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tv   The Presidency Women Preserving Presidential Sites  CSPAN  August 29, 2022 7:00pm-8:17pm EDT

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about the white house garden the white house grounds. it's really an extraordinary issue. so, thank you all for coming, have a safe travel home! [applause]
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we continue now at the white house historical association's discussion on the presidency and historic preservation. up next, the contribution of women in preserving the white house and other presidential sites. >> i hope you are having a good time. we will start our second panel today. first, i want to introduce the moderator, our very own colleen shogan. who is a senior vice president at the david m. rubenstein national center for national history of the white house historical association. doctor shogan is a trained political scientist, with a ph. d. in american politics from yale university, as well as a bachelors degree in political science from boston college. she has almost 15 years of service and the federal government, including prominent roles with the u.s. senate as well as the library of congress. doctor shogan
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teaches government students at georgetown university and served as vice chair of the women suffrage centennial commission. another feather in her cap and an illustrious resume is that she currently serves as the co-chair of the board of directors at the women suffrage national monument foundation, designated by the congress to build the first memorial in d. c. dedicated to the history of the movement for women's equality. it's a huge deal. to begin with our panelists, we have a lane rice bachmann. she is a state archivist of maryland and a coauthor of a wonderful book, designing camelot, published by the white house historical association. i'm proud to say it was launched in this very room on july 28th, which happens to be jacqueline kennedy's birthday. i was there for that event and, when i'm tired of practicing law, i go into my study and i looked through the book and it heals me and i go back to litigating.
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thank you for the signed addition. like jacqueline kennedy herself, miss bachmann also studied art history at the undergraduate level. in her case, at indiana university. she's an expert on maryland's historic public billet-y including the state house as well as the governor's mansion. she's a frequent collaborator of the current governor, larry hogan. this bachmann is a former director of artistic property, exhibits and reach, as well as a curator of artistic property at the maryland state archives. next, we also have melissa melissa naulin, lucy associate curator of decorative art to the white house just across the street. where she has served since 2003 in the presidency of george w. bush. melissa naulin previously held territorial post at washington's mount vernon, the winter ford museum in delaware and the drum museum of new york. she was the master of arts degree from the winter
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third program in early american culture at the university of delaware as well as a bachelors degree from smith college. last but not least, we have pushed susan p. schoelwer the executive director of historic preservation and collections and the robert h. smith senior curator at george washington's mount vernon. where she directs the architectural preservation, furnishings and interpretation of george and martha washington's home, the surrounding plantations, structures, as well as the landscapes. a ph. d. graduate of yale and an m a graduate from the winterthur program at the university of delaware. she also has a bachelors degree from the university of notre dame. and exhibit that ran from 2016 to 2021, created by dr. susan p. schoelwer and her colleagues, led to the creation of an award-winning exhibition entitled lives. lives beyond together, slavery at washington's mount vernon. he's welcome our moderator in our next panel. [applause] >> good,
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morning everyone. thank you brandon for that very kind introduction. and we are first planning this symposium with the national trust, this was one of the topics that myself and my colleague, matt costello, certainly wanted to include. because we thought it was one of the most important elements of discussion. as brandon said, i'm not a historian, i'm a political scientist. so, i approach these types of topics in a particular type of way. which is always asking how, why and to what effect. i think today we are going to talk about the how, the y and to what effect. we're going to have some terrific stories talk about the historic role of women in preservation, from places like mount vernon all
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the way to the white house. including our own founder, jackie kennedy. which elaine will talk about in the course of our discussion. we're going to start with susan. susan, you work at mount vernon. of course, mount vernon is a home to one of the most amazing and interesting preservation stories in the united states. one of the early preservation studies in the united states. can you tell us a little bit about that story? and can you tell us why women saved mount vernon, and not man? >> because there are there. it stepped up to the plate. thank you so much. thank you so much colleen, and to our sponsors today. it's wonderful to be here. if i could have the first slide. all of you being here today, we are all invested in preservation,
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i'm sure you've heard the story of the mount vernon ladies association of the union. but i will recap it again briefly, in case you're not totally immersed in it, as i was not before i got to mount vernon in 2010. the mount vernon ladies association was founded in in 1853 by pamela cunningham of south carolina. as a grassroots effort to acquire and preserve the home of the nation's founding father. and pamela was inspired by her mother, who had seen mount vernon get something like the condition that you see it like in the photograph before, like in a river boat, and she, quote was painfully distressed at the ruin and isolation of the home of washington. and the thought passed through my mind, this is her mother writing, why was it that the women of this country did not try and keep within repair if the men could not do it? [laughs] it does seem like
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such a blot on our country. and quick question, why not man? i think that's a story of opportunities not taken and it has been made available by the washington family collateral relatives of george washington, who still owned it, but that was since the 1830s and both congress and the legislature of virginia had been approached and declined because of course there was no model for preservation at all much less government owning private properties to preserve them. and so congress and the virginia legislature both declined and thus it was remaining in private property when and pamela cunningham began to create this grassroots organization in 1853. to step ahead to your second question, women have made a difference.
