Happy 130th Birthday, Harry S. Truman! (5/08/1884 - 12/26/1972)
Abbie Rowe, photographer.
The photo of Truman smiling while he announces the end of the war in Europe (on his 61st birthday no less) is always one of our favorites. It was also a big hit with our “junior digital curator” who was helping out during our Take your Child to Work Day here at the National Archives—and who also shares a birthday with the 33rd President. In his words: “He’s probably thinking ‘This is an AWESOME birthday present!’”
It’s the Birthday of President Harry S. Truman
A brief timeline on what would have been Harry’s 130th birthday-
- 1884: Harry S. Truman is born in Lamar, Missouri on May 8. As a young man, he works briefly as a timekeeper for a railroad construction contractor, then as a clerk in two Kansas City banks.
- 1906: Harry begins working with his father to run the family farm. He continues working as a farmer for more than ten years.
- 1905-1911: Harry serves in the Missouri National Guard. When the United States enters World War I in 1917, he helps to organize the 2nd Regiment of Missouri Field Artillery, which is quickly called into Federal service as the 129th Field Artillery and sent to France.
- 1919-1922: Harry runs a men’s clothing store in Kansas City with his wartime friend, Eddie Jacobson. The store fails in the postwar recession. Harry narrowly avoids bankruptcy, and through determination and over many years he pays off his share of the store’s debts.
- 1922: Harry is elected to be one of three judges of the Jackson County Court.
- 1934: Harry is elected to the United States Senate.
- July, 1944: Harry is nominated to run for Vice President with President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
- January 20, 1945: Harry takes the vice-presidential oath. After President Roosevelt’s unexpected death only eighty-two days later on April 12, 1945, Harry is sworn in as the nations’ 33rd President.
- May 7, 1945: Germany surrenders unconditionally one day before Harry’s 61st birthday.
- 1948: Harry wins reelection despite a widely expected defeat.
- 1953: Harry leaves the Presidency and retires to Independence, MO.
- 1972: Harry S. Truman dies on December 26, 1972.
Photo: President Truman on the celebration of his 61st birthday, the day after the unconditional surrender of Germany in World War II. May 8, 1945.
-from the Truman Library
"In the royalty of American music, no man swings more or stands higher than the Duke.”
— Richard Nixon
On this day in 1899, Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington was born in Washington, D.C. Seventy years later, Ellington celebrated his 70th birthday at the White House where he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Ellington was a personal hero to Richard Nixon, who had played the piano since childhood. Afterwards, the President played “Happy Birthday” on the piano for the Duke while guests at the White House sang along.
-from the Nixon Library
John Steinbeck was born on this day, February 27, 1902. A letter from the author to JFK:
A letter from author John Steinbeck to President Kennedy, thanking him for his dedication to the arts.
(From the White House Central Subject Files, Box 711, Folder: PP 6-1 Entertainers)
Johnny Cash was born on this day, February 26, 1932.
In honor of Cash’s birthday, here’s a photo of Johnny and June Carter Cash with President Jimmy Carter in the Oval Office of the White House.
Photo: Jimmy Carter and Johnny Cash and family. 6/14/77.
-from the Carter Library
What’s your favorite Johnny Cash song?
Ronald Reagan was born on this day, Feburary 6, 1911, in Tampico, Illinois.
Ronald Reagan was first called “Dutch” as a baby by his father who affectionately said that he looked like “a fat little Dutchman.” As a toddler, the nickname lasted because of the “Dutch boy” haircut, once popular for little boys, that his mother gave him.
Photo: Ronald Reagan (with “Dutch” haircut), Neil Reagan, and parents Jack and Nelle Reagan. Circa 1916-1917.
Happy 103rd Birthday Anniversary for Ronald “Dutch” Reagan!