About the National Archives

Deputy Archivist’s welcome for LBJ

Deputy Archivist’s welcome for LBJ
Monday, November 14, 7 p.m.
McGowan Theater, Archives I

Good evening and welcome to the National Archives Building. I’m Debra Wall, Deputy Archivist of the United States. Tonight, we are honored to have a screening of the film LBJ here in the McGowan Theater and have Director Rob Reiner and Actor Woody Harrelson with us this evening. Immediately after the film, there will be a conversation with our special guests and the Johnson Library Director Mark Updegrove. We also have several members of Lyndon Johnson’s family in the audience, including his daughter Lynda Johnson Robb.  It is great to have you here tonight.

Before we get started, I wanted to give you a little background on the National Archives. We opened our doors in 1935 with a mission to collect, protect, and preserve the records of the U.S. Government. And, most importantly, to make the records available so that the American public can hold its government accountable and learn from our past.  We are the final destination of the most important records of the United States Government. Today, the collection has over 13 billion sheets of paper, 43 million photographs, miles and miles of video and film, and more than 5 billion electronic records—the fastest growing record form.

The National Archives has 43 facilities across the country, including Presidential Libraries from Herbert Hoover to George W. Bush. Presidential Libraries are not libraries in the usual sense. They are archives and museums, bringing together the documents and artifacts of a President, his administration, and his family and presenting them to the public for study and discussion without regard for political considerations or affiliations.

The Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library in Austin, Texas, has 45 million pages of historical documents; 650,000 photographs; 5,000 hours of recordings, including 600 hours of LBJ’s phone conversations; and 54,000 artifacts. There has been a resurgence of interest in LBJ lately. And the Johnson Library has been the most visited research room of all the Presidential Libraries the last few years.

At the dedication of the library in 1971, President Johnson remarked “It is all here: the story of our time with the bark off...This library will show the facts, not just the joy and triumphs, but the sorrow and failures, too.”

Because of what we do here at the National Archives, authors and directors have access to original records to make accurate, insightful, and entertaining books and movies about larger-than-life figures such as Lyndon Baines Johnson. Without records, these stories would be lost. It is a reminder that records matter!

Thank you for coming tonight and enjoy the film.