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Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum

Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum

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Encyclopedia
The Franklin D. Roosevelt Library in Hyde Park, New York
Hyde Park, New York
Hyde Park is a town located in the northwest part of Dutchess County, New York, United States, just north of the city of Poughkeepsie. The town is most famous for being the hometown of U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt....

 is the first presidential library
Presidential library
In the United States, the Presidential library system is a nationwide network of 13 libraries administered by the Office of Presidential Libraries, which is part of the National Archives and Records Administration...

 built in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

. It was conceived and built under the direction of President
President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

 Franklin Delano Roosevelt from 1939 to 1940.

History


Built by Philadelphia contractor John McShain
John McShain
John McShain was a highly successful American building contractor known as "The Man Who Built Washington."...

, the facility was constructed on 16 acres (65,000 m²) of land in Hyde Park, New York
Hyde Park, New York
Hyde Park is a town located in the northwest part of Dutchess County, New York, United States, just north of the city of Poughkeepsie. The town is most famous for being the hometown of U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt....

, donated by the President and his mother, Sara Delano Roosevelt. The library resulted from the President's decision that a separate facility was needed to house the vast quantity of historical papers, books, and memorabilia he had accumulated during a lifetime of public service and private collecting.

Before the Library


Prior to Roosevelt's Presidency, the final disposition of Presidential papers was left to chance. Although a valued part of the nation's heritage, the papers of chief executives were private property which they took with them upon leaving office. Some were sold or destroyed and thus either scattered or lost to the nation forever. Others remained with families, but inaccessible to scholars for long periods of time. The fortunate collections found their way into the Library of Congress and private repositories.

In erecting his library, Roosevelt created an institution to preserve intact all his papers. These included papers from all his political offices, New York state senator (1910–13), assistant secretary of the Navy
Assistant Secretary of the Navy
Assistant Secretary of the Navy is the title given to certain civilian senior officials in the United States Department of the Navy....

 (1913–19), governor of New York
Governor of New York
The Governor of the State of New York is the chief executive of the State of New York. The governor is the head of the executive branch of New York's state government and the commander-in-chief of the state's military and naval forces. The officeholder is afforded the courtesy title of His/Her...

 (1929–32), and President of the United States
President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

 (1933–45) and his private collections of papers, books, and memorabilia on the history of the U.S. Navy and Dutchess County, New York
Dutchess County, New York
Dutchess County is a county located in the U.S. state of New York, in the state's Mid-Hudson Region of the Hudson Valley. The 2010 census lists the population as 297,488...

.

Location and Buildings



The Library itself is built of Hudson Valley fieldstone in the style reminiscent of the local Dutch colonial
Dutch Colonial
Dutch Colonial is a style of domestic architecture, primarily characterized by gambrel roofs having curved eaves along the length of the house...

 architecture which FDR favored. A sketch made by President Roosevelt dated April 12, 1937, shows the proposed building placed on the grounds very close to the site ultimately chosen and a ground plan roughly approximating that of the main block today. He built it with privately donated funds, at a cost of $376,000 and then turned it over to the federal government on July 4, 1940 to be operated by the National Archives. By his actions, Roosevelt ensured that his papers would become the property of the nation and be housed in a library on the grounds of his Hyde Park estate where they would be available to scholars. Robert D.W. Connor, the Archivist of the United States at the time, said of the President, "Franklin D. Roosevelt is the nation's answer to the historian's prayer."

Mrs. Roosevelt's Archives


In early planning for the Library the President expressed the hope that Mrs. Roosevelt's papers would eventually find a place here. In 1942 President Roosevelt made a rough sketch for wings to be added on to the north and south sides of the building should additional space be needed for her papers. At the time of her death in 1962 Eleanor Roosevelt
Eleanor Roosevelt
Anna Eleanor Roosevelt was the First Lady of the United States from 1933 to 1945. She supported the New Deal policies of her husband, distant cousin Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and became an advocate for civil rights. After her husband's death in 1945, Roosevelt continued to be an international...

's papers totaled a staggering three million pages.

Presidential Libraries Act


Roosevelt's actions served as a precedent. When Congress passed the Presidential Libraries Act in 1955, it regularized the procedures initiated by President Roosevelt for privately built and federally maintained libraries to preserve the papers of future Presidents. Even though official presidential papers are now public property as a result of the Presidential Records Act of 1978, and there is legislation limiting the size and financing of museums, Roosevelt's original intentions of preserving papers in one place and making them accessible to the nation still hold true.

The Museum


Roosevelt hoped the library would become an important research center and attract visitors to the museum. The museum section of the building opened June 30, 1941. However, the onset of World War II changed Roosevelt's plans, and the official opening of the library as a research facility was deferred as the President served a third term and then was elected to a fourth term in 1944. He visited the library often during the war to sort and classify his records and memorabilia; and from his study in the library he delivered several of his famous radio speeches or "fireside chats
Fireside chats
The fireside chats were a series of thirty evening radio addresses given by United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt between 1933 and 1944.-Origin of radio address:...

".

President Roosevelt paid his last visit to Hyde Park in March, 1945 and died on April 12 at Warm Springs, Georgia, at the age of sixty-three.

External links