Image appears courtesy of Architect of the Capitol
Watch BackStory with the American History Guys' special Inauguration 2013 program online
On January 19, the National Endowment for the Humanities and Smithsonian's National Museum of American History hosted a live event featuring the public radio program Backstory with the American History Guys during the 57th Presidential Inauguration in 2013. The History Guys-- renowned U.S. historians Ed Ayers, Peter Onuf, and Brian Balogh—discussed inaugural history and second term presidencies. The program featured as one of its guests Smithsonian curator Harry Rubenstein who presented objects from the National Collection.
Broadcast on CSPAN-3, video of the event is available online.
Or watch the American History Guys on CNN, discussing the history of presidential inaugurations, second terms and second inaugurals in US history, and the role of the Bible in presidential inaugurations.
Photograph of ceiling mural by Allyn Cox, east central portico, U.S. Capitol. Image courtesy of Library of Congress
- Watch American Experience’s The Presidents, a collection of films about Presidents throughout history.
- View online museum exhibits about the modern Presidents on the NEH-funded The Presidential Timeline of the Twentieth Century.
- Library of Congress has a database with portraits of the Presidents and First Ladies. It also has collected images and speeches from Inaugurations.
- View images from the Smithsonian’s exhibit The American Presidency: A Glorious Burden.
Fashions and Customs
Michelle and Barack Obama walking in the inaugural parade, 2009. Courtesy of Paul Morse. Image courtesy of the Smithsonian
- Take a look at gowns worn by First Ladies at Inauguration Ceremonies and other presidential functions at the website for the Smithsonian’s The First Ladies. See Michelle Obama’s dress and accessories from the 2009 inauguration.
- Learn more about the role poetry has played in Inaugurations on the Library of Congress’s Presidents as Poets page. Read Robert Frost’s poem from JFK’s inauguration on his presidential library website.
- View images from George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and three other presidents’ inaugurations.
- View program covers and other images from A Half Century of Inaugural Images.
Speeches and Songs
Distance view of President Truman's inaugural parade showing the limousine of Gov. Tuck of Virginia., 01/20/1949. Image courtesy of the National Archives.
- The National Archives has digitalized George Washington’s First Inaugural Address and the speech from John F. Kennedy’s Inauguration. The video from JFK’s is available here.
- View an online archive of Presidential speeches. You can even listen to audio from some of the more recent presidencies.
Teaching and Learning
Chief Justice Harlan F. Stone administering the oath of office to Harry S. Truman in the Cabinet Room of the White House, April 12, 1945. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress.
- Presidential Inaugurations: I Do Solemnly Swear (Grades 3-5)
- Presidential Inaugurations: A Capital Parade on a Cold Winter's Day
- Lincoln's First Inaugural Address: We Must Not Be Enemies (Grades 3-5)
- Like Father, Like Son: Presidential Families (K-2)
- Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address (Grades 9-12)
- The PBS Presidents & EDSITEment related lessons feature
Other Featured Lessons
- the National Archives’ Inauguration History Quiz
The resources on this page were compiled by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Library of Congress, the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, the National Archives, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services.