Preserving Presidential Pasts

By Diane Haddad Premium

Two US presidents got libraries dedicated to their lives and official records last year. The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library <> opened its doors Oct. 14 in Springfield, Ill., and the William J. Clinton Presidential Center <> debuted Nov. 18, 2005, in Little Rock, Ark.

Operated by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, the Lincoln research library holds nearly 1,500 manuscripts that the Great Emancipator wrote or signed, along with his family artifacts, 900 Civil War diaries and more than 5,000 newspaper titles on microfilm (many are available through interlibrary loan). It’s also home to the Lincoln Legal Papers Project, which documents cases the 16th president tried during his legal career. The Illinois State Historical Library — formerly squeezed into the capitol basement — has moved into the new Lincoln library, too. An adjoining museum and visitor center is slated for completion this spring.

The Clinton library is the largest facility in the National Archives and Records Adminstation’s Presidential Library system, which was formed in 1955 when Congress passed the Presidential Libraries Act. Its holdings comprise 76.8million pages of paper documents, 1.85 million photos and more than 75,000 artifacts from the 42nd president’s life and political career. You can search the library’s online collection of presidential documents, as well as screen shots of Clinton’s White House Web site — way back in 1992, his was the first administration on the Internet.
From the April 2005 Family Tree Magazine