The Truman Library’s museum collection consists of approximately 30,000 objects—including hundreds of Truman family possessions, political memorabilia, diplomatic gifts and 1,300 letters from the Truman courtship and marriage. Most of these objects fall into one of five main categories:
Gifts to President & Mrs. Truman from foreign heads of state
Many of these objects exemplify the finest decorative arts and craftsmanship available from around the world, including hand-woven rugs from the Middle East, silver services from Latin America, scroll paintings from the Far East, and religious icons from Eastern Europe.
Gifts to the Trumans from private citizens
These gifts express either personal warmth for President Truman or affection for all the American people. A few of these items are elaborate and ornate, but most are simple drawings, paintings, wood carvings, and other examples of handcrafted objects. Many of the gifts are likenesses of President Truman.
Personal possessions of the Truman family
The Museum’s collection of personal possessions includes clothing and accessories, such as Truman’s famous canes and hats, membership cards, award certificates, honorary degrees, and other objects associated with the Trumans’ family life, hobbies and social relationships. Much of Truman’s World War I military gear is also part of this segment of the museum collection.
The political buttons, badges, ribbons, posters, novelties, and other campaign paraphernalia that make up this collection relate not only to Truman’s political career but also to political campaigns dating back to the early decades of the 19th century.
Objects associated with Truman's career, particularly his presidency
Objects in this segment of the Museum collection include a safety plug pulled from the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki, flags from the explorer Thor Heyerdahl’s craft Kon Tiki, the Cabinet chairs used by President Truman and Secretary of State Dean Acheson, and the original “The Buck Stops Here” sign from Truman’s Oval Office desk.
IN ADDITION TO THESE FIVE MAIN CATEGORIES OF OBJECTS, the Museum also has special collections that have historical or artistic value. One is a collection of original artwork for more than 1,200 political cartoons. Many of the drawings are autographed and inscribed to President Truman. A collection of more than 1,000 objects relates to the experiences of the U.S. Army’s 35th Division in World War I and World War II.
President Truman’s Secretary of the Treasury John Snyder put together the beginnings of the library’s nearly complete type set of all the United States official coinage since 1789. Finally, a collection of Abraham Lincoln memorabilia includes a large number of medallions, plaques and other objects bearing Lincoln’s likeness.
Although the museum collection is not open for research in the same routine way as are the Truman Library’s other collections, it will be made available whenever possible to researchers who make advance arrangements with the director.