Previous Events at the Ford Library and Museum

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2017

Chris Whipple
Chris Whipple
The Gatekeepers: How the White House Chiefs of Staff Define Every Presidency

Wednesday, May 24, 2017 Tuesday, June 6, 2017
GRAND RAPIDS and ANN ARBOR -- Acclaimed author, and award-winning journalist and producer, Chris Whipple, discussed the role the White House Chief of Staff plays in the modern presidency. The White House's Chiefs of Staff, often referred to as "gatekeepers," wield tremendous power in Washington D.C. and beyond; they decide who is allowed to see the president, negotiate with Congress to push the president's agenda, and enjoy unparalleled access to the leader of the free world. Mr. Whipple gave many first-hand accounts of behind-the-scene happenings as told by numerous chiefs of staff, including Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld, who served in the Ford Administration. Mr. Whipple also discussed what makes the difference between success and failure as a White House Chief of Staff, by relating experiences from those who succeeded and those who struggled in the position, often to the detriment of their president. Mr. Whipple will speak in Ann Arbor on June 6th on the same topic.
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Andrew Scott Cooper
Andrew Scott Cooper
The Fall of Heaven: The Pahlavis and the Final Days of Imperial Iran

Tuesday, May 16, 2017
ANN ARBOR -- Andrew Scott Cooper, historian and author of The Fall of Heaven: The Pahlavis and the Final Days of Imperial Iran, spoke before a capacity audience at the Library about the rise and fall of one of the 20th century's most complicated personalities, the Shah of Iran. Dr. Cooper presented a riveting account of the Shah's rise to prominence, his accomplishments and failures, and the events and misperceptions that led to his eventual downfall. Of particular note was how quickly the Shah lost his hold on power while trying to democratize his autocratic rule and move the country toward free parliamentary elections. The audience asked many questions and continued the lively discussion with our speaker at the lengthy book signing following the program.
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Kate Andersen Brower
Kate Andersen Brower
Inside the Private World of the White House: From the Staffers who Serve the Families to the First Ladies Who Run the White House

Wednesday, April 5, 2017
ANN ARBOR --Kate Andersen Brower, best- selling author of The Residence: Inside the Private World of the White House and First Women: The Grace and the Power, captivated an overflow audience as she pulled back the curtain on the private lives of First Families through the experiences of the permanent White House residence staff, including butlers, maids, chefs, florists, plumbers, painters, and other staff, who make the White House run every day and serve at the whim of the President and their families. Ms. Brower shared examples of the trust and special bonds that developed between the First Families and permanent staff, including Gerald and Betty Ford who were very approachable and open and George H.W. and Barbara Bush who took a deep interest in the personal lives of the residence staff. Ms. Brower also discussed the roles of First Ladies and the special friendships that developed between First Ladies. Rosalyn Carter, for example, was one of the most involved First Ladies and had a weekly working lunch with President Carter to discuss policy issues, while Pat Nixon and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis bonded during the unveiling of Jacqueline Kennedy's First Lady portrait at her first return visit to the White House following the death of President Kennedy. The audience asked many questions and continued the lively discussion with our speaker at the reception and book signing following the program.
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Mark Clague
Dr. Mark Clague
Banner Ballads: The Many Lyrics of the "The Star-Spangled Banner"

Tuesday, March 7, 2017
ANN ARBOR -- Dr. Mark Clague, a University of Michigan musicologist and renowned expert on the Star-Spangled Banner, presented a program at the Library exploring more than 100 different sets of words sung to the tune we recognize today as “The Star-Spangled Banner.” During the program, Dr. Clague revealed that Francis Scott Key’s famous song is just one moment in a dynamic and lyrical conversation across our country's history as the song was modified at various times to serve as victory ballad, protest song, and anthem. Examples included political protest (the abolitionist movement in 1844), Abraham Lincoln's campaign (1860), equal rights for women (Seneca Falls 1884) and translations into multiple languages. The program featured live musical illustrations by pianist Paola Savvidou and soprano Jennifer Goltz, and included an audience sing along on several of the past versions of the Star-Spangled Banner. The hugely successful program was both richly educational and extremely enjoyable for the audience.
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Paul Brandus
Paul Brandus
Under This Roof: A History of the White House

Wednesday February 15, 2017 Thursday February 16, 2017
ANN ARBOR AND GRAND RAPIDS -- Paul Brandus, author of Under This Roof: The White House and the Presidency, addressed overflow audiences at both the Library and Museum in February. He traced the history of the White House since its construction in 1800, noting that it is older than many other historic residences of world leaders, such as Buckingham Palace, the Imperial Palace in Japan, and the Kremlin. He described the architectural and decorative additions made by various presidents, as well as specific events that took place during certain administrations. He also described how the function of various rooms has evolved over time. In particular, he mentioned how President Kennedy created the first "Situation Room" during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, and that the first Press Briefing Room was created by President Nixon in 1970. The latter space has also been used as a swimming pool during various presidencies. He concluded his wide-ranging presentation with a pop quiz for the audience, asking what movie was the most popular all of the presidents watched in the White House Theater. The answer: High Noon, starring Gary Cooper and Grace Kelly, theorizing that the movie's theme of the lonely burden of keeping everyone safe resonated with many of our presidents.
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