The library is closed today for Presidents Day. This holiday was established in 1885 to honor George Washington, and it is still officially called “Washington’s Birthday” by the federal government. This was the first federal holiday that honored an individual American (the other holidays were Christmas Day, New Year’s Day, the Fourth of July and Thanksgiving). Initially it fell on Feb. 22, Washington’s actual birthday, but in the 1970s when holidays were moved to Mondays to give more workers three-day weekends, it began to be called Presidents Day to honor all U.S. presidents.
Naturally, Westerly Library has many biographies of George Washington, including ones for children. We also have several audio books as well as documentaries on DVD about our first president. The library has a great biography section and many books on the lives of U.S. presidents. I thought today I would focus on other things the library has to offer that concern our past presidents.
There are lots of wonderful feature films — the first that comes to mind is a 2013 film, “The Butler,” which is loosely based on the life of Eugene Allen, an African-American man who worked in the White House under eight presidents, from Eisenhower to Obama. I thought it was an enjoyable movie and I liked the focus on the civil rights movement. “All the President’s Men” is an older (1976), excellent film, about Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein and their investigation of the Watergate scandal that led to Nixon’s resignation. A classic! “Lincoln” is a compelling 2012 historical drama on the life of Abraham Lincoln that was very interesting and well done.
I also highly recommend the 2008 HBO miniseries John Adams, which the library has on DVD — I loved this seven-part series. It is a biopic of John Adams and also a story of the first 50 years of the United States. The cast was wonderful, the sets really recreated the time period, and it was excellent — it won 13 Emmy awards, more than any other miniseries in history. It ends with his death, and I thought it was interesting that John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, who was his vice president, were estranged (although they reconciled via letters in their later years), and both died on the same day, hours apart. That day was July 4, 1826, the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. It’s based on the book by renowned author David McCullough — and the DVD set also has an extra documentary on McCullough’s life and writing process!
All of these films are available at the library, as are a plethora of biographies and audio books. Come on down and check one out!
Nina Wright is a reference librarian at the Westerly Library.