Manus Hand's Dead President Hobby

The Hobby

While the photographs of me positioning myself as close as one can possibly get to the earthly remains of all of the presidents are the most personal entries in my collection of presidential memorabilia, my interests lie in the field (no pun intended) as a whole.

I am working on completing a collection of presidential biographies (can you help?). My strong preference is for hardback single-volume works, but I do have some multi-volume biographies as well. Mind you, I'm only interested in dead presidents, since I believe that a biography really shouldn't be written unless it can contain a person's whole life. However, I also have some campaign biographies, so I'm not a stickler.

I'm also interested in adding to my fledgling presidential campaign memorabilia collection (pins, buttons, etc.). The majority of this collection was inherited from my grandmother, and I haven't been able to find much time to go out and look for stuff. In this, I am as interested in the campaign material for the losing candidates as I am in the winners.

Additionally, I have a sizable collection of related books (presidential trivia, books on the White House, presidential monuments) and other memorabilia (playing cards, Christmas ornaments, books which were written by the presidents, etc., etc.)

I'm a student of the history of the United States in general. While not my vocation, I'm a rabid U.S. history trivialist and I enjoy reading about the workings of the federal government throughout its history. Here I would put an obligatory nod to the genius of the founding fathers, and I would note my unending amazement at the accomplishment which is the U.S. Constitution, but this would be unnecessary. Since you're reading this, you surely share these views.

I scour used and antique book stores as often as I can looking for biographies of the presidents I'm missing, but lately I seem to come up dry. I'm hoping that by advertising my need, someone out there (you?) can become my supplier.

Please let me know if you can help in any way. I'd love to hear from you.

These Pages

First of all, I would like to categorically state that these pages pre-date the movie "Dead Presidents." I think Hollywood stole the name which I've always used to describe my hobby, and I want everyone to know that the reverse is not the case.

Anyway, as you can see, I'm still working on these pages, trying to find time to add to each page a little story about my visit to the gravesite. So far, I've only provided such stories for nine of the sites, but the plan is to do so for all of them.

I have a lot more pictures of my travels (of the presidential residences, habitats, and even closeups of the gravestones!) and my plan is to eventually add a "further explorations" page behind each existing page. I'll also put a (pre-death) picture of each president on the appropriate page.

Behind each president's page I initially planned to add an informational page detailing the man's life and administration -- kind of a mini-biography. However, I found that there are plenty of sites which do this, and so I thought about it a minute and decided the way to put my mark on the presentation of this type of important information would be to present the obituary text for each of the Presidents! In these very interesting documents, one can see what a President's contemporaries were thinking at the time of his demise. Accordingly, I have begun to provide these, and I'm sure you'll find them enjoyable.

Additionally, the page devoted to each President lists a number of sites that provide information about him. Hopefully, then, when this site is finished, it will be a very good source of reference information on the U.S. Presidents.

Some people already view its keeper as such. Not only am I often asked in real life such questions as "on what day did Zachary Taylor take the oath of presidential office?" or "when did the Emancipation Proclamation take effect?" (to which I, of course, have an immediate response) but now that these pages have hit the Net, my mailbox is frequently visited with similar questions (one of my favorites was a request for information on Grover Cleveland's brothers and sisters in order to assist in a school assignment). I am only too happy to answer all these questions, as my love for the presidency goes back to my days in grade school, and I remember how exciting the first explorations into history are.

I've also been flattered to receive e-mail messages in praise of my quirky hobby, my pages, and my prose (what little there is in evidence here). It's been suggested by more than one writer that I should write a book (oh, all the times I've started!), and a few have advanced the idea of seeing if David Letterman would be interested in having me as a guest (I guess they never did anything about looking into that, though, darn it).

Anyway, as I said, this site is far from finished -- even the initial work to provide a narrative for each photograph is only just begun -- and so I am pleasantly surprised by the popularity of the site. I haven't publicized its availability or anything (not that I had really ever planned to, at least not until I saw that it held appeal for people other than me and those around me who are entertained by this rather off-beat pastime of mine), but some anonymous someone -- bless their heart -- suggested this site be named one of the infamous and hilarious "Useless WWW Pages," and ever since it was, the pages here have been entertaining guests like you as best they can.

Thanks for stopping by. I hope you enjoy the Dead Presidents site, and if you have any suggestions for improvement (or if you want to volunteer anything), please let me know at manus@python.net.