The resignation of Richard Nixon

This is the final post in a series on Richard Nixon during the Watergate investigation. The first one can be found here, the second one can be found here, the third one is here, and the fourth one is here.

Although Nixon made transcripts of the Oval Office tapes available in April 1974, the special prosecutor, Leon Jaworski, insisted on access to the physical tapes. Nixon’s attorneys appealed a decision by a federal court that ordered the release of the tapes. Finally on July 24, 1974, the Supreme Court ruled that Nixon must turn over the tapes. The recordings revealed that he did play a significant role in the cover-up of the Watergate burglary, and his impeachment appeared to be imminent unless he resigned. On August 8, 1974, Nixon announced his resignation for the following day.

Nixon and Ford talking in the Oval Office before Nixon announced his resignation, effective at noon the following day (August 8, 1974). Oliver F. Atkins photograph collection, Box 48, Folder 1. George Mason University. Libraries. Special Collections & Archives. Copyright not held by George Mason University Libraries. Restricted to personal, non-commercial use only. For permission to publish, contact Special Collections and Archives.

Nixon and Ford talking in the Oval Office before Nixon announced his resignation, effective at noon the following day (August 8, 1974). Oliver F. Atkins photograph collection, Box 48, Folder 1. George Mason University. Libraries. Special Collections & Archives. Copyright not held by George Mason University Libraries. Restricted to personal, non-commercial use only. For permission to publish, contact Special Collections and Archives.

Following his final meal in the White House, Nixon addressed the White House staff in the East Room, and then he walked out to board a helicopter accompanied by his family and the Fords.

President Nixon's last meal in the White House: pineapple, cottage cheese and milk (August 9, 1974). Oliver F. Atkins photograph collection, Box 26, Folder 2. George Mason University. Libraries. Special Collections & Archives. Copyright not held by George Mason University Libraries. Restricted to personal, non-commercial use only. For permission to publish, contact Special Collections and Archives.

President Nixon’s last meal in the White House: pineapple, cottage cheese and milk (August 9, 1974). Oliver F. Atkins photograph collection, Box 26, Folder 2. George Mason University. Libraries. Special Collections & Archives. Copyright not held by George Mason University Libraries. Restricted to personal, non-commercial use only. For permission to publish, contact Special Collections and Archives.

The Fords and the Nixons walk across the White House lawn to the presidential helicopter Marine One  (August 9, 1974). Oliver F. Atkins photograph collection, Box 26, Folder 1. George Mason University. Libraries. Special Collections & Archives. Copyright not held by George Mason University Libraries. Restricted to personal, non-commercial use only. For permission to publish, contact Special Collections and Archives.

The Fords and the Nixons walk across the White House lawn to the presidential helicopter Marine One (August 9, 1974). Oliver F. Atkins photograph collection, Box 26, Folder 1. George Mason University. Libraries. Special Collections & Archives. Copyright not held by George Mason University Libraries. Restricted to personal, non-commercial use only. For permission to publish, contact Special Collections and Archives.

Nixon gives a final victory sign before he boards Marine One (August 9, 1974). Oliver F. Atkins photograph collection, Box 26, Folder 1. George Mason University. Libraries. Special Collections & Archives. Copyright not held by George Mason University Libraries. Restricted to personal, non-commercial use only. For permission to publish, contact Special Collections and Archives.

Nixon gives a final victory sign before he boards Marine One (August 9, 1974). Oliver F. Atkins photograph collection, Box 26, Folder 1. George Mason University. Libraries. Special Collections & Archives. Copyright not held by George Mason University Libraries. Restricted to personal, non-commercial use only. For permission to publish, contact Special Collections and Archives.

Following Richard and Pat Nixon’s departure, the Fords returned to the White House East Room for the swearing-in of Gerald Ford as President of the United States. One month later, he pardoned Nixon. For more on Watergate, see this page on the Washington Post website.

Digitized negatives from the Broadside photograph collection now available!

Archives Assistant Ignacio Bracamonte reflects on the Broadside scanning project and picks an image to share from the recently digitized, and now available online, box 7.

I was very excited to start this new project that Special Collections & Archives offered last semester. It has been over six months since my co-worker Liz and I started with the digitization of Broadside’s collection of photographs. I personally believe that working here, has involved me into George Mason more than ever. I am exposed to hundreds of images every day, where I witness the university’s development, history, important events, and even everyday life photos that were taken by students like me; the members of Broadside, George Mason’s student newspaper.

While  working at Special Collections & Archives, I have familiarized myself with many of Mason’s personalities and it is very easy for me to recognize them throughout the images: the faculty and staff members, the students, and the members of different organizations. After a while, you get a sense of affection to these personages and you can’t wait to know what happens next.

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Rubenstein, Michele J. Opening of North Campus Broadside Office 5. October 14, 1973. George Mason University Broadside photograph collection, Collection #R0135, Special Collections and Archives, George Mason University.

