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U.Va. Miller Center Awarded Grant For Centralized Website of Presidential Materials

Researching your favorite president will be a lot easier in a few years.

Today, dozens of disparate online resources offer archives related to American presidents. But in a few years many of them will be accessible from one central portal, thanks to efforts of the University of Virginia’s Miller Center, funded by a new $355,000 grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the primary source of federal support for the nation’s libraries and museums.

The three-year grant will help fund the Miller Center’s development of a single website, PresidentialCollections.org, that will give users one centralized place to search across digital collections of presidential sites and libraries.

PresidentialCollections.org launched as a test site last year and already links together presidential history materials from six partner institutions, including the Massachusetts Historical Society and the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library and Museum, as well as the Miller Center’s own Presidential Oral History Program. The new funding will allow the Miller Center to increase the number of participating organizations as well as add more resources, including digitized microfilm collections, catalog materials and training resources.

Materials currently on the site include:

  • Diaries of John Adams and letters between him and his family
  • Letters by Woodrow Wilson
  • Letters to Theodore Roosevelt
  • Photos and film of John and Jacqueline Kennedy around the time of his assassination
  • Oral-history interviews of the administrations of Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush

PresidentialCollections.org aims to make discovering these and others materials easier for a wide audience, including scholars, librarians, researchers, students and presidential history buffs. It also will increase exposure for the collections of presidential sites and libraries.

An improved beta version of the site is scheduled to be online by June, said project director Sheila Blackford, the Scripps Librarian at the Miller Center and managing editor of the center’s American President collection of essays on all U.S. presidents, first ladies and vice presidents.

The grant will be administered by the Miller Center’s Scripps Library, which serves as a research facility for scholars of American history, public policy and the presidency. The library’s print collection includes complete sets of presidential papers, memoirs and biographies of presidents and administration officials and other reference sources. Its multimedia archive includes more than 2,500 hours of secret White House tape recordings, hundreds of presidential oral history interviews, audio and video recordings of thousands of Miller Center events, and documents related to the executive branch of American government.

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