Presidents and their libraries


To bring together the records of the past and to house them in buildings where they will be preserved for the use of men and women in the future, a Nation must believe in three things.

It must believe in the past.

It must believe in the future.

It must, above all, believe in the capacity of its own people so to learn from the past that they can gain in judgement in creating their own future.”

– Franklin Roosevelt At the dedication of his library on June 30, 1941

Earlier this month it was announced the President Barack Obama’s Presidential Library will be built on the south side of Chicago. It will be our 14th Presidential Library. 

The idea originated with FDR who in his second term “on the advice of noted historians and scholars, established a public repository to preserve the evidence of the Presidency for future generations”

Then in 1955, Congress passed the Presidential Libraries Act, establishing a system of privately erected and federally maintained libraries.

Here’s a sampling  of images from the Digital Public Library of America related to our presidents and their libraries.


Roosevelt laying cornerstoneFDR laying the cornerstone of his presidential library

Herbert_Hoover_Presidential_LibraryHerbert Hoover Presidential Library. West Branch, Iowa.

Jimmy Carter LibraryJimmy Carter Library and Museum

Eisenhower_Presidential_Library_Presidential_Room_Abilene_KansasPresidential Room at The Eisenhower Presidential Library

Nixon Library ShulmanRichard Nixon Library & Birthplace Site – model, 1971 Photo by Julius Schulman

Harry_S_Truman_LibraryInside the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library

Gerald_R_Ford_Library_DedicationFormer President Gerald R. Ford and his Cabinet officers at the dedication of the Gerald R. Ford Library in Ann Arbor, Michigan, April 27-28, 1981.

Reagan libraryMourners pay their final respects to former US President Ronald Reagan as his body lay in repose inside a flag draped coffin at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library

Top image: JFK Library and Museum

This post originally appeared on the blog of the DPLA