Ceremonial Pen Given to Ethel L. Payne

Object Details

Frame: metal, wood, black velour; Pen: metal, plastic; Label: ink on paper
Frame: 6 5/16 × 10 3/8 × 1 3/16 in. (16 × 26.3 × 3 cm)
Cite As
Ethel Lois Payne Collection, Anacostia Community Museum, Smithsonian Institution, Gift of Avis R. Johnson.
When a U.S. President signs a bill, a select number of people receive pens used for the occasion. This ceremonial pen was given to Ethel L. Payne (1911-1991) in recognition for her civil rights activism. The fountain pen’s metal nib connects to a black, plastic feed followed by a tapered, translucent barrel, also plastic. A black and gold frame holds the pen above a summary of the bill, House Resolution 7152. President Lyndon B. Johnson used this ceremonial pen to sign the Civil Rights Act of 1964 into law. In the White House’s East Room on July 2, 1964, Payne became one of seventy-five honorees to receive a pen. The following year, President Johnson presented Payne with a second ceremonial pen at the signing of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, also in ACM’s Collection. The pens are treasured tokens of political favor. Indeed, Payne attended the event in her role as a Democratic Party official, though the pioneering journalist was also the second African American female member of the White House Press Corps.
Accession Number
framed pen
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Anacostia Community Museum Collection
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Anacostia Community Museum
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