Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum


For Immediate Release: January 31, 2005
Contact: Holly Milledge, 816-268-8245, Media Relations
Event: Robin Carnahan Celebrates Bess Truman's Birthday
Date: 2 p.m. Friday, February 11, 2005
Location: Truman Presidential Museum & Library

Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan
Helps the Truman Presidential Museum & Library
Celebrate Bess Truman's 120th Birthday
February 11, 2005

Independence, MO - February 11, the Truman Presidential Museum & Library will celebrate Bess Wallace Truman's 120th Birthday with a presentation by Robin Carnahan titled, "Politics and Public Service: My Life with the Carnahans of Missouri." The presentation will begin at 2 p.m. in the Truman Museum Auditorium.

"Bess Truman's Birthday is one of the most festive days at the Truman Library," Director Mike Devine said. "It is a time when we break away from daily business for an hour or two and remember our First Lady. I am delighted that Robin Carnahan is coming to share this special day with us."

Robin Carnahan earlier this month became Missouri's Secretary of State. She grew up in Rolla, Missouri in a family immersed in politics and devoted to public service; her grandfather, father, and mother have held among them several important national and state offices. Robin earned a bachelor's degree from William Jewell College in Liberty, Missouri, and a law degree from the University of Virginia, where she developed a special interest in international law. After practicing law in Missouri for a few years, she became involved in the effort to bring democracy to countries in Central and Eastern Europe which had been freed from communist governments. She also worked as a Special Assistant to the Chairman of the Export-Import Bank of the United States. She devotes part of her time as well to managing her family's 800 acre farm near Rolla.

Secretary of State Carnahan's presentation is cosponsored by the Independence Pioneer Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. Their traditional Bess Truman Birthday Tea for program participants will follow the presentation.

The event is open to the public and is free with museum admission. For reservations please call Central Ticket Office at 816-235-6222.

A Valentine "Love Story" Program on Bess's Birthday
With Music from the University of Missouri - Kansas City
Conservatory of Music
February 13, 2005

On Sunday, February 13, 2005, at 2 p.m., the Truman Players will perform "The Love Story of Harry and Bess Truman". Actors portraying Harry and Bess Truman will use the letters they wrote one another to tell the story of their long courtship, 53 years of marriage, and enduring love. Singers from the University of Missouri - Kansas City Conservatory of Music will perform a program of traditional love songs following the "Love Story." This program is free with museum admission.


New Documents Relating to Bess Truman

As part of its commemoration of Bess Truman's 120th birthday, the Truman Presidential Museum & Library will open for research on Monday, January 31, 2005 a small group of important manuscript materials relating to Mrs. Truman. One of the items is a letter that Harry Truman wrote to Bess on December 5, 1941. It is properly part of the Truman Library's "Dear Bess" collection of over 1,300 letters from Harry to Bess. However, sometime before the collection came to the Library - following Mrs. Truman's death in 1982, this letter got into the manuscript market. After trading hands several times-and belonging for several years to billionaire Malcolm Forbes-the letter was donated to the Library by Bruce Gimelson, a dealer in American historic items from Garrison, New York. "The Truman Library greatly appreciates Mr. Gimelson's generosity in returning this document to its appropriate home," said Dr. Devine.

In addition to the "Dear Bess" letter, copies of records of the Community Services League will also be opened. The Community Services League, formerly the Community Welfare League, was organized in Independence, Missouri in 1918, and Bess Truman (still Bess Wallace then) is credited as being one of the organization's founders. She remained active in the organization at least until 1945, when the League thanked her for being honorary Vice President and for remaining part of the organization despite her busy life in Washington. The records include three ledgers, covering the years 1918-1919 and 1930-1931, as well as several loose items. Bess Wallace Truman is listed 14 times in the earliest ledger, each listing representing some task undertaken for the League. One listing-which reads, "Miss Wallace shoes from Caspar"-shows that she was conducting League business on June 24, 1919, four days before she married Harry Truman. The records were recently discovered by the Community Services League which agreed to the deposit of the copies in the Truman Library.

A copy of the letter to Bess Truman of December 5, 1941 and samples of the Community Services League records are available online.

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.

The Truman Presidential Museum & Library is one of eleven Presidential Libraries administered by the National Archives and Records Administration.

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