83. Photo of President Dwight Eisenhower's Visit to Springfield (1954)
Background: Eddie Winfred "Doc" Helm was the official State of Illinois photographer for almost half a century, from 1943 to 1992. Working from the Secretary of State's office for both Democratic and Republican office holders, he took pictures of politicians, celebrities, important events, and the day-to-day operations of state government. In 1954, when President Dwight D. Eisenhower came to Springfield at the invitation of Governor William Stratton, it was only natural that Helm be present to take pictures. While in Springfield, Eisenhower laid a wreath at Lincoln's Tomb, had lunch at the Governor's Mansion, and gave a speech at the state fair. A crowd estimated to be as large as 100,000 came out to see him deliver his remarks at the fair while thousands more lined the 34 block motorcade route from the Mansion to the fairgrounds. Eisenhower was only the second sitting president to visit the Illinois State Fair (Rutherford B. Hayes was the first), and in his remarks he discussed the end of the Korean War, the international situation, and tax reform.
The Document: In this black-and-white photograph, Governor William Stratton (in the white suit), rides in the back seat of a convertible with President Eisenhower, who is waving to the crowd. The photo is taken on the drive of the Illinois Governor's Mansion as the two are leaving a luncheon in route to the Illinois State Fairgrounds. This 1954 photograph is one of more than 21,000 photographs Doc Helm took while employed as state photographer. Most of the "Doc Helm Collection," as it is informally known at the State Archives, consists of 4" x 5" negatives. There are also 35 and 60 millimeter negatives, 5" x 7" negatives, and some slides. Helm shot most of the pictures in black and white.
Note: The approximate 6 cubic feet of negatives, taken from 1943 to 1992, are housed in a special collection at the Illinois State Archives' Margaret Cross Norton Building in Springfield.