Interview with James R. "Jim" Ketchum, July 18, 2018

Project: Bess Abell Oral History Project

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Interview Summary

James Ketchum, former White House curator, begins the interview by recalling his memories of Bess Abell. Ketchum then describes the history of different White House layouts depending on the president in office. Ketchum discusses some of the lessons he learned from Bess Abell about working in the White House. Ketchum also compares working in the Johnson White House to working in other administrations. Ketchum remembers a birthday party at the White House for Lynda Bird Johnson Robb when she was a young woman. Ketchum describes how the roles of Bess Abell and Liz Carpenter changed once Johnson became president. Bess Abell is then compared to John F. Kennedy's social secretary, Tish Baldrige. Ketchum details what the transition period was like between the Kennedy and Johnson administrations. Ketchum explains how White House preservation was given a greater emphasis under President Johnson. Ketchum recalls an interesting story involving Bess Abell and china plates sent to the White House. Ketchum considers what it was like to work in the Johnson administration. Ketchum's interactions with Bess Abell as a colleague in the White House are explored. The work environment cultivated in the Johnson White House is also mentioned. Ketchum briefly talks of his interactions with the Abells outside of work. Ketchum reflects upon when he was fired from his job as White House curator during the Nixon administration. Bess Abell's character is considered. Ketchum's work at the U.S. Capitol History Society is examined. Ketchum shares his memories of the end of the Johnson administration. Ketchum considers what Bess Abell and Liz Carpenter were like as colleagues. Ketchum also discusses the interactions between Bess Abell and Lady Bird Johnson and President Johnson. Ketchum describes President Johnson's personality. Ketchum concludes the interview with reflections on his interactions with President Johnson's daughters, oral history, and Bess Abell's role in entertaining at the LBJ Ranch.

Interview Accession

2020oh0551_ba0006

Interviewee Name

James R. "Jim" Ketchum

Interviewer Name

Brien Williams

Interview Date

2018-07-18

Interview Rights

All rights to the interviews, including but not restricted to legal title, copyrights and literary property rights, have been transferred to the University of Kentucky Libraries.

Interview Usage

Interviews may only be reproduced with permission from Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries.

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Ketchum, James R. Interview by Brien Williams. 18 Jul. 2018. Lexington, KY: Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries.

Ketchum, J.R. (2018, July 18). Interview by B. Williams. Bess Abell Oral History Project. Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries, Lexington.

Ketchum, James R., interview by Brien Williams. July 18, 2018, Bess Abell Oral History Project, Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries.





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