Thursday, July 31, 2008


Most important personal library - Thomas Jefferson's personal collection of 6,500 books which became the founding collection for the Library of Congress.

Fastest presidential reader - Jimmy Carter at 2,000 words per minute.

Largest personal collection of books - Probably Franklin Roosevelt with 15,000 volumes.

Most select personal collection - Probably Herbert Hoover with 1,000 original editions of major works from the fifteenth through the eighteenth centuries, all of them collector's items.

Founder of the White House Library - Millard Fillmore, who, when taking up residence after his election, discovered that there were no books at all in the White House, not even a dictionary or Bible.

Correlation between Bibliophilia and Presidential Excellence* - 100% correlation for the top ten presidents (Washington, Madison, Jefferson, Lincoln, Theordore Roosevelt, Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, Truman, Kennedy, and Eisenhower). Only two of the lowest ten rated presidents, Fillmore and Buchanan, were bibliophiles. The others making up the lowest rated ten were Tyler, Taylor, Pierce, Andrew Johnson, Arthur, Harding, Coolidge and Grant.

Presidential Authors - Presidents that wrote books that were not about themselves. Includes at least Herbert Hoover, Theodore Roosevelt, John Kennedy, John Adams, John Quincy Adams, Jimmy Carter, Richard M. Nixon, and Woodrow Wilson

Number of presidents to have authored an autobiography - Thirteen

Most touching autobiography - Ulysses S. Grant (see Thing-Finder post)

Most prolific presidential author - Theodore Roosevelt who authored twenty-six books.

Most prepared presidential reader - Perhaps Theodore Roosevelt who carried a portable library with him on all his journeys.

Bibliophiles in the White House - Per Harold Evans based on book collections and reading habbits as gleaned from biographies of all the Presidents through to Bill Clinton. Those that rated as bibliophiles (22 out of 42) were:

George Washington
John Adams
Thomas Jefferson
James Madison
James Monroe
John Quincy Adams
Millard Fillmore
James Buchanan
Abraham Lincoln
Rutherford Hayes
James Garfield
Theodore Roosevelt
William Howard Taft
Woodrow Wilson
Herbert Hoover
Franklin Roosevelt
Harry Truman
Dwight Eisenhower
John Kennedy
Richard Nixon
Jimmy Carter
Bill Clinton

* Presidential Excellence based on a survey by the Siena Research Institute's survey of academic historians and political scientists.

Culled from the essay Paving the Way by Nicholas A. Basbanes in his Every Book Its Reader, and from an essay by Harold Evans in the New York Times, January 14, 2001, "White House Book Club."

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