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Photojournalism: George Tames

George Tames, Mamie Eisenhower and Richard Nixon photo by White House photographer George Tames, Mamie Eisenhower and Richard Nixon photo by White House photographer

During a 40-year period, George Tames was practically ever-present as a photojournalist on Capitol Hill. He photographed 10 presidents (from Franklin D. Roosevelt to George H. W. Bush), many members of Congress, and international statesmen including British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev.

From 1939 to 1945, he worked for Time magazine and was one of the few photographers authorized to take pictures of President Roosevelt. In 1945 he joined the New York Timesas chief photographer for its Washington Bureau, a position he held until 1985.

President Harry Truman, who was the first president to allow photographers into the press room, was Tames's favorite subject. According to numerous reports, Tames recalled Truman once telling a foreign dignitary that he was president of the most powerful nation in the world and that the only people he took orders from were photographers. Tames's book, Eye on Washington: Presidents Who’ve Known Me, was published in 1990. He died in 1994. The Briscoe Center acquired his personal photograph collection in 2011.

The George Tames Photographic Archive, which measures nearly 60 liner feet, consists primarily of the photographic print files and exhibit prints. In addition to presidential images, the Tames archive includes photographs of Bob Dole, Robert Kennedy, Edward Kennedy, Tip O'Neill, Walter Mondale, Alan Greenspan, George Meany, Sam Rayburn, Phil Gramm, Joseph McCarthy and Hubert Humphrey. Tames also photographed many Washington sites including the Jefferson Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, the Vietnam Memorial, the U.S. Capitol building and Arlington Cemetery.

Photojournalism (Collection Strength)
News Media History (Collection Strength)
Finding aid for the George Tames Photographic Archive