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2013 was an amazing year for the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library.
The 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.
We 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. In 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.
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.
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.
The 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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:
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
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
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
After Camp: Portraits in Midcentury Japanese American Life and Politics
University of California Press, 2012
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
James MacGregor Burns rightly can be called the Dean of Roosevelt Biographers. His first volume on Franklin Roosevelt, Roosevelt: The Lion and the Fox (1956), was barely edged out of the 1957 Pulitzer Prize for biography by John F. Kennedy’s Profiles in Courage. Its companion volume, Roosevelt: The Soldier of Freedom (1970), won the 1971 Pulitzer for history and the National Book Award. The two volumes together serve as the first complete political biography of Franklin Roosevelt.
His study of Franklin Roosevelt led Burns to explore more fully the nature of leadership, and his 1978 book Leadership is still considered the seminal work in the field of leadership studies. His theory of transactional and transformational leadership has been the basis for more than 400 doctoral dissertations. He received his B.A. from Williams College, his PhD in political science from Harvard, and attended the London School of Economics. He is currently the Woodrow Wilson Professor of Government Emeritus at Williams College
Burns first registered as a researcher at the Roosevelt Library on August 7, 1952, and he was issued card #392. As one of the Library’s early researchers, he had the privilege of working in the same research room with other highly respected scholars of the Roosevelt era, including Frank Freidel, Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., and William Leuchtenburg. This group fulfilled one of FDR’s visions for his library—that it serve as a place for scholars to come, study, and interpret the Roosevelt era.
James MacGregor Burns has influenced generations of historians and political scientists, among them historians Michael Beschloss and Susan Dunn. Burns, Beschloss and Dunn appeared on stage together at the Roosevelt Library’s 8th annual Roosevelt Reading Festival on June 18, 2011.
Being an intensely modest man, Burns had never read publicly from his own work. But in his appearance at the Reading Festival, Burns read excerpts from his seminal work, Roosevelt: The Lion and the Fox, for the first time. After each excerpt, Burns, Beschloss and Dunn then engaged in a lively historical discussion, which had a lovingly personal feel to it. The affection that these three outstanding historians—the teacher and his students—had for each other was obvious. It was a truly special occasion for all those present.
Now 92, James MacGregor Burns has stated that his appearance at the Roosevelt Reading Festival was his last public appearance. The Roosevelt Library is honored that Burns began his exemplary career here in 1952 as researcher #392 and that he chose the 2011 Roosevelt Reading Festival for his valedictory appearance nearly 60 years later.
To watch the Burns, Beschloss and Dunn panel from the 2011 Roosevelt Reading Festival, visit the C-SPAN video library online.