The United States is a country replete with rich historical events and artifacts. Whether the Gettysburg Battlefield or the Lincoln Memorial, the government has held numerous events that potentially transformed the country’s significance for generations. One of those historical events was the approval of the Presidential Libraries Act of 1955. The act states that presidents must donate their papers and historical materials for the public to witness.
“Congress legislated this policy under the Presidential Libraries Act in 1955 (amended in 1986), establishing a system of privately erected and federally maintained facilities for preserving and making accessible the papers, records, and other historical materials of US Presidents.” – Presidential Libraries Act of 1955
Presidential Libraries are privately constructed archives holding memorabilia and records of all the former presidents since Herbert Hoover for the public. Today there are 14 libraries administered by the Office of Presidential Libraries and work under the US National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) umbrella. The libraries are located throughout the country spanning from California to Massachusetts. This was a significant step in teaching future generations about the rich historical and cultural heritage the United States has enjoyed.
Apart from the exhibitions and visits paid by students, professionals, and history lovers, visiting every library is a record itself. There is a Presidential Library Passport for sale at all the libraries, and you collect stamps from every library you visit. Upon visiting all the libraries, you will receive a Presidential Crystal Paperweight award from the US National Archives.
Earning the Presidential Crystal Paperweight Award was a journey Steve Haddadin began on July 7, 2022, during his visit to the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum. Although Haddadin has been to the Nixon Presidential Library and Museum during his middle school days when he completed the “Nixon Geography Challenge.” Haddadin says he had taken a geography challenge to memorize the world map, and of 35 tested sites, he only missed 2. This led him to be honored at the Nixon Presidential Library and Museum during middle school, where he had the goal to eventually visit all the libraries, which was affirmed again on July 7. Also, during middle school, Haddadin was selected and sent to Japan via People to People, a student ambassador program formed by President Dwight D. Eisenhower.
On September 17, 2022, Haddadin was awarded the Presidential Libraries Crystal Paperweight Award by the US National Archives at the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library, Museum, and Boyhood Home. This was the last library on his list, as Eisenhower is his favorite president. Haddadin visited all the libraries in just two months and ten days!
The best part about visiting Presidential Libraries is that it gives people insight into what former presidents endured and how they worked tirelessly to enhance the country’s prosperity. In today’s fast-paced world, where people hardly have any time to pursue hobbies or other leisure, people tend to forget the historical significance of different events. Visiting these libraries gives a new perspective as to what the great leaders of the past had to go through to help America achieve its standing in the world.
“It was a great experience visiting the Presidential libraries and witnessing how former presidents contributed to building the nation that we know and love today. With this honor, I sincerely hope that others follow to deepen their understanding of the events that took place in previous administrations,” says Haddadin.
As time passes, the ever-changing societal norms may dissuade more people from visiting libraries, so Haddadin’s actions are a beacon of hope for reviving this declining tradition. For those avid readers and library enthusiasts, this effort may turn out to be the next most significant milestone for the future of libraries. Fingers crossed.
Written in partnership with Vishnu Chaudhari
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