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there were no precedents for historical preservation at the time. there were no white papers, there were no best practices, there were no technical leaflets, and pan amulet cunning and her deputies at the vice region as they were called, and still are called, when they came back after the civil war began actively preserving the property and they were really making up the playbook as they go. and i think what is notable about and pamela's vision, it was both conservative and inclusive. from the very beginning, she made clear that her goal was to restore the house, the outbuildings, the gardens, and the grounds as much as possible in the conditions where they were left by george washington. i say that is conservative in
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the sense that it was not the -- aggrandizement. she wasn't trying to improve it or embellish it. she wants to presented to people as washington knew it and it was inclusive because he -- she envisioned it as not just the -- and the -- but all of the building surviving in 1859. so i don't really have that vision of, i forget what you call, it when you imagine what it did not happen, but we do have evidence of other suggestions that were put forth to her by authorities, by architects, by landscape architects, and those included ideas such as filling out the grounds as a memorial park, conserving scarce funds by preserving only the mansion and the family tombs, but the other structure said at the time were of no interest as there were only four quote on quote the meals. by which of
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course was meant the enslaved people who were making the plantation really operate and really responsible for all of washington's legendary hospitality. and another suggestion was to preserve the mansion by effectively dissecting it, disassembling, it constructing a replica of more durable brick, stone, and iron, and then quote applying all of the old interior parts, essentially creating a veneer of authenticity. and finally, to more. in closing it all in the dome of iron and glass, protected from the elements, in finally improving george washington's landscapes by introducing terraces, walks, and flowers. thus quote making the most of the ground and woods because clearly washington had not done enough. and our next slide, please. i think that in all of those were coming from male authorities in their fields, and i think any of these would have resulted in
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a far different -- that we see today. it arguably could've sent preservation in general on a different way. do i think it made a difference? i think the evidence indicates that perhaps it did make a difference. so thank you to those women. >> thank you susan, for leading us off, it will move from mount vernon to the white house, because we hear obviously at the white house historical association and melissa, i know you've done some research recently and a presentation about some of the first ladies prior to jacqueline kennedy who engaged in preservation efforts at the white house. can you share with us some of those lesser known stories and where these women really the necessary predecessors to what we see eventually realized under the kennedy administration? >> sure. i would be happy to talk about it. absolutely, i absolutely
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think the story of historic preservation often begins and ends with jacqueline kennedy, and there were certainly many precedents that were in place when she became first lady in 1861. and so, many first ladies were involved in this effort, but i wanted to highlight a few today. look at the first slide, the first first lady who really deserves the credit of promoting historic preservation at the white house was felicia hayes, lucy hayes, and her husband rutherford b. hayes came into office quite controversial-y in 1877. but first of all, i want to point out that she appears 84 years before mrs. kennedy, and she was really the first first lady to have an interest in history, genealogy antiques, and in looking back at americas history. she had visited the philadelphia centennial exposition in 1876, and was very influenced by that. and
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when she got into the white house, she consulted with a old friend who was then serving as the library of congress, to try to decide, in what ways could they have the white house invoke the history of the pass, which at that point, had not been highlighted. in one of the plans that they came up with was commissioning portraits of former first ladies and presidents that were not represented. and that was the vast majority, it was very little fine art in the house, even when mrs. hayes came in. so you see on the slide, two of the paintings that were commissioned during her time there. the first was of martha washington, and this was done as a companion portrait to the lands down gilbert stewart portion of george washington,
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which was referenced earlier. it is on the same scale as that portrait, and those two portraits have hung as many of you seen, for many years in the east room of the white house. and the portraits at the bottom of john adams, edgar parker, it is one of the many presidential portraits that were commissioned during his tenure. those portions tended to be copies of life portraits, like this is a copy of a gilbert stewart portrait. and mrs. hayes was also known for going through and asking the staff as they were investigating some of the spaces to see if anything looked old and historic, to bring it to her for evaluation. i think some of the things that were identified as historic in the 19th century certainly can be credited to her. oh concept of a american, highlighting american history and furnishings is something that
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she highlighted in the selection of the state china service, which i would argue that the service is probably the most remarkable service that is probably ever been created for the white house. throughout the 18th century because there was not american porcelain factories that were producing wears that were considered fine enough for white house state services. and there are all being purchased from france. they tended to be french in design, as mrs. hayes was as adamant that her service should really be american and theme. and so she hired an artist, davis, to come up with the unique drawings, paintings of american scenes, american flora, fauna, animals, crops, some of which you see represented right there on the right. next slide please. i also want to highlight edith
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roosevelt, wife of president theodore roosevelt, during the white renovation of the white house, which took place in 1902, charles mccann, who was leading the project, he really want to start with a clean slate in the white house and really get rid of essentially everything that was in the house up to that point. it was very, -- i don't have pictures of this, but if you are familiar with the images of the white house in the 18th century, it was very high victorian and style. and that had been what the families had used in decorating, everything of the latest fashion. and they wanted to return to the classical version of the house. but mrs. roosevelt put her foot down on certain things. she, for example, love the lincoln bedroom suite which they had purchased for the best guess chamber during her time, and so she insisted that she was going to have it for her bedroom.
