My daughter and I recently visited the museum and library of Harry S. Truman, the 33rd United States president, which is in Independence, Missouri. Independence adjoins Kansas City.
I’d only been to this museum and library one time before, which is shamefully negligent of me, considering it’s only about half an hour from my house and I was an American history graduate student.
Many people make much longer journeys to visit this library, which is very well done and full of fascinating information. On the day we visited, a majority of the license tags on cars in the parking lot were from states other than Missouri and Kansas.
I haven’t been totally remiss in my Truman travels. I’ve visited the Winter White House in Key West, Florida, where Truman spent 175 days during his nearly eight years as president, and I’ve toured his Independence home and the grounds of his family farm in Grandview, where Truman spent most of his youth. I’ll post those photos in another post.
Your first sight in the library is a mural by another prominent Missourian, Thomas Hart Benton. Then the next stop is a replica of Truman’s Oval Office in the White House. He held press conferences in the original Oval Office, until it became too crowded with reporters and photographers. Much happened during Truman’s presidency (1945–1953), including the end of World War II, the beginning of the CIA, NATO, the beginning of the Korean War and the Cold War.
Truman was Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s vice president and assumed the presidency when Roosevelt died April 12, 1945. World War II was still raging.
Roosevelt’s wife Eleanor informed Truman of her husband’s death: “Harry, the president is dead.”
He asked if there was anything he could do for her, to which she replied, “Is there anything we can do for you? For you are the one in trouble now.”
One level of the museum section of the library focuses on Truman’s presidential history, while another level features exhibits about his life before and after the presidency. Scholars can do research in the library.
The Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum is also the resting place of Truman and his wife Bess, as well as their daughter Margaret and her husband Clifton Daniel. The library is located on U.S. Highway 24 in Independence, not far from the house where Truman lived most of his adult life. It was the first presidential library to be created under the provisions of the 1955 Presidential Libraries Act, and is one of thirteen presidential libraries administered by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).
The library’s replica of the Oval Office is a feature that has been copied by the Lyndon B. Johnson, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, William J. Clinton, and George W. Bush libraries.
Click on a thumbnail to see a photograph in a larger size.