—Which president was not a U.S. citizen when he died?
—What virtually unknown man was president for only one day?
—Who was the first president to be born in a hospital?
See bottom of page for answers.*
Presidential trivia is very popular among patrons of the IPL Reference Desk. Apparently, people can’t know enough about the former (and current) leaders of the free world! In case you’re not aware, the IPL has its own comprehensive resource on presidents—POTUS: Presidents of the United States. POTUS covers “background information, election results, cabinet members, presidency highlights, and some odd facts on each of the presidents. Links to biographies, historical documents, audio and video files, and other presidential sites…” Anyone interested in U.S. presidents is highly encouraged to use POTUS.
IPL patrons frequently ask similar questions about the presidents. For example, who was the shortest? the youngest? how many died in office? who was the first to appear on TV? Someone else may have already asked the same question you need answering! Take a look at IPL’s U.S. Presidency FAQ.
In case you don’t find the answer to your presidential question anywhere in IPL’s resources, the following suggestions will guide you towards other sources, both on the Internet and in print.
On the Internet
The Web contains numerous sites on U.S. presidents and the presidency. For a basic start, you can perform keyword searches on any search engine using keywords such as “presidents” or the name of the president in which you’re interested. Or, you can start at the following sites:
American Experience: The Presidents (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/presidents/) Covers 20th-century presidents. Includes snapshots and information on the era in which the president served, his domestic and foreign policies, and his politics. An interactive web site based on the PBS series.
American Presidents: Life Portraits (http://www.americanpresidents.org/) is the companion website for the C-SPAN television series and “contains a complete video archive of all American Presidents: Life Portraits programming, plus these additional resources: Biographical facts, Key events of each presidency, Presidential places, Reference material.”
POTUS: Presidents of the United States. We mentioned it before, we’re mentioning it again! It’s IPL’s own home-grown site on presidential information.
Presidents of the United States (http://www.presidentsusa.net/) provides answers to many questions about the presidents. The questions are grouped into categories such as the Presidents’ Birth and Death Information, First Lady and Family, the Presidents’ Occupations, and Campaigns and Elections.
The White House (http://www.whitehouse.gov/about/history/) is a wise stop in a search for presidential information: This page links to a biographical sketch and portrait of each president; a biographical sketch and portrait of each First Lady; a glimpse of the families who have lived at the White House; a virtual historic tour of the White House; and “a historical perspective” of selected art work from the White House collection.
On the Bookshelves
If you want to sit down with a good book about your favorite president, there are countless available at bookstores, on-line bookstores such as Amazon.com, and your local public library. Most public libraries in the United States use the Dewey Decimal classification. The following call numbers are a good place to start for president’s biographies and books related to presidency:
the 920s General Biography and 973 U.S. History.
—If trivia is specifically what you’re interested in, these books might prove helpful:
Ask Me Anything About the Presidents
by Louis Phillips. Camelot. 1994. (juvenile)
Book of Political Lists
by Blake Eskin (compiler). Villard Books. 1998.
Facts About the Presidents: A Compilation of Biographical and Historical Information
by Joseph N. Kane. H.W. Wilson Company. 1993.
Facts and Fun About the Presidents
by George Sullivan. Scholastic. 1994.
First Facts About the Presidents (First Facts)
by Elaine Pascoe. Blackbirch Marketing. 1996.
The Presidents: Tidbits and Trivia
by Sid Frank. Hammond Inc. 1987.
—Want to know more about the presidents’ wives, children, pets, or cars? Try these books:
American First Ladies: Their Lives and Their Legacy (Garland Reference Library of the Humanities, Vol. 1788)
by Lewis Gould. Garland Pub. 1996.
First Dogs: American Presidents &Their Best Friends
by Roy Rowan. Algonquin Books. 1997.
Presidential Cars &Transportation: From Horse and Carriage to Air Force One, the Story of How the Presidents of the United States Travel
by William D. Siuru. Krause Publications. 1995.
The White House Kids: Children in the Presidents’ Home
by Rose Blue. Millbrook Press. 1995. (juvenile)
Good luck in your quest for presidential information!
*Answers: (1)President John Tyler. (2)David Rice Atchison. (3)Jimmy Carter.
This pathfinder was created by Kim Burton.