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which you see, and that center slide, the famous lincoln bed, and the accompanying dressers and table there all and use. and that of course called his bluff and being able to get rid of it. and she did that for a number of things. she was also the first first lady to install any kind of true museum type installation in the white house. you see that in that she had cabinets, ground for corridor, and historic state china services. possibly most importantly, she decided that the options that i happen -- and that was a real turning point in terms of what remained in the house, in what did not. >> next slide please. >> and then i wanted to give a shout out to mimi eisenhower, who is not always considered in
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discussions of historic preservation, but she, like mrs. kennedy, was very interested in antiques when she came into office. her pet project was the state china. presidential services, she was concerned that not every presidential family was represented in the white house collection at the time and so she revealed a lot of the techniques mrs. kennedy did to highlight her search, and to have them publicize it and help her get the word out. and she was successful in locating descendants of the families that she was trying to look for china for. and so you see her beaming proudly next to some of the acquisitions. and in sheer numbers of acquisitions, to the white house collection, it is hard to top or in terms of the collection they came in. in her tenure in 1958, and the gilded
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sterling silver, and that is believed that the donation came about through her and eisenhower's friendship with margaret thompson. she was an american heiress living in paris who entertained the eisenhower's when they lived in paris when general eisenhower was serving as the commander of nato. and finally, mrs. eisenhower, the first period brim in the white house was introduced under mrs. eisenhower. it wasn't her idea, what was proposed to her by michael greer of the national society of material designers, but she agreed to it, and if she had not agreed, it would not have happened. and so they proposed, for the first time, furnishing a room in the white house with all antiques of the same period. so the room that was selected was the diplomatic reception room on the ground floor. the over room there, and then their numbers, donated
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everything from, -- the idea was to create a federal style parlor, some american antiques and furnishings that would've been available to wealthy americans at the time were all donated to the house, and you can see mrs. eisenhower and president eisenhower accepting a donation there in the top photo. and so the stage was set for mrs. kennedy. >> that is a perfect transition, elaine, into a question for you. you of course are the co-author of the book designing camelot, which talks about the efforts of jacqueline kennedy and the restoration of the white house. can you tell us how, for our audience so everyone under knows, others may not know the story but tell us what were some of the institutions that mrs. kennedy put in place that are still operational today, and also tell us why was she so
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interested in restoration in the white house, because it wasn't just necessarily pretty things, or to make things look nice, but there was a larger purpose that really supported the kennedy administration, and if you could tell us a little bit about that, i think that would be very illuminating for our audience. >> thank you colin, i'm so happy to be here. so happy to be able to follow melissa, because so much of what i do in trying to start with mrs. kennedy, as if she walked out of the white house, but there were so many efforts. so much in life is timing, if you go to the first slide of mine please, so much is timing in life. she had excellent timing, and coming into the white house with president kennedy in 1961 at a time when mass media could reach the country through newspapers, television, used to a great advantage in the television tour of 1962. and she came into the white house at a time when it was not expected that a first lady would have any sort
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of an agenda or program, but she was very naturally drawn to the interiors in the history of the place, because it was something that she was personally interested in. and it's something that she served with president kennedy, being very well read in american history, and an appreciation for public residences that they had experienced throughout the world. him growing up, her experience being abroad, and it became very influenced by the french ministry of culture and the palaces that she saw there. and she famously said that when she visited the white house as a tourist when she was 11 years old, it was a very disappointing visit because she had just shuffled through, and was not even a guidebook that you could buy. i think she had a very political reason for mentioning it. she had a very political idea for that. and she felt it was not an institution that reflected the
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institution of the united states., she said if she would become first lady, that is what she would focus on. and so we know about which he did in terms of setting up a fine arts committee, and soliciting objects to the white house, reaching out to institutions, but i think what is really important to know about her as well as that she was a lifelong student. she listened, she advisers. she went to mr. dupont for advice about how to create period rooms. she was of course listening to bunny mullen about what to do in the interiors of the house, and she had a great friend, jane writes man who was always whispering in her ear about collecting and of course stephen bhutan, the french decorator as well. she had a vision of her own and was always willing to take that advice from others. i think the timing of it all came together in that she knew about the efforts of her predecessor, she knew that they had not always been successful for some very simple reasons. like there
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wasn't a foundation under which to make that legacy go underneath her own there. and so she was very smart to work with her husband's advisers, in setting of the fine arts committee, which brought in mr. dupont, she was honorary chair, not only pulling in wealthy donors who could contribute financially to her project, but also having an advisory committee of museum directors and curators. that's set up real foundation. and then they set up about creating legislation in 1861 to create the interiors of the white house with the national park service, to make the interiors a preserved space. that of course established a permanent collection. a permanent collection that today has grown into one of the greatest collections of american decorative arts in the world. they were protected, they were protected from being sold off. they were protected from being put away in storage, given away,
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or becoming too dilapidated to use. that was the foundation, and then ultimately, to create the white house historical association as a nonprofit entity through which she could publish that first guidebook, which today is in how many printings? is it in its 25th addition? and what a great legacy. that was another thing that she really had a courage of convictions in that she wanted there to be a guidebook the people could take away from this house. a lot of people advised her against that and said that that was commercializing, it was tacky to sell a guidebook. what a brilliant plan, because she saw that guidebook for $1 copy, i think the first 600,000 copies were sold out within a few months because of the enormous appeal that she brought to the public in sharing the story of what she was doing in 1962. visitation to the white house tripled in their first year there. everyone was carrying out a guidebook, and you can see the pictures of people leaving the house with their guidebooks. and she really had a brilliant vision. if we can
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go to the next slide please, here's the initial offering of the guidebook when it first was offered for sale there in 1962. i want to point out that the only two women in the room are jacqueline kennedy and the rain wax man pierce, who's the first curator of the white house, also a graduate of the winter program. and so she establish that carriers office, the first curator, who is now a part of the legacy of that. and mrs. spears was essential in helping to offer that first guidebook. in the next slide please. so beyond what she was doing in the white house itself, she really looked outside of this and into the neighborhood and paul touched on this of course in his opening remarks, about the lafayette square. i want to credit kathleen gallup, who wrote a wonderful article in 2006 for the leadership forum
