The word “archives” conjures images of dusty shelving holding yellowing papers. But what about an archive of Duke Kahanamoku’s surfboards? Or Disney memorabilia? Or an original rivet from the Golden Gate Bridge given to Huell Howser? Orange County is home to archives containing these and other treasures that aren’t just historically significant but entertaining, too. We explored six of these repositories and talked to the folks who oversee them. Here’s what we found.
Nixon Presidential Library & Museum
18001 Yorba Linda Blvd., Yorba Linda, 714-983-9120, nixonlibrary.gov
About the Site
Nine acres, which incorporates the Richard Nixon Birthplace
It contains about 46 million pages of documents, 445,000 still photographs (including Presley’s 1970 impromtu meeting , below), 2 million feet of film, plus video and audio recordings. The latter includes the infamous White House tapes—3,700 hours of conversations and telephone calls secretly taped at Nixon’s orders. You can listen to the “smoking gun” exchange between the 37th president and his aide, H. R. Haldeman, which proved Nixon’s involvement in the Watergate cover-up.
What You Should Know
Admission to the museum is half-price (adults are now $6) because the galleries are being renovated; visitors can still see the birthplace, the memorial sites of the president and Mrs. Nixon, the presidential helicopter Army One, and a replica of the White House East Room. There’s no fee to use the research room, but visitors must be 14 or older and must check in with staff in the lobby. Check the website for details regarding research protocol.
Supervisory Archivist Jason Schultz was a graduate student at the University of Maryland when he began working with the National Archives, first at what is called Archives I in Washington, D.C. (where the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution are housed) and later at Archives II in College Park, Md. He became involved with the Nixon Library staff in College Park in 2008 while still in graduate school. After he graduated, he helped prepare and ship the Nixon materials to California. (“I performed the inventory for 26,000 boxes and figured out how the hundreds of pallets would fit on each of the 21 53-foot trailers that transported the materials across the country.”) He subsequently was given his current post. Born and raised in O.C., he previously worked at Disneyland (in guest relations) and is co-author of the book “Jason’s Disneyland Almanac.” Did you know that Nixon dedicated the Monorail?