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Starting on August 9th, Museum visitors will be able to experience a new traveling exhibition Read My Pins: The Madeleine Albright Collection in the William J. vanden Heuvel Special Exhibitions Gallery.

IMG_0071This unique exhibit features a collection of more than 200 distinctive pins and explores how Secretary of State Madeleine Albright—the first woman to serve in that office—used jewelry as a diplomatic tool. Organized by the Museum of Art and Design in New York City, the exhibit has been touring the nation for several years. There is no additional charge to see the exhibit at the Roosevelt Library.

Madeleine Albright served under President Bill Clinton as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations from 1993-1997. In 1997, the President appointed her as Secretary of State. At that time she was the highest-ranking woman in the history of the U.S. government. During her years (1997-2001) as Secretary, Albright became known for wearing a wide variety of distinctive broaches that conveyed her views about the diplomatic or political situation at hand. Foreign officials began to pay special attention to Albright’s selection of pins to uncover clues about her state of mind. “I found that jewelry had become part of my personal diplomatic arsenal,” she later said. “While President George H.W. Bush had been known for saying ‘Read my lips,’ I began urging colleagues and reporters to ‘Read my pins.’”

A display of Eleanor Roosevelt pins will complement the exhibition during its time in Hyde Park. Read My Pins will remain on display through November 2, 2014. Secretary Albright will make a special public appearance at the Roosevelt Library on the evening of September 4 in connection with the exhibition.

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The Roosevelt Library plans quite a trip for Summer 2014! Join us as we journey to seven continents and 95 countries for Around the World in 80 Days with the Roosevelts. Look for hundreds of internationally themed photographs, museum objects, and historic documents on the Library’s Tumblr — fdrlibrary.tumblr.com – and other social media accounts beginning Memorial Day weekend and culminating with the August 9th opening of our special exhibit, Read My Pins – the Madeleine Albright Collection.

80 consecutive days of special online features explore two lifetimes of travel and the Roosevelts’ common commitment to diplomacy and human rights. These posts draw on rich historical collections housed in both the Archives and Museum of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library, and show the Roosevelts’ unique relationship with people and leaders across the globe. Learn how an American president worked directly with towering international figures, became the first to fly overseas while in office, and created the United Nations. Find out how Eleanor Roosevelt’s support of Allied troops in World War II and her advocacy for universal human rights inspired her famous moniker, First Lady of the World. We hope you’ll join us for this fascinating journey through the lives and work of two extraordinary global figures of the 20th century. Bon Voyage!

By Herman Eberhardt, Supervisory Museum Curator

The Roosevelt Library’s new 12,000 square foot $6 million permanent exhibition, which opened to the public in June 2013, features a variety of audiovisual experiences, including an array of interactive touchscreen programs. They help us tell the vital story of the Roosevelt era to new generations of Americans in fresh and engaging ways. These exhibits are just one part of a wider ongoing effort at the Library to harness new media technologies to reach new audiences.

Later this year, the Museum will unveil two new media initiatives that will greatly expand accessibility to our exhibits.

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We are currently working with Audio Description Associates of Takoma Park, Maryland, on an Audio Description Tour of the new permanent exhibition for blind and vision-impaired visitors. The tour will be free to the public and available in both and English and Spanish language versions. Museum visitors will be able to download the audio tour to their own handheld devices or access it on one of the free hand-held media players that will be available for loan at the Henry A. Wallace Visitor and Education Center. The tour will also be accessible to online visitors on the Library’s web site.

Another exciting new media program in development is an online, interactive Virtual Tour of the permanent exhibition. Funded by a grant from the Newman’s Own Foundation, this tour will allow users from all over the world to experience our Museum and access additional educational materials. This project supports the Foundation’s goal of providing access to resources that contribute to the development of a civil society.

