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A Resolute Myth: Debunking the Resolute Desk Panel

As historians, one part of our job is to question and investigate oft-repeated stories in history. Myths, inaccuracies, and questionable documentation abound in White House history, and historical facts can be ignored, altered, misremembered, or forgotten as time passes. One such example is the history of the Resolute Desk—one of the most important symbols of the presidency and a pr


The Myth of the Vanishing Indian

The White House Diplomatic Reception Room is perhaps best known for its scenic wallpaper, installed during the John F. Kennedy administration in 1961. The highly detailed panorama, designed by French artist Jean-Julien Deltil and produced by Jean Zuber and Company, depicts notable American places including Niagara Falls, Boston Harbor, West Point, and the Natural Bridge in Virginia. It is worth noting


Hail to the Chief Curator

Curators are indispensable to historic sites and museums today. Utilizing their subject expertise and training in the field, they conduct research, organize exhibits, acquire and loan items, and manage the preservation of historic art and artifacts. Today, the White House Collection contains more than 60,000 decorative and fine arts pieces, overseen by a team of curators. While curatorial staff members have


Harper’s Weekly Invites Its Readers Inside the White House

Historians have previously discussed the wider impact of technological innovations that facilitated the emergence of the illustrated press in the mid-nineteenth century.1 Founded in 1857, Harper’s Weekly offered its readers not only the opportunity to read about the news but also visually bear witness to it for the next six decades. It covered politics, society, and war, as great scholarly at


Women in the White House Collection

In honor of Women’s History Month, we are exploring the talented women artists whose portraits, sculptures, and paintings are a part of the White House Collection. American University graduate fellow Sarah Fling also discusses artistic first ladies who brought their love of art to the White House.