About the National Archives

Archivist’s welcome for “Cross-Examining History: A Lawyer Gets Answers from the Experts About Our Presidents”

McGowan Theater, National Archives Building, Washington, DC
November 18, 2016

Good afternoon, and welcome to the National Archives. I’m David Ferriero, Archivist of the United States. I’m pleased you could join us today in the William G. McGowan Theater or remotely by YouTube.

Today we look forward to hearing Talmage Boston tell us what he has learned about U.S. Presidents in the course of writing his new book, Cross-Examining History: A Lawyer Gets Answers from the Experts About Our Presidents.

Before we hear from Mr. Boston, though, I’d like to tell you about two other programs here in the next couple of weeks.

On Wednesday, November 30, at noon, we will present the first of three programs commemorating of the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor and the U.S. entry into World War II. Author Steve Twomey will be here to discuss and sign his recent book, Countdown to Pearl Harbor: Twelve Days to the Attack, which unravels the crucial characters and moments of this critical event of American history.

Then the next day, Thursday, December 1, at 7 p.m., we will join the National Constitution Center and the Constitution Accountability Center to present a panel discussion called, “The 14th Amendment’s Shield of National Protection: A Constitutional Guarantee of Liberty and Equality.” The panel will discuss how the 14th Amendment enshrined the promise of liberty and equality in our Constitution and its implications for today’s most important issues.

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

Another way to get more involved with the National Archives is to become a member of the National Archives Foundation. The Foundation supports the work of the agency, especially its education and outreach programs. Pick up your application for membership in the lobby or become a member online at archivesfoundation.org.

Relatively few people become close to U.S. Presidents. We may see their images on screens, giving speeches or toasting foreign heads of state, or perhaps be surprised by a motorcade. The best chance to get to know a President is probably after his term, when his papers become available to researchers at a Presidential library—and the National Archives is in the process of helping to set up a new one, for President Barack Obama.


Today’s speaker, Talmage Boston, took a more personal route in preparing his book, Cross-Examining History: A Lawyer Gets Answers from the Experts About Our Presidents. Some of the experts he interviewed have their own close ties to the National Archives: David McCullough, Ken Burns, H.W. Brands, Taylor Branch, Mark Updegrove, Lynda Johnson Robb, and Douglas Brinkley have all appeared on this stage. Historians, filmmakers, and White House insiders such as these have strong bonds with this agency and our mission, whether it’s through researching in our records or sharing their knowledge at the public programs we sponsor.

I invite you to come back again and again to take advantage of the variety of talks, films, and other programs based on topics represented in our records. With holdings of records measuring in billions of pages, our scope is wide and varied.

Let’s hear now from Talmage Boston on the insider’s view of the American Presidency.

He has practiced law as a commercial trial and appellate litigator in Dallas, Texas, since 1978. In addition to maintaining his full-time law practice, Talmage has written Raising the Bar: The Crucial Role of the Lawyer in Society, which includes a forward by Dick Thornburgh, former Attorney General of the United States under Presidents Reagan and Bush. Talmage has also written two critically acclaimed baseball history books, 1939: Baseball’s Tipping Point and Baseball and the Baby Boomer, and has been inducted into the Texas Baseball Hall of Fame as a Media Member. And in recent years, he has become one of the best known onstage public interviewers in Dallas.

Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Talmage Boston.