Happy Early Father’s Day!
Harry sitting in the back yard of his home at 219 North Delaware Street with his daughter, Margaret. 6/27/45.
This photo was taken during Harry Truman’s first visit back to Independence, Missouri after becoming President.
-from the Truman Library
Today, we’re opening over 45,000 pages of new material related to Harry and Bess Truman at the Truman Presidential Library. Included among these new items are receipts for all sorts of events. Some of the receipts are for important things like insurance payments, home repairs, and taxes. But some are a bit more fun and still tell interesting stories. From 1942-1946, the Truman’s daughter Margaret attended George Washington University in Washington, D.C., where she earned a degree in history. Above is the receipt for her tuition payment for the fall 1945 semester.
For comparison, George Washington University tuition today would cost over $44,000 per year.
In 1947, Margaret Truman was a maid of honor in the wedding of her best friend, Mary Shaw. The wedding took place on April 12, 1947, and Margaret did not arrive in Kansas City until April 8. Notice the date on which she bought her maid of honor dress – April 11! The first thought that many bridesmaids would have is “Great – less than $50 for a dress AND alterations!” However, when you look at the tuition bill for George Washington University just the year before, you realize that Margaret’s bridesmaid dress cost a little less than half of what an entire semester of college cost. Either college was cheap back then, or it was a really fancy dress.
As Mrs. Truman got older, she did less shopping. Her housekeeper and home care nurses would often do shopping for her and saved their receipts. The third image in our photo set above is a receipt for one of the local grocery stores from April 1982.
Today, a Duncan Hines brownie mix costs $2.29; Del Monte sliced peaches cost $1.89; Campbell’s mushroom soup costs $1.39; a large head of lettuce costs $2.49.
From the Truman Presidential Library in Independence, MO.
Bess Truman and the indestructable champagne bottle
For those of you who haven’t made it out to the Truman Library to see the film clip of this airplane christening, here’s a photo and story from our archives. Bess was supposed to swing the champagne bottle at the airplane, and it was supposed to shatter, showering the plane with champagne. However, the bottle hadn’t been scored to allow it to break easily, and Bess whacked at the plane eleven times; the bottle didn’t break. She finally got the bottle to break on the other plane, due to a Navy crewman hitting the bottle from underneath with a hammer. At the Truman Presidential Library in Independence, Missouri we have this hat in our museum collection and amazingly, it doesn’t smell like champagne.
This image of First Lady Bess Truman was taken on May 30th, 1945. Her daughter, Margaret Truman is beside her.