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General Information for All Researchers on Using the Historical Resources of the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library


This page of the website provides an introduction to using the historical resources of the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library. It includes information on access to the collections, suggests ways of citing of materials, and provides cautionary advice on the observance of literary property rights.

All collections covered by deeds of gift as of January 1, 1999, are included in the list of historical materials. In addition to the title, the list includes a brief description of the collection and, in the case of an individual, a brief identification of his or her position or relationship to Herbert Hoover as reflected by the papers.

Application To Use Materials:

Persons who wish to use the historical materials held in the Hoover Presidential Library are required to complete an application form stating the nature and purpose of their research. Click here for a copy of the application form and the rules on the use of materials. Those whose study requires the use of the Library's unique resources are granted access upon proper identification. Advance application to the Director for access to papers facilitates the processing of the request and allows the archivists to determine if sufficient materials exist to warrant a trip to the Library.

Researchers are encouraged to consult with the archivists regarding their research needs. Although the archivists will not conduct extended research, they often are able to provide information and insight not available in the written finding aids.


Materials in the Library's historical collections are available on an equal basis to all researchers. Small portions of the papers are closed either in accordance with stipulations imposed by the donors or by government regulations such as the Presidential Libraries Act of 1955. Closed materials are periodically reviewed and opened for research. Categories of materials closed at present include papers containing information the disclosure of which would endanger national security or subject living persons to embarrassment or harassment. Withdrawal statements in the files inform researchers whenever they are given papers from which material has been removed. Portions of some of the Library's oral history interviews are closed as indicated by withdrawal statements; portions of some are closed in accordance with the wishes of the donor. The list of transcripts indicates those interviews that are closed in their entirety.

Manuscript Collections:

Finding aids for many of the manuscript collections are available on-line. Availability is indicated by the contrasting "hot-link" color on your monitor. All finished finding aids are available on-line and work is underway to index these finding aids to increase the ease of access to the collections. Click here for the library's list of holdings and the on-line finding aids.

If there is an entry for the collection in The National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collections, the NUCMC number is given. The notation "RLIN" following an entry indicates that the collection has been reported to the Research Libraries Information Network.

The inclusive dates of the collection are cited, and when it is closed in its entirety or when advance permission must be obtained for its use, an appropriate notation is made. The size of each collection, and whether it is an oral history transcript, microform, or type of record other than textual is also indicated.

Oral History Collections:

The Herbert Hoover Oral History Program, a privately funded project, was established in 1966 by Raymond Z. Henle in order to supplement and enrich the written record. All but two interviews from that program have been copyrighted by the Hoover Presidential Library Association, Inc. Oral histories from other sources supplement the collection.

At the present time, there are 443 interviews in the Library's holdings. The list of oral history transcripts indicates the names of the persons interviewed, their principal positions or their relationship to Herbert Hoover as documented by the interviews, and the number of pages in the transcripts. An appropriate notation is made for transcripts closed or restricted by the donors. Interviews conducted as a part of Mr. Henle's program, with the exception of those that were or are restricted, have been indexed, and a composite card index it is available to researchers in the Library reading room.

Microfilm Collections:

The Library has a microfilm collection of historical source materials held by other depositories or individuals. The list of microfilm gives the name and a brief identification of the individual or organization represented, the inclusive dates of the microfilmed materials, the name of the depository that holds the originals, and the number of reels in the group.

Still Photographs:

The still photograph collection numbers in excess of 39,500 pictures. Subject areas include ancestry of the Hoover family, early boyhood in Iowa and Oregon, student life at Stanford University, mining operations throughout the world, Food Administration activities during World War I, famine relief after both World Wars, development of the Commerce Department, campaigns of 1928 and 1932, the Presidency, the Hoover Commissions, Boys' Clubs of America, and other activities in Hoover's later years. Other major subject areas include the Vermont and Mississippi floods of 1927, construction of Hoover Dam, Albania (1922), activities at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library, and photos from various manuscript collections. Of special note is the White House Collection, which consists of photographs of the rooms, furniture, and grounds of the White House. Lou Henry Hoover collected these photographs for use as illustrations in a history of the Presidential mansion. A photo-card catalog, arranged by individual, date, and subject, affords easy access to the collection. A master negative file is available with card catalog and facilitates prompt service for those requesting photographs. A schedule of prices for photograph orders is available upon request.