The virtual tour will employ high definition panoramic photography to give off-site users the experience of walking through the Museum. A zoom function will let users move around the galleries and select and learn more about specific artifacts, documents, photographs, and graphics. The Museum is working with the Dynology Corporation of Vienna, Virginia, on the development of the tour. Dynology is on the cutting edge of this new media tool. In recent years, a growing number of museums have begun to offer virtual tours. But most of these projects have involved art museums. History museums have been slower to embrace this new technology. Recently, Dynology broke new ground in the use of virtual tours in history museums with their innovative virtual tour of the United States Marine Corps Museum in Quantico, Virginia. Now they are working with us to expand on that model and create an even deeper and richer virtual experience.

Katherine Sardino, our multi-talented Museum Technician, is leading the Museum’s team on both of these innovative projects, which blend technology with history to advance the Library’s goal of presenting “A New Deal for a New Generation.” Keep watching our website and social media for updates on the rollout of these projects later this year.

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by Jeff Urbin, Education Specialist

01.08.2014 Senior Learning Franklin Roosevelt held the first of his famous “fireside chats” just days into his presidency thereby demonstrating his understanding of the importance of bringing accurate and unfiltered information directly from the source to the people. Today, with the help of quickly evolving technology, that tradition is being continued and expanded thru the Roosevelt Library’s Education Department’s distance learning program.

Whether you call it a virtual field trip, distance learning, or video conferencing, the ability to bring real-time, interactive learning and information into the classroom via technology is a modern educational miracle. Over the last three years the Roosevelt Presidential Library’s education department has provided dozens of distance learning sessions to thousands of students all across the United States, and as far away as Australia!

Classroom students are not the only learners who benefit from distance learning. The Roosevelt Library has been a pioneer in providing distance learning sessions to residents of adult and assisted living facilities. These folks are members of the Roosevelt demographic who, due to distance and/or mobility issues, are not able to visit the Library in person. Many of them have first-hand memories of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt from their childhood, or can remember their parents talking about them. The interactive nature of the video conference format allows residents to share their stories with the presenter which makes for a far richer session for everyone.

Advances in video conferencing technology have made it possible to bring information about the Roosevelts, the Great Depression and World War II to outside venues in an educational, interactive, and economical format.  Just as FDR did with his Fireside Chats, we are bringing the information to the people; people of all ages and different situations.  We think FDR would be amazed by the technology and very pleased with the results.

If you would like more information about distance learning programs, or would be interested in booking a session, contact me at jeffrey.urbin@nara.edu.

Distance Learning 2014

By Jeff Urbin, Education Specialist

IMG_7116The learning begins as students enter the lobby of the Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum welcomed by the  friendly smile of our nation’s thirty-second president beaming down at them from a larger-than-life photograph. What lies beyond is a museum that brings to life the story of a twelve year presidency consisting of four national elections, the Great Depression, the Second World War; and the most remarkable First Lady of the 20th century. That’s a lot to cover in a single field trip.

How can it possibly be done?  That is a question that has both dogged, and delighted, me since becoming the Library’s education specialist nearly 13 years ago. The answer lies in breaking it all down and making sure that we address some fundamental elements that contribute to a meaningful educational experience. We begin with the intended audience in mind. Every decision that goes into planning and presenting our education programs is designed to meet the needs of the teachers and their students.  Next we make sure that all of our programs are curriculum based, grade appropriate, and rich with primary source documentation. On the actual the day of the visit each group receives a program presented either by me, or one of my staff of four retired New York State Certified teachers.

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Three additional overarching principles run through each of the programs: the first is that given the limited time that the students are on site; there is no way that we can tell anything even approaching the entire Roosevelt story. We can only hope to ‘plant the seeds of wonder’ in the students – to spark in them an interest in the presidency, public service, and the chances and challenges that history has presented us with.  The second principle is to highlight certain ‘points of departure’ for further examination of the issues and topics we introduce. A key element in teaching students how to be critical thinkers is to challenge them with questions, not simply supply them with answers. A fieldtrip to the Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum provides a wonderful point of departure from which students and teachers are invited and encouraged to explore the past in greater depth and detail. This can be done either in the classroom or on their own.

