In 1941, while he was still in office, Franklin D. Roosevelt established the first such archive in Hyde Park, N.Y., to preserve personal papers and mementos from his time in office. His successor, Harry Truman, signed the Presidential Libraries Act into law, authorizing the National Archives to help set up and operate these treasure troves of American politics and policy.
There are now 13 presidential libraries. From the beginning, these institutions have been grand storehouses of history. But in recent years, they’ve also become home bases for former presidents’ efforts to make the world better.
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