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The Roosevelt Library plans quite a trip for Summer 2014! Join us as we journey to seven continents and 95 countries for Around the World in 80 Days with the Roosevelts. Look for hundreds of internationally themed photographs, museum objects, and historic documents on the Library’s Tumblr — fdrlibrary.tumblr.com – and other social media accounts beginning Memorial Day weekend and culminating with the August 9th opening of our special exhibit, Read My Pins – the Madeleine Albright Collection.
80 consecutive days of special online features explore two lifetimes of travel and the Roosevelts’ common commitment to diplomacy and human rights. These posts draw on rich historical collections housed in both the Archives and Museum of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library, and show the Roosevelts’ unique relationship with people and leaders across the globe. Learn how an American president worked directly with towering international figures, became the first to fly overseas while in office, and created the United Nations. Find out how Eleanor Roosevelt’s support of Allied troops in World War II and her advocacy for universal human rights inspired her famous moniker, First Lady of the World. We hope you’ll join us for this fascinating journey through the lives and work of two extraordinary global figures of the 20th century. Bon Voyage!
The 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.
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. Then, 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.
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.
During 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.
Gifts from the Roosevelts
It has become a time-honored tradition for the President and First Lady to distribute Christmas cards and gifts during the holiday season. Below are a few of the items Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt gave to family, friends, and staff during their time in the White House.
During the Roosevelts’ first year in the White House they began a tradition of distributing Christmas cards to family, friends, Cabinet members, and staff.
In 1934 was FDR published a book titled On Our Way, which outlined his plans for the New Deal and raising the United States out of the Depression. Autographed copies went sent out at Christmastime.
1935 – 1939
In 1926 Eleanor Roosevelt and friends Nancy Cook, Marion Dickerman, and Caroline O’Day created Val-Kill Industries on an estate purchased in Hyde Park. The enterprise created employment for local craftsman. To promote the business, the Roosevelts gifted several pieces created in the Val-Kill pewter forge during the holidays.
This year the Roosevelts choose to give White House staff members key chains with a figure of FDR’s beloved Scottish Terrier Fala attached. Some staff, Cabinet members, and friends received money clips and initialed desk pads.
Autographed photos of the President and First Lady were sent out this year to all staff and friends. Cabinet members, family, and select friends also received bound copies of FDR’s speeches.
With the country at war, Americans were encouraged to contribute to the war effort by purchasing defense bonds and stamps. The Roosevelts promoted the idea by giving black leather folders containing war savings bonds for Christmas.
One of the Christmas gifts from the Roosevelts this year was a magnifier paperweight.
On June 6, 1944, what became known as “D-Day,” President Roosevelt addressed the nation with a blessing for the American troops invading German-occupied Europe. The prayer, entitled “Let Our Hearts Be Stout,” was printed that December and given as gifts by the Roosevelts. Below is a facsimile copy of the prayer that is available for purchase at the FDR Library’s New Deal Store.
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.”
Summertime in Hyde Park
“All that is within me cries out to go back to my home on the Hudson River”
– Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1944
Springwood, FDR’s childhood home, was often called Roosevelt’s “Summer White House.” Owned by his mother Sara until her death in 1941, the property remained Roosevelt’s home throughout his presidency. He returned here often for respite and family events, including his mother’s 80th birthday party, as shown below.
Living by the Hudson River greatly influenced Franklin Roosevelt’s interest in all things nautical. He amassed a large collection of ship models, many of which are within the museum collection at the FDR Library. Included are some of Roosevelt’s own creations, which he made to sail on the Hudson with his children. Below is an example of FDR’s handiwork along with a photo of the Roosevelt family sailing a ship model.
Two miles east of Springwood, the Roosevelts established the Val-Kill estate in 1927, originally the location of Val-Kill Industries. After the business dissolved in 1938, Eleanor used the property primarily as her private retreat as well as a place to entertain guests. Franklin was the contractor and builder of the property and even assisted in designing the swimming pool. Below is a photo of Franklin, Eleanor, and Missy LeHand enjoying a day by the pool.
During the Presidential years, the Roosevelts had a new pool built with a better filtration system and installed closer to the cottage. After the President’s death in 1945, Eleanor used Val-Kill as her permanent Hudson Valley residence. She continued to swim and entertain at the site. Below is Eleanor’s bathing suit along with a photo of her by the pool wearing the suit.