The final, and in many ways most important, principle is to make students aware that so much of  what surrounds us in the world today can be traced back to the time of  the Roosevelts. Some of these “current connections’-for example the Great Depression of the 1930s and the Great Recession of the last several years – are obvious. Others such as the push to expand electrification to rural areas then, and the push to expand WI-FI to some of these same areas today, are not.

By applying the simple recipes as described above, seasoned with a dash of fun, the Roosevelt Presidential Library’s education department fulfills the educational needs of more than 16,000 students, and 1000 teachers who visit our site each year. Look for my next blog when I will talk about our distance learning opportunities and web materials for those of you too far away to visit in person.

2013 was an amazing year for the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library.

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Hyde Park-20130403-00938The three year renovation of the Library building was finished in March. We moved the archival collections, research operations, and archival staff offices back into the renovated Library from the Wallace Visitor Center where they have been located since summer 2010.  In April, we brought 164 pallets of additional materials back to Hyde Park from the George W. Bush Library warehouse in Texas where they were housed during our renovation.  Our 35,000 museum objects were safely tucked into their new museum storage rooms and our museum staff moved for the final time into their new office spaces.  Throughout the entire renovation process, the Roosevelt Library never closed its research room to researchers and always made sure our visitors had exhibits to see.

IMG_0689We completed work on the final design, fabrication, and installation of the Roosevelt Library’s new 12,000 square foot permanent museum exhibition. In addition, we developed a system of directional signage for the new exhibits and moved all of the original furnishing from FDR’s Study back into place prior to the reopening of the new galleries. The Library’s new permanent exhibition opened to great critical acclaim on June 30, 2013 and Museum visitation since the opening date has risen dramatically.  All of our renovation work and our exhibit development and installation were on time and on budget.

We also celebrated the tenth anniversary of the Henry A. Wallace Visitor and Education Center on November 15th.  Before we had this wonderful building, we sold tickets out of a shack, we hid our Museum Store in the Library basement, and we had no space for Education and Public Programs.  Through an amazing partnership of federal funds and private money raised by the Roosevelt Institute, we took an empty piece of land and built an amazingly versatile and beautiful building.  As we built this, we promised the community that it would become a part of their lives.  And I am happy to report we have been successful in achieving that.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn the past 10 years, over 100,000  people representing over  1200 organizations have used our meeting spaces, over 150,000 students have learned about Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt in our Multi-Purpose Rooms and over one million visitors have enjoyed the wonderful amenities, taken pictures with our Franklin and Eleanor statue, and marveled at the beautiful mosaic map in the lobby.

And on December 4th we introduced the birth of FRANKLIN. Whether you are a lover of history, a student working on a school project, or a scholar, FRANKLIN allows you to keyword search for archival documents and photographs and to search, browse, and view whole files, just as you could if you came to the Library’s research room in-person. Now available online are some of the most important documents of the twentieth century — primary source documentation of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt’s experiences leading the nation through the Great Depression and World War II.  FRANKLIN launched with 350,000 pages of archival documents and 2,000 historical photographs.

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 FRANKLIN is the result of a special cooperative effort — a unique combination of public, nonprofit, education and corporate support. The Roosevelt Library and its parent agency, the National Archives, worked with nonprofit partner the Roosevelt Institute to digitize a large amount of microfilmed archival documents. The Library’s digital partner and web host, Marist College, then developed and implemented FRANKLIN’s underlying database infrastructure.  Marist runs the system using powerful servers manufactured by Marist and Roosevelt Library corporate partner, IBM.

