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George H.W. Bush Photographer’s Archive on Display in Honor of the Late President

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President George H. W. Bush at work in the Oval Office with his dog Millie. Photo by David Valdez. Courtesy of the David Valdez Photographic Archive, Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.,
David Valdez and President Bush outside the Oval Office. Photo by Harry Naltchayan.

AUSTIN, Texas — In honor of the life and legacy of President George H.W. Bush, the Briscoe Center for American History at The University of Texas at Austin is displaying images from the David Valdez photographic archive. Valdez served as President Bush’s official White House photographer. The exhibit is on display at the center’s Research and Collections division on the east side of the UT campus.

“President Bush led an incredibly rich life — a World War II veteran, a successful businessman, a U.S. congressman and ambassador, the 43rd vice president, and then the 41st president of the United States,” said Don Carleton, executive director of the Briscoe Center. “David Valdez’s photographs are truly valuable historical sources for understanding Bush’s political career, but they also clearly show the former president’s humor, energy and dedication. Finally, they speak to the warmth he enjoyed with his family members.”

Born in Milton, Massachusetts, in 1924, Bush enlisted in the Navy on his 18th birthday. During World War II, he flew more than 50 combat missions, including one where he was shot down in the Pacific Ocean and rescued by a U.S. submarine. For bravery, he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. After the war, he married Barbara Pierce and studied economics at Yale University before embarking on an oil industry career in Texas.

From left to right:
Vice President George H. W. Bush gives thumbs-up from World War II plane cockpit. Photo by David Valdez. Courtesy of David Valdez Photographic Archive, Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.; President George H. W. Bush a woman and her child in Somalia, December 31, 1992. Photo by David Valdez. Courtesy of David Valdez Photographic Archive/Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin. ; At the opening of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library November 4, 1991—(From left to right: U.S. Presidents Gerald Ford, Richard Nixon, George H. W. Bush, Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter. Photo by David Valdez. Courtesy of David Valdez Photographic Archive/Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin. ;

In the 1950s and ’60s, Bush, a Republican, emerged as a force on the Texas political scene. In 1967 he was elected to Congress representing Harris County’s 7th District. In 1971 President Richard Nixon appointed him ambassador to the United Nations. At the time of the Watergate scandal, Bush was chairman of the Republican National Committee, and in that role he formally requested that Nixon resign in 1974. In 1980, Bush unsuccessfully ran for the Republican nomination for president, but Ronald Reagan picked him as his running mate. In 1988 he was elected the 41st president of the United States.

Bush’s tenure as president was marked by seismic foreign policy issues: the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of Communism, as well as the Gulf War. On the domestic front, Bush signed into law the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Clean Air Act. He also appointed two justices to the Supreme Court, David Souter and Clarence Thomas. In 1992 he ran again for president but lost to Bill Clinton. His post-presidential life was characterized by philanthropic work and the political careers of his children George and Jeb Bush.

David Valdez became Bush’s personal photographer during his tenure as vice president under Reagan. Upon being elected president in 1992, Bush appointed Valdez director of the White House photo office. Valdez donated his archive to the Briscoe Center in 2012.

From left to right:
Vice President George H. W. Bush and Barbara Bush visit with their grandchildren in the bedroom of their home in Kennebunkport, Maine, 1987. Photo by David Valdez. Courtesy of David Valdez Photographic Archive/Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin. ; Vice President George H. W. Bush and wife Barbara watching the 1988 election results in Houston, Texas. November 8, 1988. Photo by David Valdez. Courtesy of David Valdez Photographic Archive/Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin. ; President George H. W. Bush walking near the National Mall making the final decision to commit the U.S. military to combat in Desert Storm. January 16, 1991. Photo by David Valdez. Courtesy of David Valdez Photographic Archive/Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin. ;