National Archives Resumes Family Sleepover Event
By Jenna Edwards
More than a hundred guests from as far as Colorado and Georgia poured into the National Archives Museum for a fun and historic sports-themed sleepover during the first weekend in February.
It was the first National Archives Sleepover hosted by Dr. Colleen Shogan since her swearing-in as Archivist of the United States in May 2023, and it was the first sleepover since February 2020, when the tradition was suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Whether you play them or watch them, sports have helped shape America and they provide a connection to our past,” Shogan told guests during her welcome remarks. “We’ve got records about some of our greatest athletes and sports moments here at the Archives.” For this sports-themed sleepover, Shogan wore a Pittsburgh Steelers jersey.
Jackie Robinson, alongside his wife Rachel, both portrayed by reenactors from Bright Star Theatre, engaged guests with his experience of becoming the first African American to play in the Major Leagues and to be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
Children asked the reenactors thoughtful questions about Robinson’s involvement in the civil rights movement. Other activities included a scavenger hunt, arts and crafts, historical trivia, and the opportunity to write a letter to the President of the United States. Guests of all ages loved posing for selfies and family photos as they explored the Rotunda after hours.
The National Archives has hosted sleepovers at the National Archives Museum since 2014. Children between the ages of 8 and 12 and their chaperones experience the rare opportunity to sleep beside the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of the United States, and the Bill of Rights. The following morning, they are treated to a pancake breakfast served by the Archivist of the United States.
“It is fascinating to interact with [the founding] documents I have read about my entire life and never imagined I would get to experience in person,” said Paula Hopkins, who accompanied her daughter, Maci, and two granddaughters, Aaralyn and Everleigh.
Another guest, Delencia Williams, hugged her son, Apollo, for one final photo moment before he made a beeline to the snack table. “I cannot believe I get to see Jackie Robinson, the Declaration of Independence, and National Treasure all in one night,” she said.
Yes, you heard that correctly—the film National Treasure played in the William G. McGowan Theater, accompanied by popcorn served by Shogan. Alternatively, guests could retire to their sleeping bags in the Rotunda while the documents were being “put to sleep.”
“We got to hear the alarm!” brother and sister Navah and Yaron Schultz shared with palpable enthusiasm on Sunday morning.
“I was in the bathroom and missed it,” their mom, Talya, laughed. “This has been such an incredible experience.”
Adults enjoyed coffee and a buffet breakfast of scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, and potatoes. Children lined up for plain, chocolate chip, and banana pancakes served (and flipped with style!) by Shogan and Patrick Madden, Director of the National Archives Foundation. After breakfast, guests visited the National Archives Store before departing at 9 a.m.
“I didn’t realize the extent of what was planned. I appreciate the love and care that went into every detail of this event,” said Jessica Behrman, a National Archives at Denver employee who attended the Archives Sleepover with her daughter, Johanna.
The next sleepover is scheduled for October 19–20, 2024. For more information and to register for future sleepovers, visit www.archivesfoundation.org/sleepover. Questions about the event should be directed to email@example.com.
This National Archives Sleepover is made possible in part by the National Archives Foundation.