Harry S Truman National Historic Site
This is the audio-only version of the park's official brochure. The official brochure for Harry S Truman National Historic Site is 8 ¼ inches by almost 4 inches, when the six panels are folded up. When unfolded, the brochure is 8 ¼ inches tall by 23 ½ inches wide in a horizontal format.
Side one focuses on this history related to President Truman—complete with a detailed timeline—including his beginnings in Independence, his business failures, and how he became President of the United States.
A black band along the left edge of side one says: Harry S Truman National Historic Site, Missouri, National Park Service.
Side one also includes a quote from Truman, his presidential portrait, and a series of mostly black and white photographs of Harry and Bess.
Side Two focuses more on the parts of the park: the Truman Farm, Truman Home, and related houses; how to plan your visit, and what you can do.
Side Two Includes color photographs of some of the homes, the farm, two maps showing how to get to the sites, three historic photos, and a 1911 letter from Harry to Bess.
Side 1: Truman Portrait and Quote
A thick black band along the left edge of the brochure says:
Harry S Truman National Historic Site, Missouri, National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior.
A portrait of Harry S Truman, 33rd President, by Greta Kempton, 1947. It shows President Truman seated in a dark suit. He is a white man in his sixties with grey hair parted on one side. He wears glasses and smiles slightly.
A quotation: “I tried never to forget who I was and where I’d come from and where I was going back to. . . . After nearly eight years in the White House and ten years in the Senate, I found myself right back where I started in Independence, Missouri.”
— Harry Truman’s signature.
Side 1: A Most Uncommon Common Man
“A Most Uncommon Common Man” includes four columns of text, including three subtitles, which are described in the following sections. A series of rectangular, oval, and cut-out black-and-white photos of Truman chronologically throughout his life are shown along the top of the brochure.The text reads: As a child he dreamed of being a concert pianist and of going to college. Instead, at 17 he had to start working full time. At 33 he deemed himself a failure. By 38 his clothing business was bankrupt. Determined to succeed at something he entered politics, eventually becoming a US senator. At 60 he was suddenly President of the United States, facing decisions that held worldwide consequences. Who was this common man abruptly thrust into this uncommon role?
Harry S Truman was born in rural Missouri but claimed Independence as his hometown.
A rectangular, black-and-white photo above shows Independence Square in the early nineteen hundreds. At an intersection with a few trees on a hill and western storefronts along the other side of the street, a man stands next to his horse-drawn wagon. A dog and another wagon approach.
The text continues: The family moved there when he was six. That year Harry met five-year-old Bess Wallace, daughter of a prominent family. All his school years Harry adored Bess, the “beautiful young lady with the blue eyes and golden hair,” a popular girl and an accomplished athlete. But the frail-looking boy with thick glasses did not appeal to Bess. It took years for Harry to overcome his shyness and strike up a true friendship.
Truman’s mother, Martha, instilled in Harry a love of music and books. He practiced the piano before school and by 14 had “read all the books in the Independence Public Library.” Truman’s father, John, taught him the worth of hard work and of Midwestern values—honesty, courage, and perseverance.
An oval photo shows Harry Truman age 19, 1903. He has a round face, and wears glasses and a dark jacket and tie over a white shirt. His dark hair is parted slightly left of center.
Text: In 1900 Truman got his first taste of politics when his father took him to the Democratic National Convention in Kansas City. Truman loved the excitement of the nominations and the promises of better times in the new century. But better times did not include young Truman. In 1901 his father dashed his dreams of college by losing the family savings in risky investments. Truman eventually found a good job as a bank clerk in Kansas City. He went to concerts and joined the National Guard.
A cut-out photo of Truman in Missouri National Guard uniform about 1905. He sits peering off to his right with his hands crossed over his lap holding his hat.
At age 22 his life changed again when Truman’s father summoned him to help on the farm in Grandview. Truman heeded the call. He had never farmed before, and it was arduous work for someone used to city life.
A rectangular photo shows Truman riding a cultivator on the Grandview farm, 1910. Two harnessed horses pull a plow with a large wheel on each side, while he rides in long sleeves, trousers, and a hat.
