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Jean Edward Smith, author of “Eisenhower,” speaks to a standing-room-only audience.

President Roosevelt was an avid collector of books. His love of reading was reflected in the enormity of his collection of well over 21,000 books — now a part of the Roosevelt Library archives.

To honor FDR’s love of books and to celebrate the fact that a host of new books on the Roosevelt era are written each year — many based on research at the Roosevelt Library — the Library held the ninth annual Roosevelt Reading Festival last Saturday, June 23, 2012.

The well-attended program highlighted the recently published work of twelve authors — including Jean Edward Smith author of “Eisenhower in War and Peace” — and a special afternoon presentation by Franklin D. Roosevelt historian Joseph E. Persico, author of the forthcoming “Roosevelt’s Centurions: FDR and the Commanders He Led to Victory in World War II.” The Reading Festival was held in the Henry A. Wallace Center at the FDR Presidential Library and Home and nearly 600 people attended throughout the day.

Joseph E. Persico signs copies of his books following his keynote address.

Other authors included John Bodnar, “The ‘Good War’ in American Memory”; Ren and Helen Davis, “Our Mark on This Land: A Guide to the Legacy of the Civilian Conservation Corps in America’s Parks”; James Tertius de Kay, “Roosevelt’s Navy: The Education of a Warrior President, 1882-1920”; Michael Hiltzik, “The New Deal: A Modern History”; Mark A. Huddle, “Roi Ottley’s World War II: The Lost Diary of an African American Journalist”; John J. McLaughlin, “General Albert C. Wedemeyer: America’s Unsung Strategist in World War II”; Greg Robinson, “After Camp: Portraits in Midcentury Japanese American Life and Politics”; Craig Shirley, “December 1941: 31 Days that Changed America and Saved the World”; and Mary E. Stuckey, “Defining Americans: The Presidency and National Identity.”

FDR and the GI Bill of Rights

FDR Signs GI Bill

FDR signs the G.I. Bill in the Oval Office, with (l to r) Bennett “Champ” Clark, J. Hardin Peterson, John Rankin, Paul Cunningham, Edith N. Rogers, J.M. Sullivan, Walter George, John Stelle, Robert Wagner, (unknown), and Alben Barkley; June 22, 1944. FDR Library Photo Collection, NPx 64-269.

June 22 marks the 68th anniversary of the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944, more popularly known as the GI Bill of Rights. Although World War II was far from over, FDR was determined to plan ahead for a smooth transition to peace, both abroad and at home. The President proposed to Congress a way to level the economic impact of the war’s end and to integrate returning veterans back into American society.

The result was the GI Bill. Now widely credited with creating the post-war middle class, the GI Bill of Rights provided returning veterans with educational benefits, work training, hiring preferences, and subsidized loans for buying homes, businesses and farms. It continues today to be one of the lasting legacies of the Roosevelt administration.

Draft Signing Statement

Draft of President Roosevelt’s statement upon signing the GI Bill into law

Signed GI Bill

Signed copy of the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944

Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum will host its ninth annual Roosevelt Reading Festival on Saturday, June 23, 2012. The Reading Festival will be held in the Henry A. Wallace Center at the FDR Presidential Library and Home. All Roosevelt Reading Festival activities are open to the public free of charge.

In six concurrent sessions taking place throughout the day, twelve authors of recently published works that draw upon the Roosevelt Library archives, or focus on the Roosevelt era, will present author talks followed by question-and-answer sessions and book signings. Copies of all of the authors’ books will be available for sale in the New Deal Store located in the Wallace Center. The program begins at 9:45 a.m. with coffee and doughnuts for attendees.

This year’s Roosevelt Reading Festival authors include:

Special Afternoon Presentation:
Persico, Joseph E.
Roosevelt’s Centurions: FDR and the Commanders He Led to Victory in World War II
Random House, 2012

Bodnar, John
The “Good War” in American Memory
The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2010

Davis, Ren and Helen
Our Mark on This Land: A Guide to the Legacy of the Civilian Conservation Corps in America’s Parks
McDonald & Woodward, 2011

de Kay, James Tertius
Roosevelt’s Navy: The Education of a Warrior President, 1882-1920
Pegasus, 2012

Hiltzik, Michael
The New Deal: A Modern History
Free Press, 2011

Huddle, Mark A., ed.
Roi Ottley’s World War II: The Lost Diary of an African American Journalist
University Press of Kansas, 2011

Knepper, Cathy
Jersey Justice: The Story of the Trenton Six
Rivergate Books, 2011

McLaughlin, John J.
General Albert C. Wedemeyer: America’s Unsung Strategist in World War II
Casemate, 2012

Robinson, Greg
After Camp: Portraits in Midcentury Japanese American Life and Politics
University of California Press, 2012

Shirley, Craig
December 1941: 31 Days that Changed America and Saved the World
Thomas Nelson, 2011

Smith, Jean Edward
Eisenhower in War and Peace
Random House, 2012

Stuckey, Mary E.
Defining Americans: The Presidency and National Identity
University Press of Kansas, 2004

Reading Festival Agenda

Michelle M. Frauenberger

Twenty years ago I began an extraordinary journey with Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt.  Fresh out of college and looking to gain experience working in a museum, I applied to the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum.  As luck would have it, the Library was in the process of expanding its public programs, and I was hired to assist the Pubic Affairs Specialist.

