Explore objects and archival materials that feature more than 150 years of Presidential history with a Western Pennsylvania connection.
An invitation for President Barack Obama's Inauguration in 2009. This was the first time an invitation of this nature, which invited all Americans to view the Inauguration online and the first-ever Neighborhood Inaugural Ball, was issued.
It reads "No matter where you will be on Inauguration Day, we invite you to join us as one nation in celebration of this historic moment."
This ticket was likely given to Brown-Forman executives or other company representatives to attend the Inauguration. Brown-Forman owns Korbel Champagne, which was served at this inaugural event, and at the time also owned the Lenox Glass Company, which produced the Inaugural gifts from Congress to the President and Vice President.
Benjamin Harrison's inauguration took place on March 4, 1889. Since 1937, Inauguration Day has taken place on January 20.
Badge from Grover Cleveland's second Inauguration as President. Cleveland first served as President from 1885 to 1889, and is the only president to serve two non-consecutive terms.
When Ronald Reagan ran for Governor of California in 1966, he began eating “Goelitz Mini Jelly Beans” to help him give up pipe smoking. After Reagan left the governorship, he continued to receive shipments of Goelitz Mini Gourmet Jelly Beans directly from the company. The company shipped three and a half tons of red, white, and blue Jelly Belly jelly beans to Washington, D. C. for the 1981 Inaugural festivities. Herman Goelitz Candy Company provided the Reagan White House with Jelly Belly jelly beans for all eight years of Reagan’s presidency. The President kept his favorite snack in a cut glass jar, just like this one, on his oval office desk – his favorite Jelly Belly flavor was licorice.
These sample pieces of china are made by the Lenox Co. The bowl has a gold seal with an image of the Capitol Building dome and President George H.W. Bush’s signature in gold on the opposite side. The trinket box features an image of the Great Seal of the U.S. on the lid, and inside, text acknowledging the 1989 inauguration as the "Bicentennial" Inaugural.
Lenox Glass Co.'s master cutter Peter O’Rourke drew the grid lines on this bowl in preparation for cutting the design. The finished piece was given by Congress to the President at the lunch following the Inauguration.
Lenox Glass Co. created glass bowls as the gifts from Congress to the President and Vice President to be awarded at the lunch following the Inauguration. Master cutter Peter O’Rourke designed and cut the intricate patterns on the bowls. This glass stand was made to hold President William Jefferson Clinton's Inaugural bowl.
Sample Presidential dinner plate, in the “Command Performance” pattern, made by Lenox China, Trenton, N.J., for President Wilson, c. 1920.
This sample has the gold work but not the blue border that distinguished the 1,700 pieces of Lenox China that Mrs. Wilson ordered for use in the White House in 1918.
This image from the Lenox Collection shows the china that the Reagans ordered to replace the set that had been used since Lady Bird Johnson purchased it in 1967.
First Lady Nancy Reagan chose red, her favorite color, for the focal color of the china. Lenox designers even took samples to the White House and viewed them in the dining room under candleight to make sure the tone was just right. The $209,508 cost of the 4,372-piece set initially caused a stir, which President Reagan dubbed the "china crisis." However, since private donations, not federal money, funded the purchase, the criticism quieted. Still, this demonstrates how important public perception can be.
Letter from Andrew Jackson to Judge William Wilkins, a prominent politician from Pittsburgh. Here, Jackson asks if Wilkins would be interested in serving as Minister to Russia, which Wilkins accepts and serves from 1834-1835.
Document declaring William Wilkins "Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary of the United States at the Court of His Majesty The Emperor of All of the Russias". The document is signed by President Andrew Jackson and Secretary of State John Forsyth. Notice the Great Seal of the U.S. on the document.
A Meissen porcelain tea service painted with scenes of Central European peasants and burgers of the Renaissance, c. 1830 and a Paris porcelain openwork compote with gold gilding, c. 1830 purchased by William Wilkins, U.S. ambassador to Russia, and later Secretary of War under President John Tyler, while in Europe.
This letter was written by James Buchanan to Judge William Wilkins, a longtime friend. Wilkins had apparently asked Buchanan to spend time with him and his wife, but Buchanan's duties as President appear to have hindered this meeting. "I should accept it with all my heart were this possible. The pressure of public affairs, however, so near the meeting of Congress is an insuperable obstacle in the way," he writes.
Menu from a dinner hosted in honor of President and Mrs. McKinley by railroad executive Robert Pitcairn at his Pittsburgh home. Other guests included Pennsylvania Governor Daniel Hastings, George Westinghouse, Philander C. Knox, and Henry Clay Frick and their respective wives. This Tiffany & Co. dinner menu belonged to Adelaide Frick.
Tiffany & Co. menu from a dinner hosted by Attorney General Philander C. Knox on Independence Day 1902 in honor of President Theodore Roosevelt at the Hotel Schenley in Pittsburgh, Pa.
Click the image to explore the menu and see what the President ate for dinner.
This postcard features President Theodore Roosevelt delivering an address during the dedication of Pennsylvania's new State Capitol in 1906, two years after his election in 1904.
This pewter plate, engraved by Pittsburgh artist Tadelus Wastowicz, is based on two political cartoons drawn by Pittsburgh Post-Gazette editorial cartoonist Cyrus "Cy" Hungerford. Wastowicz combined two cartoons of Hungerford's, drawn on August 10 and August 12, 1974, to comment on feelings related to Richard Nixon's resignation and transfer of the Presidency to Gerald Ford.
A poet throughout his life, John Quincy Adams wrote this piece while traveling along the Ohio River to Pittsburgh, Pa from a speaking engagement in Cincinnati, Ohio, 14 years after he left office. The subject is a young Pittsburgh woman whom he met and became friends with while during the course of their trip.
Colorful handkerchief depicting an image of President Rutherford B. Hayes in each of its four corners.
Photograph of Ulysses S. Grant and his family on board the Kearsarge with its crew. This is believed to be taken after Grant left the Presidency and embarked on a two year world tour, which ultimately renewed his popularity after a contentious Presidency.
This tassel is said to have been cut from President Abraham Lincoln's catafalque, the framework that supported his coffin during the funeral or while lying in state. The tassel represents a physical connection to Lincoln and an intriguing glimpse at public memory.
White House Historical Association
Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies
The Miller Center of Public Affairs
Bunch III, Lonnie G, Spencer R. Crew, Mark G. Hirsch, and Harry R. Rubenstein. "A Glorious Burden: The American Presidency." Washington, D.C: Smithsonian Institution Press, 2000.
“Adams as a Poet,” Library of Congress, accessed January 17, 2017.