The University Record, October 8, 1996

More than you ever wanted to know about U.S. presidents is on the IPL


By Joanne Nesbit
News and Information Services


Want to know which U.S. president swam nude in the Potomac River every day, weather permitting? Curious to find out which president seldom went to bed before 2 a.m. and destroyed all of his personal papers before his death? You don't have to check out a book to satisfy this curiosity; you can click on the University of Michigan's Internet Public Library (IPL) to get the answers.

Designed to make presidential Web-based research easier, IPL has introduced "POTUS: Presidents of the United States," available on the World Wide Web at Students and others will find POTUS an excellent resource for finding information about the presidents and finding it quickly.

From George Washington to Bill Clinton, this directory of the 42 U.S. presidents brings together presidential Internet sites, including biographies, speeches, writings and, where possible, audio and video clips. Election results, odd facts and presidential term highlights have been added to this resource. First ladies, cabinet members, and additional important members of presidential life are also covered, giving further insight into the character of the president and the history of his time. POTUS offers quick jumps to presidential election results, historical documents, inaugural addresses, "fast facts" about the presidents and other Internet resources.

The IPL is a project based at the School of Information, partially supported by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Begun as a graduate student project in 1995 and now staffed by professional librarians with assistance from students and volunteer librarians from around the world, the library maintains a collection of network-based ready reference works; responds to reference queries; creates resources for children and young adults; evaluates and categorizes resources on the Internet; and provides a space for exhibitions.

The library strives to be a source of innovation in the networked environment, seeking partnerships with organizations with compatible goals. The IPL can be found on the WorldWide Web at

According to POTUS, it was President John Quincy Adams who swam nude in the Potomac. He also was nicknamed "Old Man Eloquent," was the first to be elected president without receiving either the most popular votes or the most votes of the electoral college and was soundly defeated by Andrew Jackson in his bid for re-election. But it was the 21st president, Chester Alan Arthur, who destroyed his personal papers and enjoyed the late-night hours. He also had 24 wagon-loads of old furniture and junk removed from the White House before moving in.