Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Support for Libraries

There is nothing cozier than curling up in your favorite blanket with a good book and a cup of hot chocolate. When the cold weather persuades you to stay indoors, make sure you have your tools at the ready.

"...An individual may make progress without books, but the people as a whole are dependent on them. Where there is the most leisure and the least outside diversion the need for books and the benefits from them are greatest. Provision for...libraries would be a public service of the first importance."

From "Calvin Coolidge Says" a syndicated newspaper column April 30, 1931

Forbes Library thanks you for your support.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

"Mr. President!"

"You have to stand everyday three or four hours for visitors. Nine-tenths of them want something they ought not to have. If you keep dead-still they will run down in three or four minutes. If you even cough or smile they will start up all over again."

Advice to President-elect Herbert Hoober in 1929; The Memoirs of Herbert Hoover: The Cabinet and the Presidency, 1920-1933, 1952

Can you imagine how President Obama is faring?

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Coolidge Goes "Green"

Today, everyone is interested in the environmental issues facing us in the 21st century. In 1920, Coolidge was already speaking about our country's level of resource consumption.

"Diminishing resources warn us of the necessity of conservation. The public domain is the property of the public. It is held in trust for present and future generations. The material resources of our contry are great, very great, but they are not inexhaustible."

Speech accepting the vice presidential nomination, Northampton, Massachusetts, July 27, 1920

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

A century ago, Mayor Cal showed his 'cool'

A century ago, Mayor Cal showed his 'cool'
by Bob Flaherty
Daily Hampshire Gazette
November 3, 2009

Monday, November 2, 2009


Tuesday November 3 is election day in Northampton!
For more information and a specimen ballot see http://www.northamptonma.gov/cityclerk/Elections/November_3_2009_Election_Candidates/

The Coolidge Museum has been asked, "what would Calvin do?"

The answer is a simple one. Calvin Coolidge would tell his constituents to get out and vote, to care about their government, and to exercise their duty as citizens. As you make your decision whether or not to go to the polls and then how to vote, remember the words of Calvin Coolidge, "We have a tendency to be too indifferent before primaries and elections and too critical after. Public officers can and do exercise large influence over our daily life but the main course of events is in our own hands." From a November 4, 1930 newspaper column

Monday, October 12, 2009

Coolidge on Columbus Day

"...The glory of [Columbus'] exploit, great as it was, becomes almost unimportant when compared with its results. It marked the inception of the modern era. The minds of men were opened to new thoughts... The arts began to flourish... A new age appeared, great in captains, admirals, statesmen, poets and philosophers, and finally new nations dedicated to human freedom arose on this side of the Atlantic. These are partly the reasons why Christopher Columbus is entitled to be honored."

From "Calvin Coolidge Says" a syndicated newspaper column October 11, 1930

Happy Columbus Day!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Happy Anniversary, Calvin and Grace!

Today marks the 104th wedding anniversary of Calvin and Grace Coolidge. They were wed on October 4, 1905 in Burlington, Vermont.

"A man who has the companionship of a lovely and gracious woman enjoys the supreme blessing that life can give. And no citizen of the United States knows the truth of this statement more than I."

Calvin Coolidge's comment to friend, Bruce Barton, in 1926

Saturday, September 26, 2009


"Whether one traces his Americanism back three centuries to the Mayflower, or three years to the steerage, is not half so important as whether his Americanism of today is real and genuine. No matter by what various crafts we came here, we are all now in the same boat."

Presidential address to the American Legion convention, Omaha, Nebraska, October 6, 1925

Monday, September 7, 2009

Happy Birthday John!

Calvin and Grace Coolidge welcomed their first son into the world on September 7, 1906 at their home in Northampton, Massachusetts.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Calvin on the value of taking vacations

"Because we have had a difficult year and have many problems to solve such person may think of foregoing any absence from business in the immediate future. The fact is the brains of the country need relaxation and refreshment More than ever this season. They owe a duty to themselves, their business and their associates to get more than the usual period of rest. The country will e further advances in October if July and August find many visitors at the shores and in the hills. Just now we need replenishment of body and soul that comes only in withdrawing from work and familiar scenes and seeking diversion in new activities and new surroundings. This year above most others the brain and the hand need to be replenished by rest."