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journal about the efforts that mrs. kennedy made to save lafayette square. she in her research at the kennedy library realized that it was the day after the television tour aired, february 15th of 1962, that mrs. kennedy took a walk through lafayette park with david finley. she understood for the first time the full extent of the plans that were in place. and i think again, here is a mentor reaching out to her, and utilizing her great appeal. i have to imagine that he knew that if someone can make a difference in these plans, it was jacqueline kennedy. she was really quite horrified to find out what was in store. in fact her own husband had already approved it. not because he necessarily thought it was a good idea, but i think as government goes, things get rolling, and she did not feel that way. she, i think was maybe buoyed by the popularity of that tour, and by the popularity of her program, and thought that she could lend her name and influence to this,
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but before long, she was writing a letter, i'm sure recommended by david family, to the administrator of the gsa, really outlaying her concern about this and how important would be to preserve the character of the neighborhood, the 19th century facades of these buildings, and you know, by march, the administrator requested a meeting with the existing architects, and seen those architects bowed out of the project, and john carr markey was on board. and the whole thing changed. it's so, it is incredible to think about the influence that she had in being able to change that program that was so far along, and she had a sense of what could be done because she had seen it in other countries as well. in a letter to the administrator, she talks about the historic monuments and laws in france and how those could be applied to the united states. and so she didn't here
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in washington, and ultimately later in life she applied that influence to the saving of grand central station. so i think she was always -- about what she did, it's hard to describe any motivation to her, because she never talked about. it but i want to get one of our quotes about it. she later on talked about was going to happen at lafayette square, that it was going to be ripped down in horrible things put up in their place. she just could not stand by and let that happen. and i have a very favorite question that i like to ask of smart people, and i have a really terrific collection of smart people onstage with me today. this is a hard question, these have been the woman questions, and this is definitely the hard question. but one day, there will not be a first lady of the united states, even though this has been the case for 230 odd
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years, in one day they will undoubtedly be a first gentleman in that role as of her spouse. and so how do you think, when that happens, when that day comes, this is called a hypothetical, but when that day comes, how will this roll of preservation that has been assumed by first ladies, as we know, that has been historic, how do you think that that is going to change? will change a little bit, will it change somewhat, will change greatly? what is the role of gender and the conditions of gender, and how does that affect historic preservation, particularly at the white house, but in general. who wants to take a crack at this one? >> oh dear. [laughs] >> sorry, i was looking in this direction. >> well it is something that we contemplated. during 2016, when
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we had the first female candidate, the major ticket, i think that was a little different, and i started under george w. bush and under the clinton's, but a lot of the staff that i worked with headwork for the clintons, and so they were familiar with bill clinton, and i think that there was some trepidation about what this would all mean in terms of the traditional role. we say traditional role, but i think as susan can speak to, the earliest presidents in terms of furnishing, they were very involved. much more so than they would become later. and firstly seem to kind of take over somewhere in the mid 19th century, i would say, in terms of assuming that they have that role of making a home and being in charge of shopping in finishing the white house. the work i think will largely be the same in terms of, for many years, a lot of the work, the
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bulk of the work, it's typically done by a designer that the president and first lady were there to execute the vision that they set out. and then of course the staff that designer, and then the staff of the curators office at the white house. and so the work will largely continue, but i do wonder how the credit will be made. i think that is where we could see a change. and i also think it will matter if the first or second gentleman is married to a woman or to a man. i think that could have a large role in how that roll is seen. and so. i think we will all be interested in exactly how that rolls out when it happens. but, yeah, i think the credit will
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be the major difference. >> i think the fact just that mrs. kennedy came and, when there wasn't a president, when there was an idea that a first lady had to be an agenda. in 60 years, we've gone from preservation, because everyone wanted to follow on her, to all manner of things. i don't think there has to be an expectation that the spouse needs to take on that role, frankly because of all the good work that was put in place over the years, in established by mrs. kennedy. now there's a freedom to do whatever you want because there are professionals in place, the house is not going to go to -- and so i don't think that there would be an expectation that you have to take on that role. >> and i think melissa and alina have made most of the points that i was interested in with historically, broadly, when and how does it come to see a gendered role? and there is a very tiny historical footnote when they are setting
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up the first presidential residence in new york for washington's inauguration in 1789. they only have a few weeks in congress is empowered to spend the money, to furnish a president's house, and they say, get someone to do. it there's a community of two women who really go out and find the furnishings for that residents and washington gets, there he is very involved in this, very interested in what is the impression of the presidency put forth for this new nation to foreign diplomats who are coming, and trying to strike a balance between not seeming to imperial but also meeting the expectations a foreign dignitaries. it's a he is very involved in what the furnishings are of the three presidential residence that he lives in, to new york, and one in philadelphia, and also the
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president -- planning for the president's house. so i think there's a very interesting dynamic to look at in terms of the president's house, but i think elaine, to your point, there is the structure in place now. and so how does that change what's that traditional dynamic has been? >> sometimes preparing for this panel, i found a terrific quote in an essay by gayle and the history of women architecture. she wrote that although women have led the movement, the history of women has not been adequately preserved. and i was really struck by, that wow, that is right, and all the work that he did with women suffrage and i did that, i found that to be the case. the historical artifacts for the most part have been adequately preserved by all the terrific institutions that we have in place, both federal and private, but the story has not been
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told. that was the challenge. we had to get those objects out there, and we had to be able to tell the story of the women that fought for the 19th amendment. so i asked this question, why is there this divergence? why has the actual task of historic preservation and done so well by women, but why are we still finding it challenging to be telling those stories and as we tell about american history in the important episodes of american history. why is there doubt that economy, and what can we do this to make that better? >> i think so much a government has been government of men. and so that is a story that is gone cold, and i feel like there is not a single historian that i parked with the day anyone on the staff at the archives, or any museum of bannon, who hasn't been out looking for those other stories. there is a little harder to find, if you are looking at other sources,
