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Archive for '- The 1960s'

The Remarkable Story of Ann Lowe: From Alabama to Madison Avenue

Today’s guest post comes from Margaret Powell, MA, a decorative arts historian from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Her areas of concentration are textile and costume history. She is a graduate of the Smithsonian Associates–Corcoran College of Art and Design History of Decorative Arts Masters Program.

On September 13, 1953, the New York Times featured the wedding of John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Bouvier on the front page. The article contained a photograph of the bride’s intricate gown and a detailed description of its “ivory silk taffeta, embellished with interwoven bands of tucking, finished with a portrait neckline and a bouffant skirt.” The only thing missing from the coverage was the name of Ann Lowe, the dress designer.

Even today, as the Kennedy wedding gown resides in the permanent collection of the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston, very few people realize that this dress is the work of an African American designer. It is no novelty or a fluke—it is just one example of the countless designs created by Lowe for the Auchincloss family between 1947 and 1957. In fact, when Jacqueline’s stepsister Nina appeared in a 1955 fashion editorial in Vogue, she was wearing an Ann Lowe debut dress.

Ann Lowe’s story is remarkable. With little more than a few years of education in the segregated schools of turn-of-the-century Alabama, sewing lessons … [ Read all ]

What’s Cooking Wednesday: Top Ten Food Records of 2011

As 2011 draws to a close, so does our exhibit “What’s Cooking, Uncle Sam?” which will end on January 3, 2012.

It’s been a great year for food here at the National Archives. We’ve had amazing guests come and speak, including Chef José Andrés, our neighbor and Chief Culinary Adviser for the exhibit; Chef Roland Mesnier, former White House pastry chef; Diana Kennedy, guru of Mexican food; Ann Harvey Yonkers, co-director of FRESHFARM markets; Jessica B. Harris, author of High on the Hog; and George Motz, author of Hamburger America.

And of course, we’ve been writing about food-related records in the National Archives almost every Wednesday since the exhibit opened. We thought it would be fun to look back at the Top Ten Food Records in honor of this exhibit. Since we couldn’t include all of the records, we chose the ones that were most striking, strange, or popular.

Here’s our Top Ten list of memorable food records!

TEN: My coworker was constantly amused by this label for “Grains of Health,” which is profuse in its praise but vague in its description of these grains might actually be. Her favorite line: “It is so prepared that the strongest and the most delicate person may drink it at the same table.”

 

NINE: “Pig Cafeteria” is a photograph of a USDA exhibit meant to inform farmers about hog nutrition. The … [ Read all ]

Hit the Road, Jack!

Today’s post is by Miriam Kleiman, public relations specialist at the National Archives.

Jack Kerouac—American counterculture hero, king of the Beats, and author of On the Road—was a Navy military recruit who failed boot camp.

Navy doctors found Kerouac delusional, grandiose, and promiscuous, and questioned his strange writing obsession.

I learned this in 2005, right before the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis announced the opening of more than 3,000 military personnel files—including those of some famous folks.

Working in public affairs at the National Archives is a challenge. We’re always trying to make what’s old seem new. Just yesterday someone asked, “What’s new at the National Archives?” I responded “Absolutely nothing, but I can tell you some neat new things about what’s old.”

The St. Louis records release gave us a chance to share some unknown gems about some very well-known people including Elvis, Clark Cable, and Jackie Robinson. Our colleagues in St. Louis sent us files to see what might interest the media, but most of the material didn’t qualify as newsworthy. It’s vision and dental records, physical exam notes, letters of recommendation, or names and addresses of next of kin.

Then, I found Jack Kerouac’s file. Thicker than the rest, it details his 10 days in basic training—and 67 under psychiatric evaluation. This, I thought, is NEWS! This is EXCITING! I started making calls, … [ Read all ]

Say cheese, Mr. President: White House photographers at the Truman Library

Only 43 men in the history of the United States have held the title of President.

That’s a fairly small group , smaller than your average NFL team. But smaller still is the group of professionals who have held the title as the President’s chief photographer. To date, only nine men have served as the official White House Photographer.

President John F. Kennedy first appointed photographer Cecil Stoughton in 1960 in the role of White House Photographer. In the nearly 50 years following that first appointment, Presidential photographers have served as visual historians of the President’s daily life.

These photographers captured rare glimpses inside the White House and the historic moments of the Presidents they served. In addition to iconic images that enter the public’s memory of the President, private moments are captured as well.

On October 21, 2011, the Truman Library and Museum in Independence, MO, is excited to share the works of these photographers with  the exhibition “The President’s Photographer: Fifty Years Inside the Oval Office.”

The exhibit displays images from the 1960s, when the first Presidential photographer was hired, to today’s unprecedented coverage of Barack Obama. The National Geographic exhibition features works by veteran presidential photographers including David Hume (who photographed Gerald Ford), David Valdez (George H.W. Bush), Bob McNeely (Bill Clinton), and Eric Draper (George W. Bush).

This tradition continues today as the 44th President’s chief … [ Read all ]

Finding the girl in the photograph

Today’s guest post is from Edith Lee-Payne.

The dedication of the Martin Luther King, Jr., memorial will take place this Sunday, October 16. One of the women in attendence will be Edith Lee-Payne.

You might recognize her. Photographer Rowland Scherman snapped a photo of Edith, then a 12-year-old girl with her mother, holding a banner at the March on Washington.

But although the photograph was taken in 1963, Ms. Lee-Payne did not know about the image until 2008. With the help of a librarian and an archivist, she was able to locate the photograph of herself at the march.

Here, in her own words, is her story of attending the march on August 28 and finding her record in the National Archives more than 40 years later.

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Washington, DC, was home for my mother before settling in Detroit, Michigan. After Dr. King led a march in Detroit on June 23, 1963, my mother scheduled our vacation to attend the March on Washington on August 28, 1963, which also happened to be my twelfth birthday.

I lived the dream Dr. King spoke of. My neighborhood was integrated. We attended the same schools and sometimes shared worship experiences. We dined at restaurants with lunch counters without incident and drank from water fountains without signs distinguishing “color.” My mother never learned to drive, so buses and cabs were our primary mode of transportation, … [ Read all ]