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It’s been a great 5 years for In Roosevelt History, but it is time for a fresh new look and feel. Besides an update, we are also moving our new blog to http://fdr.blogs.archives.gov/. So, be on the look out for new content starting Sunday, April 12th on our new blog Forward With Roosevelt. See you all there!

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On January 30, the Roosevelt Library unveiled its latest initiative to harness new media technologies to reach new audiences– an online, interactive Virtual Tour of the Museum’s 12,000 square foot permanent exhibition.

The Virtual Tour lets visitors from all over the world experience the Museum and access additional educational materials. Funded by a generous grant from the Newman’s Own Foundation, it vastly increases the Museum’s reach, serving as an access option for people who cannot otherwise benefit from the Museum due to physical, sensory, economic, or intellectual barriers. Bringing the Museum online allows the Library to provide a more welcoming, inclusive, and meaningful experience to audiences from all walks of life.

The Virtual Tour was developed by Library staff working with the Dynology Corporation of Vienna, Virginia. Museum Technician Katherine Sardino guided the Library team on this innovative project. “In recent years, museums have started to embrace virtual tours,” Sardino notes. “Art museums have been more assertive than history museums in adopting this new interpretive tool. But few have as many features as our new tour.”

vt_dept_thumbThe new Tour is a comprehensive, self-guided interactive experience that gives anyone with a desktop, laptop, tablet, or mobile device the ability to explore the permanent exhibition. Users can zoom-in and navigate through 360 degree panoramic views of the galleries. They can view select documents, artifacts, photographs, and graphics and examine the exhibition’s ten “Confront the Issue” special topics (which range from “What Caused the Great Depression” to “FDR and Japanese American Internment”). Users can also access other exciting features from the exhibition, including audio of Fireside Chats and Eleanor Roosevelt radio addresses, a program that browses the contents of FDR’s Oval Office desk, and footage from Mrs. Roosevelt’s television appearances during the 1950s and 1960s.

The Virtual Tour also features special educational resources produced by the Library’s Education staff, These include a series of web-exclusive “Teachable Moment:” films. These short films provide overviews of important topics from the Roosevelt era, including Social Security and FDR’s Four Freedoms.

Early social media responses to the Virtual Tour have been enthusiastic. A Facebook user enthused, “Excellent online tour. It whets my appetite to return to the Library, which I visited in 2007.” Another wrote, “This is the perfect way to celebrate the life of such a great man and American spirit, by making his life and work even more accessible.” A Twitter fan noted “New virtual tour of museum @FDRLibrary if Hyde Park NY is not on your travel itinerary (though it should be)” Another said simply: “Next best thing to being there”.

Experience the new Virtual Tour yourself: http://www.fdrlibraryvirtualtour.org

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IMG_8181On September 14, 2014, PBS stations across the country will begin broadcasting the latest film by Ken Burns, The Roosevelts: An Intimate History. This seven-part documentary weaves together the stories of Theodore, Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, three members of one of the most prominent and influential families in American politics.

The 14-hour series marks the first time their individual stories have been woven into a single narrative, and it is the first time that PBS has premiered such a film in two-hour blocks over seven consecutive nights.

The Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum in Hyde Park, New York, assisted Burns’ Florentine Films production team throughout the entire process of making the film. The first visit to the Roosevelt Library by Florentine staff happened in May 2009. Over the course of the next five years, the Roosevelt staff helped the crew in researching, understanding, and filming the Library’s archival and museum collections. The Library staff also assisted renowned Roosevelt biographer Geoffrey C. Ward as he honed the film’s script and wrote the accompanying book. The entire process was collaborative and collegial, with the Florentine team sharing the digital by-products of their labors and the Library offering suggestions for documents, photographs, and objects to use in the film. And it can be said that the Florentine crew survived the Library’s three and half year renovation right along with the Library staff. During the film project, the Florentine team worked in the pre-renovation research room in 2009, moved right along with the staff to the temporary research room in the Library’s Wallace Visitor Center in 2010, and moved back to the renovated Library in 2013. Burns’ team also worked closely with the National Park Service, which operates the Home of FDR National Historic Site on the same grounds as the Library.

