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U.S. Presidents Through O'Donnell's Lens

Jan. 9, 2014, updated Feb. 6, 2014

man by display case

Patrick O’Donnell, university photographer emeritus, stands alongside a display case at the Old Orange Courthouse, where his photos of U.S. presidents are being exhibited through February.

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During his decades of covering presidential visits to Orange County as a news photographer and later as a CSUF faculty member and photographer, Patrick O’Donnell won numerous awards, and his images were published around the world.
Some of those images are now on display at the Old Orange County Courthouse in Santa Ana, where visitors can see the free exhibit through February. Exhibit hours are 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday.
Special hours are being observed Saturday, Jan. 11, and Feb. 8 when the exhibit will be open to visitors from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. 
From Lyndon B. Johnson to Geroge W. Bush, lively photographs of eight U.S. presidents snapped over the course of several decades are displayed, along with memorabilia ranging from campaign buttons and bumper stickers to press credentials, along with a well-worn photographer’s vest, an old 4x5 press camera and professional Nikon fllm camera. 
Many of the photos date to when O’Donnell was a news photographer for the Daily Pilot. His presidential coverage continued into his CSUF years, including two trips to the White House to document the College World Series-winning Titans meeting presidents Bill Clinton and Bush, as well as Ronald Reagan’s visit to campus in 1988. Those images are included in the exhibit.
O'Donnell got his start covering U.S. presidents while still in college working for the Whittier Daily News by photographing President Dwight Eisenhower at the Rose Bowl in 1964. He only has news clippings of those images. 

He taught photography in the Communications Department beginning in 1968 and later served as photographer for the Public Affairs Office until his retirement in 2007. He was chosen to receive the Outstanding Staff Employee Award in 2001.  

The Old Orange County Courthouse is located at 211 West Santa Ana Blvd., Santa Ana. 

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