FDR’s own private retreat, Top Cottage, was built in Hyde Park during his second term in office as a place for the President to relax and entertain special guests away from the increasingly busy home estate. To learn more about the construction of the cottage, please visit: https://fdrlibrary.wordpress.com/2012/07/26/2421/
A few of those special guests included King George VI and Queen Elizabeth of England for the Roosevelts’ famous Hot Dog Picnic, which took place on the lawn on June 11, 1939. Other guests included Crown Princess Märtha of Norway, who can be seen in the photo below enjoying a summer’s day with friends while sitting on the porch at Top Cottage.
Carved Portraits of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt (MO 1941.4.12-13)
Noted African American artist Leslie Garland Bolling (1898-1955) presented these carved figures of the Roosevelts to the President and First Lady in 1940.
Born in Richmond, Virginia, Bolling was a largely self-taught artist who captured the attention of the art public with his busts and sculptures of working people and nude figures carved from wood. Bolling preferred to work with poplar because of its softness. He used a scroll saw to rough out the shape of a figure and a set of pocketknives to carve the details. He left each of his pieces unsanded, exposing his tool marks. Though these figures of the Roosevelts were painted, Bolling treated most of his works with only a light coating of wax.
Though Bolling never obtained enough funds from his art to work on his carvings full-time, he gained recognition for his art in the form of art shows and patrons. In 1935, he became the first African American to display his work in a one-man show at the Richmond Academy of Arts. He went on to exhibit his work in New Jersey, Texas, and New York. In 1938, with support from the Works Progress Administration (WPA), Bolling and several local community leaders established the Craig House Art Center in Richmond. The Center offered training in art and art appreciation to African Americans and other minorities.
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.
On April 2, 2012, the National Archives publicly released over 3 million images containing 1940 census responses. The information had been closed for a mandated 72 years, but is now available for free and online at http://1940census.archives.gov.
There were 132 million people living in the United States in 1940, Americans who had lived through the Great Depression and who would soon face world war on an unprecedented scale.
The U.S. government made a concerted effort to increase public participation in the census. Census Bureau marketing campaigns targeted the general public but also broke from tradition by specially reaching out to ethnic minorities, indigenous communities, and people of color. That year the census included standard questions from years past, but respondents were also asked for the first time about their income and whether they worked for New Deal agencies like the WPA, CCC, or NYA. Millions of people enumerated by the 1940 census are still living today.
The President, Mrs. Roosevelt and other members of the White House staff are listed in the District of Columbia enumeration district (ED) 1-74, which was taken on April 2, 1940. The information collected includes the age of the person, what state or country they were born in, their residence, employment information and their income for 1939. A full list of the 1940 Census questions can be found on the National Archives official 1940 Census website.
The full census information for the Roosevelts can be found here.
Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt’s Wedding Anniversary
MO 1968.25.33 – Usher’s Stickpin
MO 1922.214.171.124-3 – Wedding Veil Lace
MO 1948.80.3 – Artificial Orange Blossoms
MO 1968.25.53 – Lace Handkerchief
On March 17, 1905, after a year and a half long engagement, Franklin Delano Roosevelt married Anna Eleanor Roosevelt. The 20-year-old bride was escorted down the aisle by her uncle, then President of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt. The ceremony took place at the New York City home of Eleanor’s great uncle and aunt, Edward and Margaret Livingston Ludlow. The reception took place next door at the home of her cousin, Susan Parish.
Though no photographs of the day are known to exist, several artifacts from the wedding are in the FDR Library’s museum collection. The groom’s ushers were each given a gold, diamond, and pearl stickpin (MO 1968.25.33), shown above, in the style of the Roosevelt family crest. FDR designed this pin and his daughter Anna donated it to the Library in 1967.
Also shown are pieces from Eleanor’s wedding attire, including her veil (MO 19126.96.36.199-3), which was given to her by her maternal grandmother, Mary Livingston Ludlow Hall. The veil is a Point de Gaze Belgian lace and was donated to the Library by Anna in 1948. Eleanor also wore a sprig of artificial orange blossoms in her hair (MO 1948.80.3), which she donated to the Library in 1948, and carried a lace handkerchief (MO 1968.25.53), donated by Anna in 1966.
Below are a series of images from Franklin and Eleanor’s courtship and honeymoon. These photos and hundreds more can be seen in a new exhibit opening this Spring at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum: The Roosevelts: Public Figures, Private Lives.