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Presidential Papers

This guide list published papers (public and private) of U.S. presidents. It also provides information on how to find their unpublished papers.

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Location of Original Presidential Papers

Presidential Papers Program

Public Law 85-147 gave the Library of Congress authority for the Presidential Papers Program, a program to preserve and make presidential papers accessible. The Manuscript Division of the Library of Congress houses the original papers of 23 presidents. The Manuscript Division of the Library of Congress indexed and filmed over two million manuscripts as part of this program. The indexes and microfilm reels are housed in many research libraries across the country. This guide identifies the library within the Washington Research Library Consortium (WRLC) that has these microfilms.

The presidential papers collections are mainly composed of letters to and from the President. Also included are diaries, financial papers, applications for office, and other miscellaneous items. The collections are generally divided into series according to the types of papers (legal, financial, military, etc.).

The Library of Congress has begun to make the complete presidential papers available on the American Memory site. Documents include correspondence, letterbooks, diaries, journals, books, military records, reports and notes.

Presidential Libraries

Beginning with Herbert Hoover, each president has a "presidential library" which contains the papers and files of the respective president as well as correspondence of the presidents and their associates.

Archives and Libraries

The original papers of many presidents, especially those before the twentieth century, are housed in different archives and libraries throughout the country and even internationally.

Finding U.S. History Primary Sources

The following databases and websites are useful in finding the location of primary and archival collections. Most of these are in the United States, however, many collections pertinent to U.S. history are located throughout the world.