Press/Journalists
Press Release
April 8, 1998
"Public Office, Private Lives: American Presidents and Their Families:"
New Exhibition to Open at the Hoover Library

West Branch, IA . . . The Herbert Hoover Library in West Branch, Iowa, is opening a new exhibition entitled "Public Office, Private Lives: American Presidents And Their Families" on April 18, 1998. The exhibition which will remain open through November 1, 1998, will offer visitors an unprecedented glimpse into the personal and professional lives of the families who have lived at the most famous address in the United States: 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

The Hoover Library, located at Exit 254 off Interstate 80, is one of ten Presidential Libraries administered by the National Archives and Records Administration. The exhibition is open to the public 9 A.M. to 5 P.M. every day and until 8 P.M. on Wednesday evenings in July and August. Admission to the Library is $2 for adults 16 to 61, $1 for seniors over 61, and free for children under 16.

The Hoover Library has assembled an extraordinary collection of personal objects and photographs from all of the nation’s Presidential families from George Washington to Bill Clinton. Some of the items are touching and poignant, others are odd and unique. Together they make up an unusual view of American Presidential history.

The exhibition is organized into several sections. The first section will emphasize the public nature of the Presidency and will focus on head of state visits, White House funerals and weddings and the President at work. Among the original items to be displayed are the chair used by Herbert Hoover when he sat in the oval office fighting the Great Depression, a solid gold camera given to President Eisenhower by the President of Italy and an amethyst tiara worn by Eliza Monroe at White House social functions.

The majority of the exhibition chronicles the private lives of Presidential families. "A Young Democracy" tells the story of our first nine Presidential families from the George Washingtons to the William Henry Harrisons. Among the items featured in this section are a lace fragment from Martha Washington’s wedding dress, Thomas Jefferson’s spectacles and drafting tools, and the telescope of John Quincy Adams.

Another section entitled "Boom, Bust, and War," covers the years from 1921 when Warren and Florence Harding entered the White House to 1953 when Harry and Bess Truman packed their bags and moved back to Independence, Missouri. The items in this section of the exhibit are exceptionally personal --Warren Harding’s pajamas and Florence Harding’s pill box, for example. Also included are a "doodle dress" worn by young Peggy Ann Hoover, the leg braces used by Franklin D. Roosevelt, a Navy jacket made for the Roosevelt’s dog, "Fala," and one those garish hand-painted ties favored by Harry Truman.

The final part of the exhibition covers the past 45 years, "America as a Superpower." In addition to an exceptional assortment of spectacular photographs from prize-winning photographer Harry Benson, this section also will include a hat worn by Lyndon Johnson on his Texas ranch, skis and ski goggles belonging to Gerald Ford, doll house furniture given to young Amy Carter, and boots worn by President Reagan when he relaxed at his California ranch.

"American Presidents and Their Families" helps to satisfy our curiosity about our first families and humanizes the names that we know only from our school books. At its core, the exhibition aids students and scholars alike in understanding the burdens and the privileges of being related to a President of the United States.

For Press information, contact Janlyn Ewald at the Hoover Library at (319) 643-5301.

For additional PRESS information, please contact the National Archives Public Affairs staff at (301) 837-1700 or by e-mail.

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