What We’re Doing

Our goal for the Museum collection is to preserve and activate a rich and multifaceted record of President and Mrs. Obama’s lives and legacy in order to share the lessons of history and to help inspire, connect, and empower people to change their world.

We need your help to ensure a diverse range of stories and perspectives are represented through the artifacts we collect.

Your material does not need to be one-of-a-kind or of high monetary value for it to have historical significance. We are interested in materials that tell the stories of the communities and individuals that helped to shape or were impacted by the Obamas’ unique journey and time in the White House.

What We’re Looking For

We are actively seeking materials related to the categories described below— but please don’t hesitate to contact us at [email protected] if you have materials you feel might be of interest that are not included on this list. You can check out some of the wonderful objects and stories we’ve discovered so far by clicking here.

The Obama Presidency and Administration

  • Objects, documents, and images that connect to the major issues, events, accomplishments, and challenges that helped shape and define the Obama presidency, including individual and collective activism and advocacy, key administration initiatives, and legislative milestones. Topics of interest include but are not limited to:
    • Military service members, veterans, and their families, e.g., the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the struggle to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, stories of veterans’ experiences, and/or responses to the repeal; the Joining Forces initiative; etc.
    • The advancement of LGBTQ rights during the Obama administration, e.g., the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold marriage equality and celebrations from the day this decision was announced
    • Voting rights challenges and protections, voter registration efforts, and materials related to the anniversary of the Selma march, the March on Washington, Voting Rights Act, and the Civil Rights Act
    • The advancement of disability rights during the two presidential terms, e.g., materials related to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, White House disability rights events, ADAPT, etc.
    • The advancement of women’s rights and gender equity during the Obama administration, e.g., materials from White House summits and events, legislation including the Lilly Ledbetter Act
    • Tribal rights issues and activism, e.g., Generation Indigenous, Tribal Nations Conferences, national monuments protecting tribal lands, and the signing of the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
    • Economic issues and events, including the recession and banking and auto-industry bailouts; economic inequality; struggles for minimum wage and paid leave
    • Criminal justice reform, e.g., the Task Force on 21st Century Policing, Department of Justice Clemency Initiative, Fair Sentencing Act, Smart on Crime Initiative, Ban the Box, etc., including material documenting the Black Lives Matter movement and general activism on this topic
    • Climate change and environmentalism, e.g., the Paris Agreement, sustainable energy investment, clean power; crises such as the Deepwater Horizon spill and Superstorm Sandy
    • Investment in science and innovation, e.g., initiatives such as Precision Medicine and the Cancer Moonshot, including material on STEM education and Science Fairs at the White House
  • Objects, documents, or photos that show a unique, unexpected, or personally meaningful aspect of the administration’s work or its impact on individuals and/or communities
  • Personal mementos of interactions with the President, First Lady, or other members of the White House from either presidential term

Presidential Campaigns

  • Campaign, election, and inauguration memorabilia of all kinds, including materials related to specific organizing groups and/or communities
  • Objects, documents, or photos from campaign volunteers that show a unique, unexpected, or personally meaningful aspect of the campaign experience
  • Mementos from notable, emotional, exciting, or challenging moments during the primaries and national campaign
  • Materials related to election night 2008 and the 2009 inauguration, including expressions of identity- and/or community-based pride and the historic nature of President Obama’s status as the first African American President of the United States
  • Anti-Obama materials that speak to the complex narrative of our democratic process
  • Other fun, inspirational, surprising, representative, and/or unique objects that speak to the historical nature and exuberance of the presidential campaigns (2008 and 2012)

Early Career

  • Materials related to the President’s career as a community organizer, e.g. his time with the Developing Communities Project, working to improve housing conditions at Altgeld Gardens, and at Project VOTE
  • Artifacts and documents related to the President and First Lady’s early legal careers, including their time together at the Sidley Austin law firm and the President’s work in civil rights litigation at Davis, Miner, Barnhill & Galland
  • Materials related to the President’s time as a professor at the University of Chicago, including syllabi, assignments, graded papers, etc.
  • Materials related to Michelle Obama’s work in Mayor Daley’s administration, at Public Allies, and at the University of Chicago (including her work with the Community Service Center, Summer Links internship program, and the University of Chicago Medical Center)
  • Campaign memorabilia and other material related to Barack Obama’s career as a state and U.S. Senator

Formative Years

  • Materials related to the history of community and labor organizing with a special emphasis on the Chicago-based thinkers and movements that laid the groundwork for Barack Obama’s work as a community organizer
  • Objects and images related to Michelle Obama’s Chicago roots, including the changing demographics of the South Shore neighborhood where the First Lady grew up and her attendance at Whitney Young High School
  • Mementos from the President’s childhood in Hawaii and Indonesia and from his days as a student at Occidental College and Columbia University
  • Materials related to the First Lady’s days at Princeton University and her subsequent studies at Harvard Law School
  • Objects, documents, and images related to the President’s attendance at Harvard Law School, including materials related to his role as the first African American president of the Harvard Law Review

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