Today’s blog post comes from Corinne Porter, curator at the National Archives Building in Washington, DC.
November 22, 2013, marks the 50th anniversary of the death of President John F. Kennedy. On that day in 1963, the news of President Kennedy’s tragic death shocked the world and plunged the United States into mourning.
Although five decades have passed, the memory of the day remains vivid to the generation of Americans that lived through the experience. Many of you may know a relative or neighbor who can recall in detail where they were when they heard the tragic news.
In the days and weeks following the death of President Kennedy, the White House received a flood of condolence mail—over 800,000 letters in the first six weeks, a figure that would eventually rise to over 1.5 million letters.
Condolences arrived from around the world. Men, women, and children from diverse backgrounds—social, economic, political, ethnic, racial, and religious—wrote to Jacqueline Kennedy and her children. They declared their shock and disbelief, supplied words of support and encouragement, shared their memories of President Kennedy, and expressed what he meant to them. They also sought to assure the Kennedy family that John F. Kennedy and his legacy would be remembered.
Many correspondents acknowledged that they were just one of the “little people,” and that they did not expect the First … [ Read all ]
Posted by Hilary on November 22, 2013, under - Presidents, - The 1960s, Letters in the National Archives.
Tags: assasination, condolence letters, Jackie Kennedy, JFK, letters, November 22, President Kennedy
Some of our documents made a special trip across Constitution Avenue today, traveling from the National Archives Building to our neighbor on the Mall, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.
Tonight, the museum is hosting a dinner for this year’s sixteen recipients of the nation’s highest civilian honor: the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Over the past fifty years, the award has been given to 500 people. President Kennedy re-established the Medal of Freedom as the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1963, eighteen years after it was first established by President Truman.
Although President Kennedy was killed just two weeks before the planned award ceremony, President Johnson went forward with the first award ceremony. Marian Anderson was among the first 31 recipients. He also awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom posthumously to President Kennedy.
You can watch tonight’s ceremony live online.
Karen Hibbitt, registrar at the National Archives, and conservator Lauren Varga accompanied the documents and prepared the display, and they will remain there during the event to ensure the safety of the documents.
The featured documents are Executive Order 11085 and a set of design drawings. On February 22, 1963, President John F. Kennedy signed Executive Order 11085, establishing the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
The Institute of Heraldry, U.S. Army, then created design drawings for the medal for President and Mrs. Kennedy to review. … [ Read all ]
Posted by Hilary on November 20, 2013, under - Presidents, - The 1960s, - World War II.
Tags: Constitution Avenue, Executive Order 11085, JFK, Medal of Freedom, National Museum of American History, President Johnson, Smithsonian
It’s been a great two weeks, but American Archives Month is coming to an end. We’re saying good-bye to the series with a stop at the hometown of the 2013 World Series Champions: Boston, MA.
Full name: Stacey Chandler
Occupation: Archives Technician for Textual Reference at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library
How long have you worked at this library?
Five years total, including two years as an intern.
How/why did you decide to go into the archival field?
I interned in the archives at the Kennedy Library through graduate school, while trying to decide exactly what do to with my Public History degree. After two years working with the collections here, how could I choose to work in any other field?
What are some of your responsibilities at your library?
Mainly, I help researchers find and access documents on whatever they’re curious about in the life and times of John F. Kennedy. I also do tours and reference for the Ernest Hemingway collection, and keep on the lookout for preservation concerns, new books to add to the library, and chances to put cool documents in the spotlight.
What do you like best about your job?
The best part of my job is talking with all different kinds of people about history every day. The amazingly wide range of subjects people ask us about keeps … [ Read all ]
Today’s blog post comes from Susan Donius, Director of the Office of Presidential Libraries at the National Archives.
It’s not often that several Presidents are together at one time, but on April 25, the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum will be dedicated to the American public. Although many dignitaries from around the world will attend, all eyes will likely focus on the gathering of men who have called the White House home. In addition to George W. Bush, guests of honor will include current Commander-in-Chief Barack Obama, and former Presidents William J. Clinton, George Bush, and Jimmy Carter.
The first Presidential Library and Museum was conceived and built under President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s direction from 1939 to 1940 in Hyde Park, NY. The official FDR Library dedication was a small, quiet affair, with close friends and family attending the ceremony. Over the years, the ceremonies have grown larger, and dedications have become notable for the atmosphere of nonpartisan goodwill and respect among former Presidents.
The Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum was dedicated on July 6, 1957, in Independence, MO. During Truman’s Presidency, Herbert Hoover offered his services to help with post–World War II humanitarian efforts. Despite being Presidents from opposing parties, the two forged a working relationship that eventually grew into a strong friendship. At the Truman Library dedication, Herbert Hoover delivered remarks … [ Read all ]
Posted by Hilary on April 23, 2013, under - Presidents, National Archives Near You, Pennsylvania Avenue.
Tags: Bush, Carter, Clinton, Eisenhower, FDR, Ford, Hoover, JFK, Johnson, Kennedy, LBJ, Nixon, presidential libraries, Presidents, Reagan, Truman
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 ]
Posted by Hilary on March 28, 2013, under - The 1960s.
Tags: African American, Ann Lowe, debut gowns, fashion, First Ladies, Jackie Kennedy, JFK, Nina Auchincloss, Presidential Library, Women's History Month