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tv   The Presidency White House East Room  CSPAN  February 16, 2020 8:00pm-8:54pm EST

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tv, all weekend, every weekend, on c-span 3. >> next on the presidency, william allman, former white house curator, talks about the white house east room. hewoin the program as hugh to talks about renovations the museum in yorba linda, california. anyrue to form, with facelift, we need chiseled gins. --in theour copies of white house to collection and hang in the east room. these are brand-new reproductions that were done with the assistance of the white house historical association,
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beginning with the most famous of them all, george washington. [applause] a complete renovation down to complete historical detail. i can't begin to tell you how much better looking that is than just a month ago. it would not be the same without housertner in the white as he was father of the country, martha washington. mckinley.t is william i will leave it to our guest speaker, bill allman, to tell us why william mckinley is in the east room. on the far left, he needs no
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introduction, t.r. teddy roosevelt. these are touches that anyone will see, the business groups that use it, the productions we do, the brides that are married here, but one other must-have was visual acuity. president nixon was a master communicator. he used television from the oval office on 37 occasions. he is known for his silent majority speech, for his resignation speech, for having moved history with words. for those of us who were here for the 50th anniversary will realize that when we showed the moon,f the walking on the we showed it on one of the most extraordinarily improvised set of screens. what we used the up those screens were sandbags. we have come a long way, an
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upgrade. our brand-new screens are from the draper company. , 9y are 16 feet long, nin feet wide. and each weigh 700 pounds luckily, they are automatic. they are so unique and top-of-the-line, that before the fired be used, department had to certify that they could be supported in place because of the great weight bor n upon them. as a result of these screens, the experiences that we have here, whether private business organizations or presentations on nixon's legacy, the epa, signing the clean water act,
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signing the title ix, over the age of 1971 in high school, his trips to china, it will all be shown on these screens as we will demonstrate. we have in this room two new ,000ectors in 4k hd, 210 lumens each. i don't like to brag but each of these projectors cost $56,000 each. our first use is to demonstrate the new logo of the nixon library. designed toe logo, represent president nixon's unique achievement as the grand strategist. 30 years ago, we had an original seal. we have kept elements of that, but we have updated the feature
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global leading strategist status. it's the most, important competition there can be. this new logo is reflected across our organization and on every bit of furniture. [applause] >> i just did the third handoff as a microphone.
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every room here element -- illustrates every element of the room. the new logo will be on every podium exactly as they are in whenever het's use appears. -- paid for everything we have seen in this room tonight. on behalf of -- [applause] cavanaugh andr. everyone who has used this in the past and in the future, i want to say thank you and to tell briefly the story that on the first day that i returned as a director of the library, jim
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byron said, and meet charlie for lunch and we did, and i told charlie about our need in this room and he told charlie he was wasg out on a limb, he going to confirm it and he would make it happen. that was july 1 on president nixon's birthday. to say thank you for making this all possible. sally and jim cavanaugh. dr. cavanaugh.
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thank you. thank you again. we are in for a lot of fun tonight, but at the nixon library we begin the same way. thisnt to celebrate country by standing for the presentation of the colors, and the singing of our national
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anthem. [marching] >> left face. two, three.
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present. [playing "star-spangled >> we have a lot of
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treats in store tonight. jim ask introducing about old friend and my new friend bill allman stop he became the curator of the white 2002.on august 1, the office of the curator is charged with the preservation and study of the collection of art, furniture and decorative objects. it also maintains a wide variety of historical records. he is a native and a resident of bethesda, maryland and he holds ma in in history and an
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american studies with the museum in concentration of george washington university. we begin with a history of the white house from our friend, bill holden. please -- bill allman. please join us on stage. [applause] bill: had to decide where to start but we were consulting this afternoon on all of this wonderful stuff, and they put
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the podium here, i had to get used to the fact that sometimes you are at a center podium and they put the screen behind you and those people cannot see this side, when a noticed that there were two in the ceiling, the from the staffon said i did it right and somebody noticed. you can see and i can talk and everybody will be happy. it's a pleasure to be here this afternoon. i have to learn how to do this here. working?is this is the east room east. i'm casting a shadow here. 1972.