From the syndicated column "Calvin Coolidge Says" from June 2, 1931.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Coolidge's Two Oaths of Office

Calvin Coolidge taking the Oath of Office in Plymouth Notch, VT on August 3, 1923. This painting, on loan from Amherst College, is on display in the Coolidge Museum.

Did you know Coolidge took the Oath of Office twice in 1923?

August 2, 1923 at 7:30 PM PST, President Warren Harding died in San Francisco, CA while Vice-President Calvin Coolidge was vacationing at his father's home in Plymouth Notch, VT. At 2:47 AM EST on August 3, 1923, Coolidge took the Presidential Oath of Office administered by his father, a notary. It was later determined by U.S. Solicitor General James Beck that a state official could not swear in a federal official. Therefore, Coolidge took a second Presidential Oath of Office at the New Willard Hotel in Washington, D.C. administered by Chief Justice A.A. Hoehling.

Thursday, June 4, 2009


On Tuesday June 16, 2009, the citizens of Northampton have a Proposition 2 1/2 over ride vote to raise taxes for the FY10 budget.
For more information on the FY10 City budget and over ride, see http://http://www.northamptonma.gov/fy2010/
The Coolidge Museum has been asked, "what would Calvin do?"
The answer is a simple one. Calvin Coolidge would tell his constituents to get out and vote, to care about their government, and to exercise their duty as citizens. As you make your decision whether or not to go to the polls and then how to vote, remember the words of Calvin Coolidge, "We have a tendency to be too indifferent before primaries and elections and too critical after. Public officers can and do exercise large influence over our daily life but the main course of events is in our own hands." From a November 4, 1930 newspaper column

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Interview with author Susan Well

In the fall of 2005, Julie Bartlett, archivist at Forbes Library asked Coolidge Museum volunteer, Susan Well, to read through a housing file that was created in 1940 about where the President lived in Hampshire County, Massachusetts. Today on the eve of the publication of Well’s book, Calvin Coolidge: At Home in Northampton, the two women sat down to talk about how the project developed.

JB: Do you remember your first impressions of the file’s contents?

SW: Yes, it was clear that the material was compiled by Joseph Harrison, librarian of Forbes, from 1912 to 1950. The file contained fairly complete information on Coolidge’s early homes in the city as well as a list of his home and office addresses from the city directories beginning with the 1896/97 edition and ending with 1932.

Harrison started the file in 1940 when he and other local historians were puzzled. They knew that the City Directories showed Coolidge first living at 162 King Street with a shoemaker and his wife and then moving to Clarke School for the Deaf to room with its steward. A now well-respected biography was published that year, and its author said that Coolidge first lived at 63 Center Street and then moved to Clarke School. So first and foremost, Harrison was trying to find out if Coolidge lived on both King Street and Center Street, or if only one of the two, which one was it? Everyone, including Calvin and Grace, said that he lived with the steward at Clarke School.

JB: So you became a history detective. What did you find?

SW: One of the biggest surprises for me was that Coolidge was a bachelor for ten years. I think that’s a really long time to be single in Northampton. I concluded that he lived in all three homes between the fall of 1895 and October 1905 when he married Grace Goodhue.

JB: You just mentioned that Harrison’s research was good for the early homes. Was there information missing?

SW: For the Northampton homes, there was a two-page, double-spaced typed narrative that related conversations with the granddaughter of the shoemaker and a neighbor on Center Street. He mentioned two hotels - one that the Coolidges lived in for three weeks after their honeymoon and another that I was never able to fully confirm. There was information about the house they rented from a professor on sick leave for nine months, but little about Clarke School or Massasoit Street and does not mention The Beeches at all.

As for any missing information, I think Harrison would have been helped if he had consulted the 1895/96 City Directory and found Coolidge at 162 King Street. That fact coupled with the death of the shoemaker’s wife in June 1896 is strong evidence that it was the first of Coolidge’s city homes.

Calvin Coolige At Home in Northampton

Calvin Coolidge At Home in Northampton, a new book by local historian and volunteer Susan Well, is now available. Using original material from the collections at the Calvin Coolidge Presidential Library and Museum, Well presents the daily life and residences of Calvin Coolidge in Northampton, Massachusetts. Well uses new sources to document the unique and interesting personal life stories of Coolidge’s landlords and neighbors. Most of the Museum’s visitors ask where the former President lived, and now we have a definitive answer for them.

