“Following the Footsteps of His Illustrious Namesake”

One of the great joys of being an archivist is helping a researcher fill a gap in their own personal history. We recently received a request from Frank Green seeking documentation about his father, Franklin Delano Roosevelt Green, who was born in Staunton, Virginia in 1933 and named after President Roosevelt. Mr. Green has graciously allowed us to share his story.

Based on the information Mr. Green provided to us, we were able to locate correspondence about his father in a special Namesakes File in the presidential papers. It turns out that in early November 1933, William Green wrote a letter to FDR about the birth of his son who was being named after the President.

FDR’s personal secretary, Missy LeHand, replied on behalf of President Roosevelt, congratulating the parents on the birth of their child and enclosing a keepsake for FDR’s little namesake. Typically, the keepsake for boys sent by the White House was a handkerchief with FDR’s initials embroidered in the corner.

We were struck by the elder Mr. Green’s sense of optimism and hope for his son’s future even though they were an African-American family in the segregated South during the Great Depression. We couldn’t help but wonder what happened to young Franklin Delano Roosevelt Green, and our researcher sent us the following:

“My grandfather was an Army Officer in World War I. My three uncles all volunteered and fought in World War II (William Jr. was a Tuskegee Airman), and my father [Franklin Delano Roosevelt Green] volunteered and fought in Korea. After Korea he became an attorney in Philadelphia. He was one of the first African American attorneys to work for the Department of Labor and was a law partner of civil rights pioneer Cecil Moore.”

Surely it can be said that Franklin Delano Roosevelt Green had the “active and useful life” President Roosevelt wished for him and that his entire family can rightly be proud of his accomplishments and of a life well-led.