Once upon a time, if you wanted to see a real piece of history, you might go to a museum. If you lived somewhere with access to good museums, you’d be able to do that, and if you didn’t – you were out of luck. I was fortunate to grow up in a big city, with a family that loved to travel across the U.S., and my childhood memories are full of first-hand exposure to fascinating Americana.
(My father’s pride was palpable when we visited yet another historical home and saw a unique table; when the guide said “Only two others exist,” I exclaimed “We saw one in Monticello!”)
I just read about an exhibit I would have loved to see first-hand – America’s First Ladies. This exhibit is hosted in the Herbert Hoover Presidential Museum in West Branch, Iowa, and if you live in the area I highly recommend you head out there.
But for those of us who aren’t lucky enough to live in Iowa, the Internet gives us a fantastic look at what we’re missing! The Shapell Manuscript Foundation’s contributions to this exhibit reveal the anguish of Jane Pierce over the death of her sole surviving son, the wonderful joy of Grover Cleveland over his upcoming marriage, and his loving wife’s (justified) concern over his health.
I believe that such personal touches are what make history come alive, and spark interest in people exposed to them – ideally in reality, but if not possible, then at least virtually.