Harvard-Yale, and A Bit of the Past Returned

First of all, on behalf of Masters Palfrey and the Foundation, it was wonderful to greet the 250 plus of you who returned to Adams after the game. I am proud to note that our potent 1878 Harvard Punch withstood the onslaught (just!) with the last few drops warming the cockles of the final visitors around 6 PM.  Since we began this tradition in 2010 with 40 odd guests, the celebration has grown to be one of the largest, if not the largest, alumni post-game celebrations at Harvard-Yale, and I think it truly represents the warm affinity we feel for a special place called Adams.

Before the glow entirely passes however, I just wanted to share with you a wonderful photo. As part of our FDR Suite collections, we recently acquired a 1900 silk Harvard Football flag. This ingenious invention looks like a brass-tipped wand when not in use. To unfurl, you pull the flag staff out of the tube, reverse, attach the staff to the base, and unwind the flag. Presto!
footballflagThis flag belonged to a contemporary of FDR and was purchased from an estate in Maine; as far as we know this is the first time it has returned to Harvard stadium in 112 years. The old girl is a bit faded, but her silk is still supple in the wind; without a doubt, it was the oldest banner flying that day.

Thanks to Santiago Pardo ’15, (flag bearer) Megan Corrigan ’16 & Lisa Wang ’16 (wavers) and Amna Hashmi ’16 (photo) for helping bring a bit of Harvard history back to life.

(PS: We think this is a product whose day has come again, and we’d like to put these flags back into manufacture. The staff and flag are easily replicated, but the brass-tipped tube (made of some sort of pressed material such as thick cardboard) is unique. If any of you have thoughts on how that might be accomplished, i.e. finding a maker, or, would be interested in underwriting some of the costs, etc. I’d like to hear from you. )

Views From the Embassy: The Role of U.S. Diplomats in France, 1914.

Dr. Lindsay Krasnoff from the State Department Historian’s office will be at Adams House this coming MONDAY, November 24th. 1-2pm, in the Conservatory presenting “Views From the Embassy: The Role of U.S. Diplomats in France, 1914.”

“The story is fascinating and… intertwines a lot of U.S. social history of the era. Many of the men at U.S. Embassy France in 1914 were Harvard graduates” including Teddy Roosevelt’s cousin Nick Roosevelt and classmate Robert Bacon.

Join us!



Tuesday October 14, 2014 3:45-5:15
Science Center B, Harvard Yard


With the deepening global health crisis in West Africa, it has become ever more apparent, as FDR predicted in 1945, “that our own well-being is dependent on the well-being of other nations, far away.” Even more specifically, we have been reminded that the health of America is directly linked to the health of the world. On October 14th, Charles W. Eliot University Professor of Economics Larry Summers and Julio Frenk, Dean of the Harvard School of Public Health, will discuss a way forward, based on a report published last fall in The Lancet: Global Health 2035. In it, Larry Summers and 23 renowned economists and health experts have proposed that if we make the right investments in the health sector today, the globe could achieve universally low rates of infectious, maternal and child deaths by 2035. In other words, we could shift directions to achieve a “grand convergence” in global health within just one generation.

Join us for a fascinating 45-minute discussion as Professors Summer and Frenk explore the practicalities of global health equity, followed by questions from the audience. The discussion will – given circumstance – also feature a short video update on the Ebola situation from Dr. Paul Farmer, who is heading the American medical response in Sierra Leone.

Tickets: $7.50 for undergraduates, $15 for all others to attend the live event. Tickets to the virtual lecture in Science Center C are free, but you must register. Details HERE

Here’s a Health to King Charles


Screen Shot 2014-10-05 at 12.00.14 PMThroughout  the course of the the Restoration, I’ve been continually surprised and delighted to find little gateways back in time. Here’s another one. Last year, my dear friend Abbot Peterson ’58 died. Recently, his widow – another dear friend – Barbara, was cleaning out some files and came across an old 78. Labelled “Alvin V Laird sings to the class of 1904″, it had been mailed in 1950 to Abbot’s father, Abbot Peterson II, a member of FDR’s class. (As was Mr. Laird.)

The 78 contained two songs: “A Health to King Charles”  and “Dolores.” I haven’t been able to gather much information on “Dolores,” but “King Charles” was a very widely sung drinking ditty which would have been immediately recognized by FDR and Lathrop. The song is based on a poem by Sir Walter Scott (1771–1832) and perfectly embodies the Victorian romantic longing for causes lost:

BRING the bowl which you boast
Fill it up to the brim;
’Tis to him we love most,
And to all who love him.
Brave gallants, stand up,
And avaunt ye, base carles!

Were there death in the cup,
Here’s a health to King Charles.

Though he wanders through dangers,
Unaided, unknown,
Dependent on strangers,
Estranged from his own;
Though ’tis under our breath,
Amidst forfeits and perils,
Here’s to honor and faith,
And a health to King Charles!

Let such honors abound
As the time can afford,
The knee on the ground,
And the hand on the sword;
But the time shall come round
When, ’mid Lords, Dukes, and Earls,
The loud trumpet shall sound,
Here’s a health to King Charles!

So here, after tracking down someone who still had the means to play and digitize a 78 (!!!), for the first time in over a century, may I present to you: “Here’s a Health to King Charles”


This song, by the way, is part of an ongoing process to make a CD of “The Music of FDR’s Harvard” that will contain many of these wonderful old melodies well overdue for a come back. As always, your help in making this and our other work possible is greatly appreciated

We’re featured in Harvard Magazine!

1900 glee club 18 x 18 copy

Taken in the fall of 1900, a young FDR (front row second from left) and Lathrop Brown (front row, far right) gaze serenely into their Harvard future.

