Clay Bauske ’73

It took one demanding course in Russian History from Cornell’s Eric Kollman to hook Clay Bauske ’73 on history. “I used to chuckle when I looked at my old course textbook. Nearly every sentence was underlined! I guess I was still a novice at trying to identify the really critical events and concepts. Trust me, I got better with time,” he says.

Clay Bauske
Clay Bauske

Completing graduate work in international studies and diplomatic history, Bauske abandoned his plans to pursue life as a professor, grabbing opportunities in the museum field. “I was attracted to museum work because it enabled me to continue my interests in history and historical research, while allowing me to interpret history through a variety of media,” he says, adding, “Actually holding a letter written by Thomas Jefferson, the pens used to sign the German surrender in World War II, or Amelia Earhart’s pilot’s license creates an emotional as well as an intellectual connection to history.”

After working for the Missouri State Museum, he became the curator of the Harry S. Truman Library in Independence, Mo., in 1983. Notably, he is the senior presidential library curator.

Clay lives with his wife, Lennie, in the country just outside of Weston, Mo. And for curious future historians, this note: “The Herbert Hoover Presidential Library—the smallest of the Presidential libraries—is in Cornell’s backyard in West Branch, Iowa.”