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The Roosevelt Library will present several free holiday-related programs in the first few weeks of December. In commemoration of National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum will host an author talk and book signing with Stanley Weintraub, author of PEARL HARBOR CHRISTMAS: A WORLD AT WAR, DECEMBER 1941. The program will be held at 7:00 p.m. on Friday, December 7, 2012 in the Henry A. Wallace Center at the FDR Presidential Library and Home. Following the presentation, Professor Weintraub will sign copies of his book — now available in paperback.
The Roosevelt Library and the Home of FDR (Springwood) will be open to visitors free of charge on December 15, 2012, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., as part of the annual Holiday Open House activities. There will be holiday decorations, refreshments and special activities beginning at Noon in the Henry A. Wallace Visitor and Education Center. The seventh annual Children’s Reading Festival — presented by the Roosevelt Library and the Friends of the Poughkeepsie Public Library District — will be held in the Henry A. Wallace Center, from 1:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. on December 15.
Children’s book authors will read from and sign copies of their books. Featured books will be available for purchase in the New Deal Store in the Wallace Center. Authors will include:
Oh! What a Christmas! and The Night Santa Got Lost: How NORAD Saved Christmas
Chloe and The Monster Returns
In addition, on December 15, there will be free photos with Santa from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m., and children can make holiday cards for sailors on the USS FRANKLIN AND ELEANOR ROOSEVELT beginning at Noon. Refreshments will be served throughout the afternoon.
The Library Programs staff wishes you a wonderful holiday season and hopes you’ll consider joining us for these December programs.
Aquamarine Stone (MO 1947.115.1)
Several weeks after winning his second presidential election, FDR boarded the cruiser USS Indianapolis for a month long “Good Neighbor” cruise to South America. On November 27, 1936, the President stopped at Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where he met with Brazilian President Getúlio Vargas.
During this visit, President and Mrs. Vargas presented FDR with a stunning gift for First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt— a 1,298 carat aquamarine (seen above). This remarkable stone was from the Vargas’ private collection and was the largest cut stone of its kind at the time. It was presented in an art deco style box, custom made by jeweler Casa Oscar Machado.
The stone was found in a mine in the State of Minas Gerais, about 880 miles from Rio de Janeiro. The mine, known as Laranjeira (Orange), was later renamed Pedra Azul (Blue Stone) for its rich finds. The rough stone, weighing 1.3 kilograms, was brought to cutter Gustav Reitbauer of Amsterdam Limited, purveyor of precious gemstones. It yielded two cut stones—the one that was given to the First Lady and another, at 865 carats, that was sold to the Maharadja of Kaputala.
In 1947, the aquamarine caused a minor controversy for Mrs. Roosevelt when syndicated columnist and radio personality Drew Pearson accused her of trying to sell the piece after she made an attempt to discover its value. ER ultimately decided to donate the precious stone to the Roosevelt Library and wrote of the incident in her autobiography This I Remember: “I think it does interest people and perhaps does serve a good purpose by symbolizing the kindness and generosity of Brazilian feeling toward our country.”
Thanksgiving during the War, 1943
During World War II, President Roosevelt made a number of trips to meet with foreign leaders to discuss the war effort and the postwar world. At the end of 1943, FDR traveled to Cairo, Egypt and Teheran, Iran to meet with Winston Churchill, Chiang Kai-shek and Joseph Stalin. The meeting of FDR, Churchill and Stalin in Teheran was the first for the “Big Three.”
On November 25, 1943, Thanksgiving Day, FDR was in Cairo with Winston Churchill and Chiang Kai-shek.
Below is a handwritten page from FDR’s diary of the Cairo and Teheran conferences. On this page from November 26th, FDR writes about hosting Thanksgiving dinner for American and British officials – including Churchill. FDR writes that he had the Chiangs to tea and then the British to dinner with two turkeys he had brought from home.
Sometimes I think it’s a rare treat that I love my job as much as I do. It’s usually reinforced by friends or family talking about how boring their day was or how annoying a client is. Of course, yes, there are days I feel overwhelmed or my eyes are blurry from a bit too much time at the computer that day (I’m not at my computer all that often so it doesn’t take much). As the public programs specialist at the Roosevelt Library I get to work at the presidential library of the greatest president of the 20th century. And, even better, it’s my job to provide public programs that enable our visitors to learn more about both Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt and all of the wonderful things they have left to the American people.
