When your 80-year-old mother comes to town, what do you do on a hot humid Texas weekend? We decided to head to College Station and visit the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library.
History of Presidential Libraries
In 1939 President Franklin Roosevelt began looking for a solution to the problem of Presidential records. Up until that time, many records and documents from the Presidents of the United States had been lost, destroyed, and even sold for profit. He began the push for a system to preserve these important records of our history. In 1955 the U.S. Congress passed the Presidential Libraries Act creating the framework for the preservation of records. This system allows access to the record for both Freedom of Information Act requests and scholarly research.
The President George H.W. Bush Presidential Library
The George Bush Presidential Library and Museum details the life of the 41st President of the United States. The tour follows the timeline of the President’s life. You start with the President’s parents and move through the Presidents’ time in the Navy, his marriage to Barbra, and moving on to Texas and into the oil business.
Displays include the red Studebaker that the Bushes used to move to Texas, recreations of the Oval Office, and the Presidential Office at Camp David. To me, the most impressive display related to the president’s time in the Navy. Hanging from the ceiling is a Grumman TBF Avenger Torpedo Bomber. This is the kind of Airplane George Bush flew off the Aircraft Carrier San Jacinto in World War II.
My 9-year-old son had two real highlights on this road trip. The first was standing in the replica of the White House Briefing Room holding his own little press conference (this was a riot and I really wish I had it in the video) and second sitting in the chair behind the desk on the replica Oval Office. He was really intrigued by the telephone that had a cord attached (we later figured out that was the first time he had seen one like that).
Other displays include Desert Storm, the fall of the Berlin Wall, Operation Just Cause in Panama. The museum also hosts a series of rotating exhibitions on various subjects. Currently, that room focuses on Ranch Life in Texas.
On the grounds of the museum are statues of President Bush and an art piece describing the rush to freedom at the end of the Cold War. Wild Mustangs jumping over reproduced sections of the Berlin Wall. Behind the museum is a pond with beautiful gardens surrounding it. Here wildflowers from Texas and Roses thrive and of course, there are plenty of the Yellow Roses of Texas.
Presidential Libraries Today
This is one of the current Presidential Libraries across the nation managed under the National Archive and Records Administration. Every president since Herbert Hoover has established a library in their home state to maintain the records of their presidency. Several Presidents before Herbert Hoover have libraries established and or maintained by private foundations. The George Bush Library is one of three presidential libraries located in Texas. The others at the Lyndon B. Johnson Library in Austin, TX, and the George W. Bush Library located on the campus of Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX.