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Tag: White House

Facial Hair Friday: Two names and almost two beards

Col. David H. Strother, ca. 1860-ca. 1865 (ARC 530168)

Today’s featured facial hair is a fan find! Thank you to Paul H. for alerting us to this wonderful forked beard.

In fact, this beard really looks like there’s enough hair to be two beards. Perhaps Colonel Strother had a beard for each of his names?

Before his stint in the Army during the Civil War, David Hunter Strother had toured Europe to study art and was a successful magazine illustrator and writer. He published his artwork under the delightful nom-de-plume of “Porte Crayon.”

When the Civil War began, his artistic talents meant he was assigned as a topographer in the Army, but by 1864, Colonel Strother was chief of staff to his cousin Gen. David Hunter. He was involved in the shelling of the Virginia Military Institute and later promoted to colonel of the Third West Virginia Cavalry.

He wrote about his wartime experiences for Harper’s Monthly as “Personal Recollections of the War.”

After the war, he continued to work as an artist until 1879, when he was appointed by President Hayes as General Consul to Mexico City, a post he held for the next six years.

In 1940, the “Porte Crayon Memorial Society” lobbied to have a mountain in  Monongahela National Forest in West Virginia named after Strother.  Mount Porte Crayon is not for casual day hikers, however. … [ 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 ]

Facial Hair Friday: Rising above party politics

Chester A. Arthur, 21st President of the United States (ARC 532289)

Today in 1886, former President Chester A. Arthur died from complications from Bright’s disease. He had not been relected for second term, and he had left office in 1884. He died in New York City, just 56 years old.

Although he sported the facial hair style of the time, Arthur was an unlikely President. He ascended to the office in September 1885 when President James Garfield died three months after being shot.

Arthur did have strong administrative experience with the Federal Government, having worked as quartermaster general in the New York Volunteers during the Civil War. He arranged provisions and housing for hundreds of thousands of soldiers, making a reputation for himself as an excellent administrator.

But Arthur was a crony of Roscoe Conkling, a New York Republican Party boss and U.S. Senator who was well known for using patronage and party connections to gain power. When Arthur was appointed Collector of the Port of New York by President Grant, he supported the political machine of “Boss Conkling” by collecting salary kickbacks. He also augmented his $12,000 yearly salary to $50,000 by sharing in fines that Customs collected on undervalued imports.

When President Rutherford B. Hayes came into office, he began to dismantle Boss Conkling’s empire, and Arthur lost his job. Because Hayes had declared he would be … [ Read all ]

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

White House Photographer Cecil Stoughton took this iconic photo of Lyndon B. Johnson's swearing in ceremony after John. F. Kennedy was assassinated. (ARC 194235)

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.

Cecil Stoughton, hired by John. F. Kennedy to be the official president's photographer, also captured private moments of the president's life. Here, JFK and his daughter Caroline share a quiet moment aboard the Honey Fitz during a weekend in Hyannisport, MA. (ARC 194267)

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: … [ Read all ]

What’s Cooking Wednesdays: A dozen dont’s of gardening

A "city farmer" tends his vegetables in the Fenway Gardens administered by the Fenway Civic Associations....the association has 600 members who cultivate a total of 425 garden plots in these five acres, 08/1973 (412-DA-8279; ARC 550764)

Feeling the urge to plant a vegetable garden? 

During World War I and World War II, citizens were encouraged to plant victory gardens as part of the war effort so that more food could be sent overseas to the troops. Even the White House had a Victory Garden at the urging of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt.

Because many of these Victory Gardeners were city-dwellers, the government created posters, fliers, and handbooks to help these citizens make good use of their patches of soil.

Gardening clearly takes more than just common sense. In the Victory Garden Leader’s Handbook (below), a comic strip gives a dozen examples of problems that neophytes might encounter!

New gardeners were encouraged to plan ahead, but not start too soon, pick a good location, consider crop height, and not to waste soil or seed.

Despite these challenges, by 1945  about 40% of the nation’s vegetables came from these gardens.

In Boston, some of the 49 acres used as Victory Gardens across the city survived in the Fenway area as the Richard D. Parker Memorial Victory Gardens, which are still in use today.

The National Archives in Seattle found these tips in a Victory Garden Leader’s [ Read all ]