When I was attending graduate school in southern California, a group of us students drove up to Yorba Linda to visit the Presidential Library of former President Richard Nixon. It was an impressive place with tons of documents and files relating to the Nixon presidency. I was especially interested in the gallery on the Vietnam War, the only war the United States has ever been involved in that we didn’t win. My older brother and a number of friends had served in the military during the war. It was Nixon that orchestrated the final withdrawal of US forces and personnel from South Vietnam.
A week later, we drove up to Simi Valley to visit the Presidential library of one of America’s greatest presidents, Ronald Reagan. Again, I was impressed with the myriads of documents and files relating to the Reagan presidency. The location on the hill overlooking the area was perfect and breathtaking.
One thing that both libraries had in common were the tons of files, documents, and historical papers long with many photos and displays. Like other presidential libraries, they were meant to provide a place not only to honor and remember the man and his presidency, but they are also meant to be a place for researchers to delve into their lives and records to learn about the man, his policies, what happened during his presidency and so much more.
Presidential libraries have been built and run by the Office of Presidential Libraries section of the National Archives and Records Administration, for every president since Herbert Hoover. There are also libraries for some presidents prior to Hoover, including Washington, Jefferson, Adams (both), Monroe, Lincoln, Andrew Johnson, Grant, Grant, Hayes, McKinley, Wilson and Coolidge. I highly recommend you visit as many as you can because they are so filled with history.
That is all but one that is being built in Chicago for none other than Barack Obama.
The University of Hawaii, University of Chicago and Columbia University all bid for the Obama library, and to no real surprise, the University of Chicago won the bid.
However, the Obama library is going to be different than all of the other presidential libraries. How different? It’s not going to contain any of Obama’s records, archives, files or historical documents.
According to a recent report:
“Other presidential libraries hold the full archives of its subject’s papers. It is where scholars go to do the deep dive research that can help shed light on a president’s days in office and life before the White House.”
“But, without those archives, what use will Obama’s library be for Chicago?’
“Many of Obama’s classified documents are still in the hands of the federal government in Washington D.C., but the rest of his records are near the Windy City sitting in a suburban storage facility.”
“One problem archivists are dealing with is how they will make the records available online, but some indications seem to show that the Obamas planned it like this from the beginning.”
“‘This is going to be completely different,’ Foundation CEO David Simas said at a recent event. ‘What the president and first lady said … is they simply did not want a museum that served as a mausoleum, as a way to look back’.”
This should not be that surprising since it has been reported that Obama spent up to $3 million of his own money to have many of his early records sealed and kept private, which has raised a lot of suspicion and helped to fuel many of the conspiracy theories surrounding his birth and eligibility to have served as a US president. Many Americans still want to know what Obama is hiding, but they won’t find out from his library, or should we just call it a community center as that’s all it’s planned to be?