One of the best aspects of my job is working with colleagues. None of these programs I organize I can truly call my own. And honestly, I LOVE that. They are a collaborative effort of the hard working Library administrators, staff and volunteers and I’m lucky enough to be the guy that pulls it all together. People make these programs happen.
But perhaps the most important people are the attendees; those who have taken time out of their day to visit us and learn about the great legacies of the Roosevelts. I think my favorite moment at the Library so far was during the question-and-answer session following a book talk about five years ago. The author took advantage of the situation and asked the first question of a captive Hyde Park audience of about 60 people. She wanted to know to what extent Hyde Park residents were aware of FDR’s disability back in the ‘30s and ‘40s. She unexpectedly got a firsthand account.
One of Hyde Park’s long time residents told a story from his childhood. He described a day in which FDR arrived late to church. Around the time he became aware that the President wasn’t there yet he felt a sensation similar to the hair standing up on one’s arm. He then heard softly, and then louder, the sound of metal braces coming closer and closer to the open doorway of St. James Church. He knew – without turning around – the President had arrived. FDR’s disability was so a part of who he was that it hardly registered as a disability at all to this young boy. And it made no difference to him. As I watched the man tell this story I could see that his description had given half the audience goose bumps. We all heard FDR approaching that door. For me, that program rose above the rest.
I celebrated 15 years as a federal employee this month. Those years included two college summers as an architect technician with the Historic American Building Survey, almost six years as a park ranger at Weir Farm National Historic Site in Connecticut, and going on nine years here at the Roosevelt Library managing both public affairs and public programs. While there are many events and programs here which leave me feeling good about my work – the annual Roosevelt Reading Festival, naturalization ceremonies, and just about anything with the March of Dimes – there will always be the unexpected few that rise above the rest. And that’s exactly why I do what I do.
Get Out the Vote Statement
Below is a statement by FDR urging people to vote in the 1942 mid-term elections. In it he says “we are engaged in an all-out war to keep democracy alive. Democracy survives through the courage and fortitude and wisdom of many generations of fighting Americans. And that includes using not only bullets but also ballots.”
Vice Presidential Spotlight: Harry S. Truman
A former farmer and haberdasher, World War I veteran, and successful local Missouri politician, Harry Truman won a United States Senate seat in 1934. He enthusiastically supported the New Deal and was seen as a Roosevelt loyalist. After winning reelection in 1940, Truman distinguished himself by chairing a respected Senate committee investigating the defense industry. Although Truman never sought the vice presidency, Democratic Party leaders opposed Henry Wallace remaining on the 1944 ticket, and Truman was named to replace him. When FDR died on April 12, 1945, Truman succeeded to the presidency without knowing about the atomic bomb project or what had been agreed to at Yalta.
It was Eleanor Roosevelt that informed Truman of FDR’s death. Late in 1945, Truman appointed ER to the U.S. delegation to the United Nations, where she remained throughout Truman’s presidency. Despite her official position, ER did not hesitate to criticize Truman for his weakness on domestic issues, and a foreign policy she believed weakened the United Nations and was too confrontational towards the Soviet Union. She reluctantly supported Truman in the 1948 election, and they maintained a complex relationship that lasted until her death in 1962.
For more information on Harry Truman, please visit the Truman Library Website: http://www.trumanlibrary.org/
FDR’s “Lucky” Campaign Hat (MO 1945.58.20)
This hat is one of several distinctive “lucky” felt hats Franklin D. Roosevelt wore during his four presidential campaigns. As you can see in the photos below, these trademark fedoras were a common sight on the campaign trail.
After the 1940 election, Roosevelt generously donated this hat to be auctioned at a fundraiser for the Motion Picture Relief Fund (MPRF). Well-known actors Edward G. Robinson and Melvyn Douglas—both strong FDR supporters—jointly purchased the hat for $3,200 (roughly $50,000 in today’s dollars). This act by the President was a surprise to some, including the First Lady. “The President is very superstitious about that hat, I never expected him to part with it,” she told Jean Hersholt, actor and President of the MPRF.
During the summer of 1944, as Roosevelt campaigned for a fourth term as president, Robinson and Douglas returned the hat to the President. At the time, Robinson was entertaining troops overseas and Douglas was serving as a captain in the US Army. “I believe most men have a special affection for their old hats,” wrote Grace Tully, FDR’s secretary, in her response.
After winning the 1944 election, FDR gave this hat to the Roosevelt Library. The hat will be on display in the Library’s new permanent exhibit, opening June 30, 2013.