Curated Collection

President Lyndon Baines Johnson was born near Stonewall, Texas on August 27, 1908.  Johnson began his career as a teacher before entering politics in 1930. After serving in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate, Johnson was elected to the vice presidency in late 1960. He became President on November 22, 1963 upon the assassination of John F. Kennedy, but won the presidency in his own right in the 1964 election and held that office until 1969. During his presidential tenure, Johnson was involved in several significant national and international events including the creation of Medicare and Medicaid, the signing of the Civil Rights Act, as well as the escalation of the Vietnam War. Although eligible, Johnson did not run for reelection in 1968.  He died after suffering his third heart attack on January 22, 1973.

From Lyndon Baines Johnson’s first foray into public service, the entire Johnson family, LBJ’s wife Lady Bird and their daughters Lynda and Luci, lived in front of the camera.  Like all presidential families, the Johnsons existed in a unique space between public exposure and private experience, and where political necessity often took priority over personal privacy. 

The Johnson family’s “home,” both a traditional safe haven and, at the same time, a powerful marketing tool, provides an excellent case study to examine the complicated construction of political identity. For the Johnsons, the LBJ Ranch became the well-publicized site of orchestrated public events, while the White House, a publicly funded government mansion, became host to family rites of passage including the marriages of both daughters.  “Home is Where the President Is,” showcases films taken at both homes, before and during the Johnson presidency, to explore the construction of political identity through the spaces in which it was lived.

The White House Photographic Unit films courtesy of the LBJ Library.