Sifting through past presidential inauguration photos offers plenty of insight into the character of the guy getting sworn in and what was happening in the country at the time. The ceremony is a massive photo op, but unlike many photo ops, this one has great historical value.
January 20, 1953. You can see Vice President Richard Nixon's deep enjoyment of President Dwight Eisenhower's speech as he sits in a chair behind him.
Security was different back then. Eisenhower enjoyed the freedom to be lassoed by Monte Montana during the inaugural parade. It is difficult to imagine today's Secret Service allowing the same kind of fake sort-of kidnapping.
January 21, 1957. A guided missile passes by during Eisenhower's second inaugural parade. It is also difficult to imagine today's parade merrily flaunting our ability to annihilate our enemies.
January 18, 1961. John F. Kennedy reviews his inaugural address. Haha, on paper!
January 20, 1961. Jackie Kennedy checks her husband's chin just after he becomes president.
January 18, 1965. Lyndon Johnson and Lady Bird thank singer Sally Ann Howes at an inaugural ball.
January 20, 1965. Lady Bird begins the tradition of the first lady holding the bible the president is sworn in on.
January 20, 1969. An unhappy Johnson watches Nixon being sworn in.
With wife Pat and daughter Julie at an inaugural ball.
January 21, 1969. A happy Nixon greets the crowd at another inaugural ball.
January 20, 1973. Henry Kissinger is unable to stop himself from yawning while waiting for Nixon's second inaugural ceremony to begin.
January 20, 1977. Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter walk to his swearing-in.
The Carters dance at their inaugural ball.
January 20, 1981. Nancy Reagan watches her husband as he's sworn in.
January 21, 1985. The Reagans at their second set of inaugural balls.
A 1980s person performs as the first couple dances.
January 20, 1989. The Reagans and the Bushes walk down the Capitol steps. Michelle, Malia, and Sasha Obama are following in a grand tradition of brightly colored coats.
January 18, 1993. The Associated Press caption reads, "The oversized heads will be seen taking part in the inaugural festivities all across town." Hillary Clinton didn't have an easy time as first lady.
January 20, 1993. The Clintons walk down Pennsylvania Avenue.
January 20, 1997. And again in 1997, with Chelsea in a skirt suit.
January 18, 2001. George W. Bush dances with Ricky Martin at the inaugural opening.
January 20, 2001. The Bushes and the Cheneys watch the troops march by after Bush is sworn in.
January 20, 2005. Bush gives the University of Texas's "Hook 'em, 'horns" sign. The Associated Press reports Norwegians mistakenly interpreted this to be a salute to Satan.
January 20, 2009. A record crowd came to see Barack Obama inaugurated in 2009.
People went crazy for Sasha and Malia's J.Crew coats.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.