Preserving Ike’s Legacy
Contemporary Learning Systems, Inc. (CLS) has preserved in digital format a large collection of important interviews with President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s family members, friends, military associates, cabinet members, White House staffers, political allies and opponents, including officials of the Soviet Union and NATO.
Approximately 400 broadcast-quality tapes are in the collection donated to CLS by Starbright Media Corporation (SMC).
These interviews covering Ike’s military and political careers, 1941 – 1961 were initiated in 1990 at Eisenhower Centenary events held in Abilene, KS; Gettysburg, PA; and Moscow, USSR. All of the interviews were conducted by George A. Colburn, Ph.D., a historian who is Director of Operations for SMC and the founder in 2008 of CLS.
The video preservation project at CLS was established following a gift to the company by Stanley M. Rumbough of Palm Beach, FL, the co-founder in 1951 of “Citizens for Eisenhower,” an independent grassroots organization that helped persuade Eisenhower to run as a Republican for the Presidency and then aided his 1952 nomination and election campaigns.
Among the interviewees in the archive collection are three family members: Gen. John S.D. Eisenhower, Ike’s son who worked in the White House in the President’s second term, John’s son, David, and daughter, Susan. Also included in the collection are four Presidents – Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. Political, diplomatic and military leaders of England, France, West Germany and the Soviet Union – including Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev’s son and son-in-law – are also included in the collection.
The majority of Dr. Colburn’s interviews were conducted from 1990 through 1996 and led to the production of three one-hour, prime-time television Specials in 1991, 1993 and 1995 for the Discovery and Disney networks. These programs were hosted by John Chancellor, the NBC news anchor and commentator. A five-hour series entitled “The Eisenhower Legacy, 1941 – 1961″ – hosted by Gen. Colin Powell (U.S. Army, Ret.) – then followed for Disney in 1996. In 1998, a 20-part classroom video series for Disney Educational Productions was completed by SMC.
Beginning in 2003, Dr. Colburn started a new round of interviews with witnesses to the Eisenhower presidential years and with scholars who had recently carried out research on aspects of the Eisenhower presidency that had not been thoroughly examined previously. These interviews are featured in a new two-part series entitled “Eisenhower’s Secret War: Covertly Seeking Peace, 1950 – 1960” that appeared on public television 2013-2016.
For the 75th anniversary of World War II, SMC is producing a new two-hour special entitled “IKE: The Making of an American Hero, 1941 – 1945.” It is expected to air in late 2018.