Important update: I forgot to include the great series on Presidential Libraries sponsored some years ago by C-SPAN: For a great week of viewing, check it out here: http://www.c-span.org/ — then search under “presidential libraries”
President’s Day has devolved into one of those ambiguous Monday holidays when we’re not so sure anymore just what we should be commemorating. Given the weather reports it might be a good time to explore the legacy of the Presidents as it preserved in a variety of ways by the federal government. Since the character, location and management of the presidents’ lives and administration vary, this post is a mix of exploring options. Once again, meander your way through the collections from your armchair – thanks to digital technology and the benefit of open government you’ll find treasures along whatever path you take.
The Library of Congress welcomes you to celebrate Washington’s Birthday with a “Today in History” tribute on February 22nd. You’ll be greeted with the famous Gilbert Stuart portrait and a very useful guide to the vast resources related to Washington’s life and era. You can click your way through amazing resource at http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/today/feb22.html realizing that this but a taste of the resources preserved and made accessible by the Library of Congress.
The Library of Congress also houses the complete Abraham Lincoln Papers, approximately 20,000 documents. A good place to start is by clicking here: http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/alhtml/malhome.html.
And then there is the system of thirteen Presidential Libraries administered by the National Archives. These libraries cover the recorded legacies of the Presidents from Herbert Hoover to George W. Bush. The best way to dip into that immense resources is start with the website maintained by the National Archives and Records Administration web (http://www.archives.gov/presidential-libraries/) -a single click will take you to the individual sites, each with its own location and personality.
More than one family has used the road to the presidential libraries shape their summer plans. Start from your armchair on this snowed in day
As with history, there are countless permutations on the theme – and there are also politics. In many cases the President’s hometown or state lay claim to their local hero. Many have collections of personal papers in a local university or research center.
Bear in mind that the business of Presidential libraries, like the lives of the presidents, is fraught with politics. In the news today are two hot political topics — one concerns the time period during which a president can claim privilege over his or her papers – the other has to do with the proposed site for the Obama Presidential Library – Chicago and Hawaii have oars in that political water.