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The Story of Presidential Libraries and Their Archives

Why do we have presidential archives? Recent news about the preservation of United States presidential documents may raise questions in the minds of American citizens about why there are protected and preserved presidential archives. All citizens recognize that they have vital documents that are their property — driver’s licenses, Social Security cards, deeds, wills, and bank statements, for example. But why are presidential documents property of the government? There are several levels to the story of presidential archives. I offer the following historical outline to frame that story.

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