Exhibit traces history of Hoover Institution with rich display of artifacts

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It seems like an odd milestone — 90 years — for Stanford's Hoover Institution to burrow into its archives for a richly detailed exhibit that seeks to tell the story of how it all got started and why it still matters.

Most groups might just wait for a more traditional centennial blowout. But 10 years shy? That would have been like celebrating America's bicentennial in 1966.

But there's a good reason for the institution's timing, and it has much to do with one of the key aims of its retrospective exhibit: highlighting the special role played by the think tank's namesake and founder, President Herbert Hoover, until his death in 1964.

At age 90.

"He really saw this as his greatest legacy," Hoover Institution archivist Nick Siekierski said Sunday, leading the Mercury News on a tour of the artifacts he assembled for the exhibit.

Called "A Revolutionary Idea: Hoover Making History Since 1919," the exhibit traces the story of a place that was born as a world-renowned collection of World War I ephemera but grew up into one of the nation's leading hubs of conservative thought.

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