History of LBJ Presidential Library
“It is all here: the story of our time--with the bark off. This library does not say, ‘This is how I saw it,’ but, this is how the documents show it was. There is no record of a mistake, nothing critical, ugly, or unpleasant that is not included in the files here. We have papers from my forty years of public service in one place, for friend and foe to judge, to approve or disapprove. I do not know how this period will be regarded in years to come. But that is not the point. This library will show the facts--not just the joy and triumphs, but the sorrow and failures, too.”
Remarks by Lyndon B. Johnson at the dedication of the LBJ Library and Museum, May 22, 1971
History of the LBJ Presidential Library
In a letter dated August 13, 1965, President Johnson offered his Presidential and other papers as a gift to the United States for ultimate deposit in the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum. The University of Texas proposed that the library be built on the campus in Austin in conjunction with a School of Public Affairs. An agreement was reached on September 6, 1966, that represented a three-way partnership uniting the contributions of President Johnson, whose papers and other material form the library’s collections; The University of Texas, which built and owns the building; and the Federal Government, which operates the building and maintains the collection in perpetuity, as part of the presidential library system.
Plans for the structure, which was designed by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill of New York, were presented in December 1966 and construction began on the main campus of The University of Texas at Austin the following year.
At the end of President Johnson’s term of office, on January 20, 1969, the Johnson Library began functioning in the Federal Building in Austin, pending completion of the permanent building by The University.
The permanent building was dedicated on May 22, 1971. The first Presidential archival depository to be built on a university campus, the Johnson Library sits on a knoll at the end of a campus mall. The library contains almost 97,000 feet of usable floor space. The University of Texas reported that the construction cost of the building, together with that of the Lyndon Baines Johnson School of Public Affairs, was approximately $18 million.
The transfer of President Johnson’s personal papers to the United States was completed under the terms of his will in 1973.
Learn how the library was planned, Lady Bird Johnson’s influence, the historical significance of the archival collections, and LBJ’s insistence that the history of his times be reflected openly, showing the failures as well as successes. Your host is Harry Middleton, Director of the Library for 30 years.