To mark the debut of the Ken Burns PBS series on the Roosevelts this Sunday,  Harvard Magazine has reprinted Geoffrey Ward’s remarks at the Sixth Annual FDR Memorial Lecture this past May. For those of you who were unable to attend, here’s your chance. Take a look HERE.

Global Health Equity with Larry Summers and Paul Farmer: A Special Invitation

The Franklin Delano Roosevelt Foundation and Adams House, Harvard College are pleased to announce a ground-breaking event with two of the world’s most respected experts in the practical economics of global health.

Tuesday October 14, 2014 3-5
Science Center B, Harvard Yard

In a report published last fall in The Lancet, Global Health 2035, Larry Summers and  23 renowned economists and health experts claim that if first-world nations make the right investments in the health sector today, the globe could achieve universally low rates of infectious, maternal and child deaths by 2035. In other words, we could shift directions to achieve a “grand convergence” in global health within just one generation.

This moderated 45-minute discussion will explore the practicalities of this plan, followed by questions from the audience.

Tickets: free for students; $15 for alumni and the interested public.

This is a special pre-invitation for friends of the Foundation before a general announcement to the University and National Press next week. Seating is limited and will surely sell out; buy your ticket now:

Ticket Options

Summers-2-5x7_print_color copyLawrence H. Summers is the Charles W. Eliot University Professor and President Emeritus of Harvard University. During the past two decades, he has served in a series of senior policy positions in Washington, D.C., including the 71st Secretary of the Treasury for President Clinton, Director of the National Economic Council for President Obama and Vice President of Development Economics and Chief Economist of the World Bank. He received a bachelor of science degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1975 and was awarded a Ph.D. from Harvard in 1982. In 1983, he became one of the youngest individuals in recent history to be named as a tenured member of the Harvard University faculty. In 1987, Mr. Summers became the first social scientist ever to receive the annual Alan T. Waterman Award of the National Science Foundation (NSF), and in 1993 he was awarded the John Bates Clark Medal, given every two years to the outstanding American economist under the age of 40. He is currently the Charles W. Eliot University Professor at Harvard University and the Weil Director of the Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business & Government at Harvard’s Kennedy School.

Paul_FarmerMedical anthropologist and physician Dr. Paul Farmer has dedicated his life to improving health care for the world’s poorest people. He chairs the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine and is a founding director of Partners In Health (PIH), an international non-profit organization that since 1987 has provided direct health care services and undertaken research and advocacy activities on behalf of those who are sick and living in poverty. He also is professor of medicine and chief of the Division of Global Health Equity at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Dr. Farmer began his lifelong commitment to Haiti in 1983 while still a student, working with dispossessed farmers in Haiti’s Central Plateau. He served there for ten years as medical director of a charity hospital, L’Hôpital Bon Sauveur. Dr. Farmer holds an M.D. and Ph.D. from Harvard University. In addition to his leadership roles at Harvard Medical School, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and Partners In Health, he is the United Nations Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Community Based Medicine and Lessons from Haiti.



Crowd-funding Part II: FDR Global Fellow Alicia Merganthaler Reports In


As we get closer to launching the website, this week has been challenging but very exciting. The vast majority of the week, I researched and performed calculations to try to estimate as precisely as possible how much money is going from various crowd-funding services to the developing nations they serve and forecast how much money they are likely to raise over the next year. This was a challenge, as I’m starting to learn that crowd-funding, especially in impoverished nations, is more complicated than it might appear.

Team at Tavern

It’s not always all work and no play: Alicia, second from left, enjoys a traditional pub meal with her team, including project founder Lars Kroijer, Adams ’94, right.

Often, websites like Kiva (a service that gives mini-loans to female entrepreneurs in developing nations) work through field partners in the developing nations themselves, like Micrograam (based in India). This system makes sense, as there has to be infrastructure on the ground to interact with the lenders themselves.

For example, if a woman in India raises enough money to take out a loan on getting a stove, she would deal directly with an organization in India (Micrograam) that is partnered with Kiva. This approach to microfinance makes sense, but the two-tiered process definitely makes the stream of money harder to follow. Mr. Kroijer has been great giving advice as to how to make analytics like this as accurate as possible (along with general career advice) and I’m learning a ton.
One of the things I’ve been thinking about throughout this project is what other steps NGOs and governments can take to drive crowd-funding in developing nations that could give entrepreneurs the final ‘push’ towards launching their businesses. While working, I came across an interesting article from the World Bank that really resonated with our project.

The World Bank argues that for crowd-funding to reach its full potential a variety of cultural, economic, and technological factors need to come into play. On the economic end, securities regulations need to be loosened to allow for equity crowd-funding (which is sort of like mini-venture capitalism) and crowd-funding needs to be tied to a positive cultural message. Socially, in order for crowd-funding to succeed, there needs to be greater awareness of what it is through social media and events that build trust towards this kind of finance. On the cultural end, greater involvement of girls and women in entrepreneurship, more spaces for innovation, and education about consumerism and investment can bolster microfinance.

Our project is vital because it works on the technology end, having determined the gap in information that makes it hard for investors to get money to developing nations. We are working towards fixing that gap by uniting all crowdfunding platforms in one place and providing clear and consistent information about what each service does.

In other news, our team went to the pub together on Tuesday, shown above. It was great to get to know everyone a little bit better and have a traditional English tavern experience (minus the mushy peas!). The group is a fascinating mix of people from all over, including the US, UK, Spain and Denmark, which makes for a great mix of perspectives.

In terms of exploring England, I’m finally getting out of the gravitational pull of work and London this weekend. As I write this, I’m on the long bus ride to Bath, a city known for briefly being the home of Jane Austen as well as having ancient Roman baths. It’ll be wonderful getting out of the chaos of London for a little bit and explore the English countryside for the weekend.