About the National Archives

Welcome Remarks for "Find Your Whistle"

Good afternoon, and welcome to the William G. McGowan Theater at the National Archives. I’m David Ferriero, Archivist of the United States, and I’m pleased that you could join us today, whether you are here in the theater or watching on YouTube.

Before we get to today’s talk by Christopher Ullman, I want to let you know about two other programs coming up soon at the McGowan Theater.

On Tuesday, August 8, at noon, journalist Thomas Oliphant takes us behind the scenes of John F. Kennedy’s campaign to the White House in The Road to Camelot: Inside JFK's Five-Year Campaign.

Later in the month, on Tuesday, August 22, at noon, Walter Stahr tells us about Abraham Lincoln’s indispensable Secretary of War, Edwin Stanton—the subject of his new book, Stanton: Lincoln’s War Secretary. Book signings will follow both programs.

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.

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When you entered this building today, you faced the Rubenstein Gallery, home of our “Records of Rights” exhibit. David Rubenstein is a great friend of the National Archives, and the gallery is the only the most visible manifestation of his support.

And it’s through Mr. Rubenstein’s active interest in the Archives and our mission that I have had the pleasure of working with his Director of Global Communications—today’s guest, Christopher Ullman.

Chris is here to tell us about his new memoir, Find Your Whistle, in which he encourages the reader to find their own special gift and share it with the world.

Chris Ullman has shared his gift here at the National Archives, where he has twice performed at our July 4th celebration. He is a four-time national and international whistling champion and has whistled for members of Congress, the President, the Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, and many others.

He also whistles “Happy Birthday” more than 400 times a year, and for the past several years, I’ve been lucky enough to be one of those who receive Chris’s musical birthday greetings.

His repertoire goes far beyond the birthday song, however. He’s performed with 10 symphony orchestras, whistled the national anthem at Major League baseball and NBA games, appeared on The Tonight Show and the Today Show, and even whistled from the top of the Washington Monument.

A Washington Post profile this year called Chris “a preternaturally skilled whistler, a four-time world champion who turns the simple happy-birthday ditty into a complex riff and performs compositions as intricate as Mozart’s Oboe Concerto in C and Hummel’s Trumpet Concerto in E-flat with nothing but his lips, teeth and breath.”

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Whistling champion Christopher Ullman has performed with major symphony orchestras, serenaded President George W. Bush in the Oval Office, whistled the national anthem at professional and college sporting events, and entertained millions around the world on television and radio. Chris describes his Happy Birthday greetings to friends and family as a “ministry.”

He has appeared on many television network shows and been featured in the New York Times, People Magazine, the Washington Post, and Time Magazine. His repertoire includes classical, blues, jazz, Broadway, and rock. In 2012 he was inducted into the International Whistling Hall of Fame. By day he is a Director of Global Communications at The Carlyle Group, an investment firm based in Washington, DC.

Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Chris Ullman.