Some could ask, why would the National Museum of American History exhibit photographs of the Nixon administration images that stir memories of hearings and Watergate at this moment not so far removed from the impeachment of President Clinton. Our purpose is neither to embarrass anyone nor prolong the current debates. More than two years ago, the Museum decided that the coinciding of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Nixon resignation and the acquisition of the Nixon-era photographs of Fred J. Maroon provided an opportunity to examine the role of photojournalism in a difficult, yet important, period of American political history. History museums interpret difficult, unpleasant, or controversial episodes, not out of any desire to criticize, be unpatriotic, or cause pain, but out of a responsibility to convey a fuller, more complex history. By examining incidents ripe with complexities and ambiguities, museums hope to stimulate greater understanding of the historical forces and choices that have shaped America.
A Smithsonian colleague first introduced me to Maroons photographs of the Nixon presidency more than two years ago. I was already familiar with Maroons views of Washington, D.C., monuments and architecture. After consulting with the Museums political history curators, meeting with Maroon, and viewing a selection of his superb collection of 700 photographs, I drafted a proposal to collect a selection of the images for the Smithsonians Photographic History Collection and mount an exhibition focusing on photojournalism, Maroons photographs, and his personal story of documenting the Nixon presidency.
The photographs included in the exhibition provide a uniquely intimate perspective on an important time in twentieth-century American political history.
In all our Web projects at the National Museum of American History, we strive to make appropriate use of technology while keeping the information accessible to a wide number of visitors. However, many factors can influence the quality of the experience, including equipment limitations, browser behavior, and user default settings. While we make every effort to anticipate these problems, users may find it necessary to make adjustments to settings or software in order to see the intended result.
This exhibition works best with Netscape Navigator 4.0+ or Microsoft Internet Explorer 4.0+. Use of older browsers may alter the visual layout, but no information will be lost. Audio features require the RealPlayer plug-in. For best results when printing, we recommend using Internet Explorer.
Born in 1924, Fred Maroon grew up in New Brunswick, New Jersey, and enjoyed photography from an early age. After serving in the U.S. Navy in World War II, he earned a B.A. in architecture from the Catholic University of America. He completed graduate studies in 1951 at the Ecole Superieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris, working for LIFE magazine's Paris bureau as a stringer. On his return home, Maroon worked as an architect, first in New York, then in Washington, D.C.
In 1953, he decided to put his architectural career on hold, and gave himself five years to pursue his interest in photography. Maroon never returned to architecture. He launched his new career as a photojournalist, and soon established himself as a free-lance photographer. While much of his work has centered on the people and politics of Washington, he has become best known for capturing the majestic landscapes and monumental character of the nation's capital.
Fred J. Maroon
Scheduled for publication on the 25th anniversary of Nixon's departure from office, The Nixon Years 1969-1974: White House to Watergate provides an intimate and dramatic view of the Nixon presidency through the lens of insider Fred J. Maroon.
When Nixon became president, no other outside photographer had the kind of access Maroon was given to the White House and later to the re-election committee. As a result, this photographic portfolio of largely unpublished pictures offers an exceptional view of the Nixon years, from his inauguration as the 37th president through the Watergate hearings to his emotional resignation. Maroon has provided factual and anecdotal captions for each of the 145 photographs that further illuminate the surprising events of Nixon's term of office. Eminent journalist Tom Wicker has written an objective, insightful narrative benefiting from hindsight and newly released Watergate tapes. The result is a rare glimpse into a turbulent political era.