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this is the reason that this room exists here today to help of the nixonssion foundation and the nixon library. but i'm going to tell you a little about the east room overtime. starting with the winter of 1800-1801. john and abigail adams moved in and november. they were going to serve for four months before thomas jefferson would assume the presidency. in the interest of not hanging the laundry out for my public to see, and it is cold so i don't need frozen laundry, let's put it in the east room. this drawing was done for the national geographic in the kennedy administration, and it shows abigail adams supervising the hanging of the laundry in
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the east room. remained unfinished toil 1814 -- it felt president james monroe to refurbish the room after the fire and ran out of money again, and it stayed unfinished until the jackson administration. first 29ry for the years or so was empty, full of fire fordestroyed by more decades. print ofure shows a the room in the 1850's, but what it shows is the furnishings that had survived from those other administrations, the three tables down the middle of the room were made for andrew jackson in 1829, and they still
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exist. flank thetwo that lincoln bedroom, and one was in this room on the ground floor as part of the tour route. -- this is them earliest known photograph of the about 1867.y -- chairs around the edges of which we own four. thate the three tables have been in the white house from 1829 until now, the chairs were used in the east room and -- from 1817 until 1874. were sold at the chester arthur garage sale. in the 19th century, it was perfectly legal when you came in
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as the president, they would say here is money to move in, and if that's not enough, get rid of the stuff you don't like and make more to buy what you need. throughout the 19th century you had entire administrations disappeared. we have four of those chairs, all of which have come back since ms. kennedy's time, one that the office just acquired about four months ago. they were made in georgetown by william king. here is a picture of the room. in 1858 being held by president james buchanan. this is how the east room would have been used for big receptions with lots of people
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being entertained. you will see on the right-hand side there is a white marble bust. that's what you see on the others. there were three mobile busts purchased by james monroe and gucci andsented this christopher columbus for discovering america, regardless of what the native americans , and then george washington. what they represented was washington, district of columbia is in christopher columbus in .he united states of america they had a way of representing what the city was in the post fire white house.
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by the late 19th century, inventories were taken only occasionally at the end of the administrations of the next people would know what they would find there. ratherrble bust looks classical. it was listed in the inventory andnknown roman gentlemen, it completely lost its george washington association. not the most obvious george washington, i guess. clearly artists had been there and understood how the chandeliers looked and how the draperies looked but he had built a room big enough to hold 10,000 people. [laughter] i mean him look at it. there are thousands of them. engravings are the way that you
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understood places in the absence of photography. he misunderstood this one. in 1884, an interesting event is that president chester arthur is holding the piece of paper to the right of the desk. he opened the new orleans world industrial and cotton expedition by standing in the east room with people who were there to enjoy the event and pushing a alegraph key that would send message to new orleans to new orleans to say the president has opened the event. these are big things that took place in the room. to be thatntinues but a broader variety of things. here's the way that it looked in the 19th century. what you can see there is
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architecture, columns with no structural purpose. they are just pretty underneath crossbeams with no structural purpose. they were done for the wedding of president grant's daughter. pieces ande mental all of the furnishings in the room. the east room was always open to the public. the family lived more in the red room and the blue room then they do today. the president's offices occupied about a third of the second floor. there was no west wing until 1902. looks -- the east room looked like what you see on the left. it was said that the style of gothict room is the most
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-- steamboat gothic because it looked like a mississippi steamboat. thethe chandeliers from grant administration and chester arthur's continuation of what president garfield had started in 1881 and one of the few wases surviving from that this sofa given to the white house in 1962. hollering --the the stories that came from the white house, because the photograph backs it up or the object backs it up, they will say this is jefferson's table, but it's like, this is a fire -- there was a fire in 1814 and they didn't save any of the furniture. it looks like it was made in
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1930. one of the events in the east .oom is a state funeral seven of the eight presidents who died in office have laid in state and the east room with the only exception being president garfield. inn he was assassinated 1881, the room was torn up like today.d be the one that you see on the left here is the casket of president william mckinley. i have been asked to explain why william mckinley's portrait hangs in the east room. it is a nice visual comparison with teddy roosevelt, but also because they bookend the sentries of white house history, mckinley being the one at the end of the 19th century, the house being as modern as they could afford, so you would see