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During 2013 our education department provided programming for almost 15,000 students from second grade to elderhostel, conducted more than a dozen teacher workshops, for over 400 teachers including week-long workshops for teachers from New Orleans and Missouri.   We expanded our Distance Learning Program (video conferencing) conducting over two dozen sessions, for more than 500 students and 50 teachers. Paramount to our education efforts was the recreating of education programs and materials for the new museum galleries.  We created a 16 page Fala booklet to guide younger children, a New Deal and WWII focused guided note taking tour of the exhibits, and a series of civic holiday activity sheets for young museum visitors.

DSCN3010The Roosevelt Library developed, promoted, and implemented a full calendar of public programs in 2013 including individual book talks, film presentations in partnership with the Pare Lorentz Center at the FDR Presidential Library, and a series of popular annual events including our tenth annual Roosevelt Reading Festival.  For two weeks in August, through the generosity of Mount Vernon, we hosted an exhibit featuring President George Washington’s personal copy of the Constitution, “Acts of Congress.”

And all throughout the year the Library produced exciting and innovative social media and web feature content to celebrate our accomplishments and inform our audiences worldwide.  Particularly successful was our 100 Days countdown to the grand reopening of our museum which resulted in an extraordinary increase in social media followers – most notably almost 50,000 new followers on Tumblr.

None of our successes would be possible without the creative and energetic Roosevelt Library staff, the support of our National Archives family, the dedication of the Library Trustees, the generosity of the Roosevelt Institute, and the interest and support of our visitors, social media friends and followers.  We look forward to sharing a happy, healthy, and peaceful 2014 with you.

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On December 4, 2013, the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library launched FRANKLIN.  What is FRANKLIN you ask?

FRANKLIN is a virtual research room and digital repository that provides free and open access to the digitized collections of the Roosevelt Library – to everyone, anywhere in the world. Whether you are a lover of history, a student working on a school project, or an experienced scholar and author, FRANKLIN opens a door to some of the most significant and in-demand historical materials our Library has to offer. Now you can search by keyword, browse through photograph galleries and document lists, and for the first time open whole folders of archival documents online – a level of discovery that till now was only possible in-person.

Many of the most important documents of the twentieth century are now available for you to view on FRANKLIN – from your living room, classroom, office or dorm room.  With this initial launch, FRANKLIN makes 350,000 documents and 2,000 public domain photographs available to you now.  And we will be adding even more digitized content in the months and years to come.

FRANKLIN is the result of a special cooperative effort — a unique combination of public, nonprofit, and corporate support. The Roosevelt Library and its parent agency, the National Archives, worked with nonprofit partner the Roosevelt Institute to digitize a large amount of microfilmed archival documents. The Library’s digital partner and web host, Marist College, then developed and implemented FRANKLIN’s underlying database infrastructure based on the Archon platform. Marist runs the system using powerful servers manufactured by Marist and Roosevelt Library corporate partner, IBM.

So go to the Roosevelt Library’s website www.fdrlibrary.marist.edu to start exploring FRANKLIN today!

Roosevelt-Kennedy_1The ties between the Roosevelt and Kennedy families go back to World War I when Franklin D. Roosevelt was Assistant Secretary of the Navy.  In November 1917, Joseph P. Kennedy was the Assistant General Manager of the Fore River Shipbuilding Corporation in Quincy, Massachusetts, when a labor strike threatened the company’s contribution to the Navy’s shipbuilding program. Assistant Secretary Roosevelt appealed to Fore River’s management and to the striking workers “to sink all minor differences and to get together for the sake of the success of our country in this war at once.” The strike ended a few days later.

As New York Governor Franklin Roosevelt prepared to seek the Democratic Party’s nomination for president at the convention in Chicago in July 1932, Joseph P. Kennedy—now working in Hollywood and New York—lent his support to FDR, both financially and politically.  Kennedy was one of those who were known as “WRBC”, or With Roosevelt Before Chicago. He donated to the campaign, met with Governor Roosevelt and his Brains Trust in Albany, and helped convince supporters of John Nance Garner to throw their delegates to Roosevelt at the convention.  Kennedy continued to advise Roosevelt after he won the nomination, and in August Kennedy wrote to FDR: “As I told you over the phone unless they [the Republicans] can put two and one half million men back to work and get wheat up to twenty or twenty five cents a bushel the result will be overwhelming for Roosevelt.”  Roosevelt even invited Kennedy along on the campaign train that fall.

