Calvin Coolidge’s Son Donates President’s Unknown Private Papers To Library
NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (AP) _ Previously unknown papers left behind by Calvin Coolidge provide no major revelations on his presidency but may help correct some historical inaccuracies, a library curator says.
The documents were found in a Vermont attic by Coolidge’s son, who like others had believed Coolidge destroyed his private papers before his death in 1933.
″The common consensus among historians was that he destroyed them before his death and this is stated in the index to his presidential papers collection in the Library of Congress,″ Forbes Library Director Blaise Bisaillon said Wednesday.
Many of the papers were turned over by John Coolidge to the Northampton public library. His father served as Northampton’s mayor for a year and spent the last years of his life here.
The thousands of documents shed new light on some aspects of Coolidge’s presidency and may help correct inaccuracies, said Lawrence E. Wikander, part- time curator of the library’s Coolidge Memorial Room.
John Coolidge, 78, said Wednesday he thought his father’s private papers had been destroyed until he began examining the cartons about five years ago in the attic of his Plymouth, Vt., home. Wikander said it appeared mice nibbled at the files holding the papers.
″They had been brought to Plymouth by my father, I guess,″ Coolidge said. ″They are papers my father apparenlty saved. Whether he destroyed others, I don’t know.″
John Coolidge also gave three cartons of papers relating to Coolidge’s life in Vermont to the Vermont Historical Society.
The papers include correspondence with presidents Woodrow Wilson, William Howard Taft and Herbert Hoover; presidential candidates William Jennings Bryan, John W. Davis and Alfred E. Smith; vice presidents Charles G. Dawes and Charles Curtis; Henry Cabot Lodge; Will Rogers; and Henry Ford.
Coolidge’s rapport with newspaper publishers, whom he often entertained on Potomac River cruises on the presidential yacht, is revealed in the collection.
Also among the papers are membership cards in dozens of yacht clubs, country clubs, hunting and fishing clubs, automobile clubs, service clubs and Sunday school groups.
Wikander has been sorting and identifying the documents. They eventually will be indexed and stored in a vault in the Coolidge Memorial Room.
Bisaillon said library officials will seek money to preserve and record the papers on microfilm.
Born in 1872 in Plymouth, Coolidge moved to Northampton to practice law after graduating from nearby Amherst College in 1895. He served as mayor from 1909 to 1910 before working his way up to Massachusetts state senator, governor and vice president.
Coolidge became president in 1923 upon Warren G. Harding’s death. He was elected president in 1924 but did not seek a second term. He then returned to Northampton.
Before he died, the president helped establish the Coolidge Memorial Room, which has the transcripts of all his presidential news conferences and original copies of his presidential proclamations, addresses and remarks.