"Litera, Scripta, Manet," reads the motto of the National Archives and Records Administration. Loosely translated, the words proclaim that the "written word endures." Many of those early written words were put down with calligraphy pens. One such document is the Declaration of Independence.
Congress asked for an official copy of the Declaration of Independence to be created on July 19, 1776. It was to feature ornamental handwritten script on parchment. This copy of the unanimous declaration of the thirteen United States of America was laid down with a quill pen, and the delicate penmanship took quite some time to be completed. The document was therefore not signed until August 2, 1776.
NARA keeps federal records from as early as the times of the Declaration of Independence to the present day. Only those records are kept that are judged to have continuing value—about 2 to 5 percent of those generated in any given year. By now, they add up to a formidable number, diverse in form as well as in content. There are approximately 13.28 billion pages of textual records; 10 million maps, charts, and architectural and engineering drawings; 44.4 million still photographs, digital images, filmstrips, and graphics; 40 million aerial photographs; 563,000 reels of motion picture film; 992,000 video and sound recordings; and 1,323 terabytes of electronic data.