Famous Fathers: Happy Father’s Day

By Maureen A. Taylor

Father’s Day wasn’t official until 1966, when President Lyndon B. Johnson issued the first presidential proclamation making it the third Sunday in June. President Richard Nixon made it a permanent holiday in 1972.

Other presidents wanted to designate a day to honor fathers. President’s Woodrow Wilson and Calvin Coolidge both tried. In Wilson’s case, Congress wasn’t in full support because members feared the day would become commercialized. Coolidge suggested that the United States observe the day but never issued a proclamation.

At least two men who occupied the Oval Office were fathers of young children at the time. They lived a century apart: Presidents Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy. As we know, they shared a tragic fate as well, both being assassinated while in office.

lincoln and son.jpg

On February 9, 1864, President Abraham Lincoln and his son Tad visited the Mathew Brady Gallery in Washington, D.C. In this photo, they’re looking at an early photo album. There’s additional information on the history of the first photo albums in Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album.


Almost 100 years later Photographer Cecil Stoughon took this picture of President Kennedy and family in Hyannis Port, Mass., on Aug. 4, 1962.

Image credits for the images are contained in the web links.

While it’s common to see 19th century images of women posed with children, I’ve not found very many pictures of men posed just with their offspring. If you have one, please share it with me. You can email it or submit it using the “how to submit your photo” link.

Solve your family photo mysteries with these books by Maureen A. Taylor:

  • Family Photo Detective: Learn How to Find Genealogy Clues in Old Photos and Solve Family Photo Mysteries
  • Fashionable Folks: Bonnets and Hats 1840-1900
  • Preserving Your Family Photographs
  • Fashionable Folks: Hairstyles 1840-1900
  • Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album