Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum


THE MUSEUM COLLECTION

The museum collection consists of approximately 30,000 objects, primarily three dimensional items and works of art on paper and canvas. Most of these objects fall into one of five main categories: gifts to President and Mrs. Truman from foreign heads of state; gifts to the Trumans from private citizens, both American and foreign; personal possessions of the Truman family; political memorabilia relating to the Truman Presidency and to the American Presidency in general; and objects associated with the historical events of Truman's career, and particularly with his Presidency.

The gifts received from foreign heads of state are part of the record of American diplomacy during the Truman years. Many of these gifts are examples of the finest decorative arts and craftsmanship available from many areas of the world. The collection includes, for instance, hand-woven rugs from the Middle East, silver services from Latin America, scroll paintings from the Far East, and religious icons from Eastern Europe.

Table Suite from President of Phillipines, 1952. Persian rug gift from Premiere of Iran, 1951.

The President also received gifts from ordinary citizens, both American and foreign. These gifts expressed either personal warmth for President Truman, or affection for all the American people. A few of these items are elaborate and ornate, but most are simple drawings, paintings, wood carvings, and other examples of handcrafted objects. Many of the gifts are likenesses of President Truman.

Harry S. Truman's World War I combat uniform.

The museum's collection of personal possessions of the Truman family includes clothing and related accessories - such as Truman's famous canes and hats - membership cards, award certificates and plaques, honorary degrees, and other objects associated with the Trumans' family life, hobbies and social relationships. Much of Truman's World War I military gear is also part of this segment of the museum collection. Political memorabilia forms another important part of the collection. The political buttons, badges, ribbons, posters, novelties, and other campaign paraphernalia that make up this segment relate not only to Truman's political career, but to political campaigns dating back to the early decades of the 19th century.

The collection also includes objects relating in different ways to the events of the Truman years. Examples range from concrete road markers and copies of road maps that document a part of Truman's work as presiding judge of Jackson County, Missouri, to the tables on which the United Nations Charter and the 1965 Medicare Bill were signed. Other objects in this segment of the museum collection are a safety plug pulled from the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki, flags from the explorer Thor Heyerdahl's craft Kon Tiki, the Cabinet chairs used by President Truman and Secretary of State Dean Acheson, and the original "The Buck Stops Here" sign from Truman's Oval Office desk.

Bust of Harry S. Truman

In addition to these five main categories of objects, the museum also has special collections that have special historical or artistic value. One is a collection of original artwork for more than 1,200 political cartoons. Many of the drawings are autographed and inscribed to President Truman. A collection of more than 1,000 objects relates to the experiences of the U.S. Army's 35th Division in World War I and World War II. President Truman's Secretary of the Treasury John Snyder put together the beginnings of the library's nearly complete type set of all the United States official coinage since 1789.

Last, a collection of Abraham Lincoln memorabilia includes a large number of medallions, plaques and other objects bearing Lincoln's likeness.

Bottlecap rocking chair - gift to President Truman

Although the museum collection is not available for research in the same routine way as are the library's other collections, it will be made available whenever possible to researchers who make advance arrangements. The library will also loan objects from its museum collection to exhibiting institutions that can satisfy certain display and security requirements.

Questions about doing research in the museum collection or borrowing objects should be sent to the Director.