In 2013 my mom went to her first Presidential Library and got a passport with the intention to see as many of the 13 official museums in the Presidential Library System. Her excitement rubbed off on our family and we helped her finish her Passport to the Presidential Libraries last November. When you fill up your passport, you even get a gift!
Since the Presidential Libraries Act of 1955, presidents have been donating their papers and historical materials to allow the public access to these treasured artifacts. In 1986, endowments were set up to maintain these libraries so that generations to come can enjoy their history.
You can buy a Passport to the Presidential Libraries for $5 at any library you visit. These are little information guides to each library that offer a place for the library to stamp their official seal when you visit as well as a place for the date of your visit.
When you reach the last library, which for us happened to be George H.W. Bush, you also receive a crystal paper weight of the Presidential Seal. It really is beautiful.
Since we started touring these museums with my mom, we've found them to be a rich source of information not only about the president they're highlighting, but also of the time in which they were serving. Of course, there will be bias towards the president. I enjoy showing my kids how to honor authorities in their lives, even if we might not agree with all of the choices that they make.
Last year we really ramped up our visits as our summer trip allowed us to visit the four in the midwest: Eisenhower, Truman, Hoover, and Ford. We made it to Carter on our way to the Ark Encounter, and also managed to visit Bush, Sr. and Kennedy on our way to visit family for the holidays! Seven in one year is pretty crazy, but it can be done!
If you'd like to start touring, find one near you and get yourself a passport. You never know where your travels will take you!
13 Official Museums In the Presidential Library System
1. Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum -
West Branch, Iowa (Dedicated in 1962)
2. Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum -
Hyde Park, New York (Dedicated in 1941)
This is the only library my family hasn't visited yet! I'll be sure to let you know when we make it there. My mom has been a couple of times without us. This is one of her favorites
3. Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum
Independence, Missouri (Dedicated in 1957)
4. Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum
Abilene, Kansas (Dedicated in 1962)
5. John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum
Boston, Massachusetts (Dedicated in 1979)
We visited this one in December 2018. I'll be posting soon about our experience there. It's a beautiful library, which was updated in 2014, so if you visited before then, it is time to return!
6. Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library and Museum
Austin, Texas (Dedicated in 1971)
This was our first presidential library to tour. I really thought my mom was a little crazy when she wanted to take us here because I thought we'd just be looking at the president's book collection. Silly me. We loved it and determined to visit as many of the presidential libraries as we could! I need to go dig up pictures of our visit here. My kids were so little!
7. Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum
Yorba Linda, California (Dedicated in 2007)
8. Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library and Museum
Ann Arbor (Library) & Grand Rapids, Michigan (Museum) (Dedicated in 1981)
9. Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum
Atlanta, Georgia (Dedicated in 1986)
We made it to Atlanta in October of 2018 to tour Carter's museum. I'll be posting about our visit there soon!
10. Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum
Simi Valley, California (Dedicated in 1991)
11. George Bush Presidential Library and Museum
College Station, Texas (Dedicated in 1997)
We made it to this museum just weeks before this incredible man passed away. This was the last place my mom needed to visit to complete her presidential passport! It's so funny that we made it to all of the other museums around the country before making it to one in our home state. I'll share our thoughts soon!
12. William J. Clinton Presidential Library and Museum
Little Rock, Arkansas (Dedicated in 2004)
13. George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum
Dallas, Texas (Dedicated in 2013)