Wednesday, February 12, 2014

President L. B. Johnson's Presidential Library

There are plenty of things to do in Austin for the tourist, and some of them we have done in the past during our visits to the capital city.  Monday was a cool, cloudy day, John and I both thought that it was a type of day to be inside, probably touring museums.  According to the tour books the presidential library of Lyndon B. Johnson has been given an excellent rating, so that is where we headed for the day.
As of 2013 there are 13 presidential libraries, from H. Hoover to George W. Bush.  President Johnson’s library has been the only one to be located on a university campus, the University of Texas, Austin. 
 The library was dedicated in 1971, two years before the president’s death.  As President Johnson noted during his address at the dedication:  “ So it is all here, the story of our times with the bark off.  This library will show the facts, the joys and triumphs as well as the sorrows and failures.”   Within the library are 40 million pages of documents as well as photographs, videos and audio recordings.  Below is a picture which I took looking up at the 5th floor, one of five floors of the archives.
President Johnson had a Dictaphone belt recorder installed in his office and recorded 643 hours of telephone conversations, some of which have been made available for the public.  That feature of the library is what I enjoyed most during my visit there.  I saw the brusque and bullish side of Johnson in his conversation with the Chairman of the House and Education and Labor, to whom he gave a dressing down for delaying legislative action on the Elementary and Secondary School Bill.  I heard a compassionate and personal side of Johnson in his conversations with Jacqueline Kennedy as well as with his wife Lady Bird..  Another phone conversation which I found fascinating was the one President Johnson had with Katherine Graham, The Washington Post journalist.  He expressed to her his frustration with congressmen who always seem to be out of town on one holiday or another.  He was anxious to get bills passed and no one was ever around!  He strongly suggested to Graham that she do interviews with them (in a kind manner) and find out what they were doing with their time when they were out of town.  Other interesting conversations were those Johnson had with Martin Luther King,  and John Steinbeck before the latter left on a fact-finding trip to Vietnam.  There was certainly a lot of United State history in the years from 1963 to 1969, and it was a time I remember well.  Pictured below is a replica of  the oval office as it looked during the years Johnson was in office. 
 Furniture belonging to our 36th President was his rocking chair and desk which he used as a senator, vice-president and president.  The oval office during the late 1960s certainly saw lots of action , during his time as president Johnson signed many important bills- in regards to civil rights, poverty, education, clean water, public broadcasting, our national parks, head start, Medicare- to name but a few.

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