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Artifacts

Browse our collection of artifacts

The Freedom Collection includes important documents and artifacts from major freedom movements, which will be displayed for public viewing at the George W. Bush Presidential Center and made available to researchers and scholars studying these movements. For information about the documentary archive, please contact us.

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Writer and dissident Vaclav Havel was among the authors of Charter 77, a manifesto that called on the communist government of Czechoslovakia to respect human rights. When Charter 77 was published and circulated, it prompted a harsh reaction from the government. Many of those who signed the document were harassed, arrested and detained by the secret police.

Havel was taken into custody in January 1977 for circulating copies of the charter and released in May. State-controlled media released selective excerpts of a letter Havel wrote, where he indicated that...Read More +

Throughout his life, Vaclav Havel was an outspoken advocate for human freedom. As a writer, he found himself frequently at odds with Czechoslovakia’s communist government. In 1977, he joined other dissidents in writing Charter 77, a document that called on the government to respect basic human rights. Like other democratic activists, Havel was frequently harassed, detained, and imprisoned by the authorities.

Havel helped lead the nonviolent demonstrations that brought down the communists in 1989 and in a remarkable turn of events, the former dissident...Read More +

In 1990, a peaceful pro-democracy movement in Mongolia forced the resignation of the Government, ending almost 70 years of Communist rule. Mongolia then adopted a new Constitution, which establishes a parliamentary democracy and protects fundamental rights including freedom of speech. In 2005, President Elbegdorj, who had helped to lead the 1990 revolution, presented his personal copy of the Mongolian Constitution to President Bush with notations throughout the document describing changes made in the course of the constitutional convention.

Image courtesy of the personal holdings of President and Mrs. George W. Bush 

A renowned playwright and author, Vaclav Havel became a political activist and dissident in Communist Czechoslovakia. For his ongoing nonviolent resistance to the authoritarian state, Havel was frequently imprisoned. During his longest stay in prison, from May 1979 to February 1983, the collected letters Havel wrote to his wife Olga were published as a samizdat or underground book entitled Letters to Olga.

Havel’s letters were censored and were supposed to deal only with family concerns. But his letters dealt with a remarkable range of issues and ultimately on the nature of humanity itself.

This edition of Letters to Olga is an original samizdat version. The book was presented to the Freedom Collection by the Read More +

This document, which was donated to the Freedom Collection by His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama is an early draft of what became the 1963 Tibetan Constitution. The document contains handwritten edits by His Holiness.

For centuries, the Dalai Lamas held exclusive political and religious authority in Tibet. After Tibetans were forced into exile in 1959, the 14th Dalai Lama began the process of replacing this system with democratic institutions. The 1963 Constitution took the first important steps toward democratic rule.

Image provided courtesy of the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum 

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