Presidential Papers Digitized at Library of Congress

George Washington Papers, Series 1, Exercise Books, Diaries, and Surveys 1745-99. © Library of Congress, Manuscript Division.

The Library of Congress has completed a more than two decade-long initiative to digitize the papers of nearly two dozen early presidents. The Library holds the papers of 23 presidents from George Washington to Calvin Coolidge, all of which have been digitized and are now available online.

The Library highlighted each presidential collection on social media in the weeks leading up to the presidential inauguration on Jan. 20, 2021.

“Arguably, no other body of material in the Manuscript Division is of greater significance for the study of American history than the presidential collections,” said Janice E. Ruth, chief of the Manuscript Division at the Library of Congress. “They cover the entire sweep of American history from the nation’s founding through the first decade after World War I, including periods of prosperity and depression, war and peace, unity of purpose and political and civil strife.”

The 23 presidential collections in the Library’s holdings, acquired through donation or purchase, are of such significant value that Congress enacted a law in 1957 directing the Library to arrange, index and microfilm the papers, an enormous job that concluded in 1976. With the dawn of the digital age, the collections of presidential papers were among the first manuscripts proposed for digitization. The conclusion of this effort marks the addition of more than 3.3 million images to the Library’s online archives.

The collections include some of the nation’s most treasured documents, including George Washington’s commission as commander in chief of the American army and his first inaugural address; Thomas Jefferson’s rough draft of the Declaration of Independence; and Abraham Lincoln’s first and second inaugural addresses, along with many others.

With the digitization of papers from Presidents Benjamin Harrison, William Howard Taft, Grover Cleveland and Coolidge, the Library’s complete set of presidential collections is now available online for the first time.

The presidential papers of George Washington, Theodore Roosevelt and Calvin Coolidge have all been digitized and are now available online. © Library of Congress, Manuscript Division.

Full Set of Presidential Collections

The Library of Congress holds the following collections of presidential papers and has made each available online.

  • Papers of President George Washington (1732-1799)
  • Papers of President Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826)
  • Papers of President James Madison (1751-1836)
  • Papers of President James Monroe (1758-1831)
  • Papers of President Andrew Jackson (1767-1845)
  • Papers of President Martin Van Buren (1782-1862)
  • Papers of President William Henry Harrison (1773-1841)
  • Papers of President John Tyler (1790-1862)
  • Papers of President James K. Polk (1795-1849)
  • Papers of President Zachary Taylor (1784-1850)
  • Papers of President Franklin Pierce (1804-1869)
  • Papers of President Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865)
  • Papers of President Andrew Johnson (1808-1875)
  • Papers of President Ulysses S. Grant (1822-1885)
  • Papers of President James A. Garfield (1831-1881)
  • Papers of President Chester A. Arthur (1829-1886)
  • Papers of President Grover Cleveland (1837-1908)
  • Papers of President Benjamin Harrison (1833-1901)
  • Papers of President William McKinley (1843-1901)
  • Papers of President Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919)
  • Papers of President William Howard Taft (1857-1930)
  • Papers of President Woodrow Wilson (1856-1924)
  • Papers of President Calvin Coolidge (1872-1933)

 

Other Things You Might Be Interested in:

You can view all digitized manuscript collections of the Library of Congress here.

To learn more about the background of the Declaration of Independence, go to our article Bookophile article “Life, Liberty, and Property”.

On 20 January, Joe Biden was inaugurated as the 46th President of the United States. You can watch his inauguration speech here.

An absolute highlight of this year’s inauguration: Watch Amanda Gorman perform a reading of her poem “The Hill We Climb”.