The James Buchanan Online Presidential Library

About The James Buchanan Online Presidential Library

Portrait of James Buchanan, 1856, William E. McMaster
Portrait of James Buchanan, 1856, by William E. McMaster. (Courtesy of Larry Lefever Photography)

The James Buchanan Online Presidential Library is a digital repository of more than 3,500 items associated with James Buchanan, Harriet Lane, and James Buchanan Henry, extended family members, associates, and Wheatland, Buchanan’s home. Scholars and researchers can search and view the digitized collection to examine the events that transpired during Buchanan’s presidency and gain a better understanding of how the United States responded to one of the most fraught periods in American history.

The James Buchanan Online Presidential Library contains:

  • Over 9,000 digitized pages of letters, personal and political papers, campaign and inauguration material, legal and financial documents, and ephemera,
  • 1,350 transcriptions,
  • 700 digitized photographs, and
  • Detailed information about more than 1,000 artifacts.

Microfilm of the James Buchanan Papers at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania is also available in the Research Center.

The Library is accessible to the public through LancasterHistory’s Collections Database. Patrons can browse the LancasterHistory collection by selecting “James Buchanan Presidential Library” or keyword search detailed information about the documents, photographs, and artifacts. Digitized photographs and documents can be viewed as if using the original items in-person.


Supported By

Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission logoDigitization of core documents, ephemera, and manuscript material in the James Buchanan Online Presidential Library was funded by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission as part of their Historical & Archival Records Care grant program. The items were digitized by Backstage Library Works.

Additional Assistance

For additional assistance and information about this Library, please contact Please include “Buchanan Presidential Library” in your email subject line. We’ve also compiled some brief FAQs below for your convenience.

Is everything digitized?

Digitization is always an ongoing process! The James Buchanan Online Presidential Library will continue to grow as LancasterHistory adds new items and artifacts to the collection.

At this time, several letters of James Buchanan Henry have not been digitized. However, transcriptions of those letters are available.

How do I make an in-person appointment to view collection items?

We encourage patrons to use digital images and/or transcriptions when available.

Original documents may be viewed by appointment only. Please contact at least two weeks prior to your anticipated visit to make arrangements with LancasterHistory staff.

How do I request copies or scans of items from this Library?

Images have been provided for research purposes only.

LancasterHistory retains the rights to the digital images and content presented. The doctrine of fair use allows limited use of copyrighted material without permission from the copyright holder. Fair use includes comment, criticism, teaching, and private scholarship. Any images and data downloaded, printed or photocopied for these purposes should provide a citation. All other uses beyond those allowed by fair use require written permission.

Permission for reproduction and/or publication must be obtained in writing from LancasterHistory. Some items are photocopies from other collections--researchers must obtain permission for reproduction and publication from the owner of the original material. Persons wishing to publish any material from this site must assume all responsibility for identifying and satisfying any claimants of copyright or other use restrictions. Publication fees may apply.

Please contact for a high-resolution image and permission to publish.

Where can I find more collections related to James Buchanan and Harriet Lane Johnston?