Tis the season to give holiday gifts. Here in the Office of the Archivist, we are in the business of giving gifts all year round. One of the little-known things that we do is provide facsimile gifts for the President of the United States. My staff receive requests from the State Department Protocol Office for gifts for Heads of State. The Protocol Office will explain who the gift is for and what they are looking for. Then we will reach out across the agency to find documents or photographs appropriate for the recipient. My staff will gather the ideas from across NARA and present them to the Protocol team. When the White House decides what they would like to give, we create lovely archival facsimiles that will be presented to the head of state.
Here are just a few example of gifts we have prepared:
For a recent visit with the Prime Minister of Libya, the White House requested architectural plans for the White House. The Prime Minister studied architecture.
In 2011, President Obama visited Queen Elizabeth II for his first state visit at Buckingham Palace. We created a series of photographs and documents for Obama to present Queen Elizabeth II from the June 1939 visit to the United States of her parents, King George VI and his consort Elizabeth, known more recently as the Queen Mother. In 2016, President Barack Obama gave Queen Elizabeth II a compilation of photos of the Queen with all the Presidents she had worked with.
In 2014, for Angela Merkel’s birthday and after the World cup win for Germany, we suggested a football patent for her gift:
In addition to doing facsimiles gifts for the President, we often give facsimiles out to special visitors to the National Archives.
In 2015, Prince Charles visited the National Archives and the Archivist gave him two facsimile gifts.
One was a patent application for a polo stick by Lord Louis Mountbatten:
And the other was a telegram from U.S. Embassy in London to United States Secretary of State, October 3, 1957. The telegram says:
“Palace has requested embassy assistance obtain operating and maintenance instruction for engine and midget car reftels…Engine is quarter midget model No. AU7R, Specification No. A178182 Manufactured by Continental Motors Corp, 620 Ford Buildings, Detroit. Royal Mews mechanics had engine running this morning but as they have no data about engine they uncertain, for example, whether 100 octane or other gasoline required. Palace “Anxious get car ready before Prince Charles returns from school…”