Meet Harry S. Truman: 33rd President of the United States, piano player, avid walker, Missourian. Go see Truman in Independence, Missouri.
The Truman Presidential Library is a great time for history lovers and even kids. There’s a lot of cool history to see along the way. Here are the highlights from our recent trip to Independence, Missouri.
The Buck Stops Here! I’m from Missouri. Truman’s iconic desk sign greets museum visitors. You can purchase a replica in the gift shop.
When Harry S. Truman became president, he said, “I felt like the moon, the stars, and all the planets had fallen on me.” Truman took the oath of office on this Bible.
Democratic donkey can openers from Truman’s 1948 campaign.
DEWEY DEFEATS TRUMAN, original copy of the Chicago Daily Tribune early edition from November 3, 1948.
With an approval rating of 35%, Truman was no shoo-in for re-election in 1948. To gain support, Truman went on a whistle stop tour of the U.S. On election night, news reports claimed Dewey would win. But, in the end, Truman won four more years.
The museum has a great Cold War exhibit. One of our favorite sections has instructional pamphlets, comics, and games.
Atomic Bombing Care, 1951. In this game, children turned the knobs on the right to match the pictures in the box.
What You Can Do When an Atomic Bomb Strikes! Comic book from the National Research Bureau, early 1950s. This comic book informs the reader what to do when a bomb strikes in his/her city, for example, duck behind a brick wall and cover your head.
Near the end of the museum you’ll see this powerful display. It’s a Purple Heart and a letter, and it’s worth a read.
George Banning died while serving in the Korean War. Banning’s father sent this letter and his son’s Purple Heart to President Truman. After Truman’s death in 1972, museum staff found the Purple Heart and letter in Truman’s office desk.
Following his White House years, Truman worked in his office located at his library. The office is as Truman left it. You’ll find an interactive display that explores items in the office.
The gravesites of Harry and Bess Truman are located in a memorial garden situated outside the museum.
“The truth is all I want for history.” This quote is etched into the wall by Truman’s gravesite.
Nearly everything in the Truman Home is original. You’ll find Harry’s hats and canes, Bess’s original First Lady portrait, and Margaret’s piano. You’ll enter the house through the kitchen and immediately be taken back in time. The family library of over 1,000 books is a highlight. Unfortunately, you can’t take pictures in the house, so your memory will have to do. Thanks for the great tour, Dave!
You may want to get to the National Park Visitor’s Center early, as guided tour tickets of the home are limited and are reserved quickly. When we went on the tour, adult tickets were $7.00, and kids under 15 were free. The National Park visitor’s center is located at 223 North Main Street, in downtown Independence. The Truman home is just a short drive away.
If you have a chance, you can walk down the street from the victor’s center to Clinton’s Soda Fountain, an old-fashioned ice cream and soda shop. It’s found at the same location as the pharmacy where a young Harry worked.
Truman Farm Home
From Independence, you’ll have to drive about thirty minutes to get to the Truman Farm Home, located off the highway in Grandview, Missouri. Harry lived here from the age of 22 to 33. It’s a National Historic Site, but house tours are no longer given at the site. It’s a nice place to explore and to retrace Truman’s steps.
The Truman home is a nice two-story white farmhouse. A few smaller buildings surround the house, but the interiors aren’t accessible.
The Truman family farm was over 600 acres. It’s hard to imagine what the farm looked like one hundred years ago, as you’ll see only a slice of its former condition.
The family sold the farm land, piece by piece, and today, the National Park Service manages the last ten acres.
Shopping malls and businesses surround the Truman Farm Home, but reference the history.
Go See Some History
Get out there and go visit Harry S. Truman’s Independence, Missouri, a great small town with a lot of history. It’s located outside of Kansas City, and there’s plenty of history in the big city as well, such as the National World War I Museum and the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. Both great sites.
We left Independence with a greater appreciation of our 33rd president and his connection to home. When you walk the streets of Independence, you can’t help but feel the presence of Harry S. Truman all around you.
All photos by PJ Creek & Jamie Creek, 2018 – except where noted.