National Archives News

Presidential Inaugurations

Presidential Inaugurations

On January 20 every four years, the President of the United States takes the oath of office. The inauguration usually takes place at the United States Capitol and includes a ceremonial program and a parade down Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House. Take a look at historical inaugurations documented in records held by the National Archives and its Presidential libraries.

Historical Videos


U.S. Capitol during Reagan inauguration 1981

Peaceful Transition of Power: American Presidential Inaugurations (Prologue, Winter 2000)

A Look at Inauguration Day Through the Years: Inaugural Photographs and Facts (Unwritten Record)

Inauguration Report (Hoover Heads)

80th Anniversary – Franklin D. Roosevelt’s 1933 Presidential Inauguration (Forward With Roosevelt)

75th Anniversary of FDR’s Second Inaugural and a New Inauguration Day (Forward With Roosevelt)

Amending America: The 20th Amendment, January 20, and Presidential Inaugurations (The Reagan Library Education Blog)

Featured Document Display

George Washington's first inaugural address and the Bible upon which he swore his Presidential oath


Grand Rapids, MI
Friday, January 20, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
roadcast of Inauguration Day footage
Gerald R. Ford Museum Auditorium
Admission to the Ford Museum will be free on Inauguration Day.

Washington, DC
Mondays through Saturdays, January 3 - 31

Family Activities: Presidential Inaugurations
National Archives Building, Boeing Learning Center

Engage in hands-on activities related to Presidential inaugurations.

Tuesday, January 17, at noon
Three Days in January: Dwight Eisenhower's Final Mission

National Archives Building, William G. McGowan Theater
In his debut book, political journalist Bret Baier looks at the three days between Dwight Eisenhower’s prophetic "farewell address" on the evening of January 17, 1961, and his successor John F. Kennedy’s inauguration on the afternoon of January 20. A book signing follows the program.

Wednesday & Thursday, January 18 & 19, at noon
Films from the Vaults: Presidential Inaugurations
National Archives Building, William G. McGowan Theater

In celebration of the 2017 Presidential inauguration, we present a selection of archival motion pictures drawn from the holdings of the National Archives related to the ceremonial inaugural events.

Friday, January 20, 11:30 a.m.
Presidential Inauguration live broadcast

National Archives Building, William G. McGowan Theater

Beginning at 11:30 a.m., the President’s swearing-in ceremony will be shown live in the William G. McGowan Theater.

Teaching and Learning Resources

Primary sources related to Presidential elections on DocsTeach.

Research Resources

Records of Presidential Inaugural Committees in the National Archives

Presidential Libraries research

Election 2016

Every four years, on the first Tuesday (after the first Monday) of November, we cast our votes for the next President of the United States. The National Archives and Records Administration has a unique role in the election process: NARA’s Office of the Federal Register administers the Electoral College.

Find out how the Electoral College works and what the Federal Register does, and discover our Presidential libraries’ election memorabilia in our #ElectionCollection.

You can even fill in the electoral map with your own predictions of the outcome.

The Electoral College and the National Archives

What is the Federal Register's role in the Electoral College? Federal Register staff take you through the process and describe this unique duty—from sending instructions to the governments of the 50 states and the District of Columbia to receiving and reviewing certificates of votes to turning over the votes to Congress.

The Presidential Transition

Records Management Guidance for the Presidential Transition (Records Express blog)

New Transition-Related Materials (Records Express blog)

White House Transition Interviews (oral histories of former White House staffers from the Nixon administration Clinton administrations)

NARA’s Role in a Presidential Transition (Prologue, Fall 2016)

Escorting a Presidency into History: NARA's Role in a White House Transition (Prologue, Winter 2008)


Every Tuesday during the months leading up to the election, we published campaign memorabilia from our Presidential libraries on a new #ElectionCollection Instagram and invite other cultural organizations and individuals to share their own mementos from past campaigns.

Use the #ElectionCollection tag to view and share campaign memorabilia on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and Pinterest. And find more in-depth stories on the blogs of the National Archives and American Experience

Teachers! DocsTeach has organized the #ElectionCollection memorabilia by theme so you more easily find objects to use in your classroom.

Facebook Live

Thursday, November 3: Join us live on Facebook from inside the "Amending America" exhibit at the National Archives in Washington, DC. Christine Blackerby of the Center for Legislative Archives, and Jessie Kratz, National Archives Historian, discuss the history of Constitution amendments relating to the Presidential elections and the Electoral College.


“The Electoral College: A Message from the ‘Dean’” (Prologue: Quarterly of the National Archives, Fall 2008)

The Electoral College: Then and Now (Pieces of History blog)

Constitution 225: Blueprint for the Electoral College (Pieces of History blog)

Constitution 225: The President (Pieces of History blog)

To Choose a President (Pieces of History blog)

The Election isn't over . . . (Pieces of History blog)


Independence, MO
“A More Perfect Union: How Critical Presidential Elections Reshaped the Constitution”
Through December 31, 2016
Harry S. Truman Library

To mark the Presidential election year and the 225th anniversary of the Bill of Rights, this exhibition examines the evolution of the American government through the Constitutional amendment process, and it highlights some key Presidential elections that pushed that process forward.

Past Events

American Maelstrom coverAnn Arbor, MI
Tuesday, November 1, at 7:30 p.m.
Gerald R. Ford Library

Author and columnist Michael A. Cohen talks about American Maelstrom: The 1968 Election and the Politics of Division.

Thursday, November 3
2016 National Student/Parent Mock Election
John F. Kennedy Presidential Library

The Kennedy Library is the state coordinator for the National Student/Parent Mock Election for Massachusetts. This voter education program actively engages students in grades K-12 in state and national campaigns, and emphasizes the importance of voting and the power of their ballots. Massachusetts educators may register by downloading the brochure and enrollment form, or by emailing with their school’s information. There is no deadline, though early registration is encouraged. Schools outside of Massachusetts can find out how to register for this program at

Washington, DC
Thursday, November 10, at 2 p.m.

The Federal Register and the Electoral College
National Archives Building, William G. McGowan Theater & YouTube

Amy Bunk discusses the Federal Register and the Electoral College on November 10 in Washington, DC. Watch on YouTube if you can’t come to the National Archives Building.

Thursday, November 18, at 7 p.m
#Election2016 What Happened?

Jimmy Carter Presidential Library
A post-election panel of political scientists who focus on minority public opinion (black, Latino, and Asian American) talk about the Presidential election result and the underlying attitudes that predicted it.


Teaching and Learning Resources

#ElectionCollection Presidential Campaign Memorabilia on DocsTeach

Lesson plan for Tally of the 1824 Electoral College Vote