TwHP Lessons

Harry Truman and Independence, Missouri: "This is Where I Belong"

[Photo] Harry S Truman National Historic Site. Photographed by Keith Drews.

[Photo] Harry S Truman at the U.S. Capitol Building
(National Park Service)


've been taking my walks around the city and passing places that bring back wonderful recollections. The Presbyterian Church...where I started to Sunday school at the age of six years, where I first saw a lovely little golden haired girl who is still the lovely lady,...[Bess Wallace Truman]. What a pleasure to be back here at home--once more a free and independent citizen of the gateway city of the old Great West.¹

Harry S Truman (1884-1972) spent 64 years of his life in Independence, Missouri. The qualities instilled in him as a child and young adult here guided him personally as well as in his career as a farmer, judge, senator, and eventually President of the United States (1945-53). After leaving public office in 1953, he returned to his hometown to live among the family and neighbors who had always supported him.

Today, one can follow in the footsteps of the "Man from Missouri" down Independence's tree-lined streets and along routes that President Truman took during his early morning walks. Many of the places that figured in Truman's life remain, including the Presbyterian church where he met his future wife and the county courthouse where he began his political career. The house where Truman and his wife shared 53 years of married life is preserved today as Harry S Truman National Historic Site. The home and neighborhood help us understand the life and character of our 33rd President.

¹ Robert H. Ferrell, ed. The Autobiography of Harry S Truman (Boulder, Co.: Colorado Associated University Press, 1980), 109-111.


About This Lesson

Getting Started: Inquiry Question

Setting the Stage: Historical Context

Locating the Site: Maps
 1. Missouri
 2. Kansas City, Independence, and
 Grandview, Missouri

Determining the Facts: Readings
 1. Years of Growth (1884-1906)
 2. Years of Change and Challenges

 3. Harry Truman and National Politics

 4. The Retirement Years (1953-1972)

Visual Evidence: Images
 1. Harry Truman's Independence
 2. The Truman House, 1904
 3. The Truman House today
 4. Courthouse Square, Independence,

Putting It All Together: Activities
 1. The Place We Call Home
 2. Why Preserve Old Buildings?

Supplementary Resources

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This lesson is based on the Harry S Truman National Historic Site and the Harry S Truman Historic District, two of the thousands of properties/historic districts listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The Harry S Truman Historic District has been designated a National Historic Landmark.



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