Happy 90th Birthday, Harry!

Oct 24, 2011

On October 24, 2011, Harry Middleton celebrates his 90th birthday. To honor the former Director, the LBJ Library will serve birthday cake throughout the day and has created this tribute web page full of photos and well wishes for Harry.

About Harry

Enjoy this video tribute to the career and remarkable life of Harry Middleton. Video runs: 00:07:25.

Universally regarded as the most distinguished director to have served in the presidential library system, Middleton spent 30 years of unparalleled service as the LBJ Library’s director, from 1971 to 2001. Under his guidance, the Johnson Library long ago established itself as a model to be emulated by every institution that cares about archival excellence, public education, and cultural service. During his tenure as director and simultaneously as Executive Director of the LBJ Foundation, Middleton ensured that the Library provided thousands of researchers and scholars unprecedented assistance and access to the forty-five million pages of historical documents of President Johnson and his close associates. In the words of former President Gerald Ford, “No one in the history of the Presidential Library system has entertained larger aspirations, or executed them with such style.”

Middleton met President Johnson in 1967 while writing a report for a presidential commission on the selective service. Later, he became a White House speechwriter and an Assistant to the President. Following the Johnson presidency, Middleton spent two years working with the former president on his memoir, The Vantage Point.

Middleton was described in the August 2000 edition of Texas Monthly as “The Man Who Saved LBJ,” for his decision, with Mrs. Johnson’s approval, to release President Johnson’s taped telephone conversations, which had originally been embargoed by the President for 50 years. Since the public release of the tapes in 1993, historians have reassessed the Johnson presidency. Under Middleton’s leadership, the LBJ Library kept the promise of President Johnson when he declared during the 1971 dedication ceremonies; “It is all here: the story of our time - - with the bark off.”

In announcing his retirement as Library Director in 2001, Middleton said, “My 30-year run as leader of this great institution has been an adventure without equal, an encounter with history past and present that has filled the experience with excitement and purpose.”

In addition to assisting President Johnson prepare his memoir, Middleton has published several of his own works, including Pax (1958), The Compact History of the Korean War (1962), LBJ: The White House Years (1990), and Lady Bird Johnson: A Life Well-Lived (1992).

Middleton received the Presidential Rank of Meritorious Executive in 1991, the Anti-Defamation League’s Torch of Liberty Award in 1992, and a University of Texas Presidential Citation in 2001.

In 1994, Mrs. Lyndon B. Johnson established the Harry Middleton Lectureship to make renowned speakers available to students at The University of Texas at Austin and the public free of charge. Past Middleton Lectureship speakers include former Presidents Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter, former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, journalists Brian Williams, Tom Brokaw and Bill Moyers, physicist Dr. Steven Weinberg, and actor Michael York.

Upon Middleton’s retirement in 2002, the LBJ Foundation established the Harry Middleton Fellowship to support scholarly work in presidential studies and to recognize Middleton’s contributions to the presidential library system.

A native of Kansas, Middleton graduated with a degree in journalism from Louisiana State University. In 1986, LSU’s Manship School of Communications inducted him into the School Hall of Fame for distinguished alumni.