The Roosevelt Campaign Train, September 23, 1932. Joseph Kennedy is in front row, fifth from the right with hand in pocket.

The Roosevelt Campaign Train, September 23, 1932. Joseph Kennedy is in front row, fifth from the right with hand in pocket.

As the New Deal began to take shape, one of FDR’s early reforms was the creation of the Securities and Exchange Commission. The SEC was designed to protect investors from fraudulent and unethical practices in the stock market.  FDR began to assemble his choices for the five-person Commission, and Joseph Kennedy was selected to be the first chairman. As a June 15, 1934 memorandum indicates, FDR’s choice of Kennedy as chairman reflected the man’s “executive ability, knowledge of habits and customs of business to be regulated and ability to moderate different points of view…” Kennedy received a five year appointment, and although he resigned in September 1935 to return to private business, he received high praise for effectively working with both Washington and Wall Street to implement the new regulations.

Kennedy again supported FDR’s nomination for the presidency in 1936, and in 1937 returned to public service to become the first chairman of the newly created Maritime Commission that had been established to revitalize the United States shipping industry.  Roosevelt-Kennedy_4Then, in March 1938, Kennedy received the appointment he most wanted in Roosevelt’s government: Ambassador to the Court of St. James – the first Irish Catholic American to hold this prestigious diplomatic post.  As the new U.S. Ambassador in London, Kennedy had a front row seat to the worsening international crisis in Europe.  When war finally came in September 1939, Kennedy’s public support for American neutrality conflicted with Roosevelt’s increasing efforts to provide aid to Britain.  Roosevelt and Kennedy met in October 1940 to try to iron out their differences, but it was clear the split could not be repaired. Kennedy resigned after FDR’s election to a Third Term in November.

Despite their later policy differences, the ties between FDR and Joseph Kennedy extended to the next generation of Kennedys. In 1935, FDR learned that young Bobby Kennedy was a stamp collector and sent the boy some of stamps for his collection.  In 1940, recent Harvard graduate John F. Kennedy sent an inscribed first edition of his recently published book, Why England Slept, to FDR for his book collection.  As was his custom, FDR signed the flyleaf underneath Jack Kennedy’s signature.  And in 1944, FDR was shocked to learn of the death of Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr., while on a combat bombing mission, and the President wrote a heartfelt condolence letter to the elder Joe Kennedy.

FDR’s own death in April 1945 brought an end to Joseph Kennedy’s years of collaboration with Franklin Roosevelt.  But post-war America saw the rise of a new Kennedy to prominence, John F. Kennedy.  As a leading figure in the Democratic Party, Eleanor Roosevelt saw JFK grow from a Congressman, to a United States Senator, then a potential nominee for vice president in 1956, and finally the Democratic Party’s nominee for president in 1960.

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John F. Kennedy touring the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library during his visit for the 25th Anniversary of Social Security, August 14, 1960.

A longtime supporter of the liberal Adlai Stevenson’s runs for the presidency, Eleanor Roosevelt had concerns about JFK’s commitment to some of the liberal causes that she held dear.  During the 1950s, ER challenged John Kennedy to be more vocal in his opposition to McCarthyism.  And in 1960, Mrs. Roosevelt feared that JFK’s caution on civil rights issues was an attempt to garner votes in the more conservative southern states that might backfire and cost him votes in the more liberal north.

