This Saturday, The National Archives and its Presidential Libraries will be at the National Air and Space Museum’s annual Space Day.
We’ll be hosting activities including:
- A Mission Checklist hunt for Apollo-related items at the National Archives and the Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.
- A Presidential Pop Quiz on U.S. Presidents and the Space Program.
Want a head start on your Mission Checklist? These Moon Tongs were used by Apollo mission astronauts to collect lunar samples.
The tongs are from the holdings of the Nixon Presidential Library and can be seen for a limited time in the “Nixon and the U.S. Space Program” display at the National Archives in D.C.
Close-up view of a set of tongs, an Apollo Lunar Hand Tool, being used by Astronaut Charles Conrad Jr., to pick up lunar samples during the Apollo XII mission, November 19, 1969. Photo courtesy of NASA.
This set of tongs was used to collect lunar samples from the “Ocean of Storms,” the largest dark spot on the Moon’s surface, during the Apollo XII mission. It was presented to President Nixon by astronauts Charles Conrad, Jr., Richard Gordon, Jr., and Alan Bean.
Marian Anderson was born on this day, February 27, 1897. The internationally renowned contralto opera singer sang the National Anthem at President John F. Kennedy’s inauguration in 1961.
Twenty two years earlier, Anderson’s concert at the Lincoln Memorial marked a watershed moment in the civil rights movement. Learn more about the concert, and the friendship between Anderson and Eleanor Roosevelt here.
Photo: President Kennedy with Marian Anderson and her accompanist Franz Rupp in the Oval Office, White House. 3/22/62.
-from the JFK Library
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?
LBJ and John Steinbeck
December 4, 1966. LBJ speaks with John Steinbeck, who is soon to travel to Vietnam. He will stay for five months, until April 1967. As you can tell from this conversation, the President and Steinbeck were very friendly—Lady Bird and Elaine Steinbeck, John’s wife, both attended the University of Texas, and LBJ and John had taken to each other at their first meeting in 1963. The Steinbecks also appear in at least two of Mrs. Johnson’s home movies of the Johnson family and their friends at Camp David, one from 1965 and one from 1967. John Steinbeck, who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1962, also received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1964.
Steinbeck was a staunch supporter of LBJ’s Vietnam policies. Both of Steinbeck’s sons served there, Thom and John, pictured above with his father and LBJ in the Oval Office. The Steinbecks visited the White House in May 1966, shortly before John’s deployment.
While in Vietnam, the elder Steinbeck worked as a war correspondent for Newsday. Some of his columns from 1966-1967 were recently republished by the University of Virginia Press: you can listen to an interview with the book’s editor here. More on Steinbeck and LBJ here, via NARA’s Teaching with Documents.
LBJ Presidential Library photo #A2439-4, 5/16/1966. Public domain.
Nixon’s Surprise Visit from Elvis
President Richard Nixon shakes hands with Elvis Presley in the Oval Office. Presley was born on January 8, 1935, and Nixon was born on January 9, 1913 (100 years ago tomorrow).
Incidentally, the photo from this impromptu meeting on December 21, 1970, is among the most requested from the National Archives. The Elvis-Nixon meeting draws more inquiries than the Bill of Rights and the Constitution.
Birthday cheers for Elvis and Nixon!
-from the Nixon Library
On July 20, 1969, President Richard Nixon used this green telephone in the Oval Office to talk to the Apollo 11 astronauts while they were on the surface of the moon.
Now you can see this same phone on display in the National Archives in Washington, D.C. This morning at 11 a.m., we will host a ribbon cutting ceremony to officially open the display “Nixon and the U.S. Space Program,” which will feature rarely seen documents, photographs, and artifacts that represent milestones in manned spaceflight during President Nixon’s administration.
It’s also the 100th anniversary of the birth of Richard Nixon. Stop by during this centennial year and learn about Nixon’s support for the lunar program and his efforts to improve Cold War relations through a cooperative space exploration program.
The telephone is part of the holdings of the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum.