Presidential Archives and Leadership Library
The Highest Office in the Land of the Free…
After the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963, a committee of prominent Odessa citizens planned to create a memorial display in his honor. Public response was overwhelming; in addition to Kennedy memorabilia, artifacts were donated from other presidents, and the committee decided to create the Presidential Museum, dedicated to the office of the presidency and the electoral process. The Presidential Museum moved to the U.T. Permian Basin campus in 2002, and in 2010, became part of the University as the Presidential Archives and Leadership Library; since 2011, the University’s John Ben Shepperd Public Leadership Institute has been located in the Presidential Archives building, and Institute staff have coordinated the maintenance and display of the exhibits, which feature campaign memorabilia, books, photos, and other artifacts that document the history of the office of the president and of events that have shaped the American people.
The Archives’ main exhibit, the Hall of Presidents, is an informative journey through American history, tracing the story of the presidency and the leaders who have shaped our country. In addition to one of the world’s largest collection of campaign buttons, ribbons, posters and literature, the Archives has four unique collections of presidential artifacts:
Dishong Collection – Antique dolls dressed in miniature replicas of the First Ladies’ gowns.
James B. Mason Collection – Wooden mosaics of Presidential images made up of over 16 million chips of natural wood from over 170 varieties of trees.
Rainbo Collection – Presidential portraits, each including a historical scene from the president’s time in office, used to create a series of trading cards placed in loaves of Rainbo Bread in the 1970’s.
Chandler Collection – Presidential and First Lady portraits commissioned by Billie Trimble Chandler when she was a 6th grade history teacher in Japan in the 1970’s and painted by a Japanese artist.
The Archives also contains the John Ben Shepperd, Jr. Memorial Library, which consists of around 5800 volumes, including rare and first editions and presidential papers. Click here for our online catalog, or here for a PDF version.
Please visit our Flickr page to view photographs of and find information related to some of the artifacts in our collections.
Hours: 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM, Monday through Friday
Closed Saturday and Sunday
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