVIST, WENDY WALKER, SAYING: "They will do hyperspectral imaging which is looking at the document to see things which the naked eye can't see, so there'll be a whole series of tests and forensic examination being done on it over the summer hopefully to give us a few more answers." Until then, the manuscript, which has been valued and insured for an undisclosed sum, will remain under lock and key in the records office.

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Rare copy of Declaration of Independence unearthed - in England

Thursday, April 27, 2017 - 01:42