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and you have to go beyond the, what is written about a particular ministration by that administration, because that is not the real story. we have to dig into other archival material, like i think that the information is, there but it's got to be gotten out a little bit in a different way. >> i think this is the large question about the nature and the proper subject of history itself. it's not just preservation, but history itself. and to me there are two aspects of that question, and one is, one of the sites that we are preserving. that is kind of an additive of going out and looking at what sites we are preserving, and communities, but there is also the question of, what questions we are asking about the sites that we are preserving? and i think that there are so many sites, presidential neither, wise they have a rich stories that we have not been asking, all the questions that we could be
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about it. i think that came up and i last panel about talking about sites being dynamic. but the physical fabric of the site may be changing, at mount vernon, we are still committed to and -- vision of preserving mount vernon as washington knew it. but the washington knew it as a plantation, which was worked by enslaved people. and so we are asking entirely different questions to broaden that story, they were telling. i think much can be said about women's history in the same way, because there are so many stories that we have not begun to plan the depths of white women's involvement have been in those sites. >> will that be the case of the white house, you think, melissa, as well? >> yes. let me think of leon's point about the history that has been told. maybe it started with the low hanging fruit
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about what was preserved in terms of the documentation. learning there and then, as susan was saying, the questions have brought him so much as we have begun to understand that it is not just the history of our political leaders, of white men that needed to be preserved, but expanded into all kinds of realms and people of different races, ethnicities, sexual orientations, gender, all of those things which we are now looking for evidence of that history in those documents that may have been overlooked before. and just prioritizing learning and sharing those histories, which have not been highlighted in the past. and i think women will continue to do a lot of that work just as they started, but again, fortunately
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the field has opened up so much to us to be so much more aware of what is out there. >> and i just have one other point that is just another interesting question about women's philanthropy, and specifically women's philanthropy and how that plays into the history of women and the sights and how preservation got didn't into the priorities, and as they take on a guttural >> my last question, before we go to our audience here at decatur has today and also our virtual audience that is out there watching the symposium. if you have questions as well, type them in our comments section and we will try to get to those two. my last question is, you are all leaders in the field of historic preservation, in your respective positions and jobs.
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what are the challenges that still face women in the field of historic preservation today. what is going well? what are we doing well? and where can we improve? >> well, i approach this question by convening my own little panel of four women who worked for me. who have come into the preservation field from various paths. two from academic training in historic preservation, one of those is an architectural historian. one is a project manager who has come in from the construction field. when is a joiner who has commit very much from traditional crossed fields. their perspectives were kind of greeted according to those backgrounds. the two would come in from crafts and construction had seen what they'd seen about gender bias and can she really do that hands on kind of job. those who are younger and had come in from academic areas released
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not as much more balanced. what was surprising to me was their concern was not so much about their -- but they were encountering as women in the field, but with a size the field of preservation in general being really struggling with the issue of finding people who could do the actual work. the trades, the crafts, the conservation, the rebuilding things. that, for them, was but the real question was. how do we bring more people? more women, but more people in general, into doing preservation? >> my specific role, if i can speak to my role as an archivist and the state archivist of maryland. and i have great authority to choose what is kept in perpetuity. it's a huge responsibility. a lot of that is written in law and retention, schedules are certain things that are going to come to the archives because they are government records. there's a great deal of discretion in looking at
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private collections, a special collections and even in what records of government are kept. and you can see overtime that, when those records aren't retained, that might say something about social justice issues, lead paint abatement in the city of baltimore, particular issues that related to urban development. if those records are lost, 100 years from now no one will have that part of the story. so, i guess i'm looking at it from the very sort of seminal place of what we choose to preserve today, it's going to help tell the stories 100 years from now. it's a big responsibility. having a representative staff help me make those choices, having women, people of color, people from marginalized and under represented communities, having them help make those decisions makes me a better state archivist. and makes the state archives ultimately, able to be more representative of the period we're living and now, when someone 100 years from now is trying to tell those stories. >> it's so true. when
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you have women, as yourselves, in leadership positions, we know that makes it so much easier for women who are entering the field to feel welcomed. i study the presidency as a political scientist. the amount of women that were in that field was very few, i could count them on one hand, really, in the united states. i was very fortunate, i had a lot of male mentors but there are very encouraging and welcoming male mentors that wanted more women studying the presidency. that wanted people in this field. so, it's one of the other. it's having more women in those roles or having men that really want women to step up and really be their successors in that way. so, let's open this up to our audience. i think we'll probably have a lot of very good questions for the panel. i'm sure we have our microphone that will be moving around. is
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there any questions over here? i think we have one. >> thank you. elaine, i love listening to you talk about the early committee that jackie put together. and having also been at winterthur and focusing on a bit of your work in our magazines while ago. i remembered when i called the hairdryer letter and i just wondered -- the letter is wonderful, very jackie, but when i wanted you to talk a little bit about, more serious with preservation, was the push and pull between -- and dupont. neither one was thinking about preservation, yet that was jackie's stated goal. >> thank, you leslie, leslie is the former director of winterthur. leslie greene bowman, it's an honor to have you here. yes, the letters are fascinating because you really see that many personalities that mrs. kennedy was working with. it's also fascinating because her
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first introduction to mr. dupont was made when he became chairman, it's a very formal type of letter. from that on all the letters are handwritten and one was under a hairdryer when she was congratulating him on something in antiques magazine. that's what's so interesting, only 60 ago, that was the method in the -- communication. there's hundreds of letters to read in the archives. it's clear that she had a differential relationship with him, saw him as the 30 on antiques, establish the first museum of decorative arts in the country. that's why she needed his gravitas for the program. he was 80 and she was 31, so it was a very deferential relationship. and then she had this french decorator, bodin, who decorated palaces and europe. jane raisman was one of his principal clients and she really brought him into the project but in a very surreptitious way because mrs.
