With President H.W. Bush’s recent passing, presidential libraries are at the center of our attention. Like many other presidents, Bush is buried, in his own library, at the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum. The tradition of burying presidents in their libraries began with President Herbert Hoover. A presidential interment at a library is a custom but not mandatory. While many presidents are buried at their libraries, some are not. President John F. Kennedy is buried at the Arlington National Cemetery. President Lyndon B. Johnson is interred at his ranch in Texas.
The Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum, which was dedicated on June 30, 1941, has the distinction of being the first presidential library. President Roosevelt was a courageous, intelligent and practical president. Even though he was stricken with polio, he still turned his political aspirations into reality. With his New Deal, he helped Americans during the Great Depression. During World War II, he also showed tremendous leadership. Since Roosevelt had an open mind, he wanted the public to know about the glories and setbacks of his presidency. He left his presidential papers in his Hyde Park Estate. By donating all of his presidential documents, he began the tradition of the presidential library.
In 1955, Congress passed the Presidential Library Act of 1955 to create federally run libraries. The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) houses a president’s documents until a new library is constructed. There are 13 presidential libraries that are run by the NARA. The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum is not run by the NARA. This state of the art facility is owned and operated by the state of Illinois.
All presidential libraries provide the public with plenty of information about our commanders in chief. The 13 presidential libraries, operated by the NARA, have more than 400 million pages of important documents, over 10 million snapshots and over 15 million feet of motion picture film. Since they also have 100,000 hours of disc, audiotape and videotape recordings, you will be able to hear the famous quotes and speeches of the president that inspires you.
Of all the presidential libraries, I believe the most inspirational is The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. Coming from humble beginnings, Lincoln taught himself to read and write. Helping the less fortunate, he was a young lawyer who never forgot where he came from. He showed great leadership during the Civil War and was an abolitionist. With the Emancipation Proclamation, he abolished slavery thus giving others the freedom that they deserved to have. Not only was Lincoln one of our greatest presidents, he also proved that libraries are the equalizers of our society.