The National Archives, which hosts digital copies of the U.S. Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, among other documents, will now have “trigger warnings” for prospective readers.
The aforementioned digitizations of America’s founding documents will now come with trigger warnings to alert readers that they may contain “harmful language” following the release of a report from a National Archives anti-racism task force that called for the agency to provide “context” for the historical materials it hosts.
As reported in the Daily Wire, digital copies of the American constitution and the Declaration of Independence are among the documents marked for trigger warnings, and now feature a “Harmful Language Alert” that appears at the top of the page and directs users to a National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) statement on “potentially harmful content.”
The organization does not specify why these documents have had the warning tacked onto them, but the statement suggests that the documents and historical materials are marked as having “harmful language” when they:
- 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.
Trigger warnings are provided as one of several solutions to the problem of exposing a more “diverse community” of people to the documents, and are a part of NARA’s “institutional commitment” to “diversity, equity, and inclusion.”
“The Catalog and web pages contain some content that may be harmful or difficult to view,” NARA said in a July statement.
“NARA’s records span the history of the United States, and it is our charge to preserve and make available these historical records. As a result, some of the materials presented here may reflect outdated, biased, offensive, and possibly violent views and opinions. In addition, some of the materials may relate to violent or graphic events and are preserved for their historical significance,” it added.