About the National Archives

Prepared remarks of Archivist of the United States David S. Ferriero in introducing a program for the book, Going Home to Glory: A Memoir of Life with Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1961-1969. Washington, DC

Who is the Archivist?

David S. Ferriero

David S. Ferriero The Archivist of the United States is the head of our agency, appointed by the President of the United States.

The AOTUS Blog
What's an Archivist?

December 9, 2010

Good evening. I am David Ferriero, Archivist of the United States, welcome to the McGowan Theater at the National Archives.

Before we proceed with tonight’s program, I’d like to mention two upcoming programs that will take place soon.

In this theater, on Wednesday, December 15, at noon, author David Howard will discuss his book Lost Rights: The Misadventures of a Stolen American Relic, which follows the trail of  North Carolina’s copy of the Bill of Rights, stolen at the end of the Civil War and returned to the state in 2005.

In a couple of weeks this theater will be closed for two months while we make improvements to the lighting and projection systems. During that period, we’ll be hosting programs in other rooms in this building and at partner sites.

One of these off-site events will be on Thursday, January 6, at 7 p.m., when we will partner with the Newseum to present “Political Cartoons of the Civil War.” This panel discussion will feature both Union and Confederate political cartoons and will be held down the street at the Newseum’s Annenberg Theater.

On January 18, the Newseum, in partnership with the Eisenhower Library and the Eisenhower Institute of Gettysburg College, will also host a program on the 50th anniversary of Eisenhower’s Farewell Address.

To learn more about these and all of our public programs and exhibits, consult our monthly Calendar of Events. There are copies in the lobby—along with a sign-up sheet so you can receive the Calendar by regular mail or e-mail. You’ll also find brochures about other National Archives programs and activities.

Another way to get more involved in the National Archives is to become a member of the Foundation for the National Archives. The Foundation supports the work of the agency, especially its education and outreach programs. Pick up your application for membership in the lobby.
And last—visit the Archives Shop through our web site, Archives.gov. You’ll find an assortment of products and publications relating to the National Archives and its holdings, including our quarterly journal, Prologue. The forthcoming Winter issue will excerpt a section of today’s book.

Tonight I am very pleased to welcome David and Julie Eisenhower to talk about their book Going Home to Glory: A Memoir of Life with Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1961–1969. The book is an intimate chronicle of President Eisenhower’s final years based on personal stories, letters, diaries, and reminiscences. The reader is granted a view of Ike in private family moments, as an adviser to his successors in the White House, and as elder statesman for his party.

The opening scene of Going Home to Glory describes Ike and Mamie’s return to their Gettysburg home after the inauguration of John Kennedy in January 1961. At the entrance to the farm, the single Secret Service vehicle escorting them honked its horn and turned back toward Washington. In a simple gesture—nearly inconceivable today—the transition from public to private life was made.

In the 1960s, David’s family lived down the road from the general, and he even did chores on the farm. His close relationship with his grandfather is evident throughout the book. We see the former President relaxed at the grill (we even get his recipe for barbecue sauce), discussing baseball, watching westerns, and driving around Gettysburg (which David recalls as “a traumatic experience”).

To tell their story, the authors relied on personal reminiscences and correspondence, published works, and material in the Eisenhower Library in Abilene, Kansas, which is part of a network of 13 Presidential libraries administered by the National Archives.

Two of the items in the library are particularly noteworthy today—letters written by me back in 1956 and 1960. One of the letters asked the President for an autographed photograph; the other accompanied a gift—a toy stuffed elephant. I later came to understand that President Eisenhower used to give such gifts to his grandchildren, and so I have to ask you: David, did you ever get the stuffed elephant?

Joining us tonight for our conversation is historian Michael Beschloss. As Vice President of the Foundation for the National Archives, he has been a major advocate for the educational initiatives of the Foundation. Called “the nation’s leading Presidential historian” by Newsweek , Michael is the author of eight books, including his most recent book Presidential Courage: Brave Leaders and How They Changed America.

Our two featured guests tonight are David and Julie Eisenhower.

David Eisenhower, the namesake of the Presidential retreat, Camp David, is the author of New York Times bestseller Eisenhower: At War, which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in history in 1986. He is director of the Institute for Public Service at the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania and has lectured widely to audiences across the United States on the Presidency, foreign relations, and World War II. He is also a veteran of the United States Navy and served as an officer aboard the guided missile cruiser Albany in the early 1970s.

Julie Nixon Eisenhower is author of Pat Nixon: the Untold Story and is a public speaker on the Presidency, women in politics, and life in the White House. She has made volunteerism a life-long focus and has served on many nonprofit boards, including the National Adoption Center, the Center for Advanced Judaic Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, and the Pearl S. Buck Foundation. She currently serves as a trustee for the Richard Nixon Foundation, the Nixon Center, and the Eisenhower Medical Center.

Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Michael Beschloss, David Eisenhower, and Julie Nixon Eisenhower . . .