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American Archives Month: Matthew Schaefer, Hoover Presidential Library

October is American Archives Month! Although we’re partway through October, there’s still time to celebrate the archivists from our Presidential Libraries. The series kicks off with a trip to the heartlands of America: West Branch, IA.

Matthew Schaefer, outreach archivist at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum.

Matthew Schaefer, outreach archivist at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum.

Name: Matthew Schaefer

Occupation: Outreach archivist for the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum

How long have you worked at this library?
Eleven years.

How/why did you decide to go into the archival field?
While working on my dissertation, I took a “temporary” job in archives to pay the bills. My plan was to keep the archives gig until I earned my degree, then join the professoriate. After 25 years and three institutions, I am ready to acknowledge that I am an archivist.

What are some of your responsibilities at your library? What do you like best about your job?
The thing that I like best about my job is the variety of tasks that fall to me. This meshes well with my short little span of attention. My duties at the Hoover include organizing conferences, working with professional organizations, and keeping the library in the public eye. I also manage the reference room, do collection management tasks, and serve as lookout for zombies.

Tell us about a time something unusual or unexpected happened to you in your line of work.[ Read all ]

Edith Lee-Payne: Accidental civil rights icon

This post comes to us from summer intern Hannah Fenster.

Summer intern Hannah Fenster interviews Edith Lee-Payne. Lee-Payne visited the Archives ahead of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. The iconic photograph of her as a 12-year-old girl, taken by photographer Rowland Scherman, is currently on display.

Summer intern Hannah Fenster interviews Edith Lee-Payne, who visited the Archives with her granddaughters ahead of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington.

When Edith Lee-Payne stepped into the lobby of the National Archives last week, she came from a morning full of press interviews and national monument visits.

But the whirlwind of her recent rise to fame slowed when she entered the Rotunda to view a photograph of her 12-year-old self. Her hand rested on her heart as she bent over the glass case containing the original image.

On August 28, 1963, Lee-Payne attended the March on Washington, where photographer Rowland Scherman snapped her picture without her knowledge. While Lee-Payne went on to face constant struggles against still-prevalent racial discrimination, her image lived a life of its own, growing into an iconic symbol of the historic day.

Discovering herself in the photograph this year has allowed Lee-Payne the opportunity to harmonize her actual life with her archived existence as a symbol of a national movement.

She feels like the photo—and her recent fame—has afforded her new responsibility. “It gives me an opportunity to share with others what Dr. King shared with this country,” she said.

Just as she became a picture for the March on Washington, Lee-Payne says, “The March in 1963 was a picture of … [ Read all ]

George Bush celebrates 89th birthday with colorful socks

Happy birthday, President Bush!

As a tribute to its namesake’s penchant for exuberant socks, the George Bush Presidential Library Foundation encouraged well wishers of George Bush, 41st President of the United States, to submit photos of their colorful socks as part of his 89th birthday celebration on Wednesday, June 12.

The George Bush Presidential Library Center staff celebrate President George Bush's 89th birthday by wearing exuberant socks. What kinds of crazy socks do you like to wear?

The George Bush Presidential Library Center staff celebrate President George Bush’s 89th birthday by wearing exuberant socks.

“We asked for sock photos, and we got them! It was wonderful to see the photos pour in,” said Fred McClure, CEO of the George Bush Foundation. “Thank you to everyone who took the time to participate. We can’t wait to see what socks you can find for next year.”

Photos were submitted from around the world, from friends, family, and current and former leaders. President Bush’s granddaughter, Jenna Bush Hager, submitted a photo of her daughter, Mila, in colorful socks. Leaders who contributed crazy sock pictures included former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice; former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates; former National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley; Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi; and former Governor of Massachusetts Mitt Romney.

Well wishes were sent by the White House, the George W. Bush Presidential Center, the [ Read all ]

LBJ Library opens new exhibits after multi-million dollar renovation

In honor of Lady Bird Johnson’s 100th birthday on December 22, 2012, the Lyndon B. Johnson Library unveiled a newly redesigned space to give visitors a new look at the 36th president. The library houses 45 million pages of historical documents, 650,000 photos, one million feet of film, 2,000 oral histories, and 5,000 hours of recordings from the public career of Lyndon Johnson and his close associates.

Following a massive year-long renovation, new exhibits have been installed on the three public floors of the library. Renovations were funded by private donations through the Lyndon B. Johnson Foundation.

“Renovations at Presidential Libraries allow us to keep our exhibits relevant and through technology, tell the history of our country in new, dynamic ways,” said Susan Donius, Director of the Office of the Presidential Libraries. “Through these exhibits and dynamic education programs, we are able to reach new generations of visitors.”

The new exhibits also make the political and personal lives of Lyndon and Lady Bird Johnson come alive for visitors. The newly redesigned Library experience includes:

  • A downloadable app and handheld guide which give visitors the choice of several different tours, including a tour in Spanish
  • Unprecedented access to private telephone conversations of the President
  • An interactive Vietnam War exhibit where visitors experience elements of the President’s decision-making process
  • The ability to join the conversation through social media as visitors tour exhibits
[ Read all ]

Ford Library participates in Wikimedia’s GLAM project

Exhibits Specialist Bettina Cousineau presents at at this summer’s Association of Midwest Museums Conference in Indianapolis, IN.

“As soon as I left the session, I knew that this would be a ground-breaking project for us,” said Bettina Cousineau, Exhibits Specialist at the Gerald Ford Library and Museum.

Cousineau was at this summer’s Association of Midwest Museums Conference in Indianapolis, IN, and attended the session “Wikimedia: Commons and GLAM” presented by Lori Phillips, the Wikimedia Foundation’s U.S. Cultural Partnerships Coordinator.

GLAM (Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums), a small part of the Wikipedia group, plays a huge role in providing public access to copyright free images from cultural institutions all over the world. These images are then incorporated into articles written by Wikipedia editors.

“We already have an extensive website with thousands of digitized images, documents and artifacts for the public to view. But by uploading those same materials to Wikimedia, they can be used in any Wikipedia article written by anyone in the world in almost any language,” Cousineau said. “I imagined an article written by a Wikipedia editor in Finland, using a document from President Ford’s participation in the 1975 Helsinki Conference as his source and illustration. To me that is significant public access of our material.”

To date, Cousineau has uploaded over 200 artifacts and photographs onto the Wikimedia Commons site. She and her … [ Read all ]