Presidential Libraries

The Presidential Libraries that can be found in the United States all have one main purpose. That is to promote "understanding of the presidency and the American experience." Among the ways that they do this is to preserve and present historical materials. They also support research. Guests of the Presidential Libraries surely enjoy wonderful access to a vast array of artifacts and records. There are currently 13 official Presidential Libraries in the country, and each focuses on the life and times of a specific President, starting with Herbert Hoover and continuing on up through to George W. Bush.


The history of Presidential Libraries effectively begins in 1939. In this year, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt came to the conclusion that a special complex should be built to house his presidential papers and other materials. Previous to this, many Presidential papers and records had been either lost or destroyed due to such things as private sales and poor storage conditions. Roosevelt went on to establish a public repository for his papers and records in Hyde Park, New York, thus beginning the tradition that continues to this day. This tradition involves the raising of private funds for the building of Presidential Libraries. Once constructed, the facilities are turned over to the U.S. government for operation through the National Archives division.

National Archives

National Archives
National Archives

The National Archives, or the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), as it is more officially known, likes to be referred to as "the nation’s record keeper." The independent government agency has the responsibility of preserving and documenting government and historical records. It also works to make these records accessible to the general public. Among the different "record groups" that have been established by the National Archives and Records Administration are paper records, still pictures, microfilmed records, motion pictures, and electronic media. The National Archives headquarters is known as the National Archives Building and can be found on Constitution Avenue in Washington, D.C. Among the things that are on display in this building are original copies of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights.

Presidential Libraries Locations

Presidential Libraries Locations
Presidential Libraries Locations  Image: Marshall Astor - Food Fetishist (flickr)

Each of the 13 official Presidential Libraries are found in either the home state of the specific President that they honor or in a state where that President lived at some point in his life. You can find the Kennedy Library in Boston, for example, and the Clinton Library in Little Rock, Arkansas. Two other examples of Presidential Libraries include the Truman Library and the Reagan Library. The Truman Library is in Independence, Missouri, and the Reagan Library is found in Simi Valley, California.

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