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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Congress has restored funding of appropriated activities and the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library & Museum is open for both museum visitors and researchers.

Due to the Federal Government shutdown, the FDR Library is closed. We are unable to post or participate in any of our social media channels during this closure. All National Archives facilities are closed, with the exception of the Federal Records Centers and the Federal Register until the Federal government reopens.

Did you know that the land in front of the FDR Library is active farm land? President Roosevelt used the large hayfield between the Library and Route 9 (the road at the edge of the property) for farming, and he often expressed the hope that the practice would continue after his death. We continue to honor FDR’s wishes.

Every year the fields are used by a local farmer and in the late summer visitors to the Library are able to see hay bales on the front lawn.

It was FDR’s belief that the field had been farmed by the Native Americans long before it was taken over by the Dutch and English colonists. As proof, he pointed to the several large oaks in the field, some of which still exist. Their spreading lower branches, he said, could have developed only in open spaces, and the only open spaces in Dutchess County before the colonial period were the Native American cornfields.

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

Most days at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum are really good; some could even be classified as great. But every once in a while a day becomes exceptional. Last Thursday, July 11th was one of those exceptional days.

We were hosting 120 school counselors and college and university professionals who were attending the Overseas Association for College Admission Counseling (OACAC) conference on the Marist College campus from July 9-11. Marist College is just down the road from the Library and a terrific partner; hosting our website and working with us on digitization projects. Marist arranged for several regional excursions on the last evening of the conference and the Library was very pleased to host part of the group.

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Their visit started in our auditorium seeing the engaging orientation video and then Education Specialist Jeff Urbin welcomed them with the story of King George and Queen Elizabeth’s visit to Hyde Park in 1939. We hoped to make our visitors feel as special as the Roosevelts had made the British monarchs feel. Yes, hot dogs were on the picnic menu that Marist was providing later in the evening.

Next we sent them over to our new permanent museum exhibits and set them loose. During their time in the exhibits they had the opportunity to visit our Dutchess County conference room to see some of our most famous original documents. I walked through the exhibits as they visited, answering questions and encouraging them to see everything.

IMG_0808At six o’clock the group gathered in our Visitor Center for a delicious picnic supper. During my welcome at dinner I explained to them what a presidential library was and how important access was to our Library and to our agency, the National Archives and Records Administration. And I reminded them that it was FDR’s vision that people could learn from the past to better create their own future that was the driving force behind all the Library did.

As the folks were getting back on the buses to leave so many people stopped to tell me how much they enjoyed their visit and the new exhibits. So far, I was thinking this was going into the great day category because what Library director does not get a special feeling when people appreciate and love what we have presented. But then an older woman came up to me and took my hand and said she wanted to thank me. She said she was from Venezuela and with tears rolling down her cheeks she squeezed my hand and told me how much this visit meant to her.

“This is what democracy looks like,” she said with the most beautiful smile. And all of a sudden July 11, 2013 became one of the Library’s exceptional days.

These days much of our time is spent on reports and audits, and we must spend so much time looking for ways to cut our budgets and doing more with less. But we should never forget that at National Archives facilities all over the country; at our presidential libraries, at our regional centers, at Archives I and II; we are what democracy looks like. I will always remember the lovely woman from Venezuela who reminded me of that. And how could there be any more important and rewarding job than that!

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