This photograph by George F. Mobley shows President John F. Kennedy and First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy attending the White House staff Christmas reception. The reception took place on December 12, 1962 in the Entrance Hall of the White House. This would be their last Christmas celebration in the White House. (The White House Historical Association)
This photograph shows First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy sitting in the front row as she waits for the Embassy Youth Concert to begin in the East Room of the White House. This concert was the fifth installment of Mrs. Kennedy's Musical Programs for Youth by Youth. She invited the children of diplomats, Cabinet members, and State Department officials living in Washington, D.C. The concert featured performances by pianist Han Tong-il and the Paul Winter Jazz Sextet. (The White House Historical Association)
This photograph shows visitors on the North Portico after exiting the White House following a tour. First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy greets the group and poses for pictures. (The White House Historical Association)
This photograph shows the press waiting in the Press Lobby in the West Wing. The press has had a dedicated work space in the White House since the construction of the West Wing in 1902, though the press area was moved around the West Wing and next door in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building before being assigned to a room built above the White House swimming pool, installed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1933, during the Richard M. Nixon administration. (The White House Historical Association)
This photograph is from the event announcing the Head Start program. In the photo a group of people hold the banner for the program. Left to right: film and television star Danny Kaye; First Lady Lady Bird Johnson; Lou Maginn, director of a Head Start project in Vermont; and Sargent Shriver, who spearheaded the program as Director of the Office of Economic Opportunity. Two of Shriver's young sons, Timothy and Robert, are seen on the left, helping with the banner presentation. Head Start is a child development program designed to meet the needs of disadvantaged preschool children. It was a key element of President Lyndon B. Johnson's legislative War on Poverty. Mrs. Johnson championed the program. (The White House Historical Association)
This photograph shows the West Wing press area during the Lyndon B. Johnson administration. The press has had a dedicated work space in the White House since the construction of the West Wing in 1902, moving around the West Wing and next door in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building before settling in the room built above the White House swimming pool. This particular iteration was enlarged under President Franklin D. Roosevelt and decorated under President John F. Kennedy. Abbie Rowe, the White House photographer for the National Park Service, is seen standing to the right in a dark gray suit and black rimmed glasses. Rowe documented the presidents and the White House from the Franklin D. Roosevelt through the Lyndon B. Johnson administrations. (The White House Historical Association)
This photograph shows President Lyndon B. Johnson with Thurgood Marshall and Penelope Hartland-Thunberg at an announcement of their nominations to federal positions on July 13, 1965 in the East Room. Marshall was named solicitor general, becoming the highest-ranking African-American government official in history. Hartland-Thunberg was added to the United States Tariff Commission. ( The White House Historical Association)
This photograph is of President Lyndon B. Johnson escorting Indian prime minister Indira Gandhi to Blair House following an arrival ceremony held in her honor on March 28, 1966. Visiting diplomats and dignitaries stay at Blair House while on official visits with the White House. ( The White House Historical Association)
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. President Johnson involved Truman with the signing because the Truman administration endeavored to provide national health insurance to Americans. 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)
In this photograph President Lyndon B. Johnson and First Lady Lady Bird Johnson exchange gifts with Indian prime minister Indira Gandhi just prior to a State Dinner held in her honor on March 28, 1966. Also gathered in the Yellow Oval Room were Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey and his wife, Muriel Humphrey, Luci Baines Johnson, and Arthur J. Goldberg, United States ambassador to the United Nations. ( The White House Historical Association)
In this photograph President Lyndon B. Johnson walks Indian prime minister Indira Gandhi into the Center Hall prior to a State Dinner held in her honor on March 28, 1966. The Center Hall is located on the Second Floor of the White House, in the family quarters. (The White House Historical Association)
In this photograph President Lyndon B. Johnson talks with Sen. Robert F. Kennedy of New York in the East Room of the White House after signing the Veterans Readjustments Benefits Act of 1966 on March 3, 1966. Also known as the "Cold War GI Bill," the bill gave veterans who served after January 31, 1955 access to benefits such as educational assistance, job placement services, veterans preference, and home and farm loans. (The White House Historical Association)
In this photograph two members of the American Ballet Theatre dance a pas de deux or duet during a performance of Aaron Copland's "Billy the Kid" on a temporary stage in the East Room of the White House on May 22, 1962. The performance was part the State Dinner held in honor of President Félix Houphouët-Boigny of the Ivory Coast and hosted by President John F. Kennedy and First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy. (The White House Historical Association)
This photograph was taken on First Lady Lady Bird Johnson's beautification tour of Milwaukee, Wisconsin on September 21, 1965. In this photograph, Mrs. Johnson speaks at the dedication of the Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservatory. During her trip, she addressed the American Institute of Park Executives and toured the Boerner Botanical Gardens. Mrs. Johnson was an environmentalist who championed beautification projects across the country, culminating in the passing of the Highway Beautification Act of 1965. (The White House Historical Association)
In this photograph President John F. Kennedy, First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, President Félix Houphouët-Boigny of the Ivory Coast, and First Lady Marie-Thérèse Houphouët-Boigny of the Ivory Coast converse in the Red Room of the White House. The group was attending a State Dinner held in honor of President Houphouët-Boigny's State Visit on May 22, 1962. (The White House Historical Association)
This photograph by Joseph J. Scherschel shows astronauts James McDivitt and Edward White and their families in the White House swimming pool. The McDivitt family is out of frame. They were invited to the White House following the successful Gemini 4 mission to space, which included 62 Earth orbits over four days and the first American spacewalk. The invitation followed their promotion by President Lyndon B. Johnson to the rank of lieutenant colonel the week before at an event at NASA's Manned Spaceflight Center in Houston, Texas, and the visit included an overnight stay at the White House. This pool was installed during the Franklin Roosevelt administration and was covered over during the Richard M. Nixon administration to create the Press Room. (The White House Historical Association)
This photograph by Joseph J. Scherschel shows scenes from President Lyndon B. Johnson’s visit to NASA’s Manned Spaceflight Center in Houston, Texas. The purpose of the visit was a speech to honor the crew of the Gemini 4 mission and Johnson nominated astronauts James McDivitt and Edward White for promotion to the rank of lieutenant colonel. The Gemini 4 mission spanned four days and 62 Earth orbits, and included the first American spacewalk. Here, Johnson is delivering his remarks. (The White House Historical Association)
This photograph by Joseph J. Scherschel shows President Lyndon B. Johnson awarding the Exceptional Service Medal to Col. Gordon Cooper, astronaut, in the Oval Office. Cooper was the command pilot for the Gemini 5 mission (August 21-29, 1965), which broke the Soviet record for spaceflight duration. Cooper was one of the seven original Project Mercury astronauts and flew the Mercury-Atlas 9, "Faith 7," craft in May 1963 during a roughly 34 hour mission that orbited the earth 22 times. The Gemini 5 mission would be Cooper's last before retirement. He was accompanied to the White House by his wife and two daughters. (The White House Historical Association)
In this photograph, renowned jazz musician Duke Ellington performs on a stage on the South Lawn during the White House Festival of the Arts. On June 14, 1965 over 300 guests attended the White House Festival of the Arts to honor contemporary American artistic achievement. 65 works of art borrowed from 39 museums across the country were displayed in the East Wing and Jacqueline Kennedy Garden. The 14 hour event also featured a variety of performances in the East Room and the South Lawn including Ellington, the Robert Joffrey Ballet, and the Louisville Orchestra. (The White House Historical Association)
In this photograph First Lady Lady Bird Johnson dines with actor Gene Kelly and photographer Edward Steichen at dinner during the White House Festival of the Arts. On June 14, 1965 over 300 guests attended the White House Festival of the Arts to honor contemporary American artistic achievement. 65 works of art borrowed from 39 museums across the country were displayed in the East Wing and Jacqueline Kennedy Garden. The 14 hour event also featured a variety of performances in the East Room and the South Lawn including Duke Ellington, the Robert Joffrey Ballet, and the Louisville Orchestra. (The White House Historical Association)
In this photograph First Lady Lady Bird Johnson stands in front of "The Calumet" by Robert Indiana which was displayed in the East Garden Room of the White House. On June 14, 1965 over 300 guests attended the White House Festival of the Arts to honor contemporary American artistic achievement. 65 works of art borrowed from 39 museums across the country were displayed in the East Wing and Jacqueline Kennedy Garden. The 14 hour event also featured a variety of performances in the East Room and the South Lawn including Duke Ellington, the Robert Joffrey Ballet, and the Louisville Orchestra. (The White House Historical Association)
This photograph of President Lyndon B. Johnson meeting in the Cabinet Room was taken by James P. Blair on April 28, 1966. President Johnson met that day with Civil Rights leaders, including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and members of Congress and his Cabinet to discuss and sign his Special Message to the Congress Proposing Further Legislation To Strengthen Civil Rights. Johnson's Special Message called for the enactment of federal law prohibiting discrimination based on race, religion, or national origin. Johnson would go on to send a Special Message to Congress every year until the April 11, 1968 signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1968. Seated from left to right are: Andrew J. Biemiller of the AFL-CIO; Attorney General Nicholas deB. Katzenbach; Floyd B. McKissick, national director of the Congress of Racial Equality; Dr. King; Rep. Emanuel Celler of New York; President Johnson; Roy Wilkins, executive director of the NAACP; and Civil Rights and union labor leader A. Philip Randolph. (The White House Historical Association)