Determination and Patience
In 1910 Harry and Bess crossed paths again. While visiting his aunt and uncle, the Nolands in Independence, Truman volunteered to return a cake plate to a neighbor, Mrs. Madge Wallace. Bess greeted him at the door, and their courtship began. He wrote Bess letters from Grandview and, in 1911, proposed marriage. She turned him down.
By 1917, 33-year-old Truman was in the midst of World War I as an officer in the US Army. Captain Harry inspired his troops in France with his courage and determination. He brooked no insubordination, and he lost no man in battle. Finally Truman felt successful. His persistence paid off too when Bess Wallace agreed to marry him on June 28, 1919. Truman opened a clothing store in Kansas City, and business thrived until a depression closed the shop. By 1922 Truman was looking for work.
Truman’s next job, politics, turned into a lifelong career. “Boss” Tom Pendergast, whose nephew knew Harry from Army days, backed Truman’s run for eastern district judge (an administrative position) of Jackson County. Truman campaigned hard, won, and loved the job.
A rectangular black-and-white photo, Truman sworn in as presiding judge of Jackson County, 1931. Surrounded by flowers, Truman in a suit and tie raises his right hand while standing in front of dark and white thick horizontal stripes.
Just below it, is a cut-out color photo of a gold badge with the caption: Truman’s official badge as presiding judge. An adjacent color photo is of his Missouri Democratic Convention pin from April 15, 1940.
Text continues: His reputation for integrity and hard work impressed voters enough to win him a US Senate seat. The Truman family moved to Washington, DC, in 1935 but all remained Missourians at heart. In January 1945 Truman became Franklin D. Roosevelt’s vice president. Roosevelt died on April 12 and at 7:09 pm, Harry S Truman became the 33rd US president.
The Buck Stops Here
The new president faced monumental decisions. First he carried on the drive to end World War II. He then turned to rebuilding war-torn Europe and halting Communist expansion. A series of crises, the Korean War in particular, kept Truman away from Independence even more than during his senate years. Truman did not seek a third term. “I have had all of Washington I want,” he wrote. “I prefer my life in Missouri.” Back home Truman enjoyed his walks and being with his family and friends once more.
Side 1: Truman Timeline
Harry S Truman: 1884–1972. The next four columns of text are broken into small chronological paragraphs for specific years, and will be described in the next sections. Two rectangular black-and-white photos and one cut-out color photo are along the top of the brochure.
1884 to 1906
- 1884: Born May 8 in Lamar, Missouri, to John and Martha Truman; named Harry S; given a middle initial only to honor his grandfather's Solomon Young and Anderson Shipp Truman.
- 1885: Bess Wallace, Truman’s future wife, born February 13 in Independence, Missouri; christened Elizabeth Virginia.
- 1890: Family moves to Independence; Harry, six, meets Bess, five, at Sunday school. To the left an oval portrait of Bess Wallace, age 12, shows a girl with shoulder-length light-colored hair pulled back at the sides in a dark blouse, with a ruffle tightly around her neck and a checkered bib.
- 1901: Harry and Bess graduate from Independence High School; his father loses savings in grain-futures speculation; Truman begins series of jobs in Kansas City area to help support family.
- 1904: Bess and brothers move with their mother into grandparents’ house at 219 North Delaware Avenue.
- 1906: Truman moves to Grandview to help Grandmother Young and Truman family on 600-acre farm.
1910 to 1934
- 1910: Truman (in Grandview) and Bess Wallace (in Independence) begin nine-year courtship.
- 1914-16: Father dies; Truman dabbles, unsuccessfully, in mining, oil, and land ventures.
- 1917–18: Joins US Army; and fights in WW I; is captain of Battery D 129th Field Artillery, 35th Division; serves in France.
- 1919: Harry and Bess marry June 28; he moves in with her family; opens men’s clothing store with Army friend Eddie Jacobson.
- 1922: Business fails; is elected eastern district judge of Jackson County Court.
- 1924: Daughter Margaret born February 17; Truman loses reelection as eastern district judge.
