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Presidents’ School Days on Exhibit

By Mark Walsh — March 30, 2007 1 min read
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As a California high school student in 1928, Richard M. Nixon participated in an oratorical contest with a speech titled “The Ever Increasing Strength of the Constitution.”

As a grade-schooler at the Canterbury School in New Milford, Conn., in 1930, John F. Kennedy got marks of “good” in English, mathematics, and science, and “fair” in religion. But he was given a “poor” in Latin. “He can do better than that,” the future 35th president’s teacher reported.

The documents are among the hundreds of items displayed at an exhibit that opened here last week at the National Archives, “School House to White House: The Education of the Presidents.”

Images From the Exhibit

The exhibit focuses on the 13 U.S. presidents— from Herbert Hoover to George W. Bush—who have (or will soon have) presidential libraries overseen by the National Archives and Records Administration. The items are drawn from collections in those presidents’ museums. (Mr. Bush’s representatives are in negotiations to build the 43rd president’s library at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.)

Allen Weinstein, the archivist of the United States, said at a March 27 press preview that one inspiration for the exhibit was a Kennedy report card on permanent display at the Archives’ building on Constitution Avenue in Washington.

The exhibit opened March 30 and runs through Jan. 1, 2008, at the National Archives. Organizers expect it then to travel to some of the presidential libraries.

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A version of this article appeared in the April 04, 2007 edition of Education Week

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