The Berlin Airlift Ends
The Berlin Airlift was one of the most important events of the Cold War. On September 30, 1949 the last plane of the Berlin Airlift unloaded supplies in the city. Over the 15 months of the Airlift, 278,228 relief flights were made. 2,326,404 tons of cargo were delivered.
In 1948, Berlin was the divided capital of a divided country. That June, the Soviet Union established a blockade around Berlin. By sealing off the roads linking Berlin to western Germany, the Soviets hoped they could force the Americans, British, and French to leave their sectors of the city.
Berlin’s two and a half million inhabitants faced the prospect of privation and even starvation as their food and other supplies ran out. President Truman’s choice was a stark one: either abandon the city to the Soviets or risk a military confrontation that could lead to World War III.
It seemed like an impossible task to keep the entire city functioning but the United States, Britain, and France worked together to airlift all necessary supplies into the city. Food, coal, and industrial supplies were flown into the city on a round-the-clock basis. Soldiers even parachuted chocolate bars into the city for Berlin children.
Now Online: The White House Records Office Legislation Case Files
This collection contains material on President Ford’s decisions on every public and private enrolled bill or joint resolution passed by the Congress and sent to him for action, including those he vetoed or pocket vetoed.
A typical file includes the text of the measure; House and Senate reports; the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) bill report and federal agency recommendations; press releases; and a covering memorandum from the Domestic Council Executive Director. Many also contain draft signing or veto statements.
Images: Memo from Jim Cannon to President Gerald R. Ford regarding Enrolled Bill S. 5 - Government in the Sunshine Act, 9/10/1976.
2,000 Pages of Love Letters
We’re pleased to announce that the Truman Library has finished scanning and describing all the letters that they have that Harry wrote to Bess before they were married. That’s 386 letters, over 2,000 pages!
Here’s page one of a letter from September 30, 1917, shortly after Truman arrived in Oklahoma to begin his training for World War I. You can see the rest of the letter, and find more at the Truman Presidential Library.
President Dwight D. Eisenhower Orders Federal Troops into Little Rock to Insure the Safety of Nine African American Students
Today in history, after state and local authorities failed to uphold the Federal Court orders for integration at Central High School, President Eisenhower sent the 101st Airborne Division to enforce those orders.
The conflict dated back to the May 17, 1954, U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Brown vs. Topeka Board of Education, which stated segregated schools are “inherently unequal.” In September 1957, as a result of that ruling, nine African American students enrolled at Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas.
Before the school year started, Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus ordered the state’s National Guard to surround Central High School to prevent entry of the African American students. The crisis escalated into mob riots, prompting a plea from the Mayor of Little Rock, Woodrow Wilson Mann, for federal assistance in the confrontation.
Eisenhower wrote in his notes from the day: “Troops - not to enforce integration but to prevent opposition by violence” to the Supreme Court’s ruling.
Students, soldiers, and newsmen in front of Central High School. Circa September, 1957. Courtesy of the Central High Museum Historical Collections.
President Eisenhower’s special broadcast on the Little Rock situation. September 24, 1957.
Telegram, Woodrow Wilson Mann to President Eisenhower, September 24, 1957.
Handwritten notes by President Eisenhower on decision to send troops to Little Rock, September 1957.
Style and Influence: First Ladies’ Fashions
From the first days on a campaign trail to the final days living in the White House, the First Ladies of the United States have attracted attention in numerous ways. Both historic and modern First Ladies have harnessed the power of fashion to build identity and inform Americans. In conjunction with our exhibition “Making Their Mark,” we present a distinguished panel to discuss and examine the fashions of America’s First Ladies through conversation and photos. Moderated by Tim Gunn, star of Project Runway, panelists include Valerie Steele, Director and Chief Curator, the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology; Lisa Kathleen Graddy, Deputy Chair and Chief Curator of Political History and the First Ladies Collection, Smithsonian National Museum of American History; and Tracy Reese, a fashion designer who has designed for First Lady Michelle Obama. Presented in partnership with the White House Historical Association.
Tuesday, September 30, at 7 p.m. in the William G. McGowan Theater
The discussion will be streamed live on YouTube.
Franklin and Eleanor’s Marriage Certificate, March 17, 1905
Franklin asked his former Groton School headmaster, Rev. Endicott Peabody, to officiate at the wedding, saying “it would not be the same without you.” At the conclusion of the Episcopal ceremony, the official marriage certificate was signed. President Theodore Roosevelt and First Lady Edith Kermit Roosevelt signed as the witnesses.
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.
Today in history, September 16, 1940, FDR signed the Selective Training and Service Act. It authorized the first peacetime military draft in American history.
Selective Service Signing Pen
“We must be the great arsenal of democracy. For us this is an emergency as serious as war itself. We must apply ourselves to our task with the same resolution, the same sense of urgency, the same spirit of patriotism and sacrifice as we would show were we at war.”
- Franklin Roosevelt, Fireside Chat, December 29, 1940
In the spring of 1940 German armies swept across Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands, and Belgium. In June, France collapsed. Suddenly, Britain stood alone. FDR responded by increasing military spending and supporting a peacetime draft.
FDR used this pen to sign the Selective Training and Service Act on September 16, 1940. It authorized the first peacetime military draft in American history. The photo, taken on October 29, 1940, depicts the first drawing of the Selective Service.
Astronaut John Glenn presented President Kennedy with this Model of the Mercury spacecraft Friendship 7 on Atlas 6 booster rocket, painted silver and red, on round black base.
The Friendship 7 model is at the JFK Presidential Library and Museum in Boston, Massachusetts.