Though a lot of people don’t know his name, plenty of Americans know Pete Souza‘s images. As the official photographer of White House photographer, Souza’s pictures of the First Family and their travels have defined the Obama administration — but more than that, he’s part of a legacy of Presidential photographers who have captured the lives, both public and private, of the leaders of the free world. These photojournalists have traditionally been permitted unparalleled access to these most guarded of men, snapping images of their hardships, their happiest days, and the many small moments in between.
Thanks to careful documentation by the Library of Congress, the U.S. National Archives, and various other archival societies, many images of previous Presidents — both by those whose jobs it was to capture their time in office, and by the media members and even regular people who have documented them with their own cameras throughout history — are searchable in online databases. These photos lend intimate details to the life and job of being the President.
In honor of Presidents’ Day, which is this Monday, here are some images of those who have held the office, dating back to Abraham Lincoln.
Family photos are a Presidential staple. Here’s President Theodore Roosevelt with his family via 1907.
And here’s President Lincoln with his son Tad in 1860.
…But they’re not always so serious. Here’s President Jimmy Carter’s family Christmas card from 1978.
Presidential pets are always a favorite. Here’s a photo by Martin Gruber of President Woodrow Wilson’s flock of sheep, circa 1920.
Here, President Bush’s dog, Spot, provides comfort during a difficult time.
The Clinton family was particularly enamored with their animals. Here’s Bill Clinton with Socks the cat.
…And here’s Socks with First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton.
The Clintons also had a dog named Buddy.
Pauline the cow was the pet of President William Howard Taft.
Publicity events are a necessary part of being the President. In 1929, Calvin Coolidge traveled to Florida and was given a grapefruit.
…While Theodore Roosevelt traveled to Sudan and rode camels.
In the 2001 World Series, President Bush threw out the first pitch. Under his jacket, he wore a bulletproof vest.
Sometimes, the visitors come right to the President. This photo shows John F. Kennedy entertaining children celebrating Halloween in the Oval Office.