Written by Gabrielle S. Bates
Perhaps you have noticed the new releases of vinyl records at Target or maybe your grandparents had a box of records collecting dust. Some of the most important archives we have are based on sound. Music can remind of us our memories, enlighten our moods or help us relax. For years, the White House record collection was a secret, but all that changed during a family vacation.
Chuldenko is surrounded by the White House record collection.
Jimmy Carter’s grandson, John Chuldenko, overheard a family conversation and discovered The White House has a vinyl record collection. Being a music lover he began to ask around to find out if was still in existence and where was it. The first thing he did was reach out to the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum. They informed him they did not know if it was real but they would research and respond as soon as possible. Once they discovered the collection, they let John know it did exist but they could not disclose its location.
The collection began as a gift from the Recording Industry of America to President Richard Nixon. They started by amassing records they felt reflected society, growing to a total of 1800 records in a decade. When President Jimmy Carter was in office, more records were added to the collection, but this time the growth of the collection was handled by John Hammond, an influential record producer. Hammond decided the collection should be more adventurous and include genres such as punk, soul, gospel, salsa, and funk records. In 1981, a ceremony was held at The White House to introduce the newly reformed vinyl record collection. This was the last time the collection was updated, and it is believed sometime during the Reagan presidency the collection was removed.
Records from The White House collection.
Each record is categorized by colored-coded binders per music genre and stamped with an official presidential seal that states White House Record Library. The White House Historical Association has considered allowing the collection to be updated. In its current state, the collection does not contain after 1981 and is missing an important section of music histories such as modern hip-hop artists, Michael Jackson, and Madonna for example. It’s envisioned that if the collection were to be updated, instead of keeping a physical vinyl collection, it would be a collectible book. Unfortunately, at this time, the collection is still in an undisclosed storage facility and unavailable to the public.