Ken Burns made a special visit to Hyde Park on June 12, 2014, to preview the excerpts from the film to a packed audience in the Wallace Visitor Center. Afterwards, Ken Burns and Geoff Ward hosted a special lunch where they personally thanked the staffs of the Roosevelt Library and the National Park Service for their assistance in creating The Roosevelts: An Intimate History – an epic documentary that will bring the world of the Roosevelts to a whole new generation.

 

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The Library lost a dear friend and favorite researcher last week. Joseph Persico, best-selling author, historian and speechwriter for Gov. Nelson Rockefeller died at the age of 84. Persico wrote 12 books, including biographies of Rockefeller, Edward R. Murrow, CIA director William Casey and Franklin Roosevelt. He was selected to write the words etched in granite at the National World War II Memorial: “Here we mark the price of freedom.”

Picture 018Of Persico’s writing career, Eric Sevaried described his Edward R. Murrow: An American Original as “the definitive” biography of the broadcast pioneer. The New York Times said of Persico’s The Imperial Rockefeller, “No one has written a book like this about Nelson Rockefeller before.” His Nuremberg: Infamy on Trial was described by the broadcast journalist, Howard K. Smith, as “Simply the best account of the trial.” This book was adapted by Turner Network Television as a miniseries that won two Emmy awards. Persico was the collaborator on former Secretary of State Colin Powell’s autobiography, My American Journey which remained twenty weeks on the New York Times best seller list.

His Roosevelt’s Secret War: FDR and World War II Espionage also reached the best seller list and was chosen as one of the notable books of the year. His, Eleventh Month, Eleventh Day, Eleventh Hour, on Armistice Day, World War I, has been described by historian, Richard Norton Smith as, “The single finest work I have read on the Great War.” The Washington Post’s Book World said of his Franklin and Lucy: President Roosevelt, Mrs. Rutherfurd, “Persico… understands that Lucy Mercer helped FDR awaken his capacity for love and compassion, and thus helped him become the man to whom the nation will be eternally in debt.” “Roosevelt’s Centurions,” a detailed history of his World War II commanders — a 650-page volume published last year, was his final published book and his most ambitious.

His articles have been published in American Heritage Magazine and the Military History Quarterly. He was a frequent reviewer for the New York Times Book Review and the Washington Post Book World and was a commentator on several PBS and History Channel documentaries.

Joe Persico was a wonderful scholar and a true gentleman. He was generous with his time and his expertise, appearing at five of our annual Roosevelt Reading Festivals. His program here at the Library in December 2001 on the 60th anniversary of Pearl Harbor–coming just weeks after the 9/11 attacks–was one of the most memorable and meaningful events in the Library’s long history.

He will be greatly missed by his friends in Hyde Park.

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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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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!

Political commentator and historian Jonathan Alter signs copies of his book "The Defining Moment" at the 2006 Reading Festival.

Political commentator and historian Jonathan Alter signs copies of his book “The Defining Moment” at the 2006 Reading Festival.

This year is a year of anniversaries for the Roosevelt Library. The recent rededication of the Library building itself on June 30, 2013 marked the 72nd anniversary of the dedication of America’s first presidential library — a milestone in an ongoing effort most people refer to as “open government” today. President Roosevelt left some 17 million papers here so the American people could “learn from the past that they can gain in judgment in creating their own future.”

But 2013 is also the 10th anniversary of the Henry A. Wallace Visitor and Education Center at the FDR Presidential Library and Home. We’ve greeted nearly 1.5 million visitors there. Our community has gathered in its meeting rooms year after year. We’ve held many special programs and events there. One such event is a unique program that was designed specifically for its versatile spaces. It is a program that could have never occurred in the limited programming areas of 1941 Library building. It is the Roosevelt Reading Festival — a free public program — and it too is in its tenth year.

Roosevelt grandson Curtis Roosevelt speaks about his book "Too Close to the Sun" to a standing room only audience at the 2009 Roosevelt Reading Festival.