- 1926–34: Elected presiding judge of Jackson County Court, serves two four-year terms; is active in Field Artillery Reserve.
- 1934: Elected to US Senate.
- A rectangular black-and-white photo of daughter Margaret, Harry, and Bess in backyard of 219 North Delaware. Margaret is about 10-years-old with short, bobbed, light colored hair and a whitish dress with a wide collar. Truman looks at Margaret. He wears a white long-sleeve shirt with a light-colored tie. His hair is parted on the left. Bess wears a belted white blouse, with short medium-dark loosely curled hair.
1938 to 1948
- 1938–41: Mortgage foreclosure of Grandview farm; Congress passes Wheeler-Truman Transportation Act (railroad reform); elected to second term, US senator.
- 1944: Elected vice president of US; Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR) elected to fourth presidential term.
- 1947: Becomes 33rd president April 12 upon FDR’s death; announces end of war in Europe on May 8; attends Potsdam, Germany, conference with Joseph Stalin and Winston Churchill; authorizes use of atomic bombs; Japan surrenders on August 14.
- A square black-and-white photo at the top shows General Dwight D. Eisenhower, General George Patton, and President Truman at ceremony, Berlin, Germany, July 21, 1945. President Truman wears a double-breasted suit and a dapper hat while standing at attention. The other two wear military uniforms.
- 1947: Issues Truman Doctrine; signs National Security Act that establishes CIA (Central Intelligence Agency); mother dies. To the right of the text, an illustration of the symbol of the United Nations adopted in 1947, and a color photo of a menorah, the official emblem of the State of Israel.
- 1948: First world leader to recognize the new State of Israel on May 14, 1948; Desegregates the armed forces; orders airlift against the Soviet Union’s blockade of Berlin; is elected to second term as president; moves to Blair House as White House renovations begin (lives there until 1952).
1950 to 1982
- 1950: Orders US forces to join South Korean troops in fight against invading North Korean Communists; proclaims state of emergency when China aids North Korea.
- 1951: Popularity ratings drop as US effort in Korean War grows; fires Far East commander General Douglas MacArthur for criticizing Truman’s foreign policies.
- 1953–57: Korean War ends, retires to Independence; dedicates Harry S. Truman Library.
- 1972: Dies December 26 at age 88; is buried at Harry S. Truman Library.
- 1982: Bess Truman dies October 18 at age 97; is buried next to Harry. December 8, Congress designates Harry S Truman National Historic Site to preserve the Truman legacy and its inspiration for future generations.
Side 2: 1911 Letter from Harry to Bess
In tan script type on a black background:
June 22, 1911
Would you wear a solitaire on your left hand should I get it?... You know, were I an Italian or a poet I would commence and use all the luscious language of two continents. I am not either but only … [an] American farmer …. I’ve been crazy about you ever since we went to Sunday school together. But I never had the nerve to think you’d even look at me.
More than sincerely,
A photo of Harry and Bess Truman as an older couple on the front porch of a house. They stand, each with one arm around each other and gaze into the other’s eyes. He wears a double-breasted suit and bow tie, and she wears a tea-length dress. Her hair is short and curly.
Side 2: The Truman Farm, Then and Now
Truman returned to Grandview in 1906 to help on the 600-acre family farm. The house had no electricity or indoor plumbing. Backbreaking labor began at 5 am and lasted 12 to 14 hours. “There is always something the matter with a crop,” he wrote to Bess in 1913. “It’s either too dry or too wet or too short or too long or too much or not enough. If is the largest word in a farmer’s language.” Truman’s father died in 1914, and the full responsibility for running the farm fell upon 30-year-old Harry. Truman accepted the challenge, and it taught him what became his best-known quality—common sense. “It was on the farm that Harry got his common sense,” his mother Martha once said. “He didn’t get it in town.”
Visiting the Farm Today
Harry S Truman National Historic Site includes the old Grandview farm house and 11 acres of the original 600-acre farm where Harry Truman lives from age 22–33 (1906–1917). These years represent a lesser-known period of Truman's life. Here he grew from a young man of modest ambitions into the person that would become the President of the US. A visit here can provide a more complete picture of this man who held the nation’s highest office.
