Hoover Library: Honoring Iowa’s only President

October is American Archives Month! We’re celebrating the work of archivists and the importance of archives with a series of blog posts about the Presidential libraries. The records created by Presidents while in office will become part of the National Archives, and eventually will be used by researchers. Here’s how it happens! 

Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum, ca. 1970. National Archives Identifier: 23856239)

Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum, ca. 1970. (National Archives Identifier: 23856239)

Herbert Hoover opened his Presidential library on August 10, 1962, nearly 30 years after he left the Presidency.

This was the National Archives’ fourth Presidential library.

The three preceding libraries belonged to his three successors. This was because at the time Hoover was President, there were no laws or guidance governing Presidential records.

Hoover originally planned for all his papers to go the Hoover Institution on the campus of Stanford University, his alma mater. However, in the late 1950s Hoover’s relationship with Stanford became strained.

In 1958, Hoover’s friends began to raise funds for a small museum in his birthplace—West Branch, Iowa.

As his conflict with Stanford worsened, Hoover decided to take advantage of the recently passed Presidential Libraries act and donate his personal and Presidential papers to the National Archives. He expanded the museum in West Branch into a larger archival and research facility.

His papers related to his relief work remained at the Hoover Institution.

Former Presidents Harry S. Truman and Herbert Hoover move through the crowds of people attending the dedication of the new Hoover Presidential Library and Museum in West Branch, IA, August 10, 1962. Harry S. Truman Library & Museum, National Archives.)

Former Presidents Harry S. Truman and Herbert Hoover move through the crowd of people attending the dedication of the new Hoover Presidential Library and Museum in West Branch, IA, August 10, 1962. (Harry S. Truman Library & Museum, National Archives)

The library was dedicated on Hoover’s 88th birthday. In the dedication ceremony, former President Harry S. Truman spoke, saying, “I feel sure I am one of his closest friends and that’s the reason I am here.”

While belonging to different political parties, the two men became friends during their post-Presidencies.

During the ceremony, Hoover also received two honorary degrees for his lifetime of public service.

Since then, the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library has been committed to preserving and making available records related to Iowa’s only President.

While it is the smallest Presidential library, over the years more than 150 collections have been acquired, accessioned, processed, and opened to the public.

Herbert and Lou Henry Hoover grave site, ca. 1970 (National Archives Identifier: 23856259)

Herbert and Lou Henry Hoover grave site, ca. 1970 (National Archives Identifier: 23856259)

Today the library’s holdings cover a variety of subjects important to Hoover including agricultural economics, atomic energy, commercial aviation, political journalism, government efficiency and reorganization, isolationism, and U.S. foreign policy, in addition Hoover’s papers as President.

The library is located within the Herbert Hoover National Historic Site, a 187-acre park administered by the National Park Service.

Both Herbert and his wife, Lou Henry, are buried on the site.

Visit their website for more information on the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum.

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