Foundation Receives Inaugural Gift to its Scholarship Endowment Fund

We are delighted to announce that the Foundation has received the first major donation towards its Scholarship Endowment Fund from C. Stephen Heard Jr. (’58) and his wife Susan Renfrew Heard. The fund, initiated this year and separate from day-to-day accounts, seeks to raise sufficient capital to permanently finance the operations of the FDR Suite Foundation, its collections and preservation programs, as well as its educational initiatives, including the new Franklin Delano Roosevelt Global Fellowship Program.

While the Foundation hopes to finance future scholarship outlays from income derived from investment, given the Heards’ enthusiastic donation, the decision was taken this year by the Foundation directors in conjunction with Adams House Masters Judy and Sean Palfrey to launch the initial year of the FDR Global Fellowship Program through direct contribution.

For the summer of 2013 the Foundation will offer a new grant to support summer undergraduate field-research, experience or study in the areas of international relations, international trade, economic affairs and development, global governance and affairs, international languages, humanities, sciences or global medicine, to be guided by the spirit of FDR’s Fourth Inaugural Address: “Today, in this year of war, 1945, we have learned lessons—at a fearful cost—and we shall profit by them. We have learned that we cannot live alone, at peace; that our own well-being is dependent on the well-being of other Nations, far away… We have learned to be citizens of the world, members of the human community. We have learned the simple truth, as Emerson said, that, ‘The only way to have a friend is to be one.’”

Participants will be known as Franklin Delano Roosevelt Fellows.

The Foundation will award one grant this year. The size of the grant will vary depending on the country of destination, length of stay, and type of program in which the recipient will be participating, as well as on the applicant’s individual budget and financial need.

Current Harvard College freshmen, sophomores & juniors are eligible to apply, with special consideration given to students from FDR’s own Adams House. The FDR Global Fellowships are restricted to students who 1) can demonstrate family income below 50K per year and  2) who would otherwise have to work during the summer to meet term-time expenses. The Foundation will grant up to $6000 for summer expenses, as well as an additional stipend of up to $4000 upon successful completion of the summer program to make up for lost summer wages, the amount being determined by the student’s previous summer earnings.

Susan & Steve Heard at Harvard Yale 2012

Emphasizing the non-partisan nature of the Scholarship Endowment Fund, it’s fitting that the initial gift was received from an avowed South Carolina Republican from Leverett House. Heard, a successful attorney who worked his way through Stanford Law, put it this way:  “Over the years, I have come to realize that Harvard gave me a road map that changed the way I look at everything. But that was just the beginning.  My journey was equally enriched by an incredible three years in Spain – in a prospering, peaceful Europe, a Europe due in no small part to a certain Franklin Roosevelt and his internationalist vision of a post-war world. So when I learned that a scholarship was being organized in FDR’s memory to provide a period abroad for some deserving young man or woman, Susan and I knew we wanted to participate.  May each recipient find their own new and exciting road map through this opportunity.”

The Scholarship Endowment Fund actively seeks your support. For more information, contact Michael Weishan ’86, Volunteer President, FDR Suite Foundation Inc.

Some people read history, others make it. Support the FDR Suite Foundation!





New Views of the Suite, November 2012

I was at the Suite yesterday, the day after Thanksgiving, beginning what’s going to be a three-month intensive effort to catalog the objects in the collection for inclusion in our new Internet museum. I was working away contentedly at Lathrops’ desk for an hour or so, when just before twilight, I realized that for the last few minutes I had been idly eyeing the room. Perhaps it was Thanksgiving-dinner-post-partum, or else simply the distraction of the hour; whichever, I noticed that the late afternoon light was casting lovely patterns of sun and shadow about the room, and so decided my time might be better spent with a camera.

It’s been a while since we’ve taken still photos for the blog, and I think you’ll agree this was indeed the golden hour.

Above: craftsman Lary Shaffer’s latest and second-to-last last creation for the Suite, the new daybed, takes pride of place in the study. (Double click on any image to expand; these are but thumbnails.) Lary and I reverse-engineered this piece from a tiny, grainy photo over a period of six months, and I’ll be doing a future post on how this magnificent creation came together. In the meantime, it’s easy to appreciate how the rich walnut and plush fabrics add to the Victorian elegance (not mention comfort!) of the room – especially when you compare these views to those taken in April 2010.

