Image Gallery: Novice in the
One of the most interesting adventures
on my research for my Nixon
project was my trip to the Richard Nixon Library and Birthplace
With funding from Professor Gallagher and the College Scholar Program,
I spent five days as a "novice in the archives." I was able to
at personal family photos, campaign memorabilia dating back to Nixon's
early senate years, and even drafts of speeches with his comments on
Luckily, since I was there over Nixon's birthday I was able to see a
ceremony (both President and Mrs. Nixon are buried there) and also hear
Herb Klein, Nixon's White House Communication Director, give an
talk on the president.
The archives’ main collection is Richard Nixon's private
papers, which contain campaign files, 1946-1968; Congressional and
files, 1947-1952; foreign correspondence files, 1947-1968; special
files with, e.g., John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Martin Luther
and J. Edgar Hoover; correspondence, trip, and appearance files for
and two major runs of research subject files: 1960 and 1968. The
archive also holds Richard Nixon's post-Presidential papers dating from
August 1974 to April 1994. The Library is also the site of
Yorba Linda home and will soon hold an exact replication of the White
Oval Office as it looked when Nixon was there. I believe that if
we are truly going to "reconsider Nixon" and his legacy without the
of Vietnam and Watergate, it is collections like these that focus on
early life that will be most helpful for scholars. Nixon's
Library is the only one not funded by public money (private donations),
which also poses a risk to research, because the Library has the final
word on whether documents can be released to the public. This
to become really important when one considers the library housing the
collection that contains papers relevant to the events of the Vietnam
War. The Nixon Library is currently trying to become the one-stop
research center for Nixon scholars, and I believe that with the
of major records from the NARA and College Park, Maryland (the tape
I will definitely be making a return trip!
The most moving part of the tour of the
Nixon Library and Birthplace
grounds was Nixon's small Yorba Linda house that his father built from
a Sears Catalog Kit. Tours are allowed through the main part of
first floor but not through the back room and attic. Unlike other
presidential collections where much of the room are often filled with
and copies, 75% of the items in the Nixon birthplace are authentic --
my two most favorite items, pictured above. The first photo is of
the bed where all of the Nixon boys took their first breaths and the
and bed covers are also antique. The beautiful wooden high-chair
was also used by all four Nixon brothers, and it is amazing to think
it has survived so long and still looks beautiful.
Behind Nixon's birthplace is a large garden dedicated to his wife
Nixon. There is a large reflecting pool, several alcoves, and the
Nixon graves adjacent to the house. In the second picture above,
my head, you can see the roof of Nixon's birthplace, to my right you
see the construction of the new East Room, and at the far corner on the
left side, is the site of Richard and Pat Nixon's graves.
The most important part of the trip were the documents -- the notes,
photos, and papers from the personal collection. A wonderful find
was the postcard above; the front shows a beautiful picture of the
family, and, on the back, Nixon has written to his friend Donald P.
"Dear friend, This is just a note to tell you how deeply Pat and I
your expression of confidence after the broadcast last Tuesday.
want you to know we shall do our best never to let you down. Dick
What broadcast is Nixon referring to? The famous Checkers
made only five days before, on September 23.
The Nixon Library and Birthplace has
been criticized by architects
and historians for "glossing" over the Vietnam and Watergate years by
creating a building that forces people to only quickly consider the
of Watergate and rush into another room featuring campaign memorabilia
and Tricia Nixon's wedding dresses. The Library is constructed so
that the first thing you would see on your tour is a large wall of Time magazine covers that
leads into a tunnel-like room that features a timeline
of the events of Watergate and the recordings of the "Smoking Gun"
I don't find this to be sneaky or deceptive -- any Presidential Library
is built to honor the accomplishments and not dwell on the negative
of the President's life. The construction of the room echoes the
message of the Nixon Library loud and clear that, yes, Watergate
but, as the Time
covers show us, Nixon lived a lengthy political career
which is overshadowed by the events of Watergate. At the time of
my visit, January 2004, Nixon still held the record for most
on the cover of Time
-- a total of 54 covers! Pictured above are the first
(1952) and last covers (1994) Nixon appeared on.
The Nixon Library also holds negative
materials regarding the Nixon's
policies and administration. In the posters above Nixon is
to Hitler and a Moses like-figure who has misled his flock. Next
to which is printed the "Ten Commandments of the Nixon"
1) Thou shalt not speak out or
disagree with thee administration.
If thou does, thou will be placed upon the enemies list...
2) Thou shalt bug thee democrats -- because they have a tendency
to disagree with our administraton.
3) Thou shalt use illegal entry, kidnapping, wire-tapping,
and prostitution to gain any needed information...
4) Thou shalt implant and organize persons to riot and make it
look like the democrats had done it.
5) Thou shalt collect big business and large corporation
(illegally) so I can return to my residential throne.
6) Thou shalt raise money to keep thee Watergate Defendants quiet
and have them perjure themselves to protect thee...
7) Thou shalt destroy all Gemstone files, tapes, and any
materials that would be destructive to the Nixon administration.
8) Thou shalt monopolize and control the Justice Department...
9) Thou shalt use any means necessary to cover up Watergate and
keep thee American People, Congress, and thee courts from finding out
whole truth about Watergate. (Just ask Martha Mitchell...).
10) Thou shalt "honor thy President and administration regardless
of any unethical, criminal, or immoral activities."
The satirical posters reflect real
concerns about the dishonesty or
maliciousness regarding Nixon's administration, but I am reminded of
saying, "Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just
from the consent of the Governed." As the last picture of a
poster from Nixon's second presidential run tells us, the nation did
Nixon as their leader, even as policies and actions from his
The Richard Nixon Library and Birthplace
Center also houses countless
documents, videos, and images, that give us personal imformation that
cannot be easily found on normal media sources, or allows us to
resources that are easily overlooked. I was able to see several
campaign "artifacts" such as battle plans for reaching out to voters
Nixon's earlier campaigns, including using "Nixonettes," or young
to rally behind Nixon. Slogans such as "Pretty girls for Nixon"
wouldn't probably be allowed in our politically-charged climate, but
love one of those outfits! Although many critics would find such
campaign tactics to smack of sexism, one of Nixon's major achievements
during his career, was extending the right to vote to 18-year-olds -- a
man who had a contentious relationship with the nation's youth still
them enough to believe they should be allowed to make such an important
The Smithsonian in Washington, D.C., is
also a site for Nixon memorabilia
from campaigns and especially the foreign trips that the president and
his wife made throughout the world. Pictured above is a bucket
the Eisenhower-Nixon race that says "Let's Clean Up with Eisenhower and
Nixon." The museum also houses gifts received by Presidential
by their parents or the American public, including dollhouses, guns,
and international items.