A large color photo shows a two-story white farm house with a gabled roof sitting on a large green lawn with a line of autumn’s trees on each side of the house. The caption reads: Today the Truman Farm Home and 11 acres are all that remain of the family farm. Harry wrote letters to Bess on a desk like this one in the farm’s dining room. Another color photo shows a large wooden desk with a chair.
Touring the Farm
The grounds are open year-round, dawn to dusk. Explore on your own. Cell phone tour and brochures available. Buildings are closed. No restroom facilities. Located at 12301 Blue Ridge Blvd., Grandview, Missouri.
Side 2: The Close-Knit Families of Harry and Bess
Text: The Close-Knit Families of Harry and Bess
Harry had help in winning Bess’ heart. By coincidence his relatives, the Nolands, lived across the street from the Wallaces. During a visit in 1910, Harry happily volunteered to return a cake plate to 219 N. Delaware, where Bess had lived since 1904. This encounter changed their lives forever.
Harry began regular visits from Grandview, and to save a round-trip, he often slept in the Noland parlor. In 1919 Truman married Bess and moved into the Wallace home. Bess’ mother Madge lived in the home, and her brothers Frank and George had cottages behind the main house. The families enjoyed being together. The Trumans never allowed fame to come between them and their dearest friends—their family.
Two exterior and a third interior photo are presented at the top of the brochure with captions.
Photos and Captions of the Homes
A large color photo of a large white two-story house, with a wrap-around porch, with clear glass windows and some dark colored glass windows, a black steel picket fence and mature trees with orange and green leaves, and a light covering of snow. The caption reads: Harry and Bess Truman lived in this Victorian home for over 50 years. The home across the street is where Harry’s favorite cousins, Nellie and Ethel Noland, lived. Another color photo shows a smaller simple white two-story house with a wide front porch and green trim.
An interior photo of a study shows walls covered in shelved books, his and hers elegant sitting chairs, and a desk with an ink pen and a stack of books. The caption reads: This cozy study, filled with over 1,000 books, was a favorite room for Harry and Bess. He enjoyed biographies, histories, and political studies. She loved mysteries.
Viewing the Family Homes Today
- The Truman home at 219 N. Delaware Ave. is open by guided tour only. The Noland home at 216 N. Delaware and the Wallace homes at 601 and 605 W. Truman Road are not open to the public. Please enjoy viewing them from the sidewalk.
- 216 N. Delaware Avenue: The Nolands, Truman’s aunt, uncle, and cousins, lived here. For nine years it was a vital link for Harry between the Grandview farm and Independence as he courted Bess.
- 601 and 605 W. Truman Road: Bess’ brothers and their wives lived in these homes. Frank and Natalie lived in the brown one; George and May in the green.
- To the right of the text, a silhouette of mature Truman in a Fedora, walks down the street.
Side 2: Maps and Directions
Directions to the Truman Visitor Center (tickets and information)
- From I-435, take Truman Rd. exit 60; go east 3½ miles to the visitor center at Truman Rd. and Main St.
- From I-70, take Noland Rd. exit 12; go north four miles; turn west onto Truman Rd.; go two blocks to the visitor center.
A map shows places related to Harry S Truman National Historic Site and Harry and Bess’ lives. In Independence, Truman Road runs East/West and most of the park sites a located along or near Truman Road. US Highway 24, also named Independence Avenue, is about 5 blocks north of Truman Road. Some of the north/south roads that connect Truman and Independence Roads in a typical street grid, listed from west to east, are River Road, Delaware Avenue, and Noland Road. All map sites are between River and Noland Road within about one square mile. From West to East, the following park sites are located on the south side of Truman Road: the Noland Home, the Truman Home, both Wallace Homes, and several blocks east is the Visitor Center. All are located within the Harry S Truman National Historic Landmark District along with other relevant sites, like Independence High School, the First Presbyterian Church, Clinton’s Drugstore, and the Jackson County courthouse. Also within the historic district but north of Truman Road are the Truman Boyhood Home, the Site of the Bess Wallace Home, and the Truman Presidential Museum and Library which is also north of Independence Avenue.
