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When Nixon Met Elvis March 9, 2011

While waiting on a few books being sent through inter-library loan to come in, I happened upon some research topics other than the ones I have been concentrating on. Like exploring some of the thirteen National Archives’ Presidential Libraries online. Did you know there is a library for every president since Herbert Hoover to George Walker Bush? Even Richard Nixon, who resigned from office, has one (including a special exhibit detailing his encounter with Elvis).

Earlier this year the J.F.K. Presidential Library and Museum announced the launch of what is now the largest searchable digital archives of a former U.S. President. Not only are documents like J.F.K.’s handwritten draft of his inaugural address available for viewing, but so are the video and photographs taken of that historic event. In addition to the searchable archives, the website contains several interactive exhibits, running the gamut from”We Choose the Moon” to “Integrating Ole Miss.”

Perhaps not to be outdone by the J.F.K. Library, the Nixon Presidential Library has released more recordings taken at the White House between the former president and his aides. As the New York Times has pointed out, the tapes reveal a less-than-rosy picture of the 37th President.

My favorite digital nugget I found was the Living Room Candidate, a project of the Museum of the Moving Image. The Living Room Candidate contains archives of presidential commercials of each major candidate since Dwight Eisenhower ran in ’52. For a well choreographed sampling, I recommend watching the Curator’s Choice, which begins with Ike and ends with Obama.

Which reminds me of what I thought was a great essay by Andrew Bacevich in The Atlantic on what Eisenhower termed “the military industrial complex.”

Happy surfing :)

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