The original signed (or "engrossed") Declaration is on permanent display at the National Archives, but when independence was declared, most colonists saw a document that we now call the Dunlap Broadside. Broadsides—large pieces of paper printed to be posted in public spaces—were a common way for spreading news during the eighteenth century.
The Dunlap Broadsides were printed by John Dunlap, a Philadelphia printer who eventually became the official printer to Congress in 1778. On the night of July 4, 1776, Dunlap printed the first public and published version of the Declaration. The exact number Dunlap printed is unknown, but is estimated to be around 100 to 200—enough to comply with Congress’s orders that the copies be distributed among the new states and troops, read aloud, and posted in public areas. Only 26 copies are known to have survived.
Congress kept its own copy, which was inserted into the Journal of the Continental Congress’s July 4 entry, and George Washington had his own personal copy as well. His troops heard the Declaration read aloud on July 9 in New York City.
The parchment Declaration has the allure of being the “official” version, but the Dunlap version is actually the one more people would have been familiar with in 1776, given its wider circulation. Most other printers based their own editions off Dunlap's. More people during the revolutionary era saw Dunlap’s version, or some iteration of it, than the engrossed version on display here at the National Archives!