Above: On the smoking table, young Frank at Groton, 1899, next to “Uncle Ned’s dog tobacco jar” and our collection of pipes.

The Atlantic of 1903, record-holder extraordinaire, looking ready to sail at a moment’s notice.

Our exceedingly rare John the Orangeman mug caught in a golden beam on the mantle. Immediately behind is a recently acquired etching of Harvard Yard in the 1840s.

Another mantle view, this time with the light catching our Harvard football mug, and the 1904 stein recently gifted to the Foundation, already looking right at home.

 

FDR’s desk glowing in the sunlight. When this inventory project is finished, you’ll be able to click on any of the above objects to learn their individual history, and how that particular piece relates to other pieces in the collections, as well as to the history of the Suite as a whole. For instance, that large volume sitting on top the revolving bookcase? That’s not just any book, it’s the 1900-01 bound edition of the Harvard Crimson, where FDR’s soon to become a reporter. And that young lady next to Eleanor, why that Alice Sohier and of course you know how that affair went…  Ah, and then there’s the elegant Half Moon II… How fortunate to have your own yacht in the harbor… Given that there are currently well over one thousand objects to classify and digitalize, this isn’t going to be the quickest project in the world, and we will require substantial help – in fact, thanks to a recent pledge of support, we’ve already hired two student researchers half-time during Harvard’s new Winter Session. But given how far we’ve come, I have no doubt we’ll get there, especially with help from viewers like you!

Come Make A Little History. Support the FDR Suite Foundation!


 

Time to Toast our President-Resident, This Saturday November 10th!

Just when I thought there was no more Harvard Class of 1904 memorabilia to be found anywhere, one of our supporters discovered this remarkable tankard on E-Bay and donated it to the Foundation, where it will join our fireplace collection. The original owner was one E.C.Kerans, a classmate of FDR. The tankard however is a bit of a mystery. The top of pewter cup carries a large copper DELTA with an almost illegible inscription DIKAI ****THEKE – which doesn’t exactly ring a bell… It’s obviously a club or organization motto; we’ll just have to track it down.

But while we ponder this little mystery, I want to remind you that the FIFTH Annual FDR Memorial Lecture and Dinner is this coming Saturday. There are only 10 dinner tickets left, and we would love to sell them out, so please consider joining us for a fun and informative evening. If you’re unable to attend, we would happily accept your donation of the ticket price to help us cover the event cost by sponsoring one of the twenty-five free student places we’ve set aside. Both can be done online, HERE.

Cheers, everyone!

Menu for the FDR Memorial Dinner Announced

Here’s the menu for this year’s FDR Memorial Lecture & Dinner. As you can see, we’re celebrating in style with a five course Dinner Dance based on a 1960 Eisenhower State Dinner for Charles de Gaulle. Yum!

COCKTAIL HOUR: open bar

RAW BAR:
Shucked Oysters
Shucked Clams
Shrimp Cocktail
Assorted sauces and condiments

APPETIZER COURSE
Crostini chicken liver pate, cornichon and red onion jam.

FISH COURSE
Trout roulade shrimp mousse citrus butter sauce.

Aperitif
Lemon Sorbet

MEAT COURSE
Beef wellington, horseradish sauce scallop potatoes French green bean and braised shallots.

SALAD COURSE
Baby iceberg wedges, smoked bacon, Roquefort cheese buttermilk lemon zest dressing chipped chive, toasted almonds and fleur de sel.

DESSERT COURSE
Apple pandowdy whipped cream and caramel sauce  
Stilton, Coffee, Tea

Vegetarian main course: Vegetable Wellington

Tickets go on sale today to general alumni. Places are limited, so order yours now by clicking HERE.