Map and Directions to Grandview Truman Farm
Directions to Grandview Truman Farm:
- From I-435, take US 71 exit; go south 2.2 miles; turn right (west) onto Blue Ridge Blvd.; farm is 0.6 mile on left.
- From US 71, proceed as above.
- From I-70, take exit 8A onto I-435; exit onto US 71 (left lane exit); proceed as above.
A smaller map shows the locations of the Truman Farm, the Truman Home, and the Truman Library in western Missouri, south of the Missouri River. The Truman Home is on Truman Road in downtown Independence, east of I-435. The Truman Library is just north of the Truman Home on Independence Avenue. The Truman Farm is south of both, and slightly west. The farm is located just south of Blue Ridge Boulevard and west of US 71.
Side 2: Visiting the Truman Home and Historic Independence
- Begin your visit at the park visitor center at 223 N. Main Street. It has ticket sales for the Truman home tour, information, a film, exhibits, and a bookstore.
- Guided Tours of Truman’s Home
- The Truman home is at 219 N. Delaware Avenue; guided tours only. Buy tickets at the visitor center (five blocks east). Each tour is limited to eight people; there may be a waiting period. There is an introductory film shown at the visitor center. View exhibits and browse the bookstore before your tour begins.
We strive to make our facilities, services, and programs accessible to all. For information, go to a visitor center, ask a ranger, call, or check our website.
A Great Guided Home Tour
Tips for a Great Guided Home Tour
- Get your Truman home tickets early! Tickets are sold the day of the tour, first-come, first-served, (no advance reservations).
- Tours begin promptly at the front gate of the Truman home at the time stamped on your ticket. Allow 10 minutes to walk from the visitor center to the Truman home.
- Be extra careful on stairs.
- Smoking, drinking, eating, pets, chewing gum, and photography are not allowed on the grounds or in the home.
- Restrooms are located in the visitor center only!
- Please stay on the dark gray carpet, and do not touch walls, furniture, or objects.
- For firearms and other regulations ask a ranger or check the park website.
- All historic and natural features are protected by federal law.
Address and Contact Information
- Address: Harry S Truman National Historic Site; 223 North Main Street; Independence, MO 64050
- Phone: 816-254-9929
- Website: www.nps.gov/hstr
- Harry S Truman National Historic Site is one of over 400 parks in the National Park System. To learn more about national parks and National Park Service programs in America's communities, visit www.nps.gov.
Strolling around Independence is like stepping back in time. Its small downtown area and historic neighborhood are largely unchanged from the time when Truman walked these streets over 40 years ago. Be sure to see Independence Square, Jackson County Courthouse, the Truman statue, and Clinton’s Drugstore. Neighborhood highlights include the Noland, Truman, and Wallace homes on Delaware Ave. and Truman Rd. At the park visitor center get the free, self-guiding Harry S Truman Walking Trail brochure that tells you about over 40 sites in the historic district.
It is a short drive to the Truman Presidential Museum and Library, where Harry and Bess Truman are buried.
- Address: US 24 and Delaware Ave.; Independence, MO 64050
- Phone: 816-268-8200
- Website: www.trumanlibrary.org
Tourist information, Independence Tourism Dept:
- Address: 111 E. Maple Ave.; Independence, MO 64050
- Phone: 816-325-7111 or 800-748-7323
- Website: www.ci.independence.mo.us
Side 2: Historic Photos
Two black and white photos from the Harry S. Truman Library with captions are set on a black background along the right side of the brochure.
The first shows the farmhouse slightly overgrown with several large trees in the foreground. The caption reads:
In 1940 creditors forced the sale of the farm. A sheriff ordered Truman’s mother and sister to leave. Truman lamented to Bess that his mother “has been calling that farm home since 1868. She helped her father set out those maple trees in the fall of that year. . . .”The second photo shows young Bess Wallace in a long white dress posing on the railing of her home at 219 North Delaware. Years later, on the eve of their 23rd wedding anniversary in 1942, Truman wrote that his sweetheart is “as good looking and lovable as when she was sixteen.”