Touring Elvis Presley’s Graceland Archives

By Alyssa Long

Did you know there are over 1.5 million artifacts at Elvis Presley’s Graceland?

I had the opportunity to sit down with Angie Marchese, the Director of Archives, and she told me some very interesting stories about Elvis and Graceland that you might not have heard before.

The Graceland Archives includes everything from stagewear to Elvis' personal wardrobe, photos, documents, memorabilia, decorations and much more.

The Graceland Archives includes everything from stagewear to Elvis’ personal wardrobe, photos, documents, memorabilia, decorations and much more.

 

The Samurai Sword

 

This is Elvis' sword found in Graceland by the Archives Department.

This is Elvis’ sword found in Graceland by Angie Marchese, Graceland’s Director of Archives.

Every once in a while, the archivists who work solely at Graceland will go through each room and catalog every item that is in the room. This helps them maintain the house so that every single guest that steps through the front door is greeting with the same scene Elvis Presley was. Well, on one of these cataloging missions, while they were in the Living Room, Angie opened the top drawer of the cabinet that is located to the right of the fireplace and she saw something she definitely wasn’t expecting. Inside that drawer was a Samurai Sword! She cataloged it, put it back, and it’s still there today.

 

Christmas Decorations

 

Every room in Graceland is decorated for Christmas, as well as the front lawn. This white tree with red and gold decorations is in the living room. The decorations stay up until Elvis' birthday celebrations.

Every room in Graceland is decorated for Christmas, as well as the front lawn. This white tree with red and gold decorations is in the living room. The decorations stay up until Elvis’ birthday celebrations.

During the Christmas season, Graceland undergoes a transformation. Angie and her team deck the halls of Graceland with all of Elvis’ Christmas decorations. It’s truly magical to experience the warmth of Graceland at Christmastime. Well, something that makes this even more impressive, is that the entire house is decorated in one night!

 

Detective Work

 

Before Elvis was the King of Rock 'n' Roll, he was a truck driver. A pay stub from that job is in Graceland's Archives.

Before Elvis was the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll, he was a truck driver. A pay stub from that job is in Graceland’s Archives.

The documents and artifacts that are housed in the archives and throughout the exhibits at Graceland are so much more than just items on display. They are sometimes used to find the missing pieces of an Elvis puzzle. For instance, Angie can look at a photograph of Elvis and pretty much determine the exact time the picture was taken based on receipts, schedules, and other documents they have on file. They have everything from gas receipts, which can help determine Elvis’ location at any given time, to jewelry, records, clothing and contracts. This not only helps authenticate certain items, but it also provides a link between certain items and Elvis’ life.

 

Picture Negatives

 

The negatives of this photo, and several others, are a more recent find for the Archives team at Graceland.

The negatives of this photo, and several others, are a more recent find for the Archives team at Graceland.

Vernon Presley was a very organized man who documented everything. A few years ago, when Angie was going through Vernon’s office, they stumbled upon a small envelope with no writing on it. What she found were negatives of pictures that have never been seen before. They were pictures from 1957 of a 22 year old Elvis signing autographs through the gates of Graceland.
The part that excites me the most is that there are still documents stored in the archives that haven’t been analyzed by archivists. There could still be stories about Elvis that haven’t been told yet that are just waiting to be discovered one day in the future.

While you’re at Graceland for Elvis Week, take a closer look at the archives on display – and see even more at the Archives Studio.


4 Comments

  1. Very awesome stuff to go through and see. It would be fascinating to see more Graceland renovations from ’57 when Elvis personalized it. Great stuff.

  2. Donna Puckett

    Angie, If you read Ginger Aldens book about her and Elvis you would know how and why that Samurai Sword is in the living room drawer!

  3. Read Ginger Aldens book and you will know why the sword is in the living room!

  4. Nick Mathus

    Hello,

     My name is Nicholas Mathus. I just turned 16 years old yesterday and I live in New Jersey. I’m known as Nick the History Kid online. I have a historical web page http://www.nickthehistorykid.com with over 100 videos.  My dad and I would like to film a short historical  YouTube video (for my web page) on Graceland and Elvis Presley. I have been there once before with my parents. I cover all history especially the Revolutionary and Civil wars. Where ever we travel for my sports we contact interesting places showing them my web page and we get invited. I am the only. non professional, person that was allowed to video inside Motown’s Historic Studio A. look up Motown and my video is the third that shows. This is what I vision for a Graceland video. The normal charge to film in Motown was $700.00 per hour but the Chairman (Ian) liked my web page so much that he only charged my dad $1.00.  I have videos on Bud Abbott and Lou Costello. Chris Costello loved it so much we have now become friends and plan on meeting this year when she come to New Jersey in June. My page is linked to New Jersey’s Travel and Tourism and I am associated with Johns Hopkins University programs for gifted and talented kids. My dad does not have big bulky video equipment. He uses a Kodak HD flip on a monopole with a wireless microphone and has been to Graceland 3 times. I would love to do this piece on Elvis and Graceland and if possible include some hidden Graceland topic unique to my video. I would love to go behind the barriers in the tour rooms to tell a story about that room. This would make my video special. Also possible visiting the archive building seeing some of the Elvis artifacts in storage. Please check out my web page and let me know. My dad and I would drive over 900 miles one way to do this. My dad recently lost his job after 32 years and is 62 years old. He told me that he would still take me. All I ask for is free admission since my dad has already been there 3 times and he would still be spending a lot for gas and food. We would probably drive back to New Jersey the next day.

    Lou Costello video:  “Lou Costello’s Paterson, Then and Now”

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EOaGrWQSkcM&list=UU21cgWcSVIA9Va-9BLJUYwA&index=11

    Motown

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=68ADFTzTbts&index=59&list=UU21cgWcSVIA9Va-9BLJUYwA

    Nick’s web page:

    Nick Mathus
    Nick the History Kid
    Flanders, New Jersey 07836
    NICKTHEHISTORYKID@GMAIL.COM

    http://www.nickthehistorykid.com

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