Rare copy of the Declaration of Independence to display at Washington University

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ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI) - Inside the John M. Olin Library at Washington University in St. Louis Nadia Ghasedi is keeping her eyes on a key piece of this country's history.

"Can you smell it? Yeah, smelling is always an important thing." said Associate University Librarian Washington University Nadia Ghasedi.

Friday afternoon Ghasedi was letting us see and smell a 240-year-old document that has everything to do with this country we live in.

"This is the artifact. This was the thing that was put on the door of the courthouse. The public would then learn that they were no longer part of a colony. That they are now living in the state of Rhode Island. That's what this particular broadside was produced for, Rhode Island. One reason why it's so rare is that given the nature of its use, it's not common that they would be saved." said Nadia Ghasedi.

For centuries until just recently when the priceless piece of parchment was donated by the family of Eric and Evelyn Newman. If you're looking for the John Hancock or signatures from the Continental Congress, you'll have to go to see the original at the National Archives in Washington, D.C.

This proclamation that let the world know that all men are created equal, might be a little more unique.

"This was printed earlier. In fact, it's missing a key word at the title and that's 'Unanimous.' And that's because at the time this document was printed it wasn't unanimous. New York was not onboard yet." said Nadia Ghasedi.

To see the document our forefathers created in person, you'll have to wait until fall of 2017. Washington University is building a specialized exhibition space. They're working with the Library of Congress to make sure the humidity, temperature and light levels are correct when the masses come to read for themselves about life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.