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Interview with Helen Thomas

Helen Thomas with President Bill ClintonSpecial Collections and Archives houses a unique oral interview with Helen Thomas (1920-2013), long-time member of the White House press corps (1961-2010), in the Tom W. Reilly Collection. She was well known in the White House, among the press corps, and by political pundits. Her White House career spanned the service of ten presidents, from John F. Kennedy to Barack Obama. She was also the subject of a 2008 HBO documentary, Thank You Mr. President: Helen Thomas at the White House, directed by John Kennedy's niece Rory Kennedy.

Tom Reilly, a former professor of journalism at California State University, Northridge and a former journalist for the Daily News, interviewed Ms. Thomas in 1987, on the 24th anniversary of JFK's assassination. In the interview, she presents a unique account of the events with her impressions of the assassination and its immediate aftermath. Ms. Thomas recalls where she was on November 22, 1963 and what she was doing when she heard the news, as well as actions and events that followed. She said, "These four days were everything a journalist could ever ask for, even in all its tragedy." She also gave her impressions of Jacqueline Kennedy, "she did rise to the occasion," and the children, Caroline and John Jr.

The almost two-hour interview also addresses her family's immigration from Lebanon, her upbringing, and her family life. Topics related to her work include her social circle in Washington, D.C., working at the While House, Dwight Eisenhower, Eleanor Roosevelt, Ronald Regan, and women in journalism during the early years of her career.

President Lyndon Johnson with the press at a news conference in the Oval Office. Helen Thomas at the rear with a pad and pen
President Nixon, under questioning by UPI's Helen Thomas
President Gerald Ford talks with reporters, including Helen Thomas, as White House Chief of Staff Richard Cheney looks on, during a press conference at the White House, Washington, D.C. September 30, 1976
Handshake between antagonists, Helen Thomas and Ronald Reagan
President George W. Bush conveys birthday wishes to reporter Helen Thomas in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room
President Barack Obama presents cupcakes with a candle to Hearst White House columnist Helen Thomas in honor of her birthday in the James Brady Briefing Room, on Aug. 4, 2009

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