 

2012 FDR Memorial Lecture and Dinner: Now Order Tickets Online!

We celebrate in true bi-partisan style this election year with award-winning presidential biographer Jean Edward Smith, author of Grant, FDR and now the critically acclaimed Eisenhower in War and Peace. Professor Smith’s lecture on the masterful warrior-president from Abilene begins at 4:30, followed by a book signing in the Conservatory, a cocktail reception & our now famous Roosevelt Raw bar in the Gold Room, along with guided tours of the newly restored FDR Suite. Then we adjourn to the majestic Adams House Dining Hall for an elegant dinner-dance featuring a specially catered menu drawn from actual Eisenhower-era State Dinners and the musical wizardry of DJ ‘Dance With Lance’, Lance Kussell ’87, who’ll be spinning toe-tapping tunes from the Eisenhower era and beyond.

Saturday November 10, 2012 at 4:30 PM
Adams House, 26 Plympton Street, Cambridge

This year you may order your tickets directly online, using THIS link. Reserve your tickets now. Seating is limited to $120

If you are unable to attend, won’t you consider contributing the cost of your tickets (or any amount) to the Foundation using THIS link? We need and value your support!

Shopping for Gems and Snaps

In years past, the course, Introduction to Congress, had a reputation as one of the easiest at Harvard College. Some of the 279 students who took it in the spring semester said that the teacher, Matthew B. Platt, an assistant professor of government, told them at the outset that he gave high grades and that neither attending his lectures nor the discussion sessions with graduate teaching fellows was mandatory. “He said, ‘I gave out 120 A’s last year, and I’ll give out 120 more,’ ” one accused student said.   New York Times, August 31 2012

As the College’s indelicate cheating scandal unfolds in unexpected directions (I would like to know: what is the purpose of an open, take-home final exam, anyway?) many have commented that today’s pressure to succeed fosters a culture of students shopping for classes with easy A’s, rather than subjects of material worth or interest. Such classes are called ‘gems’ by the current undergraduates. However, this practice of searching for the easiest route is hardly new. In FDR’s time, easy courses were called “snaps” (as in “Was it easy?”  “Sure, a snap”). Nathaniel Shaler’s immensely popular and notoriously benign Geology 4, which FDR took freshman year, was one such, and if the Lampoon is any guide, ‘snaps’ were as sought after as ‘gems’ are today:

The only difference between then and now would seem to be motivation: today’s students have an ever wary eye open to graduate and professional schools, while I’d guess FDR’s pals were more worried about finding sufficient time for  “chorus girls and lots of fizz.”

O tempora, o mores!


Some People Read History. Others Make It.
Come make a little history: support the FDR Suite Foundation!

 

 

Sifting Freshmen

The Faculty Sifting Freshmen. (Click anywhere on the photo to enlarge.)

As we again welcome freshmen this week for the 376th time, I thought you might enjoy two views of the process from a 1900 Harvard Lampoon in our collections. The first is entitled “Faculty Sifting Freshmen” showing the the College administation as a grizzled old gardener sifting potting soil.

The second is a little ditty entitled The Freshman’s Meditation. I may be wrong, but this ancient verse makes a neat little modern rap:

Click anywhere on the image to enlarge

Incoming freshmen take note: the chorus girls have entirely disappeared, and you shalln’t have till next October “to make it up” should you decide to partake of the fizz.

Oh, those were the days…

I know you’ll all join me in welcoming the Class of 2016 to Cambridge, and the class of 2015 to Adams House.

Save the Date: Fifth Annual FDR Memorial Lecture and Dinner, November 10, 2012

We’re hugely pleased to announce that Professor Jean Edward Smith, author of the recently published and critically acclaimed Eisenhower in War and Peace will be our speaker at the Fifth Annual FDR Memorial Lecture and Dinner, Saturday November 10, 2012 at 4PM. Professor Smith was our guest at the First Annual Lecture – before the Restoration had even begun – upon the publication of his seminal biography FDR. He gave a hugely memorable talk on that ocassion, and we are so delighted to have him back, especially in this presidential election year.

And, yes, this is a banquet year for the Suite; a very special gourmet dinner in the dining hall, themed from the Eisenhower White House, will follow a cocktail reception and book signing.

As this event will be co-sponsored with the Harvard Alumni Association, tickets will go fast, so I will be following up with special advance notice for our supporters in September. Save the date: Saturday, November 10. This promises to be a memorable event!

 

 

 

Recent Acquisitions and News – July 2012

Hello Everyone!

