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Tag: Nixon

Facial Hair Friday: Hang ten, Pat Nixon!

First Lady Pat Nixon talking with surfers near Border Field, CA, on August 18, 1971. (Nixon Presidential Library)

Some time ago, a Facebook fan expressed thanks that we would never combine our First Ladies Friday with our Facial Hair Friday. To which we replied, never say never! Of course, the facial hair in this photograph is not on First Lady Pat Nixon, but that scraggly surfer goatee is in very close proximity to Pat, so we are going to count it as a two-for-one.

The First Lady had just finished a land-grant ceremony at Border Field, CA, to create a new park area at the U.S.-Mexico border for the Legacy of the Parks Program. Border Field State Park is 15 miles south of San Diego, CA. When the U.S.-Mexico War ended in 1848, delegations from both countries began surveying the boundary at this location in 1850. Border Monument number 258 can be seen from inside the park, but it no longer can be reached because there are border fences on both sides. When the First Lady was there, there was only barbed wire, and she was able to reach out and greet the Mexican citizens who had gathered on the other side.

The park is in the Tijuana River National Estuarine Research Reserve. Threatened and endangered birds like the Western Snowy Plover and the Light-footed Clapper Rail now live … [ Read all ]

A Matter of Simple Justice

The president’s directive of April 21, 1971. Barbara Hackman Franklin Papers, Penn State University Archives.

Today’s guest post was written by Barbara Hackman Franklin, former White House staff member for the recruitment of women and former U.S. Secretary of Commerce. The story of how Franklin and other women cracked the glass ceiling is finally told in a new book that draws from “A Few Good Women,” an oral history project at the Penn State University Libraries. The National Archives will host a special program to launch A Matter of Simple Justice: The Untold Story of Barbara Hackman Franklin and A Few Good Women on March 8.

The Nixon administration is remembered for many things, but advancing women’s roles in the workforce is usually not one of them. Yet in August 1972, Newsweek wrote that “the person in Washington who has done the most for the women’s movement may be Richard Nixon.”

Here is what happened.

First, on April 21, 1971, President Nixon issued a Memorandum for Cabinet Secretaries and Agency Heads outlining the administration’s new women’s initiative. The President called on all departments and agencies to create action plans to hire, promote, and advance women. Specifically, the plans had to address appointing more women to top-level positions, increasing the number of women in mid-level positions as well as on advisory boards and commissions.

This Presidential … [ Read all ]

Football Friday: Presidents and the Pigskin

New York Giants football player Harry Carson dumping Gatorade (popcorn) on President Reagan with Nancy Reagan watching at the White House Diplomatic entrance, 2/13/87, C39093-5, Reagan Presidential Library via

With Super Bowl Sunday just two days away, we’ve decided to call an audible and make today’s “Facial Hair Friday” into a “Football Friday.”

When the New England Patriots and New York Giants collide in this year’s Super Bowl, the two teams will be competing for more than just a National Football League championship. The winner will also receive a trip to the White House, a place that many gridiron greats have called home.

Football has a rich history at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

President Eisenhower was a standout halfback at West Point. Similarly, President Ford was a star at the University of Michigan, ultimately earning contract offers from the Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers. As for President Reagan, he earned the nickname “the Gipper” after staring as Notre Dame’s George Gipp in the 1940 film Knute Rockne, All American.

Several Presidents have also remained loyal fans even after their playing days.

Gerald R. Ford, Jr., centers a football during practice at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, 1933. (Ford Presidential Library)

President Kennedy, who went out for the team at Harvard, once called legendary coach Vince Lombardi to ask if he would “come … [ Read all ]

Facial Hair Friday: Elvis has NOT left the building

The most popular photograph at the National Archives (ARC 1634221)

Are these the most famous sideburns in music history? They might be the most famous sideburns in the National Archives.

If you are a fan of Elvis, you’ve seen the photograph: Nixon and Elvis shaking hands in the White House. This is the most-requested image in our holdings. The quirky story behind the meeting of the King of Rock and Roll and the President of the United States is featured in this online exhibit.

But it’s not the only record we have of Elvis.

In December of 1957, Elvis was drafted for the U.S. Army. This career change was an upsetting event for fans. The Eisenhower Library has a letter from three girls in Montana who despaired over a possible shaving of  the singer’s sideburns: “You don’t no how we feel about him, I really don’t see why you have to send him in the Army at all, but we beg you please please don’t give him a G.I. hair cut, oh please please don’t!  If you do we will just about die!”

But their letter writing was in vain. On March 24, 1958, Presley signed his acknowledgement of service obligation and entered the Army. (Alas, his sideburns did not.)

Since Elvis served in the military, his file is part of the permanant holdings of the National Personnel … [ Read all ]

Strange bedfellows: Nixon, Bush, and Sawyer

Richard Nixon departs from the White House before Gerald Ford was sworn in as President, photograph by Oliver F. Atkins, August 9, 1974. (NLNS-E3398-09)

More than 400 White House staff  came to see Richard Nixon say farewell at 9.32 a.m. in the East Room of the White House. And when Nixon and his family walked to the waiting helicopter, staff and guests crowded across the lawn and porch.

There were hundreds of people at the White House that historic morning. But politics does make strange bedfellows and three names in particular stand out from the pages of the daily White House diary entry for August 9.

David Eisenhower, the grandson of former President Dwight Eisenhower, was there. He made the long walk down the red carpet to the helicopter holding the hand of his wife, Julie, who was also Nixon’s daughter.

Her name does not appear on the  manifest of the helicopter that lifted off from the White House lawn. But when the President arrived at Andrews Air Force Base and then boarded Air Force One, a young Diane Sawyer joined him on the second aircraft. Sawyer had been working as a staff assistant in Nixon’s administration since 1970, and she followed the former President to California, where she helped him write his memoirs. She is currently the anchor for ABC World News.

And future President George H. W. Bush and his wife … [ Read all ]