Today’s post comes from Nikita Buley, an intern in the National Archives Office of Strategy and Communications.
Happy American Archives Month! Throughout October, we’re running a series of “spotlights” on the many locations that make up the National Archives. Have you done research at a Presidential Library?
Unlike the other Presidential Libraries, the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library—located in Ann Arbor, Michigan—is geographically separate from the museum, which is in Grand Rapids.
Despite the 130 miles separating these two locations, they form a single institution and share one director, as well as artifacts, documents, and other exhibit materials.
The library focuses on analysis and interpretation of history and policy. Ford and his cabinet’s 1974–77 Presidential papers make up the core of the 25-million-page textual collection and the 500,000-item audiovisual collection. Located on the North Campus of the University of Michigan, it features regular temporary exhibits that pull from the library’s collections.
Like all the Presidential Libraries and National Archives locations, the Ford Library is also a great resource for researchers. There are several oral history and artifact collections, extensive textual material, and some audiovisual materials. Research grants are also available: The Gerald R. Ford Scholar Award is given annually in honor of Robert Teeter, and multiple research travel grants are awarded throughout the year to defray travel, living, and photocopy expenses for researchers.
The museum makes the library’s collections and archives more accessible to the public and allow visitors to interact with history. Permanent exhibitions focus on the Cold War era, ’70s culture, and President Ford’s time in office.
The replica Oval Office at the museum includes recorded voices of actors portraying Ford, Rockefeller, Kissinger, and others.
One of the permanent exhibits covers the entire Watergate case, from the burglary in May 1972 through Ford’s pardon of Nixon in September 1974. The online exhibit is an excellent summary of the information in the exhibit.
Sports fans will be pleased to know that the temporary exhibit “Pro Football and the American Spirit,” which has traveled around the country, is currently on display at the Ford Museum until January 6, 2013. It tells the story of professional football players and personnel who have served in the military in conflicts from World War II to the present.