Motion Pictures:

The motion picture collection contains approximately 153,000 feet of 16mm movies. The film is divided into two categories - professional footage and Hoover family home movies. A list of titles, descriptions, and copyright owners is available.

Sound Recordings:

The Library's sound collection contains more than 19 hours of videotape, 420 hours of audiotapes and 78 audio discs dating from Herbert Hoover's speech to the American Steel Institute in 1927 to Julie Nixon Eisenhower's address at the 98th birthday commemoration at West Branch, IA, in 1972. Among the recordings are 65 addresses or statements of Herbert Hoover, totaling more than 2,200 minutes. Included are eight addresses from the Presidential campaign of 1932. Mr. Hoover's last public address was recorded at West Branch, IA, on August 10, 1962, at the dedication of the Presidential Library. Other voices in the recordings include Lou Henry Hoover, King George V of Great Britain, Harry S. Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard M. Nixon, Will Rogers, Werner Von Braun, Arthur Krock, and Lowell Thomas.

Of special interest are six radio addresses, 1940-41, by Verne Marshall, chairman of the No Foreign War Committee, and a series of lectures on foreign policy given by Senator Gerald P. Nye at the University of North Dakota in 1967.

A chronological list of the tapes and textual copies of all the Hoover speeches are available in the reading room.

Book Collection:

The Library's book collection contains over 20,000 volumes relating largely to the period of Hoover's life (1874-1964). There is also an extensive collection of periodical material by or about Hoover, as well as a number of microfilmed theses and dissertations. A card index is available for all of these materials.

Citing Historical Materials:

Careful footnoting that clearly indicates the location of material cited will be helpful to the researcher, the archivists, and other scholars. The item should be precisely identified by names, date, folder title, and group. The following examples may be of assistance:

Herbert Hoover to Sir Graham Bower, August 28, 1914; "Bower, Graham";
Pre-Commerce Papers, Herbert Hoover Papers; Herbert Hoover Presidential Library, West Branch, IA. (Hereafter cited as "Hoover Papers; Hoover Library.")

Herbert Hoover to L. W. Wallace, September 12, 1926; "Engineering Council";
Commerce Papers; Hoover Papers; Hoover Library.

Herbert Hoover to Miguel Paz Barahona, November 27, 1928; "South American Trip-Honduras"; Campaign and Transition; Hoover Papers; Hoover Library.

U. S. Grant III to Walter Newton, June 13, 1929; "War Department-Public Building and Parks"; Presidential Subject File; Hoover Papers; Hoover Library.

Harry S. Truman to Herbert Hoover, July 23, 1948. "Truman," Post-Presidential Individual File, Hoover Papers; Hoover Library.

W. Cameron Forbes to William R. Castle, April 6, 1931. "Japan," William R. Castle, Jr. Papers; Hoover Library.

Report, War Resources Committee, December 5, 1939. "War Resources Board," Robert E. Wood Papers; Hoover Library.

Oral history transcripts should have a slightly different form of citation:

Transcript, Katherine Milbank oral history interview, September 15, 1970, p. 20, Hoover Library.

Copyright Property Rights:

The United States copyright law (P.L.#94-553, effective January 1, 1978) extends statutory rights of authorship to unpublished works, which were previously protected by literary property rights under common law. Such works do not have to be registered with the Copyright Office to receive protection under the law.

In general the law provides copyright protection for the life of the author plus 50 years. Unpublished and uncopyrighted works created before January 1, 1978, are covered as of that date by this same provision and are protected at the minimum until December 31, 2002. Works already in the public domain and works prepared by U.S. government employees as part of official duties are not protected by copyright.

Researchers are advised that copyright gives to the author the sole right of publication and descends to his heirs for the term of the copyright, regardless of the ownership of the physical embodiment of the work. Persons wishing to publish any unpublished writings included in the papers of the Library should obtain permission from the holder of the copyright. Permission to reproduce copyrighted materials in the Library's still photograph, motion picture, cartoon, and oral history collections must also be obtained from the copyright holder.

If names of the copyright holders are known to the Library, they will be furnished upon request. Some individuals who have given their papers to the Library have dedicated their literary property rights or have transmitted their copyrights to the United States.

The copyright law provides for "fair use" of copyrighted material without the permission of the copyright holder. Fair use encompasses scholarship and research, although the extent of such use is bound by limitations on quotation and reproduction.

National Archives and Records Administration
Last updated: June 16, 1999