New exhibit opens - “School House to White House: The Education of the Presidents”

Jul 22, 2009

(Austin) - Our modern Presidents received educations and participated in school activities in ways as diverse as their backgrounds and political philosophies.

Through the records of the presidential libraries - archival material, museum objects, photographs, and audio-visual recordings - "School House to White House" gives visitors a new perspective on the presidency. The exhibit, prepared by the National Archives and Records Administration, charts the educational experiences of our Presidents from Herbert Hoover to Bill Clinton.

Whether in private school or public, whether growing up in a small town or a large city, each of our modern Presidents experienced a unique education that prepared him for leadership in the highest elected office in the land.

Lyndon Johnson

Johnson's mother, Rebekah, taught the future President to read by the age of four and he attended public school in Johnson City, Texas. He enjoyed playing baseball and he participated in a two-person debate team that won the county title during his senior year of high school. Johnson attended Southwest Texas State Teachers College (now Texas State University) in San Marcos, Texas. Johnson, often called the "Teacher President", taught school in South Texas and was also a high school debate coach. The federal education building in Washington, D. C. is named in his honor.

Highlights of LBJ memorabilia in the exhibit include:

  • A letter sweater similar to one worn by LBJ as a college student at Southwest Texas State Teachers College
  • 1930 graduation program from that College, the year LBJ was graduated.
  • A letter written in 1927 from LBJ to his grandmother discussing his participation in the college debate team.
  • The future President's third-grade report card.
  • A list of education-related bills passed during the Johnson Administration.

In this exhibit, visitors will learn which sports the presidents played, what kind of homework and grades the presidents were given, how classrooms were organized, family involvement in their learning experiences, and finally, that anyone can grow up to be President of the United States.

Exhibit Presidential facts you may not know:

  • Herbert Hoover was the youngest member of the first class at Stanford University where he studied geology.
  • Franklin Roosevelt managed the baseball team while a student at Harvard University.
  • As a senior at Harvard University, John F. Kennedy wrote a thesis entitled "Appeasement at Munich", which was later published as the book Why England Slept.
  • Richard Nixon played violin, clarinet, saxophone, piano, and accordion.
  • While a student at Yale University, George H. W. Bush was captain of the baseball team which played in the first two College World Series. Bush met the legendary Babe Ruth.