Well I don’t need to tell you how warm it’s been in Cambridge, because chances are you’ve been as warm or warmer. Still, despite the heat and the bang-bang-booms coming from the Quincy House renovations next door, we’ve been quietly (or perhaps, more precisely, less-noisily) pursuing our own projects in the Suite:

For one, we’re under construction again in the bathroom, this time to retro-fit some very inconspicuous museum-style recessed lighting into ceiling. Those who have stayed in the Suite overnight have commented that it’s darker than Hades with only one 30-watt Edison bulb as your companion, and it’s true – which is precisely why gentlemen in FDR’s time shaved & dressed in their rooms, where there was better natural light. This concession to modern living – which can be turned on, or not, according to whim – will also allow us to showcase a small collection of patent medicine bottles and other personal products of dubious efficacy from the turn of the century that we’ve been assembling. It’s amazing the wild variety of nonsense that was marketed for health and beauty in FDR’s youth, and this collection, once proudly installed on the bathroom wall shelf, will elucidate this thankfully-passed aspect of late-Victorian life.

In the study, two complex projects are underway. Master craftsman Lary Shaffer and I are in the process of reverse engineering a period daybed we discovered (or rather, several, in photographs), to make a version for the Suite. Ours has to have several novel features: it needs the look and feel of an authentic period piece, yet it has to disassemble for easy movement when we film the New Fireside Chats – not to mention be both durable and comfortable for visitor use. At left, the very, very beginning of our efforts, as we start to think about how to construct the spindle back that will link the two rear lyre-shaped legs. As usual, this has turned into quite an adventure, one that I’ll be detailing in future posts. We’re hopeful that we’ll have the piece designed, assembled and outfitted for the study by the fall.

Also, thanks to major funding from the Lillian Goldman Charitable Trust (and of course, viewers like you), we’ve been able to engage the services of the prestigious Pewabic Pottery in Michigan to produce a period-accurate set of tiles for the fireplace surround. Somewhere in time, no one is quite sure when or why, the tiles were ripped out from all but one of the fireplace surrounds in Westmorly, most likely as part of a general rebuilding of the fireboxes or flues. Fortunately, we still have the intact fireplace in the old porter’s lodge at the base of B-entry, which we’ll be using for a model. This, too, I’ll be documenting as the project unfolds.

Finally, we hoping to complete renovations to the hall outside the Suite to install a small FDR timeline-museum, which will help visitors place the Suite in the context of FDR’s life and presidency. With the assistance of the FDR Presidential Library and Museum, we’ve selected the images for the timeline, and will be mounting them on the wall outside the Suite, along with improved lighting and seating.

See, we have been busy!

Finally, we’ve some new acquisitions to show you. Obviously as the physical restoration of the Suite winds down and we switch over to our educational and philanthropic activities (for more on that important mission, see here) the new items we acquire become fewer and fewer. Still, we’re on the active hunt for rare pieces that either have a direct Harvard/FDR connection, or that help elucidate life at FDR’s Harvard – and how very different that life is from today’s. Here are four great items we’ve recently discovered:

OK, any guess as to what this is?

Hint: it’s glass, exactly the size of a cigar, and missing a small cork on the left end…

Thinking… thinking…

If you guessed cigar flask – which I’m sure you didn’t! – you’d be correct. This type of small novelty flask was very common in the late Victorian era. Drinking hard liquor in mixed company was frowned upon, but at the same time, such alcohol was de rigueur at most social events, so what to do? Why, carry this tiny little flask in your vest pocket, that’s what, which to all the world looks like a cigar; then when the ladies aren’t looking, bottoms up!