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kennedy was a keen politician. you could not be talking about french decorators in the white house. but in fact, mr. dupont knew from the beginning that he was involved and had this tradition of decorating in a very grand scale. the white house has grand dimensions, really, it's not like putting window curtains on your living room windows. you have to really think architecturally and that was boudin real specialty. so, yes, neither one of them were thinking as decorators. what backdrops could they create. but she ultimately had her eye on the final outcome and what would be the final solution. so, it's very interesting to see the push and pull. she ultimately got what she wanted. but you saw the growth that she had. again, she was a lifelong student. i'm glad you mentioned mckinney white. when miss kennedy started her project she got to be very focused on 1802, the earliest period of the white house occupancy in the furnishings of monroe. it was
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really mr. dupont who encouraged her to look beyond that to the full breadth of the history of the white house. remember, she came upon at herself when she started understanding the architecture of these, rooms which were created in 1902 by mick can meet and white. she came to an appreciation of that period of architecture, which i think played into her position of those buildings in new york city later on. but she was a master diplomat for dealing with all those personalities for someone so young. >> hi, i'm lindsay carpenter from the -- museum. as a young professional female in the field, i was wondering what advice would have for my generation to continue the work that you have all done? what you're hoping for, something's during this time period in your professional development what you did that you wished to continue. thank you. >> that's a hard one. i think that, i
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guess what i would say is, my touchstone has always been doing the research. knowing what the evidence is for what you want to do. and the thorough job of the research that you base your argument on. 25 pages, single spaced with footnotes people tend to buy in, in my experience to what you're saying. >> i got my experience that i've always encourage people to do who want to work in museums in the field of historic preservation, especially starting out is to take any opportunity you can get. for museum experience. whether it is working retail, whether it is, in my case, working on the floor of a
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children's museum. dealing with all kinds of things. but i was doing admissions, i was doing retail, i was on the floor. then, i was also able to do 20 hours in the curators office. but all of those real world experiences and seeing the total functioning of those museum institutions, at least for me, was incredibly important. in being able to continue working my way into a full-time position. >> i concur. and if you're lucky to find a mentor, i also had wonderful male mentors on that i had wonderful female mentors. anytime you can spend with people who are doing -- you know, my mother always said you have to imagine so they to be able to achieve it and be around people who are educated in what you want to do. and have a high standard. because that is how you're going to learn. so, seek out people who are doing the kind of work you want to do. and try to spend time with that person. i think you will find it's a very
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generous field that we are in, i always benefit from reaching out to someone who was a graduate of the winterthur program or working in the field. that idea of sharing and giving back and paying it forward is a contemporary expression, but i was a great beneficiary of that throughout my whole career. >> i guess i would add on to that, don't be afraid to ask questions. don't assume that everyone you are working with has all the answers, because the story that's been passed down and handed down over the years may have gotten embroidered over the years. so, don't be afraid to be the new kid on the block, ask the question of why are we doing this. and go back to the primary sources and really dig into it. >> question over here. >> hi, good morning. the whole field of women and historic
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preservation is so rich. thank you all for your comments this morning. melissa, you mentioned the centennial exposition of 1876 and that anniversary as something that really inspired mrs. hayes. we frequently think about that occasion as on the about spurred historic preservation and all of the women's historic preservation movements in the 1890s, et cetera. i'm just wondering if you or any of the other panelists have specific points in history or specific societal influences that you think are also coming together to influence their interest in historic preservation. >> that's a really good question. >> it is -- i mean, the whole
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concept of the philadelphia exposition, it really is hard, at least for me, to go back to a mindset where preservation wasn't even considered. wasn't considered a priority, wasn't considered important. but it's easy to see in the records of the white house, in terms of the auctions which i referenced. anytime something was seen as just unfashionable, worn out. because of a constant struggle for what they considered sufficient congressional appropriation. which is the only way that the early presidents were getting money for furnishing the house. selling off the old things was the way that they brought in new money to buy what they wanted. but so, again, just the concept that old is okay, hold
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is interesting, old teaches you something. it's something that i think really came out of the centennial, during that period. i think just the -- i was thinking as ellen was talking earlier about boudin and dupont, i know for me, first being introduced to your work, the actual concept of henry francis dupont as the preservationist in the equation, to me it took me back a little. coming out of winterthur and having just worked on a dress that had been taken apart to be seat upholstery, that wasn't necessarily the vision of henry francis dupont that i came out of winterthur with many years later. but to understand that mrs. kennedy, to, i think borrowed mr. do ponce, as you said, gravitas and authority.
