Archivalia of 2018: Masaryk's manuscript of the first draft of the Washington Declaration of mid-October 1918

For the jubilee year of 2018, when we commemorated the centenary of the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic, the MÚA AV ČR (or rather the staff of the Archives Department of the Institute of the Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences) prepared a number of archival documents and hundreds of photographs for the picture supplements of publications and exhibitions.

The manuscript of Masaryk's first draft of the Washington Declaration from mid-October 1918 received the most attention. It is a declaration of independence of the Czechoslovak nation by its provisional government, written by Masaryk at the end of the First World War in the USA, which went down in history under the name of the Washington Declaration. The Declaration proclaimed a sovereign and independent Czechoslovak Republic and rejected the possibility of autonomy within Austria-Hungary, citing the historical rights of the Czechs and the right to self-determination for the Slovaks. The content and structure of the Declaration are influenced by the American Declaration of Independence.

Last year, visitors could see the original Masaryk's draft for the first time at the exhibition 18-18th Century of the State Holiday, which was organised by the Centre for Joint Activities of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic from 7 May to 20 July 2018 at the Science and Art Gallery in the Academy of Sciences building on Národní třída in Prague. After a week, the original document was replaced with copies for reasons of its protection. For the second time, the document was presented at the Czech-Slovak / Slovak-Czech Exhibition, which took place from 27 April 2018 to 9 September 2018 at the Slovak National Museum in Bratislava, and from 28 October 2018 to 30 June 2019 it can be seen by visitors in the Historical Building of the National Museum in Prague. The original was on loan for the first week of the exhibition in Prague from 28 October to 5 November 2018, after which it was replaced by copies. Copies of the draft declaration were also seen by visitors to the exhibition T. G. M. Myth and Reality, which was organized by the Museum of the Czech Karst in Beroun from 11 October to 31 December 2018.

From Masaryk to Havel and Beyond. The poster printed on canvas was framed and the document attracted a lot of attention, according to Mrs. Pavla Veličkin from the Washington Embassy. The Czech Ambassador Hynek Kmonicek drew particular attention to it and it was also featured in a report by Czech Television.

Links to articles including photo gallery:;

Czech Television report:

The framed documentary was also loaned to the Czech military representative at the NATO base in Norfolk for the 100th anniversary of the Republic. A reproduction of the manuscript was also displayed during the Czech Embassy's reception in Washington for the Republic Day, where, in addition to Ambassador Hynek Kmoníček, the Minister of Culture Antonín Staněk and the US Ambassador in Prague Stephen King also spoke.;

Participants of Jan Kouřimský's lecture The Establishment of the Czechoslovak State in a pictorial presentation could then compare the first draft of the Washington Declaration, stored in our archives, and the second draft of the Declaration, stored in the National Archives in Prague. The lecture took place on 20 October 2018 as part of the event "Doors of the archives open wide" at the National Archives in Prague.

First draft of the Washington Declaration

Masaryk Institute and Archives of the CAS, AÚTGM, T. G. Masaryk Fund, sign. V-XV-35/b/1, k. 314

Photo gallery