Several years into my time at the Library, I was offered the opportunity to work in the Museum Department – an offer I leapt at – and thus began my on-the-job education in the world of museum work.

In my transition from public affairs assistant to Museum Collections Manager, I have had the chance to examine Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt through a variety of resources: documents, photos, films, books, etc.  Add to these sources the objects in the Museum collection, and the Roosevelts truly become dimensional figures.

Like the museum collections in all the Presidential Libraries, our collection of over 34,000 objects is wonderfully varied.  It ranges from personal items collected and used by Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt to objects associated with their public lives and the eras in which they lived – and everything in-between.

As the Museum Collections Manager I have the day-to-day responsibility of managing this rich collection of artifacts.  This entails the accessioning, cataloging,  and tracking of the objects, insuring their safe storage, conducting preservation work on items, and arranging for outside conservation work when necessary.  All this is made especially challenging as the Library has been undergoing a multi-year major renovation project.  My duties also extend to researching objects, coordinating the loan of objects to institutions around the world, working with the Director and Supervisory Museum Curator on the acquisition of new objects, assisting with exhibit development, and – perhaps one of the most rewarding tasks – answering research queries.  All facilitated by the camaraderie, cohesion, and support of a fantastic Library and Museum staff.

As the FDR Library and Museum moves into the final year of its renovation, I am looking forward to the beginning of an exciting new era for the Library (I may even get a little giddy over the new storage and processing facilities we will be gaining for the Museum collection!).  An era in which we will bring increased public awareness of our Museum collection through dynamic new exhibits, web-based programs, and the continuation of loans to outside institutions.

Check out the latest progress of our library renovation!

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D-Day

On June 6, 1944, the United States and its allies launched the greatest amphibious invasion in history on the shores of France. Over 150,000 soldiers, sailors, and airmen stormed the beaches of Normandy beginning a campaign that would end with the unconditional surrender of Germany in May 1945.

Franklin D. Roosevelt, as Commander in Chief of the United States Armed Forces during World War II, played an active and decisive role in determining strategy. In his ongoing discussions with British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and with the American Joint Chiefs of Staff, he steadily promoted the invasion of the European continent to liberate it from Hitler’s Germany that finally began on D-Day.

On the night of June 6, 1944, President Roosevelt went on national radio to address the American people for the first time about the Normandy invasion. His speech took the form of a prayer.

D-Day Prayer

The date and timing of the Normandy invasion had been top secret. During a national radio broadcast on June 5 about the Allied liberation of Rome, President Roosevelt had made no mention of the Normandy operation, already underway at that time. When he spoke to the country on June 6, the President felt the need to explain his earlier silence. Shortly before he went on the air, he added several handwritten lines to the opening of his speech that addressed that point. They read: “Last night, when I spoke to you about the fall of Rome, I knew at that moment that troops of the United States and our allies were crossing the Channel in another and greater operation. It has come to pass with success thus far.”

D-Day Prayer Audio Recording: (http://www.fdrlibrary.marist.edu/archives/collections/avclips.html)

Find more documents and photos from the FDR Library collections: (http://docs.fdrlibrary.marist.edu/04DDHOME.HTML)

Carved Wooden Pig (MO 1947.93.412)

 

President Roosevelt liked to display souvenirs and small trinkets he received as gifts on his desk in the White House Oval Office. Some of these items reflected whimsical aspects of FDR’s personality. This carved wooden pig is certainly among them.

Roosevelt enjoyed collecting pig figurines. His private secretary Grace Tully later recalled in her memoir F.D.R, My Boss, “Only the people closely associated with him knew about this interest.” Over time the President’s collection of these figurines grew and the little pigs took up space on desks, ledges, and mantelpieces in his White House bedroom and Study. A few, including the small carved pig pictured here, ended up in the Oval Office. Eleanor Roosevelt gave her husband this pig in his Christmas stocking in 1937. The First Lady had admired it during a guided tour of a rural arts exhibit staged in Washington D.C. that year. The pig was made by a student at the John C. Campbell Folk School in North Carolina. The exhibit organizer noted Mrs. Roosevelt’s interest in the pig during her tour and presented it to her. She clearly had her husband in mind when she brought it back to the White House.

Eleanor Roosevelt and Queen Elizabeth II

In the United Kingdom, 2012 marks the Diamond Jubilee of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II. While the Queen’s reign began after the Roosevelt years in the White House, there was a relationship between the Roosevelts and the Royals. Her parents, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, had visited the United States in 1939, and Eleanor Roosevelt had traveled to the United Kingdom in 1942 to visit troops during World War II and again in 1948 to unveil a statue of FDR. Eleanor also had been invited to the wedding of Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip in 1947. While she was unable to attend, afterwards she was sent a piece of the royal wedding cake.

The Queen’s coronation was held on June 2, 1953. Eleanor was invited but unfortunately she was unable to attend due to a prior commitment to be in Japan “trying to explain what democracy means from the Western point of view.” In her letter to the Queen, Eleanor writes:

I shall think of you on Coronation Day and wish you God’s blessing. May your reign be long and peaceful and prosperous for  your people. I know that all you can do for the good of your own nation and the world, you will do in these years to come.

1953 Christmas Card to Eleanor Roosevelt from the British Royal Family

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