Susan Well will give an author talk and book signing at the Coolidge Museum Wednesday, June 17 at 7pm.
The book is for sale for $16 at the Forbes Library Circulation Desk or Coolidge Museum.
Online ordering is coming soon. Email Coolidge@forbeslibrary.org for an order form.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A 'Calvin Coolidge' Living Room Set

Per the caption, it seems the designer of this 1928 set felt if it were named after President Coolidge the chances of winning the (unnamed) competition would increase.  Wrong.  The style is closer to mongrel Borax than L'Art Moderne and seventh place was at best, well, kind.  With 20-20 hindsight it's easy to see why the first three years of American Modernism (1926-1929) was an abysmal failure both commercially and aesthetically.  Image from 'A History of American Furniture' by Marta K. Sironen, Towse Publishing Company, 1936.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The Coolidges Return to Northampton

March 4th 1929 Herbert Hoover was inaugurated as the 31st President and the Coolidges, after attending the inauguration, returned to their beloved Northampton. Grace Coolidge wrote that as she journeyed back to Northampton from Washington D.C. that "I suddenly realized that I had come back to myself, that my husband was no longer the head of our great nation, and that he and I were free to come and go and order our lives according to the dictates of out hearts, responsible only to ourselves for the outcome of out decisions. Gone were the men of the Secret Service, the aides, the valet, the maid, and we were homeward bound."

from Grace Coolidge: An Autobiography
Edited by Lawrence E. Wikander and Robert H. Ferrel

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Happy Birthday Lincoln!

Happy birthday to Abraham Lincoln! Today marks his 200th birthday. Over 70 years ago, Calvin Coolidge remarked on the character of our 16th president:

"He declared that right makes its own might and he dared to act accordingly. Not only because he was a leader of those who saved the Union, but because of the man himself, his humanity, his sincerity, his devotion, the whole nation joins in observing his birthday and the whole world looks on him as a friend."

From "Calvin Coolidge Says" a syndicated newspaper column February 11, 1931

Thursday, January 29, 2009


The end of January approaches. How many of you are still working on those New Year's resolutions? If you haven't started, haven't yet chosen one, or have already given up, it's not too late to concentrate on them once more. For motivation, take Calvin Coolidge's words to heart:

"The great fact seems to be that when a man dedicates his whole soul to his work, when he fully determines to meet the responsibilities that he incurs, in his time of need some power outside himself directs his course and gives him the strength to prevail. To such men comes revelation. They do better than they know. Therein lies the hope of the world."

From "Calvin Coolidge Says" a syndicated newspaper column July 10, 1930

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Inauguration Day

In honor of Inauguration Day, here are some words from a former President:

"Confidence in the President is almost identical with confidence in the country and in ourselves. With public support he can do a great deal to save any situation."

From "Calvin Coolidge Says" a syndicated newspaper column July 17, 1930

1925 Inaugural address

For the text his speech see The American Presidency Project  

Thursday, January 15, 2009

100th Anniversary of Coolidge as Mayor

Calvin Coolidge was elected Mayor of Northampton, Massachusetts on December 7, 1909 beginning a continuous course of public service until he left the White House on March 4, 1929. The Calvin Coolidge Presidential Library & Museum is planning special events, programs and exhibits later this year to mark the 100th anniversary of his election as Mayor. Stayed tuned to this blog for more information in the coming months.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

The Importance of Character

If you're feeling low on cash after your holiday spending, remember that money is not everything:

"...Keep in mind that wealth is not an end but a means. We need it only for the use we can make of it. The real standard of life is not one of quantity but of quality; not of money, but of character."

From "Calvin Coolidge Says" a syndicated newspaper column August 8, 1930

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year!

Need help choosing of a New Year's resolution? Think of Calvin Coolidge's words:

"We take a new inventory to see what we have, we take new bearings to see where we are, we correct our conduct by new resolutions. After all due allowance for error and relapse, such a course guarantees improvement. Perhaps the best resolve is to live so that next year new resolutions will be unnecessary."

From "Calvin Coolidge Says" a syndicated newspaper column December 31, 1930