A Very Presidential Father’s Day

In honor of Father’s Day, we are taking a look at some of the most well-known fathers in our country’s history: the Presidents of the United States! Today’s post comes from Danielle Sklarew, an intern in the National Archives History Office.

Gerald Ford playing with son Michael

Betty Ford watches Representative Gerald R. Ford play with their son Michael outside their apartment in Alexandria, Virginia, 1952. (National Archives Identifier 186873)

President Gerald Ford had four children. Here he is with his oldest son, Michael, outside of their Virginia apartment while Ford was serving as a member of the House of Representatives. President Ford served in government from January 1949 until the end of his Presidency in January 1977. His children (all born between 1950 and 1957) spent much of their formative years tied to the DC political scene. In fact, Ford’s youngest child, Susan, held her senior prom in the White House while her father was President.

George H.W. Bush with baby George W. Bush

George and Barbara Bush with their first-born child, George W. Bush, while Bush was a student at Yale, 1947. (National Archives Identifier 186384)

The sixth President of the United States, John Quincy Adams, was the first executive to be the son of a past President. His father was John Adams, the second President. A father-son Presidential duo did not repeat itself until 2001, when George W. Bush was inaugurated at the 43rd President, 12 years after his father, George H. W. Bush, was inaugurated. In this photo from 1947, George H. W. Bush smiles back at baby George W. while his wife, Barbara, holds her son. At the time, the elder Bush was still a student at Yale. The couple had six children, with future-President George W. Bush being their first child.

Harry Truman escorting his daughter on her wedding day

President Harry S. Truman escorts daughter Margaret on her wedding day, 4/21/1956. (National Archives Identifier 6778775)

President Harry Truman had only one child, his daughter Margaret. Margaret attended college at George Washington University in Washington, DC, while her father was Vice-President and later President, meaning she was at school less than a mile away from the White House. In this image, Truman escorts Margaret from the family home on her wedding day. The wedding occurred in Independence, Missouri, both Margaret and her father’s home town.

Bill Clinton with daughter Chelsea

Photograph of President Bill Clinton and Chelsea Clinton in the study of their Chappaqua, NY, residence, 11/7/2000. (National Archives Identifier 5899937)

When your father is in charge of running a nation, his time is probably sparse. However, making time to spend with one’s family is very important. In this photo, President Bill Clinton is embraced by his daughter Chelsea toward the end of his second term in 2000. Chelsea was only 12 years old when President Clinton was sworn into office.

Richard Nixon with his daughters and his wife at the beach

Vice President Richard M. Nixon and family with their dog Checkers on the beach at Mantoloking, New Jersey, 8/16/1953. (National Archives Identifier 18558846)

Although President Nixon was originally from California, he spent a lot of time on the east coast, first serving two terms as President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Vice President, and later as President himself (he resigned before completing his second term). In this photo, Vice President Nixon was spending time on a beach in New Jersey with his family and their famous dog Checkers. Julie Nixon, the daughter on the right, went on to marry David Eisenhower, President Eisenhower’s grandson, in 1968.

John F. Kennedy’s children dancing around in the Oval Office

President John F. Kennedy watches his children dance in Oval Office, 10/10/1962. (National Archives Identifier 194242)

Who says the Oval Office has to be all business all the time? Here toddlers Caroline and her little brother John Jr. are dancing while their dad claps along. Caroline must have been inspired by her experiences living in the White House, as she has been actively involved in American politics. From 2013 to 2017, she served as the U.S. Ambassador to Japan.

Barack and Michelle Obama with their daughters Malia and Sasha at the National Christmas tree lighting ceremony

The Obama family at the National Christmas Tree lighting ceremony on the Ellipse, Washington, DC, 12/6/2012. (National Archives Identifier 55146324)

In this photo, the 44th President, Barack Obama, stands with his his wife, Michelle, and daughters Malia and Sasha at the National Christmas Tree lighting ceremony in 2012. Sasha, the younger daughter, was given the responsibility for pressing the button that illuminates the tree at the ceremony. His older daughter Malia currently attends Harvard University, where her father President Obama attended law school.

Jimmy and Amy Carter at the Beach

JC Amy Beach nlc01519
Jimmy and Amy Carter spend some time on the beach at St. Simons Island, GA, 5/30/1977. (Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum, National Archives)

Here President Jimmy Carter takes a break from the White House to spend time with his daughter Amy on the beach in their home state of Georgia. Amy was only 9 years old when her father became the President of the United States. While living in DC, Amy attended public school, becoming the first President’s child to do so since 1906 and breaking the trend of Presidents sending children to private school while in office.

Happy Father’s Day!

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