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Deep Dive into the Declaration of Independence

November 4 @ 9:30 am - 12:30 pm

Online Zoom ticket sales are still open. The event is over, but you may want to purchase a Zoom ticket to receive the recording. The event exceeded everyone’s expectations!

Program for Deep Dive into the Declaration of Independence
APT Acknowledgment of Gratitude for the Event

With the 250th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence approaching in 2026, now is a great time to prepare for the upcoming festivities by diving deep! The Association of Philadelphia Tour Guides (APT) is organizing a half day panel discussion on the Declaration of Independence (DOI) scheduled for 9:30 am – 12:30 pm on Saturday, November 4. Doors open at 9 am for coffee and snacks (including donations from A&A Pretzels). At 9:30 we’ll open the event with a reading of the DOI by APT’s own Benjamin Franklin!

Confirmed speakers are Emily Sneff, Ph.D. (the speaker at APT’s July meeting whose great presentation inspired us to delve deeper); West Chester University professor tonya thames taylor (she gave a talk earlier in July at the NCC on “In Pursuit of Freedom: What Shaped Frederick Douglass” and last summer on “the complicated and nuanced relationships Blacks have with the 4th of July”); and University of Delaware professor Zara Anishanslin (a long time presenter at APT events who contributed to the essay collection Emily curated on impressions of rereading the DOI – scroll down to Fresh Takes). It promises to be a truly enlightening event! Click here for the Deep Dive into DOI Flyer. Click here for Why APT Members are Recommending This Event.

Emily Sneff’s presentation is “The Early History of the Declaration of Independence.” She will provide an overview of where, how, and why the Declaration was drafted, how the Continental Congress edited the text, and what the initial reactions to the Declaration were in the summer of 1776. Emily will also explain the process of signing the venerated parchment copy of the Declaration, and the parchment’s travels in the first few decades of the United States. For the drafting process and the custodians of the signed parchment, she will emphasize the sites in Philadelphia (some of which survive or have historical markers, and some that don’t) where guides could talk about these topics.

tonya thames-taylor explores how Blacks, as a collective, interpreted the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Discussing Frederick Douglass, Ida B. Wells, Shirley Graham DuBois, and Black radicals in the 1960s, tonya explains how the founding documents are living, interpretive documents that have impacted how Blacks, over time, aim to “create a more perfect union” to ensure “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” to the American struggle for universal democracy.

Zara Anishanslin’s presentation is “Women and the World: The Expansive Limits of the Declaration of Independence.” She will discuss the “remember the ladies” (or rather the lack thereof) extended discussion between Mercy Otis Warren as well as Abigail and John Adams, and then link it both to the Declaration of the Rights of Women and Citizen and the Seneca Falls Declaration. Zara will also discuss the Declaration’s global impact, specifically highlighting how both the French and Haitian Revolutions used it as a model (or didn’t).

The event will be held at Old First United Church of Christ, 151 N. 4th St, Philadelphia, PA 19106. There will be other events going on in the building at the same time; we will use the upstairs sanctuary space. The panel discussion will also be offered on Zoom. (A tech person from the church who does the livestream services on Sundays will be facilitating.)

Tickets are on sale now in the APT Store (register under ‘Special Events’). Non-members wishing to register for the member price are invited to join APT (early bird pricing is $40 yearly membership fee through December 31 and then $60 after January 1).

In-person members: $15/ non-members: $25
Zoom members: $10/ non-members: $14
Corporate: $30 (In-person attendance for 3 employees or volunteers of an APT corporate member. Email Marianne with the names of those who will attend. Corporate members wanting fewer in-person tickets or zoom tickets should have the employees or volunteers purchase them at the individual member price, even if the individuals themselves are not members.)

The event is geared toward tour guides and other tour professionals but absolutely anyone interested in the topic is welcome. Please contact Marianne with any questions: Join us!


November 4
9:30 am - 12:30 pm


Old First UCC
151 N. 4th St.
Philadelphia, PA 19106 United States
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