Guide to the Rebecca Sittler photographs, 2011-2013
Collection contains 30 color prints from Sittler's project All the Presidents' Men. This project combines photographs made in presidential museums and historic sites across the United States with images from Sittler's father and grandfather's homes.
- Collection Number
- Rebecca Sittler photographs
- 2.0 Linear Feet, 1 flat box
- David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
- Materials in English
Rebecca Sittler's series All the Presidents' Men was the winner of the 2015 Archive of Documentary Arts Award for Innovation in the Documentary Arts. The ADA Collection Awards were established to diversify the ADA’s collection in order to better reflect the multitude of viewpoints and communities from which work is being made in the documentary arts today.
Sittler included the following abstract about her work:
All the Presidents' Men combines photographs made in presidential museums and historic sites across the United States with images from my father and grandfather's homes. In 1959, after a spontaneous all-night road trip, my 18-year-old father met former president Harry Truman out for a morning walk on the streets of Independence, Missouri. He doesn't remember what they talked about, only the thrill of meeting a "powerful," yet "unassuming" man. Nearly 50 years later, I visited Truman's presidential museum and noticed there was little evidence of the restlessness and uncertainty that have shaped my father's generation and characterized Truman's legacy.
I am intrigued by photography's increasing role within history museums, where historical narratives intersect with the complexities of photographs, replicas, and ephemera, and are interpreted through the viewer's imagination and personal experiences. In particular, I see presidential museums as archives of a particular version of American masculinity, informed by American dreams, fictional narratives, and political rhetoric. Presidential power is reified and celebrated within the history museum while aspects of presidential identities that are more revealing of their complexity, individual struggles or humanity are only rarely or subtly articulated. These "preferred" heroic narratives have their own blind spots that are also absorbed into our political and personal lives despite the tenuous grasp they hold on the complexities of history and the multifaceted lives of men.
Photographs are boxed in folders. One artist book, All the Presidents' Men (published 2014) has been removed from the archival collection for individual cataloging in Rubenstein Library.
Access to the Collection
Collection is open for research.
Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection.
All or portions of this collection may be housed off-site in Duke University's Library Service Center. The library may require up to 48 hours to retrieve these materials for research use.
Please contact Research Services staff before visiting the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library to use this collection.
Use & Permissions
The copyright interests in this collection have not been transferred to Duke University. For more information, consult the copyright section of the Regulations and Procedures of the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library.
How to Cite
[Identification of item], Rebecca Sittler Photographs, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.
30 archival pigment prints, sized 18x22.5" (22x26.5" with borderes). Printed in color on Epson Luster Paper; originating as digital files. Captions provided by Sittler.
Replica of the presidential resolute desk and oval office designed for visitor "photo ops" within Plains High School, Jimmy Carter National Historic Site (Plains, GA).
Photographs of my grandfather, Alvin Luebbe, a glider pilot in World War II, before and after the war, displayed on my grandmother's artificial fireplace (Beaver Crossing, NE)
Museum display of toy planes demonstrating the number of Allied aircraft bringing supplies to West Berlin during the height of the Berlin Airlift, Truman Presidential Museum (Independence, MO)
A display of the "Open Road Stetson" hat, worn by many celebrities and cowboys and renamed the LBJ Hat after he popularized it during his presidential campaign, Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Museum (Austin, TX)
A clash between American idealism and television images of unrest at home and abroad, Richard Nixon Presidential Museum (Yorba Linda, CA)
Original teleprompter text of JFK's acceptance of the Democratic Party nomination for the presidency, JFK Presidential Museum (Boston, MA)
Detail of a photograph of Reagan and Gorbachev meeting at the first summit in Geneva, Ronald Reagan Presidential Museum (Simi Valley, CA)
