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A crucial piece of Juneteenth history is on display in Dallas

 Text of General Order No. 3 freeing enslaved people in Texas.
Texas State Library
The only original copy of General Order No. 3 is on display in Dallas.

People in Dallas can mark Juneteenth by viewing the only original copy of the order ending legal slavery in Texas.

General Order No. 3 was read by Major General Gordon Granger on June 19, 1865 —two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed — and marked the actual end of slavery in Texas, one of the last states where enslaved people gained their freedom.

It’s on display at the Hall of State in Fair Park, in the East Texas room.

The Dallas Historical Society has put the document on display temporarily in the past, but Executive Director Karl Chiao says it has remained on display since the organization’s centennial celebration in 2022.

“It has been on exhibit for the past eight months to a year now,” Chiao said. “So, it is certainly here, it gets a lot more attention this time of year of course but it is out on display right now.”

Chiao described the document as one of the society’s “top items.”

Juneteenth originated in Texas in the 1800s and became an official state holiday in 1980. President Joe Biden signed a bill in 2021 making Juneteenth a federal holiday.

The Dallas Historical Society will be closed on Juneteenth, but the historical exhibits in the Hall of State are free and open to the public Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Sunday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

While the only remaining copy can be viewed in Dallas, the original handwritten document is in the National Archives in Washington, D.C.

“I searched for the document in our holdings in support of this story,” Trevor K. Plante, director of archival operations at the National Archives Building, said in a 2020 press release. "I think this is an important record for American history, and more importantly, African American history.”