Keeping you current

See Rare Images Depicting Life, Work at the White House

A team of librarians at the White House Historical Association are digitizing 25,000 behind-the-scenes photographs from 1962 to 1987

smithsonian.com

Only a sliver of what goes on at the White House is ever seen by the public, usually through a very manicured lens.

But a team of librarians at the White House Historical Association, which aims to preserve and provide access to White House history, has spent the past two years working to digitize about 25,000 behind-the-scenes photographs to offer a revealing glimpse of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

As Betsy Klein of CNN reports, the images, which were previously uncatalogued, capture scenes from 1962 and 1987, spanning the Kennedy to the Reagan administrations.

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

For example, librarians were able to identify civil rights leaders in a photo from a 1966 meeting with President Lyndon Johnson by using Johnson's daily diary. 

A team of historians fact-checked the photo information, making revisions when neccessary, before the images were digitzed online. Klein reports the ongoing project is part of a partnership with Amazon Web Services, which provides cloud storage and support.

Other images on the organization's new online library include scenes of press reporters during the Johnson administration — men in workspaces on telephones and reporters relaxing on leather chairs. 

The Gemini 4 NASA team also makes an appearance. Not only do the images show the astronauts being presented with the Exceptional Service Medal, but they also capture the astronauts at a more candid moment, as they play in the White House pool with their families at the invitation of Johnson.

Founded in 1961 as an effort by Jacqueline Kennedy, the White House Historical Association works to preserve and provide access to White House history. The organization also collects information on first ladies and other important figures in the White House, art and decorations from the space and architectural changes throughout the White House’s history. Additionally, it's charged with commissioning an annual White House christmas ornament. (This year, it’s honoring former President Harry Truman.)

Klein writes the team is only halfway done with its digitazation project, and 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 trove of images currently available on the site.

About Julissa Treviño

Julissa Treviño is a writer and journalist based in Texas. She has written for Columbia Journalism Review, BBC Future, The Dallas Morning News, Racked, CityLab and Pacific Standard.

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