Q. Does the project own all of Van Buren’s documents?
We actually don’t own any of his original papers. Purchasing documents with such historical value would require millions of dollars, which we don’t have, and pilfering from the Library of Congress, which is a federal crime. Like all presidential papers projects, we work from copies. In our case, the microfilm edition of Van Buren’s papers produced in the mid-1980s serves as the core of our project, to which we add new documents as we find them.
Q. Would you be interested in the Van Buren documents that I bought at a rummage sale for $2?
Absolutely! The original project ended its search for Van Buren documents in the 1980s, and we know that other Van Buren documents have been discovered in the past three decades. If you happen to possess or know of such documents, please contact us.
Q. What were some of Van Buren’s nicknames?
A. Van Buren was known by a number of nicknames, most of which originated with his enemies. For example, “the Little Magician” was a reference to his ability to use his political influence behind the scenes. “Martin Van Ruin” originated from his inability to address the economic depressions that occurred during his presidency. As the project progresses, we hope to research the origins and uses of Van Buren’s many nicknames.
Q. Was there actually a 19th-century gang known as the Van Buren Boys?
A. No. You can thank Seinfeld writer Darin Henry for introducing the group in episode #148, entitled “The Van Buren Boys.”