Museum spotlight on an enlarged version of a photograph of then Governor Reagan addressing a student protest in Sacramento, CA by asserting that taxpayers should not be "subsidizing intellectual curiosity". Ronald Reagan Presidential Museum (Simi Valley, CA)
Museum mash up of a photograph of Dwight D. Eisenhower working the BBQ, a photograph of daughter-in-law Barbara on her tricycle outside the White House, and modern appliances from the Atomic Age. Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Museum (Abilene, KS)
Captioned on the print as "Picket Fence." Photograph of Ronald and Nancy Reagan at Rancho del Cielo within replica of Rancho del Cielo where visitors can "ride a horse alongside President Reagan." Ronald Reagan Presidential Museum (Simi Valley, CA)
A section of my father's office/personal archive (Grand Island, NE)
A display featuring 1970s fashion and Edward Land featured in LIFE Magazine alongside photographs of race riots and JFK's funeral, Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum (Grand Rapids, Ml)
Captioned on the print as "Atomic, 2012." Detail of museum display narrating the American postwar boom, Harry S. Truman Presidential Museum (Independence, MO)
Subtitles from a video about the fall of the Berlin wall, Ronald Reagan Presidential Museum (Simi Valley, CA)
Display of an anthology of Great Men and Famous Women, edited by Charles Horne, collecting dust behind glass, Harry Truman Presidential Library (Independence, MO)
Family photographs on freshly installed replica wallpaper, Dwight D. Eisenhower Boyhood Home (Abilene, KS)
Reflection of a copy of a painting of Abe Lincoln on a table in a basement replica of the West Wing. Known as the "White House Decision Center", this replica is used for school visit reenactments of major moments during the Truman presidency, Harry Truman Presidential Museum (Independence, MO)
Home display of my family's Lincoln portrait and southern bayou landscape at Christmas (Grand Island, NE)
Television replaying Hoover speeches in a replica of Hoover's retirement suite in New York's Waldorf Towers, Herbert Hoover Presidential Museum, (West Branch, lA)
My father's collection of "memory objects" from his memory box, spread out on my mother's desk with reflection of the American flag (Grand Island, NE)
Atomic Age Living Room Replica at Christmas, Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Museum (Abilene, KS)
Replica of Congressional Hearing room with display asking museum visitors to act as jury, Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum (Grand Rapids, Ml)
Reflection of an image of President Hoover and wife Lou Henry Hoover through a window of a display referencing Lou's silent home movies, Herbert Hoover Presidential Museum (West Branch, lA)
Locked doors narrating bank closings after the fall of the stock market before the great depression, Herbert Hoover Presidential Museum (West Branch, lA)
Light coming through the shower window in my father's self designed and constructed bathroom (Grand Island, NE)
Audio narrated replica of Camp David office of former President George H.W. Bush, highlighting his passions and pastimes, George Herbert Walker Bush Presidential Museum (College Station, TX)
Section of a replica display of Lincoln's boots left on the floor in his chaotic law office, Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum (Springfield, IL)
A portrait of Washington overlooking a replica of Lincoln's closed casket, lying in state with a replica of Springfield's Old State Capitol. The museum's exhibition designers refer to Lincoln's museum as the "first truly experiential museum in the world", Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum (Springfield, IL)
Rebecca Sittler is a photographer, writer, and Associate Professor of Art at California State University, Long Beach. She has exhibited her work at venues such as Sam Lee Gallery, Daviel Cooney Gallery, the Photographic Center Northwest, Torrance Museum of Art, the Griffin Museum, Atlantic Center for the Arts, RayKo Gallery, Photographic Resource Center, as well as the University of Florida, Texas Woman's University, Boston University, and Washington State University. Internationally, Sittler's photographs have been shown in Russia, South Korea, China, and England. She received her MFA from Massachusetts College of Art in 2003 where she studied with photographer Aberlardo Morell.
Click to find related materials at Duke University Libraries.
- Archive of Documentary Arts (Duke University)
- Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum
- Gerald R. Ford Museum
- Harry S. Truman Library
- Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library
- Ronald Reagan Presidential Library
- Sittler, Rebecca
The Rebecca Sittler Photographs were received by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library as a purchase in 2015.
Processed by Beth Weiss and Meghan Lyon, Sept. 2015.
Accessions described in this collection guide: 2015-0117