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and she really, i would argue, did what she wanted. it really caused a lot of problems for the staff of the white house, who are writing back to mr. dupont like, oh my goodness. why am i even here? i believe are some of the things they were writing. because, again, mrs. kennedy took over in terms of her decisions and that. so, i'm probably straying far from the question but it's just amazing to see the fact that concepts of what is historic preservation has changed so much. again, what dupont was doing and his time was absolutely remarkable and brought us forward. the wonderful thing is that we are still going. there is no stopping point for those concerns for historic authenticity. and concern for telling stories that haven't been told before. >> and what
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is historic authenticity. i think what you're seeing, now, that was progress at its time, even progressed and it is on lifetime and considered himself a scholar. now, we've moved beyond, into the last 20 years we've just lived through, the last ten years we've just lived through. you've seen it at all the panels this morning about what does it mean to preserve a site and whatt and how should it be interpreted. the social justice movement and all of the people that are coming to work for the archives now are these young, exciting people who are coming out of education that was totally different from mine. and having perspectives way beyond. nobody expects to go to a southern plantation house now and see how all the rich white folks lived. that is just not acceptable, nor is it what's the most interesting thing about history. preservation is having this
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opportunity to be the truth tellers. you can do that through objects enter interiors and how you are either preserving a site or not preserving it, as it were. or just revealing it. so, i think all preservation is a product of its time. we are living in a time of near-revolution in interpreting historic sites. and it's exciting! where does that go from here? i don't know, but i think we're going to look back on this period. he saw it on the wonderful presentations this morning of how people are looking at these traditional sites and how they're so much more to tell. >> we have a question from our livestream. jenna from facebook asks, how can the media play a role in sharing the lesser known stories and contributions of women and minorities to historical preservation? >> the question is how can the media play a better role and telling
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these lesser known stories. particularly to women and minorities, and the role of historic preservation. >> it's kind of hard for us to speak for the media, i think. we can certainly use social media in the way that people have talked about today. in how we get stories out and things that we produce. to again start pointing to the questions that have been asked. get those questions out to perhaps suggest to people in the media how some of those on asked questions can relate to current events we're looking forward. i think it's kind of on us, perhaps, to get some of those questions out there. that people don't know are there. >> the media really has to be your partner in a historical association or a historic site.
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because you can tell, as we do at the white house historical association, have extremely talented historians and interpretive staff on staff and writing the histories and discovering new stories to tell. and of course, you can bue mainstream media traditional media different outlets to be able to help you spread that story and tell it in new ways so that people that are unaware of you at this moment in time soon find the treasures that you have you have uncovered now that can be tricky at times because you want to make sure the stories told correctly. you want to make sure it's told you know, holy and authentically we rely upon outlets like like see span to help us. do these things but we're constantly looking for new media partners because you know all the time. i'm thinking well if you know a tree falls in the forest, but no one, you know, here's it fall then did it really fall.
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so the doing the history correctly is the first step in the process and putting it forward in an easily accessible manner. so the people can consume it is the first part of the process then the second part is that outreach which of which media plays this critical role and that's why it's important for associations to have trusted media contacts that they work with to be able to help us, you know, really expand our reach and and so that more people can can learn and understand who are interested. for sure, that's a critical piece in the in the process. i think. question here not to get political, but there has been a concerted effort in many states. affect what history is being taught?
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and i live in virginia and we're one of those states. i've seen it in other states certainly seen in, florida. and i'm wondering knowing what your positions are to find the facts and to preserve the facts and to share those facts. i mean, are you seeing this have any effect on historical places and such doing that because it certainly a problem. from my perspective in an educational standpoint in the classroom i can say that i have not had it impact anything that i have done in maryland. i use my bully pulpit anytime. i have it and it's probably a small one to just you know, shout out that it is. i don't know how critical became a bad word because as historians
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we must be critical. that is our job. and that is and also you know, it is our job to enlighten people and and tell the truth of history. so i'm keenly aware of what's happening. i keep my eye on it all the time have not had it impact me yet, but i feel feel very concerned yeah, i mean we at mount vernon were doing a lot of outreach to teachers. we have summer teacher institutes where we have teachers coming in from all over the country. i think those are primarily self-selecting that people who are coming in who who want to learn about the founding era and different aspects of george washington and and his era and the problems that he confronted. so i'm i'm not working directly with those teacher programs. i haven't heard from our
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educators that they are again having a direct impact, i think teachers who come in are grappling with those questions certainly and looking for strategies that they can take information say that they learn at mount vernon and develop techniques for critical thinking and analysis and reading primary documents and then go back to their home communities and play that forward so it's certainly think are really critical dialogue that is happening right now and certainly something that historic. places have have a role to play as a touchstone as a place to ground people. we'll be doing a lot of k-12 education this summer obviously with our with our teachers and taking advantage of that. so i look forward to hearing what teachers say when they come to our teacher institutes this summer both in person and our
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virtual teacher institutes our programs. so i would i would know more after i would you know able to interact with them, but you know at the historical association we take the view we're going to tell the history we're gonna tell the history of objectively completely and authoritatively and that means telling story of whoever plays an important part that might be women that might be enslaved people might be free black people people native american we are going to tell the story as so it is accurate and we tell it completely and we will provide those stories to teachers to use in the best way possible. we'll meet them so that they can use those histories effectively in their classroom, but i think our mission despite it's kind of like whenever you you you're running a long distance and you know, there's a lot of distractions along the way but it's really just best to keep
