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School House to White House:  The Education of the Presidents

Yorba Linda, CA. . . On March 13, 2010, “School House to White House:  The Education of the Presidents,” an exhibition focusing on the early education of American Presidents from Herbert Hoover through George W. Bush, will open in the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum in Yorba Linda, California.

Just in time for Spring break, the family-friendly “School House to White House” exhibition will engage visitors of every age and interest.  Documents and photos drawn from the collections of the National Archives Presidential Libraries reveal fascinating details about children that would grow up to be presidents.  Journey back to a time of one room school houses, large public schools, and private tutors.  See these future presidents as young sports stars, choir members, and musicians.  Watch them mature into serious college and military academy students.  Together these experiences demonstrate the variety of educational and extra-curricular experiences that trained and influenced our nation’s future leaders.

Selected Highlights:

  • See Richard Nixon with his childhood violin, and read his 8th grade autobiography.
  • Discover why John F. Kennedy missed 65 of the term’s 88 days in kindergarten.
  • Read what Harry Truman wrote in middle school about “Courage.”
  • Peek at report cards for Harry Truman, Lyndon Johnson, and Jimmy Carter. 
  • Learn what the presidents really thought of their teachers.
  • Learn which president, while in college, received offers to play professional football.


“School House to White House” includes more than 150 items from the holdings of the Presidential Libraries, including large photomurals of class photos and graduations.

This exhibition explores themes in the early lives of presidents, including: 

Grade School – Whether they attended a one-room schoolhouse or private academy, the future presidents discovered a world of opportunity at school.

High School – See how the future presidents blossomed in school.  Learn who excelled academically, and who preferred extracurricular activities.

College – All the future presidents continued their education after high school – whether it was a small institution, night school, law school, or a military service academy.  Explore some of their college experiences.

Men of Many Talents – Many of the future presidents had talents and developed skills that may surprise you.  Learn about their varied interests and discover who sang, who acted, who joined the band, and who enjoyed working in the outdoors.

Team Players – Whether it was football, baseball, golf, or swimming, most of the 20th-century presidents participated enthusiastically in sports.  Most continued to follow and participate in sports even after they became President. 

Memories – Memoirs, scrapbooks, and letters reveal a range of experiences that shaped the lives of the future presidents.  View these materials to glimpse the Presidents’ memories of their early lives.

This exhibition will be on display through May 31, 2010 in the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum located at 18001 Yorba Linda Boulevard, Yorba Linda, California.  Hours are Monday to Saturday from 10 A.M. – 5:00 P.M. and Sunday from 11 A.M. – 5:00 P.M.  Museum admission is:

Adults:  $9.95
Seniors 62 and older and military personnel (with ID): $6.95
College Students:  $5.95
Children ages 7-11:  $3.75
Children ages 6 and under are free
About the Presidential Libraries
The National Archives and Records Administration operates twelve Presidential Libraries, representing U.S. Presidents from Herbert Hoover through Bill Clinton.  These are not libraries in the usual sense.  They are archives and museums, preserving the written record and physical history of our presidents, while providing special programs and exhibits that serve their communities.  These libraries, described by President Reagan as “classrooms of Democracy,” belong to the American people and provide to the public insight into the times in which these presidents lived and served the nation.  For more information about Presidential Libraries, visit


About the Nixon Library: The Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum, a nonpartisan federal institution, is a part of the National Archives and Records Administration. For more information, contact (714) 983-9120 or visit

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