On August 14, 1960, Kennedy came to Hyde Park to pay his respects to Mrs. Roosevelt and to gain her full support for his candidacy.  After visiting the Roosevelt Library and the FDR Home to deliver a speech commemorating the 25th anniversary of Social Security, JFK had tea with Mrs. Roosevelt at her Val-Kill home where they talked over the issues and his campaign.  Following the meeting, Eleanor Roosevelt threw her full support behind the Kennedy-Johnson ticket.

Roosevelt-Kennedy_11During the campaign, Mrs. Roosevelt never hesitated to give her advice to the young candidate, including commenting on the first televised presidential debates.  After his election, President Kennedy appointed ER to be the chairperson of the President’s Commission on the Status of Women.  Mrs. Roosevelt’s death on November 7, 1962 brought President and Mrs. Kennedy, as well as former presidents Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower and Vice President Lyndon Johnson to Hyde Park to attend the funeral and witness her burial in the Rose Garden next to Franklin D. Roosevelt on November 10, 1962.  A little over a year later, JFK himself would be gone, bringing the curtain down on the collaboration of the Roosevelts and Kennedys that spanned more than a half a century.

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Senator Robert F. Wagner, Margaret Truman, President Harry S Truman, Bess Truman, President Dwight D. Eisenhower, President Lyndon B. Johnson, Lady Bird Johnson, President John F. Kennedy, and Jacqueline Kennedy at Eleanor Roosevelt’s burial in Hyde Park, New York, November 10, 1962.

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FDR’s speech at Gettysburg, July 3, 1938

Today, one hundred-fifty years later, we pause to remember one of the greatest speeches ever made by a US President: Abraham Lincoln’s poetically beautiful Gettysburg Address, given November 19, 1863, upon the dedication of the National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

On July 3, 1938, speaking on the 75th Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, President Franklin D. Roosevelt reflected on Lincoln and his words:

“Immortal deeds and immortal words have created here at Gettysburg a shrine of American patriotism. We are encompassed by ‘The last full measure of devotion’ of many men and by the words in which Abraham Lincoln expressed the simple faith for which they died.

“It seldom helps to wonder how a statesman of one generation would surmount the crisis of another. A statesman deals with concrete difficulties—with things which must be done from day to day. Not often can he frame conscious patterns for the far off future.

“But the fullness of the stature of Lincoln’s nature and the fundamental conflict which events forced upon his Presidency invite us ever to turn to him for help.

“For the issue which he restated here at Gettysburg seventy five years ago will be the continuing issue before this Nation so long as we cling to the purposes for which the Nation was founded—to preserve under the changing conditions of each generation a people’s government for the people’s good.”

FDR found that Lincoln’s words were timeless. Roosevelt drew strength and insight from the promise of Lincoln’s words while leading the country in the defining battles of his own time.

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Eleanor Roosevelt launches UNICEF Halloween “Trick or Treat” program at the United Nations with Captain Kangaroo.

Eleanor Roosevelt – “My Day”

I went to the United Nations the other afternoon to be photographed with some of the children who are taking part in the Halloween Trick or Treat program for the benefit for UNICEF.

UNICEF stands for the U.N. International Children’s Fund. The “E” used to be for “emergency,” but while it is still left in the alphabetical name, the program is no longer an emergency program. It goes on every day, all year around, feeding children who are hungry, wherever it is possible to do so throughout the world, helping people to feed their children better with local foods, and in cooperation with the World Health Organization putting on campaigns against diseases which attack children.

The idea of making Halloween serve two purposes has become very popular and on October 31 last year 7,500 communities from Alaska to Florida and from Hawaii to Puerto Rico participated. A million and a half youngsters had the pleasure of dressing up and ringing doorbells, holding containers into which pennies could be dropped to help the world’s children…

It has become a real community undertaking, and instead of people being afraid of tricks that might be played upon them and real vandalism, which often did occur in days gone by, we now know that with the pennies we have saved to give, something can be done for children in the world. And often added to the pennies are cookies and candies for the children who thoughtfully go about collecting for youngsters in other parts of the world.

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