“May They Never Have to be Hidden or Kept in the Dark Again", drawing by Karl Kae Knecht, Evansville Courier, September 2, 1944
Two weeks after Pearl Harbor, the Library of Congress sent the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Lincoln Cathedral’s Magna Carta—all temporarily under its protection—to Fort Knox for safekeeping. They were returned with great fanfare to a public display at the Library of Congress in 1944.
Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress
Protecting National Treasures
During both world wars, the Library of Congress was a valuable partner of Congress, the executive branch, and the military. The library provided vital information, such as maps and technical information, in response to wartime requests. It was also the custodian of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Lincoln Cathedral’s Magna Carta during World War II. After the Pearl Harbor attack, the library evacuated these and other cherished collections to Fort Knox for safekeeping. The library’s extensive efforts in wartime demonstrated its central role as a keeper of knowledge—vital to the nation’s health, Congress’s work, and democracy’s future.