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  • Harry S. Truman: His Life and Times
    Overview and Introduction

    "Harry S. Truman: His Life and Times", a new permanent exhibition at the Truman Presidential Museum & Library opened on January 3, 2004, with a special opening preview and reduced admissions every weekend in January. The exhibition, located in the Sanders & Blanche Sosland Gallery, is the final piece of a $22.5 million "Creating a Classroom for Democracy" renovation that resulted in a series of new and engaging museum exhibitions and educational programs. "Harry S. Truman: His Life and Times" captures the imagination of museum visitors with original artifacts, photographs and manuscripts, along with engaging audiovisual programs and participatory activities. This exhibition is designed for family members of all ages.

    The exhibition covers five areas of Harry Truman's life.

    The Early Years
    The experiences that shaped Harry Truman's character are the focus of the first part of the exhibition. Sections titled "Boyhood" and "Farm Years" deal with young Truman's formative years in Independence and on the family farm in Grandview. His early job as a bank clerk and his attempts to be a successful businessman are highlighted in "Becoming a Man." The experience he gained as a leader of men in World War I can be seen in "Military Service," while "Home from the War" chronicles his marriage and his start in the haberdashery business.

    Harry Truman's personal life revolved around his family. His long love affair with his wife Bess, and the joy he experienced with his daughter Margaret are critical to understanding the life of Harry Truman. This section of the exhibit examines the relationship among what some people called "The Three Musketeers." The love letters between Harry and Bess Truman, Margaret Truman's singing career, and the family's love of music are just a few of the topics covered.

    Political Career
    Harry Truman first entered politics in 1922 with his election as a Jackson County judge. The section titled "Public Service" examines Truman's years in county politics, including his successful public works programs and the doubts he had about his association with the Kansas City political machine. "Senator" deals with what Truman called his "happiest ten years" serving in Washington as one of Missouri's senators.

    Life in the White House
    Truman's brief 82-day Vice Presidency is the focus of "From the Senate to the White House." "Living in the White House" chronicles the personal side of life in the Executive Mansion, a period during which the White House itself was completely rebuilt. Truman's many trips as President back home to Independence, to his vacation spot in Key West, Florida, and to other parts of the country and the world are the focus of "The Traveling President," which includes his final trip back home to Independence at the end of his Presidency in January 1953.

    Mr. Citizen
    From 1953 until his death in 1972 Harry Truman remained active. The final section of the exhibition deals with his retirement years in Independence. Much of his time was devoted to developing the Truman Library and exposing young people to the importance of knowing their history and government. But he also traveled, dabbled in politics as an elder statesman, and wrote his memoirs.

    Educational Activities for Young People

    Throughout the exhibition, engaging activities challenge young people to put themselves in Harry Truman's shoes. Activities include trying on period clothing, sorting mail, writing letters, making campaign buttons and other tasks. One interactive station even allows children to compete to see whether it was faster for young Harry Truman to take the train or his 1911 Stafford car from his farm in Grandview to visit his girlfriend, Bess Wallace, in Independence.

    Due to the success of the "Creating a Classroom for Democracy" campaign, the Truman Museum & Library is poised to make a significant difference in how young people feel about and become engaged with American history and their own civic responsibilities. Especially designed to appeal to the elementary visitor, the artifacts, photographs, documents and interactive education discovery areas all combine to make this an outstanding teaching resource. The exhibit targets 4th, 5th and 6th graders, older students will learn about the early influences that shaped Truman's Presidency. Students will be able to compare the way of life in Harry Truman's time to their own life today.

    The Truman Presidential Museum & Library is located at U.S. Highway 24 and Delaware in Independence, Mo. Hours are 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday, noon - 5 p.m. on Sunday. The Museum is also open until 9 p.m. on Thursdays. Admission to the museum's permanent exhibits and attractions, is $7 for adults, $5 for seniors, $3 for children ages 6 to 18, and free for children 5 years and under. For more information on the Museum and programs, call 816-268-8200 or visit www.trumanlibrary.org.

    The Truman Presidential Museum & Library is one of ten presidential libraries administered by the National Archives and Records Administration.