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Presidential Libraries

In 1939, President Franklin Roosevelt decided to donate a collection of his personal and presidential papers to the federal government. Roosevelt believed these materials were part of our national heritage and should be accessible to the public. The concept of a presidential library was born. Today there are 10 official presidential libraries and one presidential project operated by the National Archives and Records Administration . The libraries are funded by a combination of federal and private funds.

Each president has chosen the site of his library, but they are usually located in the president's hometown. All together, the libraries house 250 million pages of text, 5 million photographs; 13.5 million feet of motion picture film and 68,000 hours of disc, audiotape, and videotape recordings. Most libraries also offer a museum dedicated to the life of that president.

Every president since Herbert Hoover has a presidential library. There is also one for Rutherford B. Hayes, which was established by his family and friends and is not operated by the federal government. The official papers of Richard Nixon are housed at the Nixon Presidential Project in Washington D.C., but there is also a privately operated library and museum in Yorba Linda, Calif. A Bill Clinton library is being planned for a site in Arkansas.

For more information on presidential libraries, check out NARA's Office of Presidential Libraries. A project at the University of North Carolina offers additional information, as well as a collection of online presidential documents and information on America's first ladies.




To visit the libraries directly, visit:




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