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NARA launches explorer for Presidential Libraries

One of the most underutilized elements of the National Archives system in the United States is its network of 14 Presidential libraries.

From Herbert Hoover to Barack Obama, Presidential Libraries hold a wide variety of materials of value to any historian — including family historians.

Did you know, for example, that there’s a collection called the Rose Wilder Lane Papers at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library? It’s described this way at the Hoover Library website: “One of the hidden gems at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library-Museum is the collection of the Rose Wilder Lane Papers, which document her extraordinary life as a journalist and an author, and reveal the important role she played in her later years formulating and promoting Libertarian ideas. Lane was also an early biographer of Herbert Hoover — she published The Making of Herbert Hoover in 1920.”1

Not interested? What if The Legal Genealogist adds the next part of that description: “Lane’s papers also reveal her important role as the editor of the “Little House on the Prairie” books written by her mother, Laura Ingalls Wilder.” And, the description adds:

The five boxes of “Little House” documents in the Lane Papers have become some of the most heavily used materials in our holdings. Scholars and fans of the “Little House” books from all over the world have come to West Branch to learn more about the real people and real stories behind the beloved children’s books.2

Maybe you’d be more interested in the letters sent to Hoover by Helen Keller,3 or the letter from California engineer Frederick C Finkle in 1930 with suggestions on how to get the country back to work.4

And that’s just the tiniest taste of the kinds of things held by the Presidential Libraries.

Where they are generally underutilized.

And where the National Archives is out to change that “underutilized” part.

There’s a new Presidential Library Explorer providing “a new pathway into millions of digitized records across the National Archives’ 14 Presidential Libraries” — just launched last month. It joins the Record Group Explorer as a next-generation finding aid for the digitized holdings of the National Archives.

Presidential Library Explorer

You can read more about the Presidential Library Explorer in the announcement, “National Archives Launches Presidential Library Explorer.”5

Or maybe just go play with the cool new research tool online.

Where you can read the letter from Oregon farmer Emmet T. Rogers to President Truman lamenting that he had become a non-producing farmer.6 And speaking of President Truman, you did know there’s a whole section to the Truman Library website on the Truman genealogy, right? Right.

So much to find in Presidential Libraries… and now a cool new research tool to explore them.

You’ll find it here: the Presidential Library Explorer.

Have fun.

Cite/link to this post: Judy G. Russell, “Cool new research tool,” The Legal Genealogist ( : posted 15 Sep 2020).


  1. The Rose Wilder Lane Collection,” Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum, U.S. National Archives ( : accessed 15 Sep 2020).
  2. Ibid.
  3. See e.g. “Letter from Helen Keller to Herbert Hoover Regarding His Donation to the American Foundation for Overseas Blind,” Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum, U.S. National Archives ( : accessed 15 Sep 2020).
  4. Ibid., “Letter from Frederick C. Finkle to President Herbert Hoover With Acknowledgment.”
  5. Victoria Macchi, “National Archives Launches Presidential Library Explorer,” National Archives News, posted 27 August 2020 ( : accessed 15 Sep 2020).
  6. Letter from Emmet T. Rogers to President Harry S. Truman,” Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum, U.S. National Archives ( : accessed 15 Sep 2020).
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