Barkley & Evergreen Public Relations
- Exhibition on display from November 12, 1999 through January 13, 2000 -
(Independence, Mo.) - What started in 1923, when President Calvin Coolidge lighted the National Christmas Tree in a ceremony first broadcast nationwide by radio, has developed into a national celebration of the holiday spirit in which each succeeding President has participated in a growing pageant of peace. During the same period, Presidents have transformed the personal act of sending private holiday greetings and gifts into a growing - and official - ceremony of state.
Now, people who cannot go to Washington to witness a White House Christmas can vicariously enjoy this and other Christmases past by visiting the Truman Library in Independence, Missouri. "Season's Greetings from the White House" is the title of a new museum exhibition that will bring to life the holiday season at the White House through a wonderful collection of Presidential Christmas cards and holiday gifts.
After twice being featured at the White House, the Presidential Christmas collection of Ronald and Mary Seeley can be seen at the Harry S. Truman Library from November 12, 1999 through January 13, 2000. Contained in the exhibition are more than 200 White House greeting cards, illustrations, gifts, and other holiday memorabilia spanning much of American History, particularly the 20th Century. The Truman Library will supplement the exhibition with additional holiday memorabilia from the Library's collection representing the Truman years.
Dr. Ronald Seeley and his wife Mary began acquiring a museum-quality collection of Presidential greeting cards and gifts almost by accident in the early 1980's when Dr. Seeley bought a red velour presentation folder containing a print of George Washington (a gift from President and Mrs. Nixon to a White House employee). That single purchase launched the Seeleys on a campaign to collect Presidential memorabilia, and in particular, memorabilia associated with Christmas and holiday traditions at the White House. Gradually the collection grew into a vast array of greeting cards, gift prints, sterling silver, and other memorabilia known as the Seeley Collection of Presidential Christmas Memorabilia.
Eventually, word of the Seeley Collection reached then-White House Curator Rex Scouten, who encouraged Mary Seeley to "write a book to set the record straight" about Presidential gift-giving and holiday traditions. Taking up the challenge, Mary Seeley met and interviewed many members of First Families, talked with the creators of Presidential Christmas art, and collected details about White House holiday traditions. The result of her work was a book that became the companion piece of the exhibition and is also titled "Season's Greetings from the White House." The book is available in the Truman Library Gift Shop throughout the run of the exhibition.
The Truman Library and Museum is located at U.S. Highway 24 and Delaware in Independence, Mo. The museum is open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Thursdays from 9 a. m. to 9 p.m., and Sundays from noon to 5 p.m. The museum is closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day. Admission is $5 for adults, $4.50 for seniors, $3 for children ages 6 to 18, and free for children 5 years and under.
The Harry S. Truman Library is one of ten Presidential Libraries administered by the National Archives and Records Administration.