See rare images depicting life, work at the White House
See rare images depicting life, work at the White House This photograph by Joseph J. Scherschel shows President Lyndon B. Johnson and former president Harry S. Truman prior to signing Social Security Act Amendments, which established both Medicare and Medicaid. This photograph was taken at the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum in Independence, Missouri on July 30, 1965. (The White House Historical Association)
See rare images depicting life, work at the White House
Lexile: 480L

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Only part of what goes on at the White House is ever seen by the public. What is seen? It is usually seen through a very small lens.

The White House Historical Association aims to preserve and provide access to White House history. A team  of its librarians has spent the past two years working. They are digitizing about 25,000 images. They are behind-the-scenes photos. These offer a glimpse into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

The images were previously uncatalogued. They capture scenes from 1962 to 1987. This spans the Kennedy to the Reagan presidencies. That's according to Betsy Klein. She is with CNN.

There was only a little information available for most slides in storage. That information was the month and year the film was developed. Librarians had to work like detectives. They paid close attention to details. They looked at the photo slides. They identified how the images fit into the timeline of historical events. And into other records.

Librarians were able to identify civil rights leaders. They were in a photo. It was from a 1966 meeting. It was with President Lyndon Johnson. They did so by using Johnson's daily diary. 

A team of historians fact-checked the photo information. They made revisions when needed. They did this before the images were digitized. Klein reports the ongoing project is part of a partnership. It is with Amazon Web Services. It provides cloud storage. And it provides support.

Images are on the organization's new online library. They include many scenes. Press reporters are seen in one image. The photo is from the Johnson presidency. There were men in workspaces. They were on telephones. Reporters were relaxing on leather chairs. 

The Gemini 4 NASA team was in photos. The images show the astronauts. They are being presented with the Exceptional Service Medal. Images also capture the astronauts at a more candid moment. Images show them as they play in the White House pool. They are with their families. They were there at the invitation of Johnson.

The White House Historical Association was founded in 1961. It was an effort by Jacqueline Kennedy. It works to preserve White House history. It also provide access to the history. The organization also collects information. The collect information on first ladies. 

They collect information about other important figures in the White House. They collect information about art. They collect information about the decorations. This includes information about the space. And it includes architectural changes. These are throughout the White House’s history. The Association is also charged with commissioning an annual White House christmas ornament. It honors past presidents. Former President Harry Truman was honored this past Christmas.

Klein writes the team is only halfway done with its digitization project. Many more images are set to make their way from storage to digital library. This will happen in the coming months. You can check out the current trove of images. They are available on the site.

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