National Archives flags founding American documents online with ‘Harmful Language’ trigger warnings

The digital versions of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence have gotten a bit of a makeover in the National Archives’ online catalog with a new trigger warning appearing above documents indicating there may be “potentially harmful language” contained within the founding documents.

The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) has slapped a banner above the Constitution that reads: “Harmful Language Alert: see NARA’s Statement on Potentially Harmful Language.” Below the banner is the image of the first page of the well-aged document which has made a name for itself as the “world’s longest surviving written charter of government.”

The same banner can also be found on the Bill of Rights, which includes the first 10 amendments to the Constitution, as well as the Declaration of Independence. However, there is no indication as to what specific parts of any of the three documents prompted the warnings to be applied.

One social media user suggested that perhaps the Second Amendment was the triggering issue since it guarantees that the right to bear arms “shall not be infringed.”

Though the warning was applied quietly, apparently after the release of a 105-page “task force on racism” report that was commissioned after George Floyd’s death last year, the banners have received intense backlash.

The NARA statement explains that the labels are applied to “harmful or difficult” content which could:

*reflect racist, sexist, ableist, misogynistic/misogynoir, and xenophobic opinions and attitudes;

*be discriminatory towards or exclude diverse views on sexuality, gender, religion, and more;

*include graphic content of historical events such as violent death, medical procedures, crime, wars/terrorist acts, natural disasters and more;

*demonstrate bias and exclusion in institutional collecting and digitization policies.


The statement explains that while NARAs mission is to preserve documents, it “will seek to balance the preservation of this history with sensitivity to how these materials are presented to and perceived by users.”

They further explain that the warnings are part of an “institutional commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility.”

Some people provided suggested solutions to counter the woke narrative being spewed by an organization that formerly focused solely on the preservation and archival of documents.

The task force has also deemed the Rotunda in Congress racists and claimed that it reeks of “structural racism.”


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