See rare images depicting life, work at the White House
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.