The Briscoe Center and the LBJ Library have forged a close partnership over the years. Earlier this month we joined forces yet again for a special evening of remembrance, “A White House View of 9/11.”
White House photographer Eric Draper, whose archives are held at the Briscoe Center, was joined by Karen Hughes, counselor to the president; Karl Rove, senior advisor to the president; and Clay Johnson III, assistant to the president for presidential personnel, who all shared their experiences of 9/11, traveling with the president, or working from the White House that day.
The event was another example of what has become a very special collaboration, and I’m pleased to announce that a video of the evening is available online and below.
There are certain dates that are deeply etched in the American collective consciousness: perhaps the two most notable examples in the 20th century are December 7, 1941, and November 22, 1963. The events that occurred on those days were burned into the memory of all who experienced them. The shocking attack on Pearl Harbor, and the tragedy of John F. Kennedy’s assassination are moments that Walter Cronkite called, “monumental collective national experiences.”
September 11 is the defining monumental collective national experience of the 21st century. A little more than a decade on, it retains a rawness and power unique for a historical event of its magnitude. “A White House View of 9/11” brought together a unique group of eyewitness accounts, as seen from the president’s inner circle. The Briscoe Center is always proud to work with public servants to foster the exploration of our nation’s past. Their recollections are the sort of historical evidence that the center seeks to collect, preserve, and make available.
Of the evening’s guests, the center has enjoyed a particularly meaningful collaboration with Eric Draper. Draper served as George W. Bush’s chief photographer for the entire eight years of his presidency, photographing him daily in his activities at the office, abroad, and in his personal life. I met Eric as a result of the Briscoe Center’s efforts to acquire the archives of American photojournalists.
News to History
“A White House View of 9/11”
Front Row Seat
When I invited Eric to place his collection at the center, he asked if we would be interested in helping him publish a book of his White House photos. I am delighted that our discussion resulted both in the placing of his collection at the center and in the book Front Row Seat, which was released this summer as part of the Briscoe Center’s series at the University of Texas Press. Eric’s remarkable photos are also part of our exhibit News to History, currently on display in the LBJ Library’s temporary exhibit space until the end of this month.
It is my hope that the video, the exhibit, and the book work to enrich the historical education of students, scholars, and members of the public alike during this time of national remembrance.
Don Carleton, Ph.D.
J. R. Parten Chair in the Archives of American History