Jerry N. Hess

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Jerry N. Hess (1931–2017) was a 20th-Century American oral historian of U.S. presidential libraries, particularly the Harry S. Truman Library: his name appears in numerous books which include research into major personalities related to mid-20th-Century American national politics and draw upon the more than 500 oral histories available at the Truman Library alone. [1] [2] [3]



Hess was born on September 24, 1931, in Cedar Vale, Kansas. His parents were James Nelson and Mary Elixabeth Burge. He had one older brother, Norman Burge Hess. He obtained a BA from Kansas State University of Lawrence and MA from the University of Missouri at Kansas City. [1]

Cedar Vale, Kansas City in Kansas, United States

Cedar Vale is a city in Chautauqua County, Kansas, United States. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 579.

Kansas State University public university in the state of Kansas

Kansas State University (KSU), commonly shortened to Kansas State or K-State, is a public research university with its main campus in Manhattan, Kansas, United States. Kansas State was opened as the state's land-grant college in 1863 and was the first public institution of higher learning in the state of Kansas. It had a record high enrollment of 24,766 students for the Fall 2014 semester.

University of Missouri Public research university in Columbia, Missouri, United States

The University of Missouri is a public research university in Columbia, Missouri. It is Missouri's largest University and the flagship of the four campus University of Missouri System. Founded in 1839 it was the first public university west of the Mississippi River. It is a member of the Association of American Universities as well as a land-grant and space-grant institution. Enrolling 30,870 in 2017 it offers over 300 degree programs in thirteen major academic division. Its well-known Missouri School of Journalism was founded by Walter Williams in 1908 as the world's first journalism school; It publishes a daily newspaper, the Columbia Missourian, and operates an NBC affiliate KOMU. The University of Missouri Research Reactor Center is the world's most powerful university research reactor and is the United States sole source of isotopes used in nuclear medicine. The university operates University of Missouri Health Care, running a number of hospitals and clinics in Mid-Missouri. Its NCAA Division I athletic teams are known as the Missouri Tigers, and compete in the rigorous Southeastern Conference. The American tradition of homecoming is claimed to have originated at Missouri.


In 1951, Hess entered the U.S. Navy, where he served until 1955. [1]

Hess served as an oral historian for President Harry S. Truman Library as well as the National Archives in Washington, DC. He helped develop other presidential libraries. [1]

National Archives and Records Administration independent agency of the United States government which preserves and provides access to federal records

The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is an independent agency of the United States government charged with the preservation and documentation of government and historical records. It is also tasked with increasing public access to those documents which make up the National Archive. NARA is officially responsible for maintaining and publishing the legally authentic and authoritative copies of acts of Congress, presidential directives, and federal regulations. NARA also transmits votes of the Electoral College to Congress.

After retirement, he volunteered as an oral archivist for the Ringling Circus. [1]

Oral histories

Hess' Truman Library interviews include:

Personal and death

Hess was a 32nd Degree Mason with life membership in the Scottish Rite Valley of Tampa. He was also a member of: the Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons of Missouri, the Sons of the American Revolution, the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars, and the Shriners International. [1]

On June 4, 1960, Hess married Barbara H. Neubauer; she died in 1994. In 1998, he married Bertie Lee Ruth; she died in 2016. In 2006, he and Bertie moved to Sunnyside, Florida. [1]

Hess died age 85 on June 23, 2017, at Doctor’s Hospital in Sarasota, Florida. [1]

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  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 "Jerry Nelson Hess of Sarasota, Florida (1931 - 2017)". Toale Brothers. 2017. Retrieved 19 August 2017.
  2. "Note: Jerry Hess". Washington Post. 12 July 2017. Retrieved 19 August 2017.
  3. "Note: Oral Histories". Harry S. Truman Library. Retrieved 19 August 2017.

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