Presidential Libraries

The National Archives administers the Presidential Libraries and Museums.  When  Franklin Delano Roosevelt donated his personal and Presidential papers to the federal government in 1939, it formally began the Presidential Library system.  Roosevelt also donated part of his estate at Hyde Park to house the papers.

President Truman also left his papers and Congress passed the Presidential Libraries Act in 1955.  The Act established “a system of privately erected and federally maintained libraries. The Act encouraged other Presidents to donate their historical materials to the government and ensured the preservation of Presidential papers and their availability to the American people.  Under this and subsequent acts, Harry_S._Truman_more libraries have been established. In each case, funds from private and nonfederal public sources provided the funds to build the library. Once completed, the private organization turned over the libraries to the National Archives and Records Administration to operate and maintain.”

Before Roosevelt, beginning with President Washington, “Presidents or their heirs often dispersed Presidential papers at the end of the administration. Though many pre-Hoover collections now reside in the Library of Congress, others are split among other libraries, historical societies, and private collections. Sadly, many materials have been lost or deliberately destroyed.”

The fourteen Presidential Libraries to date have both a physical and an online presence.


Many earlier Presidents have also had Presidential Libraries established overWashington's Library the years.  George Washington wrote “I have nGeorge Washingtonot houses to build, except one, which I must erect for the accommodation and security of my military, civil and private papers, which are voluminous and may be interesting.”  Although he never got such a house built, the Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington opened on a 15-acre parcel across the street from Mount Vernon’s main entrance  in 2013 and receives no federal funds.

Thomas Jefferson has a similar library maintained by the Thomas Jefferson Foundation.  The Robert H. Smith International Center for Jefferson Studies Thomas Jeffersonwas founded in 1994 “to foster Thomas Jefferson scholarship and disseminate findings through research and education.  The Research Center   Th ICJS include the 15,500 square foot Jefferson Library.  Online resources include the Jefferson Encyclopedia. and the Jefferson Quotes database.

Have you ever been to a Presidential Library?  Join in the conversation and share which one is your favorite.  Which state has the most Presidential Libraries?


3 thoughts on “Presidential Libraries”

  1. In addition to presidential libraries, we have a number of National Historic Sites dedicated to presidents. Many of these include libraries or museums. These include the:
    Eisenhower National Historic Site, in Pennsylvania —
    Harry S. Truman National Historic Site, in Missouri —
    Herbert Hoover National Historic Site, in Iowa —
    Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site, in New York —
    James A. Garfield National Historic Site, in Ohio —
    Jimmy Carter National Historic Site, in Georgia —
    John Fitzgerald Kennedy National Historic Site, in Massachusetts —
    Lincoln Home National Historic Site, in Illinois —
    Martin Van Buren National Historic Site, in New York —
    President William Jefferson Clinton Birthplace Home National Historic Site, in Arkansas —
    Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace National Historic Site, in New York —
    Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site, in New York —
    Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site, in Missouri —
    William Howard Taft National Historic Site, in Ohio —
    and, although not presidential,
    Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site, in New York — (the only site dedicated to a first lady)


  2. What a wonderful addition to the post. Thank you so much for compiling this list and sharing with all of us. You certainly do improve each of these entries with your comments.


    1. Thanks. There are apparently 90 National Historic Sites, a number that I couldn’t have told you until I went looking this morning. Of the presidential ones, I have visited only the JFK Birthplace and the Garfield home (which is just down the street from a motel in Mentor OH where I stayed years ago). I’ve been to a couple of the others and have found them to be surprising founts of Americana, well worth adding to your road itinerary.


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