had already displayed a penchant for supporting generalizations with factual documentation. 27 His letters written home from France during the First World War are similarly replete with descriptive detail. Consequently, from the time he became a county commissioner in 1922, Truman naturally saved everything-- diary notations, automobile repair records, political badges and medallions, telephone bill receipts, greeting cards and invitations, memos, and, of course, letters. Trivial or significant, complimentary or uncomplimentary, Harry Truman saved it, eventually built a library to store this massive accumulation from nearly thirty years of public service, and, with no strings attached, ultimately turned it over to the American people.
During his retirement years, the former Chief Executive told a Missouri college group, "A letter or a memo considered by the President himself to be of no value may turn out to be the answer to historians to a vital question or decision. . . ." 28 It was in that spirit that, instead of jotting "destroy it" on a sensitive document, Harry Truman wrote, "Rose. File it." Because he had the wisdom and the courage to do so, we are better able today to judge a president who did not fear the judgment of history as long as it was based upon "all the facts."
PPF Post-Presidential Files
PSF President's Secretary's Files
Unless otherwise indicated, references are to documents contained in the Papers of Harry S. Truman.
SPC Strictly Personal And Confidential: The Letters Harry Truman Never Mailed, ed. Monte Poen (Little, Brown and Company, 1982).