Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum


Susan Medler
PH 816.268.8245
FAX 816.268.8299

Truman Library to Present Family-Friendly Exhibition
Featuring the Early Years of American Presidents

INDEPENDENCE, MO— On Saturday, Feb. 7, 2009, School House to White House: The Education of the Presidents, an exhibition focusing on the early education of American Presidents from Herbert Hoover through George W. Bush, will open at the Harry S. Truman Library and Museum. The exhibition, organized by the National Archives and Records Administration, will run through Aug. 30, 2009. 

Just in time for Presidents’ Day, the family-friendly School House to White House exhibition will engage visitors of every age and interest.  Documents, artifacts, photos and films drawn from the collections of the National Archives Presidential Libraries reveal fascinating details about children that would grow up to be presidents. Journey back to a time of one-room school houses, large public schools, and private tutors. See these future presidents as young sports stars, choir members, and musicians.  Watch them mature into serious college and military academy students. Together these experiences demonstrate the variety of educational and extra-curricular experiences that trained and influenced our nation’s future leaders.

Selected Highlights:

  • Discover why John F. Kennedy missed 65 of the term’s 88 days in kindergarten.
  • Read Richard Nixon’s 8th-grade autobiography.
  • Read what Harry Truman wrote in middle school about “Courage.”
  • Peek at report cards for Harry Truman, Lyndon Johnson, and Jimmy Carter. 
  • Learn what the presidents really thought of their teachers.
  • Learn which president, while in college, received offers to play professional football.


School House to White House includes more than 150 items from the holdings of the Presidential Libraries. There are large photomurals of class photos and graduations, videos showing several presidents as children, and filmed presidential reflections on their school house years.

This multi-media exhibition explores themes in the early lives of presidents, including: 

Grade School – Whether they attended a one-room schoolhouse or private academy, the future presidents discovered a world of opportunity at school.

High School – See how the future presidents blossomed in school.  Learn who excelled academically, and who preferred extracurricular activities.

College – All the future presidents continued their education after high school – whether it was a small institution, night school, law school, or a military service academy.  Explore some of their college experiences.

Men of Many Talents – Many of the future presidents had talents and developed skills that may surprise you.  Learn about their varied interests and discover who sang, who acted, who joined the band, and who enjoyed working in the outdoors.

Team Players – Whether it was football, baseball, golf, or swimming, most of the 20th-century presidents participated enthusiastically in sports.  Most continued to follow and participate in sports even after they became President. 

Memories – Memoirs, scrapbooks, and letters reveal a range of experiences that shaped the lives of the future presidents.  View these materials to glimpse the Presidents’ memories of their early lives.

Admission, Hours & Additional Information
School House to White House is included with Museum admission, which is free for children 5 and under, $3 for youths 6-15, $8 for adults, and $7 for senior adults 65 and older. To schedule group visits of this and the permanent exhibits of the Harry S. Truman Library and Museum, please call (816) 268-8221.  For all other information, call (800) 833-1225 or visit www.trumanlibrary.org.

The Harry S. Truman Library and Museum is open 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday. Located at 24 Highway and Delaware in historic Independence, Missouri—just 20 minutes from downtown Kansas City—the Harry S. Truman Library and Museum is one of 12 presidential libraries administered by the National Archives and Records Administration.

The Truman Presidential Museum & Library is supported, in part, by the Harry S. Truman Library Institute, the not-for-profit partner of the Truman Library. The Institute seeks to promote, through educational and community programs, a greater appreciation and understanding of American politics, history and culture, the process of governance, and the importance of public service, as exemplified by Harry S. Truman. To learn more, visit TrumanLibrary.org.

At the Truman Library

“Evolution of the National Security Council”
Dr. D. Robert Worley
Monday, Feb. 2, 2009  6:30 p.m.
Kansas City Public Library | Plaza Branch, Truman Forum

Since its inception under President Truman, the National Security Council has been used to advise and assist the President on national security and foreign policies, and each President has structured the NSC to fit his personal decision-making style. Now, there is sufficient evidence available today to draw conclusions about what works and what doesn't, to predict problems, and to make recommendations to the new administration. D. Robert Worley is a Senior Fellow with the Johns Hopkins University Washington Center for the Study of American Government and previously served as a defense policy analyst at the National Security and Army Research Divisions of Rand.
This program is free and open to the public. The Truman Forum is located at 4801 Main St. in Kansas City, Mo.

“Fabulous First Ladies”
Patricia Krider, National First Ladies Library
Friday, Feb. 13, 2009  2 p.m.
Missouri Auditorium

The Truman Library joins with the Independence Pioneer Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution to celebrate the 124th birthday of First Lady Bess Wallace Truman. Special guest Patricia Krider, executive director of the National First Ladies Library in Canton, Ohio, will inform and amuse us with intimate tales and anecdotes of some of America’s most influential women, as well as discuss the role of First Lady-elect Michelle Obama. The National First Ladies Library houses the world’s only collection dedicated to First Ladies of the United States. Following the program, the DAR will host its annual Bess Truman Birthday Tea for all guests. Free with Museum admission.

“Love Letters: Harry and Bess”
Saturday, Feb. 14, 2009 11 a.m.
Francis Families Theater

Ninety years ago, Harry Truman married his childhood sweetheart, Bess Wallace. On Valentine's Day, join Truman Library archivist Tammy Kelly in the Museum, where she will share Truman letters and photographs to illustrate the couple's lifelong relationship. Free with Museum admission.

Monday, Feb. 16, 2009

Meet Harry S. Truman, as portrayed by historian and re-enactor Niel Johnson, and sample treats from the Presidential Cookies cookbook, baked and served by Museum volunteers.

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