President Donald J. Trump was inaugurated on Friday, January 20th, 2017 at noon. If you visited the White House website immediately following the inauguration of the 45th President, you discovered that the website for President Obama was replaced by a website highlighting the new policies of the 45th President.
What happened to the Obama Administration website? Is it gone? The answer is, “No.” The website has been preserved by the National Archives and Records Administration, a federal agency. The National Archives is the “Nation’s Records Keeper” and holds in its possession the Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Bill of Rights. In addition to safe-keeping America’s founding documents, the National Archives protects and preserves hundreds of thousands of government records including those created by the President of the United States. Presidential Records are stored in Presidential Libraries and Museums. You can read more about the 14 Presidential Libraries here.
In addition to archiving the electronic and paper records of each President, the National Archives freezes each administration’s website and social media accounts as a permanent record of the online presence of each sitting President. You may learn how to access the archived White House website and social media accounts of Obama administration officials here.
To date there are three archived Presidential websites and they are great research tools. The archived websites are excellent resources for video and photographs, written materials such as speeches and press releases, and other public records from each administration. Since the archived White House websites are no longer updated, some links and other features may not work properly; however, they provide a unique snap shot in history. Links to each archived Presidential website are provided below:
- Barack H Obama: https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/
- George W. Bush: https://georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov/
- William J. Clintion: https://clinton4.nara.gov/
- Briefly examine the home page of each archived website. How has technology changed from administration to administration? Has it improved? How do you know?
- A peaceful transfer of power every 4 to 8 years is the cornerstone of American democracy. Do you believe the archival of the former administration’s website represents this transition? Why or why not?
- Is it important to American democracy to keep important historical documents? Why or why not? What would happen if the Constitution was lost?