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
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Only a sliver of what goes on at the White House is ever seen by the public. And what is seen, 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 to digitize about 25,000 images. They are behind-the-scenes photographs. These offer a revealing glimpse of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

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

The only information available for most slides in storage was the month and year the film was developed. So librarians had to work like detectives. They paid close attention to details of the photo slides. They identified how the images fit into the timeline of historical events and other records.

Librarians were able to identify civil rights leaders in a photo. It was from a 1966 meeting 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 necessary. They did this before the images were digitized online. Klein reports the ongoing project is part of a partnership with Amazon Web Services. It provides cloud storage and support.

Images on the organization's new online library include many scenes. In one image, press reporters are seen. It is from the Johnson administration. There were men in workspaces on telephones. Reporters were seen relaxing on leather chairs. 

The Gemini 4 NASA team also makes an appearance. The images show the astronauts 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 with their families. They were there at the invitation of Johnson.

The White House Historical Association was founded in 1961 as an effort by Jacqueline Kennedy. It works to preserve and provide access to White House history. The organization collects information on first ladies and other important figures in the White House. It also collects information on art and decorations. This includes information on the space and architectural changes. This is throughout the White House’s history. Additionally, it's charged with commissioning an annual White House christmas ornament. The ornaments honor past presidents. This past year, it honored former President Harry Truman.

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 in the coming months. For now, you can check out the current trove of images. They are available on the site.

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
What do you think the general public would be most interested in seeing about day-to-day life at the White House?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (25)
  • Monica J-mag
    2/22/2019 - 08:05 p.m.

    maybe they would be interested in seeing NASA activities since they always do secret jobs

  • Maricel A-mag
    2/22/2019 - 08:42 p.m.

    The Klein treasures and their writings thevimages show. the photos of meeting of 1966 whith the president Lyndon Jhonshon.
    And another image you see press reports, it,s from the historical association of the white house.

  • Angel R1
    2/22/2019 - 08:57 p.m.

    I think that most people would like to know what is in the basements or offices under the white house if there are laboratories where they do experiments, space ships, super agents etc. or if it is really similar to Hollywood movies, it would be good if one day the truth were known.

  • Blanca A-mag
    2/22/2019 - 09:27 p.m.

    I think that people want to know about decoration and art White House’s

  • Dassaed S-mag
    2/22/2019 - 11:42 p.m.

    People are interested in what may happen inside the white house, who are the guests who attend it and why are they there? through the photographs that can be taken. In addition to all changes due to maintenance that may happen, it would be a topic of conversation among the public.

  • Jaime R-mag
    2/23/2019 - 12:26 a.m.


    It's a good note, and I really think it's interesting to show the white house inside. It would be interesting to know her inside and I think that thanks to the photographs we can know her interior perfectly.

  • Nancy M-mag
    2/23/2019 - 12:50 a.m.

    maybe they would like to know if you have secret tunnels or maybe extra thick paradies

  • Yaneth M
    2/23/2019 - 01:08 a.m.

    I think that people would be more interested to see what is the daily life of the people who live in the white house, and not what their counselors tell them to show.

  • Issac F-mag
    2/23/2019 - 01:52 a.m.

    well i cant give my opinion at all but if i could see something maybe i would be impressed about the life of presidents, or the art in the white house because i think the work of art reflects the personality of the president who decided to acquire it.

  • nathanr-orv
    2/26/2019 - 10:58 a.m.

    I would probably want to see what the president is doing all that time and see what there kids are doing.

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