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potted palms and victorian furniture, and then teddy roosevelt directing that a neoclassical interior was something that he needed for europeans and visiting dignitaries to understand that we are not steamboat gothic, that we have some sense of style and taste, even if it has nothing to do with american taste. it is french. side eche right-hand one of the last events that president roosevelt staged. for's the east room set up henry of prussia. he was the brother of kaiser wilhelm the second and came to the united states to take delivery of a new imperial yacht in new york and he traveled all around the united states. this was a stag dinner. invited, alle
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military officers, maybe because it was a german prince but you can see how exotic it looked. to have a dinner that big they couldn't fit it in the state dining room, so they headed in the east room. the food came up from the kitchen and dinner was kind of cold. as of the things he had done part of that renovation was two and large the state dining room so they could have better meals in the house and modernized the east room. inner roosevelt, in 1903.y john singer the story says that teddy roosevelt was coming down the stairs when sergeant was at the bottom of the stairs and he said when will you let me paint your portrait, i have been hired to do this and you never sit still, he put his hand up and said,
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paint me now. the problem is that post doesn't show up on any white house staircase. the concept may have been right i don't think the artist actually painted what he found. but it is one of the best portraits in the white house collection. wifeore roosevelt and his hired the architects to do renovation of the public rooms which included enlarging the state dining room, building the west wing so the family would not have to share the second floor with the president's offices. upwould have people coming to go to the office and they would wander through misses roosevelt-esque a bedroom. they had six kids in the wanton enough bedrooms, they had to double them up, so they decided they would take out these victorian interiors and introduce something more
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classical. this is when the east room came out, showing pretty much what you see today. the floor pattern, the stained architecture, the ceiling was .implified later theodore roosevelt used the room for two important things. they used the events for things cals. music they were held on four consecutive fridays in january. january was the social season. before the weather got bad in washington and you didn't have air conditioning stop they put calls of these music
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where they would invite 400 people for dinner and then had them listen to music. he also enjoyed using the east room as a gymnasium. one of the things that he had in 1904 was regular sessions with two japanese jiu-jitsu wrestlers. would, three times a week and theater roosevelt said he was not of an age or build to be twirled and batted down without damage. about a month later he said i'm probably through with it. after an eight hour grapple with senators and congressmen, i feel like a stew dowel, but have been that areee new throws perfect quarters. he liked what he was getting from his instructors but they were taking their toll on his
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body. you can see the chandelier there. there were three chandeliers provided by edward caldwell. the glass came from the czech see thereand you can is a midrange group of little .ooks they are actually taller than they are now because they came closer to the floor than now. you could see the wonderful architecture based on this castle from paris, and the neoclassical panels. was described as aesop's fables but there is nothing that shows that, they are just neoclassical based on a
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french palace. you can see that now. it has been reduced in the stem. in the realtandards room. .hey were provided by caldwell first these are the installation where everything was electrified. in 1891 they installed electricity in the white house but kept all of the gas fixtures and simply added electric wiring to the gas units. harrison wouldn't touch the switches so somebody had to go turn the lights on and off because they were afraid the electricity would zap them. there was very little furniture. the room was not like the 19th century room with huge circular
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sofas and things. there is a spectacular piano provided in january 1903 by steinway and company, it was the 100,000 piano made by the company. they were proud of having emigrated from hungary and having taken a large port -- part of the american piano manufacturing industry. centers the women in the is america, and she is being ofed by the nine muses architecture at the time. this piano stayed there from 1903 to 1938, and then steinway isered number 300,000 which the piano that you see in this early color photograph of the .hite house
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the pianos are kept in the corner. you still had big events in the room, but there is martha washington, she and george washington didn't hang in the east room until 1929. it's the ef andrews portrait that he created out of portraits of the face of martha washington. clothing from the 1870's and hands that were modeled by president hayes's nice. of georgeat portrait washington by gilbert stuart which was hanging on the wall when the atoms moved in and in 1914.washington in 1949, president truman was told you can't live in the white
