Sept. 17: Constitution Day

Constitution Day commemorates the signing of the U.S. Constitution on Sept. 17, 1787. The day traces its roots to 1940, when Congress requested that the third Sunday in May recognize people who had attained the status of American citizenship; they called it “I Am an American Day.” In 1952 Congress passed a new law moving the date to the current date. In 2004 Congress renamed the holiday "Constitution Day and Citizenship Day" and added two new requirements: that every federal agency provide employees with educational materials about the Constitution on Sept. 17, and that educational institutions that receive federal funds should hold Constitution-related program for students.

Examples of Library Programming

Worcester (Mass.) Public Library partnered with community organizations to host a series of Constitution Day events, including hosting a panel of officials from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services available to answer questions regarding the responsibilities of citizenship.

Flagler County (Fla.) Public Library hosted a program on the right to counsel, including a discussion moderated by the Flagler County attorney and a short video on the Sixth Amendment.

Bristol (Tenn.) Public Library presented a public talk by a local law professor.

Akron-Summit County (Ohio) Public Library hosted the Akron Bar Association’s annual Constitution Day Celebration, featuring remarks by a U.S. District Court judge, the administration of the oath for new citizens, and participation by young people and local dignitaries.

Teaching Resources

An online version of the Constitution (in both online text and downloadable versions) is available at

The American Political Science Association offers a number of resources to aid in teaching about the US Constitution.

The American Democracy Project, a multi-campus initiative of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, in partnership with the New York Times, offers a planning guide and other Constitution Day resources.

The Center for Civic Education, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to promoting an enlightened and responsible citizenry, has a Constitution Day resource page with lesson plan ideas and activities for various ages.

The Sonoma County (Calif.) Office of Education provides library/instructional resources for teaching the Constitution.

The Washington State University has teaching guides, including resources and events for Constitution Day.