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Slide Digitization

With assistance from Amazon Web Services and Digital Divide Data, an AWS partner company, the White House Historical Association has been able to digitize nearly 20,000 35mm film slides covering the White House from 1962 through the mid-1980s. 

The White House Historical Association was founded in 1962 to support the National Park Service in the preservation of the Executive Mansion. Part of WHHA's mission is to educate the public with regard to the history of the White House. To that end, WHHA published the first edition of its signature book, "The White House: An Historic Guide" that same year. 

More publications followed the guidebook, and WHHA worked with photographers from National Geographic Society for decades to take pictures of major events and day-to-day life in the White House. Those images were preserved on 35mm slide film. The slides were placed in cold storage and remained there for more than two decades until the launch of the new WHHA Digital Library in 2016.

The Library team advocated heavily for getting the slides digitized in their entirety and, thanks to an agreement between WHHA and Amazon Web Services signed in 2016, the large-scale digitization project was begun in March of 2017. Working with Creekside Digital in Glen Arm, Maryland, WHHA prepared and delivered over 11,000 slides in the initial batch for scanning in the middle of 2017. 

Many of the images in the slides had never been available to the public until the scanning process was completed. Special finds among the slides include photographs of that first edition of "The White House: An Historic Guide" on sale in the East Wing of the White House in 1962, Mrs. Kennedy hosting a concert for youth in the East Room (possibly the only color photos of that event), Indira Ghandi's state visit, Gemini astronauts and their families playing in the White House pool, and First Lady Lady Bird Johnson launching the Head Start program.