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house anymore, it's going to acrosswn, so he moved the street to blair house and the corps of engineers was given the job. they contracted out the various companies and took out the inside of the white house. look at the dark window off to the side and middle, if you go up one floor, that is the east room. everything inside is gone. nothing will date back to the original days except that they , andd windows and shutters mostly reused plaster as a model for new plaster, and then they dug two levels of basement underground to provide places for storage, laundry and things that had always taken up other
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good places in the house and they built a steel frame to put in central air and central heating. even our own interior rooms are not strictly original. this is the east room against this nixon era picture. you can see some of the details on the case. it was especially designed with six images to represent american music and dance. the piano that continues to be used all the time. the marine band plays this for the piano or as part of the ensemble. generally when the white house theirt comes, they bring own piano. but this was made rather famous by president nixon because they
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had a 70th birthday party for who was a native washingtonian. there is dick allen to and -- duke ellington sitting beside the piano wishing him happy birthday and then both of them getting up to talk to the audience and enjoying themselves mentally. it was also used by president nixon when he sat at the keyboard and played with pearl bailey famous african-american jazz singer who is starring at the time in broadway on hello of carole remake channing's role. occasionally it is used for --te dinners or state meals
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everybody wants to come to the .inner for somebody prominent president jimmy carter. in 1980, doing it for the king of the belgians, you can see the light standard. this is the state dining room for president justin trudeau from canada. there is nothing permanent about the way that things are done. sometimes they say we tried it before so let's not try it again but some of the things that president obama like to do was to liven it up and make it more modern so he projected designs on the ceiling and filled the
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window with plant materials and set a head table. it's always possible to have different combinations. usually for a state dinner, the east room is where you have entertainment. this is for george h w bush being entertained by gloria thehan who has stepped off stage and is strutting her stuff as she sings some salsa song. on the right-hand side is yo-yo ma being accompanied by the steinway piano and there is george and martha washington flanking that east side window. sometimes after a state dinner, you have dancing. in one case, on the left-hand side, that is president ford
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entertaining queen elizabeth ii ofthe 1976 bicentennial american independence on july 7. the dinner was in a tent in the dancing within the east room and the year before, susan ford had her high school prom in the east room. she went to school in suburban, maryland -- in suburban maryland. what better thing to deliver to your classmates than prom at the white house. she is dancing. you can see the pattern very clearly. in thettern has been room since 1902. sometimes there are just special events that have no diplomatic point of view. the one on the left is misses president whoe entertained all of the nobel prize winners of the americas. this is misses kennedy talking
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to poet carl sandberg and president kennedy talking to carl buck, the notable author. this is the time he made a famous remark where he said i think this is the most extraordinary collection of human knowledge that has ever been gathered together at the white house with the possible exception of when thomas jefferson died here alone. [laughter] >> on the lower right was the 200th anniversary of the atoms moving into the white house. we have this anniversary coming up, everybody celebrated the millennium and you had the disputed election. president bush running against vice president gore and the hanging chad's.
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they invited all of the presidents and first ladies saying this is ford, president carter, misses bush and they moved down the table and president clinton who is the occupant making remarks but in both cases president ford and president carter got up and made glowing remarks about the staff, the people who work administration after administration who are completely trustworthy and completely hard-working and they waxed rhapsodic about this. some people tried to call it the millennium china and then it became called the clinton china even though clinton did not technically ask for it to be made. enough for thet people at the head table to eat off the china, and everybody
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else had to eat off of some other administration's china. weddings happened at the white house. there is linda johnson marrying chuck rob who was not yet a u.s. senator coming down from this window, coming right about their , off of the stage. this is president reagan celebrating his 70th birthday with misses reagan looking at the maitre d'and this enormous cake made for him. conferences frequently happened there. this is one of those rare occasions where it was an elevated view and you can really see the chandeliers and the draperies with the original 1902 cornish is over the drapes.
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special award ceremonies. on the left you see president truman giving the medal of honor to the american serviceman from world war ii and the medal of honor for civilian services, the medal of freedom and there is president obama trying to put the metal on kareem abdul-jabbar. president obama is not a short man and he is dwarfed by an nba basketball player. here we see president nixon on the left congratulating misses redecoration of the blue room. that was part of working with the curator's office.
