July 28, 1927: FDR incorporates the Georgia Warm Springs Foundation, a rehabilitation home for polio patients
On this day in 1927, Franklin Roosevelt, who had contracted polio at age 39, created the nonprofit Georgia Warm Springs Foundation, the only hospital in the world to deal solely with the treatment of polio victims. Roosevelt’s visits to Warm Springs began a few years prior, during which he experienced marked improvements in his health after swimming in the mineral water resort pools.
The organization later became the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis and was instrumental in developing a cure for polio.
Photo: Franklin Delano Roosevelt at his Georgia Warm Springs Foundation for polio patients, c.1930. Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library.
Day 61: FDR’s Childhood Trips to Germany
FDR made a number of trips to Europe with his parents during his childhood, including numerous trips to Germany. The Roosevelts often traveled to Germany to visit several ancient springs in hope that they would help Mr. James’ health.
Roosevelt historian Geoff Ward recounts a story of one of these German trips in his book Before the Trumpet. During a trip in 1896 FDR and his tutor Mr. Dumper “found themselves under arrest four times in one busy day of bicycling – for picking cherries along the roadside, for wheeling their bicycles into a railroad depot, for riding into Strasbourg after dusk…and finally, for inadvertent slaughter of a panicky goose that had thrust its long neck between the spokes of Mr. Dumper’s front wheel.” FDR managed to get them out of the first three violations without a fine, but in the end they did have to pay five marks to the owner of the goose. “Franklin always maintained the bird had really ‘committed suicide.’”
Day 56: FDR’s Cruise to Hawaii
On July 1, 1934, FDR boarded the USS Houston to begin his three week journey to the Territory of Hawaii. During the cruise FDR and his party made stops in the Bahamas, Haiti, Puerto Rico, St. Thomas, St. Croix, Columbia, Panama, Cocos Island and Clipperton Island. These stops included visits with foreign leaders and dignitaries, sightseeing through various countries and lots of fishing. FDR landed in Hawaii on July 24th to begin his historic visit.
July 17, 1940: Eleanor Roosevelt Addresses the Democratic National Convention on Behalf of FDR
On this day in 1940, Eleanor Roosevelt addressed delegates at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago on behalf of her husband, making her the first candidate’s spouse ever to do so. After her husband gained the nomination for an unprecedented third term, he asked Eleanor to ease the delegates’ concerns over his choice of controversial vice presidential candidate, Henry Wallace. In her speech, she called for unified action during a time of war.
Eleanor remained a Democratic Party figure after her husband’s death and was the first former First Lady to address national political conventions (1948, 1956 and 1960).
Photo: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division
Day 54: Quebec Conferences
FDR and Winston Churchill held two wartime conferences in Quebec. The first conference took place on August 17-24, 1943. The two discussed topics concerning the future operations in the Mediterranean and Operation Overlord. Conversations on atomic energy were also on the agenda, with FDR and Churchill agreeing that neither would communicate any information about atomic development to third parties, namely the Soviet Union, without each others consent.
The second Quebec Conference was held on September 11-16, 1944. The central topics of this conference were postwar policy towards Germany and postwar economic assistance to Britain.
Two silver models of a Whale and a Phoenix were presented to President Roosevelt by Prime Minister Winston Churchill at the Second Quebec Conference in September 1944. These are small scale models representing installations devised and built as part of the artificial harbor constructed off the beaches of Normandy in June 1944.
A Whale was an 80 foot long pontoon bridge causeway, which connected the Lobnitz pier to the shore.
A Phoenix was a hollow concrete caisson 200 feet long by 60 feet wide by 60 feet high. Laid end to end they formed a breakwater near the beach for landing craft to unload their cargo.
Day 47 - Yalta Conference
“I didn’t say the result was good. I said it was the best I could do.”
-Franklin Roosevelt to diplomat Adolf Berle, Jr.
In the winter of 1945, Roosevelt met with Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin for the last time. The setting was the Ukrainian town of Yalta.
