What are the chances the Obama Presidential Library will be in Illinois and not Hawaii?

I understand that Presidential libraries are usually in the President’s home state. But given the mission of Presidential libraries (which would seem to be research and education), having it in Hawaii, across thousands of miles of ocean, would reduce its accessibility. Could an Illinois institution successfully use this argument, or something else, to take it from the proper home state?

I think it’s basically up to the President in question. If Obama wants it in Illinois, it is.

Illinois lost the Reagan Library to California, so turnabout might be fair play.

He seems to have ties to Illinois over Hawaii.
I wouldn’t bet against it being in Chicago, probably near on perhaps even on the U of C campus.

Why not Kenya?


Beaten to the punchline, but it would be awesome if he opened it in Kenya (after four more years, of course).

Why would it be in Hawaii? His entire political career before becoming president was in Illinois, just like Ronald Reagan’s was in California and George H.W. Bush’s was in Texas.

Who goes to Hawai’i to go to a library?

For presidents who were born in one state, and lived in others, I think it’s more the rule that the presidential library is in the state where they lived. Of the other presidents associated with Illinois:

  • Lincoln was born in Kentucky but lived most of his life in Illinois: his library is in Springfield, Illinois.

  • U.S. Grant was born in Ohio, lived in various states, but was living in Illinois when elected, and buried in New York: his library is in Mississippi!

  • Reagan was born in Illinois, but lived most of his life in California: his library is in California.

On that pattern, Obama’s presidential library would be in Chicago.

It’s his decision so the question is really moot, but say we were deciding this in a cour of public opinion

I’ve bolded part of your quote. Wouldn’t this be a stronger argument the other way around? After all there are 13 libraries operated by the Office of Presidential Libraries and 8 more that are independantly operated, all in the mainland US.

For those who are interested in where

Virginia - 2
Massachusetts - 3
Illinois - 1
Mississippi - 1
Ohio -2
Iowa - 1
New York - 1
Missouri - 1
Kansas - 1
Texas - 3
California - 2
Michigan - 1 *
Georgia - 1
Arkansas - 1
*Counts as 1 but Gerald Ford’s papers are split between two locations, both in Michigan

Based on current state I would think there would be a strong argument for putting the Obama Library in Hawaii if access for the people was the criteria

There are a ton of people who live full-time in Hawaii and are in research or education, who have great interest in politics and history. It’s not like the only people there are either dumb tourists or unrefined locals.

And the accessibility argument is weak. The California libraries are just as far from the East Coast ones as a Hawaii one would be from California. The lack of an ocean in the way doesn’t diminish the distance.

I say this as a native and former Honolulu resident who doesn’t think an Obama library belongs in Hawaii.

Eisenhower’s another example. He was born in Texas (although his family only lived in Texas for three years) and was a Pennsylvania resident after World War II (although he often lived in Washington, New York, or Europe for career reasons). But he decided to locate his Presidential Library in Abilene, Kansas, which he considered his “hometown”.

Nixon wanted his library at Duke where he went to law school. There was a big fight about it and the faculty voted it down by 1 vote. It ended up in California.

Why do you bring this up right before the election? Do you think this decision will have to be made in the very near future? Do you know something we don’t? :slight_smile:

In a related story, I just learned that W.J. Clinton was actually born in Arkansas.

The long version of how that happened is here.
Short version is that it’s not a presidential library accredited by the National Archives, but a historian who decided to call his Grant papers a “presidential library”.

But under an alias.