Records We’re Thankful to Have at the National Archives
Thanksgiving is an anticipated time of year…unless you’re a turkey! While our traditions today may not even include the iconic bird (hello, Tofurkey!), this holiday is still cherished as a time to gather with friends and family and give thanks. But before you start setting the table, enjoy a “harvest” of some of our favorite Thanksgiving records!
What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving?
John Fitzgerald Kennedy
May 29, 1917 - November 22, 1963
The JFK Library is observing the 50th anniversary of the death of President Kennedy both online and through a special program, “A Nation Remembers: A Tribute to President John F. Kennedy.”
Image: President Kennedy reaches out to the crowd gathered at the Hotel Texas Parking Lot Rally in Fort Worth, Texas. November 22, 1963. Cecil Stoughton, White House Photographs.
-from the JFK Library
On the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination, we’ll be featuring your favorite images & documents from his life:
daltonblankenship answered: His children playing in the oval office. I especially liked image 47 from your catalog.
Tomorrow you will read a lot about the death of President John F. Kennedy, here at Today’s Document we’d like to celebrate his life. Take a moment to search our online catalog for your favorite image or document of President Kennedy and share it with us. We will feature them on Friday.
What’s your favorite image or memory of JFK?
On the Great American Smokeout—
“Did President Eisenhower smoke in the White House?”
This “Ask an Archivist” question from the Eisenhower Presidential Library comes from New York.
President Eisenhower gave up smoking in 1949 by his own force of will. He would not take up residence in the White House until 1953.
Eisenhower’s strategy for “kicking the habit” is revealed in a 1951 letter to a personal friend.
“Actually, I think the whole thing is far more psychological than it is physical – if you can succeed in throwing out of your mind any feeling of self-pity or privation or hardship, I think that you will be amazed how quickly you accustom yourself to a new regime. In my own case, I adopted the habit of feeling just a bit sorry for people who had this fault and so I attained a slight feeling of superiority. My ability to sneer, internally, I nursed to the utmost.”
Photo: General Eisenhower at Camp Kilauea, Hawaii. U.S. Army. 5/17/46.
FDR reflects on Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address 75 years later:
The 150th Anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address: FDR’s View
Today, one hundred-fifty years later, we pause to remember one of the greatest speeches ever made by a US President: Abraham Lincoln’s poetically beautiful Gettysburg Address, given November 19, 1863, upon the dedication of the National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
On July 3, 1938, speaking on the 75th Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, President Franklin D. Roosevelt reflected on Lincoln and his words:
“Immortal deeds and immortal words have created here at Gettysburg a shrine of American patriotism. We are encompassed by ‘The last full measure of devotion’ of many men and by the words in which Abraham Lincoln expressed the simple faith for which they died.
“It seldom helps to wonder how a statesman of one generation would surmount the crisis of another. A statesman deals with concrete difficulties—with things which must be done from day to day. Not often can he frame conscious patterns for the far off future.
“But the fullness of the stature of Lincoln’s nature and the fundamental conflict which events forced upon his Presidency invite us ever to turn to him for help.
“For the issue which he restated here at Gettysburg seventy five years ago will be the continuing issue before this Nation so long as we cling to the purposes for which the Nation was founded—to preserve under the changing conditions of each generation a people’s government for the people’s good.”
FDR found that Lincoln’s words were timeless. Roosevelt drew strength and insight from the promise of Lincoln’s words while leading the country in the defining battles of his own time.
Happy Facial Hair Friday! Today’s featured mustache belongs to Grover Cleveland, who was re-elected to office on November 8, 1892, making him the first and currently only President to serve two non-consecutive terms.
Perhaps it was the mustache that won him this honor? President Cleveland had embraced the look of the mostly clean-shaved face when he entered office the first time in 1885, but he did have a mustache.
When he returned for a second term in 1893, he still had the mustache. In fact, he defeated the incumbent President Harrison, who was the last President to date to have a beard.
Did this electoral defeat signal the end of an era for beards and new dawn of the mustache?
Happy 155th Birthday, Teddy!
Theodore Roosevelt, NYPD Commissioner, Governor of New York, Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Rough Rider, Nobel Laureate, inspiration for the “Teddy Bear” and the twenty-sixth President of the United States, was born in New York City on October 27, 1858.
And as depicted here by cartoonist Clifford Berryman, contemplating a run for a third term, it looks like he’s all ready for Game 4 of the World Series too!
"A person cannot be a true American and not believe in equal rights."
Letter to President Dwight D. Eisenhower from Teenager Dana Anderson Regarding Equal Rights, 09/29/1957
Bullet Proof Coat
This beige coat worn by President Gerald R. Ford was designed not only to keep him warm and dry but also to protect his life.
This coat came with a bullet-proof vest liner along with more standard features like the six front buttons, adjustable sleeve cuffs, and pockets accessible from the inside. The zip-up bullet-proof vest is made of Kevlar and is covered with cloth identical in color to the coat. Together both pieces weigh 6 lbs., 15 oz.
A label sewn onto the front of the vest provides cleaning instructions and gives an issue date of October 1975, the month after President Ford survived two assassination attempts during separate trips to California.
-from the Ford Library
President Gerald Ford escaped the first of two assassinations attempts within a month on September 5, 1975, when Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme’s gun failed to fire during the president’s trip to Sacramento.
Happy Birthday, LBJ!
Here’s the first photograph ever taken of Lyndon Baines Johnson. He was born approximately six months earlier, on August 27, 1908, in central Texas. No word on the teddy bear’s photographic history, but at least we know it had nicely brushed fur the day this was taken.
-from the LBJ Library
King Hussein, President Ford, Queen Alia, and Mrs. Ford pause at the base of the Grand Staircase before proceeding to the East Room to receive their guests.
Having attended White House functions before, President Ford felt that this first state dinner “would also give Betty and me an opportunity to put our personal imprint on White House social occasions.” He observed that during the previous administration after dinner entertainment had been formal and the Nixons usually left just after the show. The Fords wanted their dinners to be “more relaxed” and included after-dinner dancing as part of the evening.