Curious about Presidential History? Ask a Curator!
Do you have questions about Presidential history and artifacts? Tomorrow, the Presidential Libraries of the National Archives will be answering questions live for #AskaCurator Day on Twitter.
Over 600 museums from 40 countries will be participating, including our very own experts on Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, and Jimmy Carter. You can also ask curators at the National Archives Exhibits in Washington, D.C.
Museum Objects from the Presidential Libraries:
Rocking Chair used by John F. Kennedy in the Oval Office; RCA Radio Microphone used by FDR to deliver some of his Fireside Chats from the White House; HMS Resolute Desk replica at the JFK Library; Portrait by Octavio Ocampo presented to President Carter on the occasion of a state dinner honoring José López Portillo, President of Mexico, February 1979; 1957 Inaugural gown of Mamie Eisenhower; WWII POW Diary at the Truman Library;1952 Eisenhower campaign hat.
It’s the Birthday of LBJ!
Lyndon Baines Johnson was born on August 27, 1908, in central Texas, not far from Johnson City, which his family had helped settle.
In 1937 he campaigned successfully for the House of Representatives on a New Deal platform, effectively aided by his wife, the former Claudia “Lady Bird” Taylor, whom he had married after a whirlwind courtship in 1934.
During World War II, Lyndon Johnson served briefly in the Navy as a lieutenant commander, receiving a Silver Star in the South Pacific. After six terms in the House, he was elected to the Senate in 1948. In 1953, he became the youngest Minority Leader in Senate history, and the following year, when the Democrats won control, Majority Leader. With rare legislative skill he obtained passage of a number of measures during the Eisenhower Administration. He became, by many accounts, the most powerful Majority Leader of the twentieth century.
LBJ’s “Great Society” program included aid to education, Medicare, urban renewal, beautification, conservation, development of depressed regions, control and prevention of crime and delinquency and removal of obstacles to the right to vote. Read More
Studio portrait of Lyndon B. Johnson at 18 months old, ca. 1910.
Portrait of President Lyndon B. Johnson in the Oval Office. December, 1963.
-from the LBJ Library
Jacqueline Kennedy was born on this day in 1929, in Southhampton, New York. She was named Jacqueline Lee Bouvier. Her father, John, was a stockbroker on Wall Street whose family had come from France in the early 1800s. Her mother, Janet, had ancestors from Ireland and England.
As a child, Jackie loved to read. Before she started school, she had read all the children’s books on her bookshelves. Her heroes were Mowgli from Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book, Robin Hood, Little Lord Fauntleroy’s grandfather, Scarlett O’Hara from Gone With the Wind, and the poet Byron.
Photo: Jacqueline Bouvier, 1935. Photograph by David Berne in the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston.
Day 61: FDR’s Childhood Trips to Germany
FDR made a number of trips to Europe with his parents during his childhood, including numerous trips to Germany. The Roosevelts often traveled to Germany to visit several ancient springs in hope that they would help Mr. James’ health.
Roosevelt historian Geoff Ward recounts a story of one of these German trips in his book Before the Trumpet. During a trip in 1896 FDR and his tutor Mr. Dumper “found themselves under arrest four times in one busy day of bicycling – for picking cherries along the roadside, for wheeling their bicycles into a railroad depot, for riding into Strasbourg after dusk…and finally, for inadvertent slaughter of a panicky goose that had thrust its long neck between the spokes of Mr. Dumper’s front wheel.” FDR managed to get them out of the first three violations without a fine, but in the end they did have to pay five marks to the owner of the goose. “Franklin always maintained the bird had really ‘committed suicide.’”
It’s the 90th Birthday of George Bush!
George Herbert Walker Bush was born on June 12, 1924, in Milton, Massachusetts.
On his 18th birthday, Bush graduated from Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts with World War II raging on two fronts. That same day, although he had been accepted at Yale University, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy as a seaman second class. He received his wings on June 9, 1943, becoming the youngest pilot in the U.S. Navy at the time.
During World War II, Bush flew torpedo bombers, completing 58 missions. On a run over Chichi Jima in 1944, his plane was hit by anti-aircraft fire. Bush bailed out and was rescued by a Navy submarine.
For his service during WWII, Bush was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and three Air Medals.
Watch this space for more on the life of George Bush throughout today.
Happy Birthday President Bush!
George Bush in Kennebunkport, Maine, circa 1925; At age 12; At Phillips Academy, Andover, MA. circa 1940; U.S. Navy Portrait (1942-1945); U.S. Navy Pilot George Bush in the cockpit of an Avenger, (1942-45).
Our Presidential Throwback Thursday features a very small Harry S. Truman!
Truman was born on May 8, 1884, in Missouri. Truman’s early life was plagued with accidents, poor eyesight, and a nearly paralyzing disease. However, Truman grew up surrounded by loving, strong-willed, and doting parents, grandparents, and other relatives, including his grandfather, Solomon Young.
Truman had one younger brother, Vivian. Vivian had long curls that his mother refused to cut. The long curls bothered his grandfather Solomon so much that one day he had Harry help him haul Vivian—highchair and all—out onto the south porch where he quickly gave Vivian a short haircut.
A few days later, Harry decided to experiment with his own hair and comb it a different way. He pulled a big chair up close to a mirror in order to see the back of his head. He kept leaning in the chair until he fell over backwards, breaking his collarbone—his first, but not his last, broken bone.
Learn more about Truman’s childhood from the Truman Library.
White House Photographer Eric Draper at the Nixon Library This Thursday
Eric Draper, served as President George W. Bush’s chief photographer for the entire eight years of his presidency. Named Special Assistant to the President, Draper became the first White House photographer to be named a commissioned officer to the President.
Draper will be at the Nixon Presidential Library in Yorba Linda, California on Thursday, February 20 at 7:00 pm. to talk about his experiences capturing the American Presidency.
This event is cosponsored by the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum, the Richard Nixon Foundation and the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History at the University of Texas at Austin. To reserve your seats for this free event, visit nixonfoundation.org.
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!