The American Presidency

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How do Americans celebrate the presidents? Where do they go to celebrate them? Federal and state legislation have created presidential holidays that determine whom and when they celebrate. Memorials and presidential libraries and museums provide opportunities to learn about and reflect on the legacy of each president. This exhibit features major presidential publications and websites that document the presidency, from remarks to the press to national addresses. Want to know more about the presidency? Check out the reference resources to get an overview of the office, context, data, and biographical and topical information.



“An act to amend section 993 of the Revised Statutes of the United States for the District of Columbia, so as to make the 22nd day of February a holiday within said district.” (Chapter 38, 31 Jan. 1879) United States Statutes at Large 20, p. 277.

This act made February 22nd a legal holiday in the District of Columbia. A joint resolution in 1885 made February 22nd a paid holiday for federal government employees in DC and the rest of the country (23 Stat. 516).

This copy is from the Library’s ProQuest Congressional subscription.


“An Act to provide uniform annual observances of certain legal public holidays on Mondays, and for other purposes.” (PL 90-363, 28 Jun. 1968), United States Statutes at Large 82, pp.250-251.

This act made the third Monday of February the observed national holiday of George Washington’s birthday.

This copy is from the Library’s ProQuest Congressional subscription.


“An act to make February twelfth a legal holiday.” (House Bill 332) Laws of Illinois Vol. 1, 1941, p. 933.

This act made Lincoln’s Birthday a legal holiday in Illinois. The same General Assembly made Lincoln’s Birthday a day off for school children of Illinois (House Bill No. 331) and asked the US Congress to make Lincoln’s birthday a national holiday (Senate Joint Resolution No. 40).

Link to the item in the Library catalog!


Presidential Documents

Richardson, James D., comp. A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents, 1789-1897. Vol. 1 Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1896.

Published in 10 volumes from 1896 to 1899, this compilation, although not comprehensive, includes presidential papers through the end of Grover Cleveland’s second administration with additional documents listed in the index. A supplement was published to cover the years 1897-1902 and the Bureau of National Literature published an updated volume covering 1897-1922.

Link to the item in the Library catalog!


National Archives and Records Service. Office of the Register. Code of Federal Regulations Title 3 1976 Comp. Washington: General Services Administration, 1977.

Published annually since 1936, Title 3 (The President) of the Code of Federal Regulations includes executive orders, proclamations, and other various presidential documents including administrative orders and determinations. FDsys has Code of Federal Regulations online 1996-present (Clinton-Obama)

Link to the item in the Library catalog!


National Archives and Records Administration. Office of the Federal Register. Codification of Presidential Proclamations and Executive Orders January 20, 1961-January 20, 1985 Washington: NARA, 1985.

This reference source includes proclamations and executive orders arranged by subject similar to the arrangements of the Code of Federal Regulations and the US Code. It is useful to find the text, related amendments, public laws, and federal regulations with citations, and the status. The library also has the more recent volume covering 1945-1989 (Truman-Reagan).

Link to the item in the Library catalog!

Online from the National Archives and Records Administration, 1945-1989


“Super Bowl XX” (Interview, 26 Jan. 1986) Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents 22:5 (3 Feb 1986) pp.97-99.

January 26, 1986- Tom Brokaw interviewed President Reagan about his pick for Super Bowl XX. Reagan reflected on his own football playing days, mentioned his “close personal friendship” with Illinois alum George Halas, and said “May the best team win.”

From 1965-2009 the White House Press Secretary issued this publication weekly and it changed to daily with the Obama administration January 29, 2009. The Compilation of Presidential Documents includes speeches, remarks, statements, addresses, communications with congress and agencies, executive orders, proclamations, press conferences, bill signings, vetoes, appointments, nominations, press releases, and acts approved by the president.

Link to the item in the Library catalog!

Available on FDsys 1993-present


Economic Report of the President February 1992 (H.DOC. 102-177). Washington: Government Printing Office, 1992.

This publication provides information about the status of the country’s economy. This 1992 edition includes the administration’s views on the labor market, income, international markets, competitive forces, and the challenges and outlook of the economy.

Link to the item in the Library catalog!

The Federal Reserve Archive FRASER has the Economic Report of the President online 1947-2013


Public Papers of the President of the United States: Barack Obama, 2010. Washington: Government Printing Office, 2013.

This publication began in 1957 and covers the writings, addresses, and public remarks of Hoover through Obama with the exception of Franklin D. Roosevelt. It is published yearly in one or two volumes. The volumes are arranged chronologically with a name and subject index in each set. Since 1977 all of the documents in the Compilation of Presidential Documents have been included in the Public Papers. Some volumes include photographs. FDsys has Public Papers of the President of the United States online 1991-2010 and the University of Michigan has Hoover to Clinton online.

Link to the item in the Library catalog!


Clinton White House Website.

The White House website as of July 2000. The National Archives and Records Administration has captured past administrations’ webpages (Clinton and George W. Bush). Also check out other versions of the Clinton administration’s website.


@WhiteHouse Twitter.

The White House, First Lady Michelle, Vice President Biden, Dr. Biden, and the White House Press Secretary all have Twitter accounts to communicate with the American people and the world. There are also Twitter feeds for White House initiatives such as, @LETSMOVE and @JOININGFORCES.


The American Presidency Project

A project of University of California Santa Barbara, this website includes presidential papers, State of the Union addresses, executive orders: 1826-present, proclamations: Washington-present, inaugural addresses, fire side chats, data, and audio and visual from Hoover to Obama.


Reference Resources

Nelson, Michael, ed. Guide to the Presidency. Washington, D.C.: Congressional Quarterly, 1996.

This reference resource is setup in chapters covering the origins and development of the presidency, selection and removal of the president, presidential powers, the presidents’ relationship with the public, Congress, the courts, and the first family, biographies of presidents, vice presidents, and first ladies, and documents and data. The University Library also subscribes to the online edition.

Link to the item in the Library catalog!


Nelson, Michael, ed. Presidency A to Z. Washington, D.C.: CQ Press, 2003.

This encyclopedia includes information about individuals, executive departments, and presidential topics such as Air Force One and Succession, and historical events. It also includes images, charts, figures, graphs, and historical documents. The University Library also subscribes to the online edition.

Link to the item in the Library Catalog!


Ragsdale, Lyn. Vital Statistics on the Presidency: Washington to Clinton. Washington, D.C.: Congressional Quarterly, 1996.

This CQ Press reference resource covers Washington to Clinton, including tables on presidential selection, elections, policymaking, public opinion, war, and relationship with Congress and the judiciary. The University Library also subscribes to the online edition, which expands to 2008 and data can be searched, browsed, and download.

Link to the item in the Library catalog!


Presidential Sites

National Archives and Records and Administration. Visit Presidential Libraries and Museums.

The National Archives and Records Administration manages 15 presidential library locations covering Herbert Hoover through George W. Bush.


National Park Service. “Lincoln Memorial: A Guide to the Lincoln Memorial, District of Columbia.” Washington: US Department of the Interior, 1986.

This handbook includes information about Lincoln, the concept, construction, and dedication of the memorial, and some events that took place there.

Link to the item in the Library catalog!


Visit in Person

The American Presidency was on display during February 2014 in the Marshall Gallery on the 1st floor of the Main Library, 1408 W. Gregory Dr. Urbana, IL.


This display was created by Stephanie Martin, Government Information Services and Reference, Research, and Scholarly Services graduate assistant with the assistance of Mary Mallory, Sarah Hoover, and Kevin McLaughlin. A special thanks goes to Government Information Services, Access, and Collections, and the Exhibitions Committee for their support.