Archive for Wednesday, December 20, 2000

Finally, a decision for presidential collection

December 20, 2000

Now that the presidential race has finally been decided, John Forbes knows who he will be sending a Bible to the next president, George W. Bush.

A Bible signed by Bush would be the 11th bible in the Quayle Bible Collection signed by a U.S. president, beginning with Harry Truman. The presidential collection is one of several Bible exhibits at Collins Library at Baker University.

However, Forbes, curator of the collection, isn't in any hurry to gather the signature even after the election took so long to decide. As the person in charge of choosing and sending the Bible, he said he will let the next president get settled into office before he sends the Bible probably this summer.

"There is such a flurry during the first few months of the presidency, that I probably won't send it until summer," Forbes said. "I don't want it to get lost in the paperwork."

Forbes said each Bible signed by a president has a story behind it. The story behind this Bible will likely be the election itself. Such history is an important part of the exhibit.

"I'm looking forward to the time when grandparents come in with their grandchildren and say I remember when he was president, so they get a sense of history," Forbes said.

The collection was started by Harriet "Hattie" Osborn, who was librarian at Baker University from 1925 to 1945 and helped part-time after that. She wrote to President Truman requesting that he donate an autographed Bible. Truman sent a Bible from his personal collection, with a handwritten note making reference to two sections he felt students should pay particular attention to the Ten Commandments and the beatitudes.

Every president since has added their signature to the collection.

Forbes who has chosen the past three presidential Bibles chooses a different Bible for each signature, wanting to reflect the religion of the signee and a modern translation of the Bible.

"Translators are trying to bring ideas of the Bible into modern language usage," Forbes said. "Words change. The meaning of words change."

A Masonic Bible was donated for the signature of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, who was a mason, and a Roman Catholic Bible for John F. Kennedy.

The presidential Bibles are displayed each year of a presidential election. The Quayle collection also features a rotation of several old, rare and unusual Bibles. The collection is a gift from bishop and former Baker president William A. Quayle, who died in 1925.

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