The Beehive: the official blog of the Massachusetts Historical Society

Presidents at the MHS

Back in November Anna Cook recapped a brown-bag event on the progress of the "Presidential Papers Project" at MHS, headed by my colleague Tracy Potter, with assistance last semester by intern Sarah Desmond. The end product of this survey will be a web-accessible subject guide to letters written by U.S. Presidents within the collections of the MHS, which we hope to have available in the near future. Tracy provided me with a few "sneak peeks" into the data, though, so I could offer a Presidents' Day preview:

Not yet counting the letters of John and John Quincy Adams (of which there are many thousands in our collections), Tracy's tabulated 12,988 presidential letters at MHS. We have manuscripts from all of the presidents excepting the three most recent (Obama, George W. Bush, Clinton). Our top five holdings (again without the Adamses) are:

5. Eisenhower (386 letters)

4. Theodore Roosevelt (440 letters)

3. Monroe (568 letters)

2. Washington (621 letters)

1. Jefferson (9,446 letters)*

Tracy also highlights just one collection which is particularly rich in presidential manuscripts: the Edward Everett papers contain correspondence from fourteen presidents! That's each chief executive from Washington to Lincoln except for Madison and William Henry Harrison.

Watch this space for a link to the presidential guide when it's launched, and many thanks to Tracy for giving us a chance for a preview.


*Note: all numbers may continue to change slightly with the final tabulations.

permalink | Published: Monday, 15 February, 2010, 7:33 AM


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