This is one of my favorite photographs, where Jay Caine, director of Broadside, is inaugurating the newspaper’s North Campus office. Next to his colleagues, Jay Caine is about to cut the ribbon and establish a new office for George Mason’s student newspaper. This is a very symbolic image because it represents the beginning of Broadside. Even though the photograph was taken on October 14th of 1973, the newspaper endures and remains apart of the student experience at George Mason today.

Ignacio is currently scanning negatives from the Broadside photograph collection. The first box (box 7 in the collection) of over 900 digitized images are now available online. For more on the history of the student newspaper at Mason see the student newspaper exhibit blog post or visit the exhibit on the second floor of Fenwick Library until late April 2014.

Mary E. Fox photograph collection

In honor of Women’s History Month I thought it would be appropriate to share a collection of photographs taken by, and mostly of, women from the 1940s. The Mary Elsie Fox photograph collection documents Fox’s, and her friends’, personal lives in Northern Virginia and Washington D.C. during the 1940s, at a time when she was working at the newly opened Pentagon. The collection consists of 423 photographs and one document from a discarded photo album that was found by George Mason University staff and was donated to the University Special Collections and Archives in 2006. The images in the collection date from 1935 to 1959. The entire collection has been scanned and is available as a digital collection.

Screenshot from the Mary Elsie Fox digital collection.

Screenshot from the Mary Elsie Fox digital collection.

The Fox collection is an excellent example of vernacular photography. It was created for personal use and with no artistic aspirations. In many of the photographs Fox and her friends are featured socializing and posing in or near Washington D.C.. Some of the images were also taken in Norway and other geographic locations in the United States and Europe that Fox herself may not have visited since she is not as visible in these photographs. As a collection, some of the images could have been taken by Fox, though it is difficult to know for certain, but all of them were collected, stored, and used by her. Many of the images are identified by writing on their verso indicating dates, names, and places, but there are also many that are not identified in any way. Some of the handwriting differs indicating that Fox was not the only one writing descriptions and that she may have received photographs from friends as gifts. These photographs serve as evidence of average people who chose to photograph themselves for their own enjoyment, posterity, and memory. Today they exist removed from their original function and may provide useful information for researchers about how people lived and recorded their existence at a certain time and place in history.

Screenshot of the Mary E. Fox photograph collection on Tumblr

Screenshot of the Mary E. Fox photograph collection on Tumblr.

Last fall, for the course HIST 696: Clio Wired: An Introduction to History and New Media at George Mason University, I created a digital project on Tumblr using photographs from the Fox collection. This site breaks down the photographs by dates into piles that can be shuffled through. Click on the image above to visit the site.

Student newspaper exhibit now on view!

advertSpecial Collections & Archives is happy to announce a new exhibit is on display in Fenwick Library featuring materials from the University Archives. The exhibit is divided into two parts: What’s in a Name? and Broadside Images in Context. This exhibit draws on materials from the George Mason University Broadside photograph collection and issues of The Gunston Ledger, Broadside, and Fourth Estate student newspapers.

What’s in a Name? explores the history of the student newspaper at Mason from 1963 to the present by focusing on the name changes of the paper. The newspaper that represents the student voice at Mason has always picked its name carefully. It has changed names three times: The Gunston Ledger (1963-1969), Broadside (1969-2013), and Fourth Estate (2013-present). The second part of the exhibit investigates the Broadside student newspaper in detail, looking at photographs taken by Broadside staff. Thanks to a donation from the Office of Student Media of thousands of negatives taken by Broadside photographers, Special Collections & Archives now has a vast pool of images that accompany our collection of student newspapers. Displaying both the newspapers and the photographs provides a deeper look into how the Mason student body has changed over time.

This exhibit was inspired by the recent donation of negatives by Broadside photographers from the Office of Student Media and looks in equal measure to the future as to the past. The changes undergone in the format and scope of the student newspaper since 1963 are only glimpsed at in this exhibit, but hopefully it demonstrates how important the student newspaper is as an historical source. Today there are many changes happening in publishing as society transitions to digital media from the printed word. With the recent name change from Broadside to Fourth Estate I was curious what previous Fourth Estate editor Colleen Wilson had to say about the future of the student newspaper. She provided this quote for the exhibit:

“A college newspaper has a unique monopoly on their market, and in turn, a unique challenge. Especially in the internet age, content must be highly engaging and modern while still addressing critical issues. By drawing inspiration from publications like Buzzfeed to use gifs and videos along with traditional text to tell important stories about the Board of Visitors or Mason parking, Fourth Estate can stay relevant and interesting to a very distracted community of readers. Innovation, both in content, platform and execution is key to a successful model for Fourth Estate.”

What’s in a Name? and Broadside Photographs in Context will be on view in Fenwick Library (Wing A and C on the second floor) until April.