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Greenslade Archives searches for presidential signatures

Greenslade Archives searches for presidential signatures

The Archive needs two signatures to complete its collection. | REID STAUTBERG

Greenslade Special Collections and Archives is seeking autographs of former President Barack H. Obama and President Donald J. Trump in order to complete their Presidential signature collection.

The compilation originally began as a personal collection of William Andrew Leonard, a bishop of Ohio who spent much of his time in Gambier. “He, along with these other family members, gathered these signatures throughout the years,” said Special Collections Librarian Elizabeth Williams-Clymer. The collection has signatures from every single President since George Washington, except for Obama and Trump. There are conflicting stories as to how the collection came into Kenyon’s possession, but it appears either Leonard bequeathed the collection to Kenyon, or his family donated it upon his death in 1930.

Kenyon librarians have continued to collect signatures from U.S. Presidents since receiving this gift. Library staff have requested Obama’s and Trump’s signatures from the White House, but have yet to receive original autographs. “[We] have received Obama’s, but it’s autopen—that doesn’t count,” Williams-Clymer said. “And we haven’t received Trump’s yet.” 

Greenslade Special Collections and Archives sent out an email to students, employees and faculty on Feb. 17 in  hopes of finding someone who will “actually have the signature and be willing to donate it, because it will complete our collection.” The call for Presidential signatures was also posted on various social media platforms by library staff.

“It doesn’t have to be their signature from their time in office,” Williams-Clymer said. “It doesn’t have to be on White House letterhead.”

As of Wednesday, only one response was received, providing a possible lead to Obama’s signature. “It was somebody that had worked for the Obama campaign. It was not somebody that has Obama’s signature and is willing to give it or donate it,” she said. “We would love to have signatures donated, but we will proceed with a lead if we don’t have anybody contact us with a donation.”

Please contact archives@kenyon.edu with any information pertaining to a potential lead to or donation of Obama and Trump’s signatures.

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