The Big Three gathered to chart a course for final victory in World War II. But during the Yalta Conference, they also struggled to create the basis for post-war cooperation.
FDR received Stalin’s firm commitment to enter the increasingly bloody war against Japan three months after Germany’s defeat. With American casualties rising in the Pacific war— and the atomic bomb yet untested— this was a significant achievement for the President. The Big Three also formally agreed to another of FDR’s priorities—the establishment of the United Nations organization. But there were serious disagreements about the future of Germany and the fate of areas occupied by Soviet armies, especially Poland.
While at the Yalta Conference, Joseph Stalin presented President Roosevelt with this set of bear fur gloves and Dukat papirosa (unfiltered) cigarettes. Inside the box are 13 unused cigarettes.
As a memento of the trip, this short snorter was created using a one chervonitz Soviet bill. A short snorter was a bill, typically from the destination country, signed by fellow travelers of a transoceanic flight. While Roosevelt, Churchill, Stalin, and Steve Early’s names are handwritten on the edges of the bill, they did not sign the bill. The bill was signed by Edwin M. Watson (just days before he died), Ross T. McIntire, Edward Flynn, Harry L. Hopkins, James F. Byrnes, William Leahy, an unidentifiable signature, and Anna Roosevelt Boettiger.
Day 46: FDR at Malta
On February 2, 1945, FDR arrived in Malta aboard the USS Quincy for a preliminary conference with Prime Minister Winston Churchill before the meeting in Yalta of Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin.
You are the citizens of tomorrow—not just this graduating class, but thousands of other high school graduating classes in every state of the Union.
Franklin D. Roosevelt, Delivering a High School Commencement Address. Arthurdale, West Virginia. 6/27/1938.
Day 32 - FDR and Stamps
FDR began to collect stamps as a child. The far-flung business interests of his Delano relatives provided the young collector with a steady supply of foreign stamps. From his stamps he gained an invaluable knowledge of peoples and of geography. The green stamp album above was young Franklin’s first stamp album. In it he carefully stored the stamps from his well-traveled relatives.
This hobby persisted with Roosevelt his entire life and he was well-known for his collection. As a result, he was often presented with stamps, stamp covers, and stamp albums as gifts from foreign Heads-of-State and governments. Here you can see a few of the stamp-related gifts from all over the world FDR received during his presidency:
- Album of postage stamps of the U.S.S.R. Cover painted by the Handicraft Artists of Palech, U.S.S.R. Gifted to FDR on the occasion of the 1939 New York World’s Fair.
- Painted leather stamp album cover from Kyösti Kallio, President of the Republic of Finland, in 1938.
- Carved leather stamp album commemorating the opening of the Nuevo Laredo—Mexico City Highway in 1936. A gift from President Lázaro Cárdenas of Mexico.
Happy 80th Birthday to the National Archives (that’s us)!
Today in 1934, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the National Archives Act, “to establish a National Archives of the United States Government.”
Five years later, in 1939, FDR planted the seed for the Presidential Library system when he donated his personal and Presidential papers to the Federal Government.
Before this, Presidents or their heirs often dispersed Presidential papers at the end of the administration. Though many pre-Hoover collections now reside in the Library of Congress, others are split among other libraries, historical societies, and private collections. Sadly, many materials have been lost or deliberately destroyed.
FDR’s decision stemmed from a firm belief that Presidential papers are an important part of the national heritage and should be accessible to the public. He asked the National Archives to take custody of his papers and other historical materials and to administer his library.
Act of June 19, 1934 (“National Archives Act”), Public Law 73-432, 48 STAT 1122, “to create a National Archives of the United States Government and for other purposes.”, 06/19/1934.
Franklin D. Roosevelt portrait, 1933. From the FDR Presidential Library.
The Constitution Avenue Entrance of the National Archives, Washington, D.C. 1935.
The National Archives is celebrating eight decades of history throughout today, learn more here.