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your eye on the finish line and the prize and we keep our eye on the finish line here and we will not be deterred by some of this noise that's going around in the country because we feel that our mission and our purpose is steadfast and that is to do the the best possible and to tell the most complete history as accurately and object. early as possible using authoritative sources and and doing it well, so that's the mission. we are we keep our eye on the long on the long ball not on the short ball. a word that keeps coming to mind in this discussion is truth. and i mean, there's been a lot of i think discussion in the media and elsewhere about you know, what is true and how do we know? what's true? and who do we believe and at least as historians, you know for me, it's always about being able to but to relying on the truth when when you're telling the truth, you don't have to worry, you know so much about
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and it the standing on that and also trying to have people understand how to evaluate all the media that they consume and how do you evaluate? what is true? and what isn't true and again as historians? i think it just it always goes back to making sure that we're very clear about where information comes from. what is the documentation for it? how do we know what we know pointing out? you know, why not just we believe or we think or it's our opinion that this is true, but able to show it in those, you know in the documentation and again, we'll always go back to those primary sources to help us establish. what's true? this is where history to me is it's not it's not simply a collection of facts. it is history is a skill. it's a life skill and we use it and we need to use it every day
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when we're reading what's out there in the newspaper and the social media. what is the argument being made? what is the evidence that supports it? does that evidence make sense internally? does it correspond to it? you know, does it hold water effect? and i think that is is what is so critical to me is history as a life skill. question this might be somewhat blasphemous to ask this question, but you know i was struck by in all of your presentations. not only the women who led these efforts, but then also the women behind the women. and when i saw that picture of lorraine waxman pierce at the presentation of the guidebook. it made me think more about asking this particular question
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of elaine and melissa. you know. was who was that? the person sort of hidden to the side and what was her role in early on in the kennedy administration and her legacy not only serving as the first white house curator and what that means today, but how that continues to shape office, so well, i'll do the historical background and you can say how it shapes the office lorraine waxman-pierce was a recent graduate of the winter program really hand-picked by charles montgomery and henry dupont to come down here and and be the first curator because mrs. kennedy wisely knew you needed professionals. she was perfect for the position because her her thesis had been on charles honore long way the french emma gray cabinet maker fit in beautifully with the early french furnishings of the white house. you'd think they just get on like a house of fire. i think mrs. kennedy was difficult to work for i don't think i'm revealing any secrets. here. she was lorraine was coming into
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a job that had no precedent. there was no scope of work. it was like go down and do this job and she had her loyalties with mr. dupont. she you know had french mr. buddha what working in the house as well. she sort of had to play this that was not that that again just did not have a scope. work and i think it was a difficult position to be and that said her role was to be the scholar on the job and in the short time that she officially worked in the white house which was about a year and a half, you know, multiple articles published in antiques brought a you know, a documentation that here's the furnishings in the white house and here's the source material and here's their history bringing a great again this scholarly reputation to the project and then and then, you know was primarily working on the guidebook but also because she was a a the newspaper articles at the time or wonderful to read because it was really phenomenon that she was a scholar and a mother she had a
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15 month old son. her husband was assistant curator at the smithsonian and here she is working today. we don't think much about having a full-time job and raising kids, but at that time that was highly unusual, so she's balancing a lot. she was also enormously popular to the press who wonders to come and give lectures and go to tea mrs. kennedy did not not like that, you know, mrs. kennedy. her in the curators office doing the work and getting that guide book done. so there was there was friction there and i'm so grateful to lorraine who has to passed away in 2004, but she was alive and well in georgetown when i was writing my thesis 30 years ago, and she invited me down to her house for two days to go through all her papers and told me all her stories. none of which i can publish for the most part. would be the best seller maybe we can talk about that another time. but she was very gracious about her time there. she admitted it was difficult. it was difficult to be in that role. she was a trailblazer william voss elder. the third was the assistant
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curator shortly hired after lorraine and he stepped beautifully into the position. he was a a great fit for that role and and i think between the two of them and then of course jim ketchum right on their heels, they established standards where there had not been any before so here's the legacy right here with i i am overwhelmed every time i consider what mrs. pierce accomplished in 18 months. i mean, it's just stunning to me. what? honestly, it makes me just want to get up and quit because it's just she was under so much pressure too and reading the correspondence between her and mrs. kennedy. i mean, i absolutely agree. there's many times. i thought i i don't think i could have done it at all mrs. kennedy just had such a hands-on role and such a i would argue, you know kind of lack of understanding of what she was asking, you know at one point when you know, she comments that
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wanting this guidebook done. and again the guide book is a huge part of her program to raise money. so it's it's hugely important, but you know, i guess at some point mrs. pierce said something to her along the lines of like, you know, that's that's at least a 10 year project and you know, and this is kind of because we don't have 10 years, you know, and and then also make some kind of clip about like well if the president's doing all he's doing and it's like, okay, but of course like look at the staff the president had in terms of what he's accomplishing but the the ability the whole professionalization of you know, the curator's office isn't established officially until 1964. so technically under president johnson, but i mean luckily at least i'm not familiar with any other staff member working. under that much. direct supervision as mrs. paris
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and again, she's the other letter that blew my mind was when mrs. kennedy comes to her and i think it was mrs. writesman that she had been talking to about this new cataloging system that she had learned and you know, and and this was this was the system and this was the system lorraine was to use and lorraine's like, but i've had a system in place for the last year like, you know to start over like are you really asking me to completely start over and do everything but again just such a disconnect between the two of them and i just like i said, i just my heart was out to mrs. pierce, and i'm so grateful that we i would argue in the curator's office. i mean certainly there's many challenges and pressures, but we are not seeing that type of i mean she really pioneered away and and a way to be a professional in that position. that you know has has benefited us all so i'm very grateful for
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that. well, thank you melissa susan elaine for a terrific conversation about a very important topic and thank you 1y
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former president ronald reagan. welcome you to this special virtual program featuring alan hoover the third called reimagining the future. the hoover presidential library and museum alan will discuss the history behind the building of the presidential library and how it has evolved over the years. and what lies ahead? we invite you to submit questions for allen throughout the presentation by using the events. q&a feature you'll find along the edge of your screen. alan hoover, the third is a great


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