Here’s a wonderful piece that came to us as a gift from Dr. Cynthia Koch, Past Director the FDR Presidential Library, and her husband Eliot. Though many people think of Stetsons as big floppy western hats, that was only one – albeit the most famous – of their products. Founded in 1865, the John B. Stetson Company began when its eponymous founder headed west and created the original hat of the frontier, the “Boss of the Plains.” Stetson eventually became the world’s largest hat maker, producing more than 3.3 million hats a year in a factory spread over 9 acres in Philadelphia. This particular hat, in its absolutely brilliant red box, is known as a boater, and was common apparel for young men in the warmer months from the FDR’s Harvard days well into the 20s. As it turns out, “our” hat was simply predestined to be in the Suite: I first saw this Stetson in an antiques store in Hudson, New York, and was immediately interested. The seller however named a price I thought unreasonable, and refused to haggle, which is just not “the way” in these kinds of deals –  I was put off, and left. Almost a year later, Dr. Koch spied this same hat, still on the shelf in the same store, and thought it would be perfect for us. She immediately called me, and began to describe the “wonderful hat I found, in a well-preserved red period box…” I interrupted, completely amazed: “Don’t tell me you’re at such and such antique store in Hudson!!?” And the rest, as they say is history. Dr. Koch however, proved no better bargainer than I, for the seller again refused to budge and she was forced to pay full price. I take some rather perverse satisfaction in the fact both stubborn seller and store are now gone, but not before we got our hat. Thanks again, Cynthia and Eliot!

Considering the large number of objects in the Suite –  heading towards two thousand, if you can believe it – one of the things we’re strangely lacking is period books. The reason is twofold: the first is, simply, the cost of good volumes. FDR, as you probably know by now, was an avid bibliophile who began collecting books while at Harvard. He was on the library committee for the Harvard Union, and also served as the librarian for the Fly Club. (Club libraries, though diminishing in importance by FDR’s time, were still much valued as a source of more popular, less serious reading material than was found in Harvard’s library.) Given a rather refined taste, and a hefty budget supplied by Sara, FDR proved a discriminating buyer, and we find ourselves hard-pressed financially to duplicate his acquisitions. Secondly, we’re constrained to pre-1904 volumes that reflect FDR & Lathrop’s taste and interests – not something that pops up too often at the local used-book seller. But here’s a slim little volume that meets both criteria: Two Addresses by Col H. L. Higginson (1902). Higginson was one of Harvard’s most enthusiastic benefactors, giving both the money for Soldiers Field, as well as the funds for the Harvard Union. This book contains the text of Higginson’s two dedication addresses, and is particularly appropriate for the Suite as FDR was in the audience for the Union dedication in October, 1901. This is a volume he certainly knew of, most likely owned, and most certainly helped acquire for the new Union Library, which would function as Harvard’s main undergraduate library until the opening of Lamont in 1947.

And finally:

What a stunner! This is a very rare piece, both because of size (it’s 11″ tall by 6″ wide) and function: a heavy ceramic water pitcher.  It came out of an estate in California, and is exactly of the period. How do we know that? Well in this case the pitcher is labelled on the bottom: “Royal China Pottery, England,” which sets parameters for the date. But even if it weren’t, the style and typography of the Harvard pennant would give it away. After 1910 or so, the flag font and shape changes, (and continues an every-decade-or-so metamorphosis right until the present day), giving the practiced eye a pretty precise measurement of age.

(It’s amazing the strange talents you acquire when putting together a project like this!)

Well, that’s all for now. I’ll be back in touch as the weather cools down with news on our fall events, including the FDR Memorial Lecture, and our plans for the Big Game.

Until then, please remember that none of this gets done without your continuing help.

Some People Read History. Others Make It.
Come make a little history: support the FDR Suite Foundation!

 

Six Buildings

Ladies and Gentlemen:

As you know, we have been working madly away on a joint project with the HAA, Six Buildings That Shaped Harvard History.

Well, our work is finally done, after eight months trial and travail. The film will preview to the HAA Board tomorrow, and then be promoted worldwide to our alumni beginning in May, as the last official part of the 375th celebrations. With luck it will increase not only awareness of the FDR Suite & our mission, but also how fascinating an historical resource we have in the College that surrounds us.

Thus, may I present to you, our supporters, a special pre-premiere premiere of Six Buildings:

 

Six Buildings That Shaped Harvard History from Michael Weishan on Vimeo.

Note: the entire video is 36 minutes long, and may take some time to load on slower connections. For those of you wishing to skip about, click on the video, press play, then pause, allowing the film to fully load on your PC (the status bar will progressively go gray.) You may then skip about at will. In later editions, the film will be divided into six segments for quicker viewing. You may also unclick the “HD” button on the lower right for considerably faster, lower definition viewing.

Some People Read History. Others Make It.
Come make a little history: support the FDR Suite Foundation!