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misses nixon did enormous work for the white house collection and gets very little credit. everybody thinks it is misses kennedy but she started it. misses nixon added more thanks to the white house collection van were required. her earlier in the day when she unveiled the room to the public. so many people come to us and say how dear you change something that misses kennedy created, but she didn't intend for these to be permanent. she figured that there would be new research and new scholarship and taste. one of the nice things for misses nixon is that misses kennedy had got back one of those cold chairs that were purchased for the room by president monroe but got away at 1860, and then
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misses nixon got four more chairs from people who had the right -- you could study the chairs and find the right marks and that kind of thing. even yours truly has made a performance in the white house. this was an event in the obama thenistration celebrating adding of more abstract art to the white house permanent collection. i was asked to speak. we always took a low profile, and misses obama -- she kept saying if it is flour thought the florist talk, if it is food let the chefs talk and if it is art let the curator talk, and there i am talking. other than giving tours, that is my big east room moment.
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christmas at the white house. you open the drapes and you fill scene made christmas of 18th-century nativity figures usually lots of trees at the house at lots of people. the east room has been open to , forublic for tourism visitation purposes. this 1885 print was from a shows -- let's touch them, why not? that doesn't make them more fragile. the firstly 1, 2015, day that they allowed photography by tourists in the white house.
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this was not necessarily a curator decision. it was more like allowing the opportunity to take pictures because everybody wants to snap chat or whatever those platforms are. this little girl looked a lot like this older woman here and she is trying to figure out what is this metal screen -- this wire mesh that hangs down to protect the fireplace? her mother is busy taking pictures. you have people taking pictures and the poor officer from secret service who is there to give information is being ignored because the collecting of pictures is more important than the learning of information now. you can see the chandelier there and the image of george washington on the right. moments, but there
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is nixon, the departure from , august 9, 1974. there are also really happy ones. this was 1960 nine, and it was president george washington's birthday and they staged a production of the broadway musical 1776 with the original cast. this is a stage that was built at that end and people are sitting out here but you are looking down the center corridor that would be going up that direction. chandelier that is not as long as it was originally at you can see how close it is to somebody on that stage. in the carter administration,
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mikael baryshnikov came to the white house, and he walked in and they said the stage will be here, and he looks up and says the chandelier has to go. we all went, not on your life. ityou know how much effort takes to take a chandelier down? the people here do. one of the things we always the choresis that are provided by the secret service, and for a long time they got asked questions by people that seemed to be how much is it worth? they have to wrap their mind around it in how valuable it is, and in the case of a chandelier, how much does it weigh? if it dropped on you, you would officersand the tour made it up. they would say 1200 pounds. wow what.
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then we did conservation to them and took them down and re-pinned old glass stuff and we asked the company would you please weigh all of the parts. 600 pounds. there were off by a factor of two. they over exaggerated but 6000 pieces of glass in those chandeliers. at the end of that production, president nixon on the left chatting up john adams and thomas jefferson and benjamin franklin, two of whom were soon to be president, and nixon chatting with the only two female characters in the show, misses adams and misses jefferson. thank you very much. [applause]
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>> from george washington to george w. bush, every sunday we feature the presidency, a weekly series exploring the presidents, their policies and legacies. you are watching american history tv, all weekend every weekend on c-span three. >> american history tv is on .-span three every weekend here is a clip from a recent program. wrote flower gardens are numerous. ornament -- and fine cotton villas just as one would expect love and happiness to dwell in
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are found upon every street. it sounds like a tums kincaid painting, -- thomas kincaid painting, doesn't it? it sounds almost too good to be true. town pictured as the opposite of the ills of the city. stepping out of modern life with all of its problems and being able to recharge your batteries in the countryside. as they created and marketed their tourist landscape, it joined the widespread romanticization -- romanticization of rural life. the quality of quietness and isolation that have led many young people to leave for the cities could now be emphasized to draw city people to the country, even if for only a
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week. >> you can watch this and all other programs on our website. of c-span cities tour amarillo continues on american history tv with a visit to the panhandle planes. planesalked through the exhibition. >> my name is bill mercer and i am the assisted director of curatorial affairs. what i would like to do is to ofre with you a little bit the history of native americans in the culture here in texas. it is appropriate that we

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