Roosevelt grandson Curtis Roosevelt speaks about his book “Too Close to the Sun” to a standing room only audience at the 2009 Roosevelt Reading Festival.

In six concurrent sessions throughout the day, as many as fifteen authors of works that draw upon the Roosevelt Library archives speak about their research, their areas of expertise, and their books. Attendees can choose from many lectures throughout the day — starting on the top of each hour — and create their own experience learning about the Roosevelt era.

That the Roosevelt Library has hosted over a dozen authors of new works on the Roosevelt era each year is no small thing. It is a testament to FDR’s vision that America will continue to learn from the past so long as institutions like the Roosevelt Library are accessible to its citizens.

The 10th annual Roosevelt Reading Festival is this Saturday, July 27, 2013. The twelve featured authors this year include Joseph E. Persico, author of ROOSEVELT’S CENTURIONS: FDR AND THE COMMANDERS HE LED TO VICTORY IN WORLD WAR II and Eleanor Roosevelt historian Allida M. Black speaking on Eleanor Roosevelt’s 1963 work TOMORROW IS NOW which Dr. Black republished in 2012. Copies of all of the authors’ books will be available for sale in the New Deal Store. The program begins at 9:45 a.m. with coffee and refreshments. Attendees can visit the Library’s new permanent exhibition with free admission throughout the day. CLICK HERE for the complete list of authors and the agenda.

Historians Michael Beschloss, James MacGregor Burns and Susan Dunn discuss the legacy of Franklin Roosevelt at the 2011 Reading Festival.

Historians Michael Beschloss, James MacGregor Burns and Susan Dunn discuss the legacy of Franklin Roosevelt at the 2011 Reading Festival.

by Lynn Bassanese, FDR Library Director
 
The improvised sound booth used to record the narration.

The improvised sound booth used to record the narration.

Putting together a brand new 12,000 square foot museum exhibit has been quite an adventure.  There are countless components that go into the design and fabrication of an exhibit.  Currently, we are working with a design company, an interactive contractor, a fabrication company and an audiovisual production company.

One of the highlights of the experience came on May 6th when museum curator Herman Eberhardt and I traveled to New York City to meet our audiovisual contractor, Monadnock Media, to record the narration for our Legacy film. There are 17 audiovisual productions in our new exhibit ranging from silent film treatments to immersive theater experiences.  But there is no more important film than the one which will be shown in the Legacy Theater, the very last thing people experience in our exhibit.  Here our visitors should understand that the world we live in today is still very much the world that Franklin Roosevelt envisioned and fought for.

Our team struggled with the script for this important theater.  Nothing seemed to hit the mark until our audiovisual producer found an essay that President Bill Clinton had written about FDR back in 2000. As soon as we read it we knew it was our script.  Clinton captured the essence of FDR and his legacy.

President Clinton and now Library Director Lynn Bassanese. February 1993.

President Clinton and now Library Director Lynn Bassanese. February 1993.

I reached out to President Clinton through his staff and my dear colleague, Terri Garner, director of the Clinton Presidential Library.  I was not only asking to use Clinton’s essay but I wanted him to read it as the narration for our film.  A lot to ask one of the busiest former presidents in our country’s history.

I knew the one thing I had in my favor was that Clinton loved FDR.  He had visited the Roosevelt Library three times during his presidency and once after leaving office.  Fortunately for us he agreed to record – our last hurdle was working with his staff to find the time in his busy schedule.

We did the recording at a New York City hotel after he attended a meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative.  He seemed a bit tired after a very long day but he was charming and gracious and the minute I heard him reading his words I knew we were going to have an amazing experience for our museum visitors.  Our heartfelt thanks to President Clinton for his amazing generosity with his time and his words and to Terri Garner, director of the Clinton Presidential Library and Museum, and Elizabeth Bibi, senior communications associate for the Clinton Foundation, for their assistance in making it all happen.

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:

1:30 p.m.
Iza Trapani
Jingle Bells and The Bear Went Over the Mountain

2:15 p.m.
Michael Garland
Oh! What a Christmas! and The Night Santa Got Lost: How NORAD Saved Christmas

3:00 p.m.
Peter McCarty
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.

 

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