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Last Updated: Wednesday, 8 December 2004, 12:13 GMT
Photos show US presidents at play
President Lyndon Johnson. Photo National Archives/Johnson Library
An intimate portrait of Lyndon B Johnson
An exhibition of rarely seen photos of US presidents has opened in Washington, revealing unguarded moments from their spells at the peak of power.

Some of the pictures displayed at the National Archives show unfamiliar images of familiar recent figures.

They include Ronald Reagan laughing at one of his own jokes, and Lyndon B Johnson howling with his dog.

Others date much further back. The first of the 40 pictures shows James Buchanan, president from 1857 to 1861.

The National Archives says it has uncovered photographs "that capture not just the events of public life, but also the human qualities of our leaders".
President Gerald Ford, left, with aides Terrence O'Donnell, centre, and Stephen Todd. Photo National Archives/Kennedy Library

The images show the various residents of the White House in races with their children, throwing paper aeroplanes, bowling, fishing, playing cards or smoking in their slippers.

"You get a much more intimate view of the presidents than you do from the regular media," spokeswoman Susan Cooper said.

Researchers trawled the presidential libraries set up in honour of former chief executives, as well as the National Archives itself.

The Archives says the exhibition shows how both photography and politics have developed, and how the two have become more closely intertwined.

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