‘Presidential Papers’ on view in RIT Archive exhibit at The Wallace Center

Frederick Wiedman Jr. Collection includes documents from 43 U.S. presidents

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Included in the “Presidential Papers” exhibition is a document signed by President Andrew Jackson.

In celebration of Barack Obama’s inauguration, RIT Archive Collections is hosting an exhibition featuring one of the university’s historic collections: The Frederick Wiedman Jr. Collection of Presidential Papers. Currently open for viewing, the exhibition runs through March and is featured in two areas of The Wallace Center: the RIT Museum on the third floor and the Gallery for RIT History and Art on the first floor.

According to RIT archivist Becky Simmons, the documents—with signatures of 43 U.S. presidents—provide a glimpse into the lives of the individuals who have held the most important office in the nation. “Almost like relics, we feel the presence of the men who touched these documents that occupied a moment in their lives,” Simmons says.

Some highlights of the exhibition range from the personal to the official:

  • Andrew Johnson’s signature appears on a military commission appointment to the Veteran Reserve Corps for disabled soldiers in 1865.
  • Richard Nixon thanks a schoolgirl for her gracious letter while he was a U.S. senator from California.
  • Also on view are Eisenhower campaign buttons and images of presidents James Earl (Jimmy) Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton by RIT alumnus and White House news photographer Bernie Boston.

The collection was assembled by Frederick Wiedman Jr., a longtime Rochester attorney and supporter of RIT. He became a member of the RIT Board of Trustees in 1986, and upon his death in 1995, bequeathed the major portion of his assets to the university to support educational programs.