The World: Its Cities and Peoples

I’ve commented often in this newsletter about how, occasionally, things just seem to fall into place by themselves, almost as if they were destined to be.

Well, it’s happened again, most remarkably.

A few weeks ago, I noticed that my favorite used book seller was going out of business. The owner, a charming lady “d’une certaine age” had decided to retire and spend more time with her children in California. All books 70% off. Titles under $10 –  $2.

I grabbed the Foundation checkbook and headed right over.

(You’ll remember of course that FDR was an avid bibliophile, and I’ve been complaining in past articles how difficult it was to obtain the quality of books we know would have been in the Suite for anything close to a reasonable price these days.)

Let’s just say this time I hit the mother load.

I won’t bore you with a complete list – I acquired a dozen or so leather bound titles for under $250 – but I do want to share with you the most remarkable: The World: Its Cities and Peoples.

This 10 volume set was published by Cassell sometime around 1882, the year of FDR’s birth. It’s undated, but from the references in the text it’s obviously early 1880’s. It was published by subscription only – probably globebecause of its high cost – and is perhaps the most comprehensively illustrated set of Victorian volumes I have ever seen. Almost every other page is covered with the most exquisitely detailed engravings, which by their portait-like nature almost certainly were done from photographs. There are literally a thousand pictures over the 1800 odd pages, perfect snap shots of a time before mass travel had homogenized cultures across the globe. And speaking of globes, you may remember our almost miraculous acquisition of an 1882 globe a few years back…. Now you can spin our globe, drop a random finger, from Timbuktu to Toledo, and have a good chance of finding a picture in our new volumes showing you exactly what life was like at that point in time and space.

What do you suppose the chances of that are? If I were a betting man, I certainly wouldn’t take that wager.

At any rate, I’d like to take you on a little whirlwind tour across the world of 1882, first to Greenland (which still had some ice) to see the Eskimos: (Click on any image to enlarge.)

Greenland Eskimo

Next we’re off to Amsterdam before the hordes of tulip-seeking tourists ever dreamed of garden travels, where we witness a riotous local street scene: (Note the vegetable vendor actually wearing wooden shoes.)

Amsterdam

Then, down to sunny Spain, to the heart of Madrid where a water seller sits quietly in the shade with his dog, waiting for trade. (Note the sheepskin pants! Just having been to Madrid with HAA travels, I can guarantee you this sight is long gone.)

spainaird

Now, a quick stop in the mysterious Near East, where a Bedouin greets us with his steely gaze:

bedouin of sinai

Off now across the Pacific to our western shores, for a stop in the most amazing boom town in America, San Francisco. The building in the distance is the famous Palace Hotel, the largest in the western United States,  renowned for its innovative luxuries like electric call buttons in each room, private baths, and “rising rooms” (elevators) to whisk passengers to their intended floor.

palace hotel SF

It was here Enrico Caruso was staying when all this disappeared in the 1906 earthquake. The hotel, billed as “fireproof” survived the shaking, but was destroyed along with every other building you see here in the subsequent conflagration, which, judging by the next picture of an alley in Chinatown, was just waiting to happen:

Washington Alley SF

 

Finally, a quick stop on our return to Boston, a visit with some of the last Native Americans still in their original homeland:

Pawnee indians

There are even pictures of a small New England college named Harvard, but I think that’s enough travels for one day. Next time, prewar Vienna? Or how about “Florence on the Elbe” – Dresden – before the fire bombings? Perhaps spending some time with the natives of unexplored Papua New Guinea, or the impassable Amazon jungles?  Tour the Pyramids? A trip down the Nile?

I know, tea in Ottoman Constantinople!

Wherever you wish…

Remember, these astounding coincidences are not entirely coincidental, in that their continuing occurrence depends entirely on contributions from people like you.

Help support the FDR Suite Foundation! Donations are easy though any major credit card.


 

FDR: A Life in Pictures

The Foundation is DEE-lighted, to borrow a turn from TR, to announce the publication of its new Roosevelt biography, FDR: A Life in Pictures.

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From the back cover:

“Lightweight yet Machiavellian. Frivolous but intense. Socialist and fascist. Devious yet charming. Communist while Caesar. Both traitor and savior combined. Rarely have such contradictory descriptions been attached to a single man. But at one time or another, each was tagged to Franklin Delano Roosevelt, perhaps the most influential political figure of the 20th century. Here for the very first time in one volume: a visual road map through the extraordinarily rich timeline of FDR’s life, charting step-by-illustrated-step his amazing progression from pampered youth to 32nd President of the United States. Meticulously compiled from more than 70 large-format, digitally restored period photos — some never before published, and most with extended captions — FDR: A Life in Pictures documents as no other book can the remarkable living legacy of Franklin Delano Roosevelt.”

This 154-page volume features several newly discovered photos found in our archives, as well as a half-dozen full color spreads of the Suite. Three of these were recently shot for us by noted photographer Ralph Lieberman, who’s in the middle of a two year campaign to document the architecture of Harvard in conjunction with the Fine Arts Library and the Graduate School of Design. This is one of his great wide angle views, which finally shows the extent of the study.

2013 Suite 02 lieberman

This book has been a real labor of love, arising out of the hallway timeline exhibit I put together over the winter with my friend Dr. Cynthia Koch, the former director of the FDR Presidential Library and now public historian in residence at Bard College. The short story is that having spent a huge amount of time tracking down and digitally restoring so many fine images – and then researching and writing the extended captions –  I discovered due to limits of space we’d need to exclude dozens of important photos. So rather than limit the work, I expanded it, and decided to put the full range together in a book, and there you have it. This volume is particularly helpful for the Foundation, as not only does it expand awareness of the Suite and its activities, but it also goes a long way to placing FDR’s Harvard experience in the wider context of his life and presidency.

For now, copies are only available through Amazon or through us (Click here to order.). Proceeds, of course, go entirely to benefit the Foundation. So start thinking about that perfect gift for FDR fans on your list!

 

 

 

Foundation Announces 2013 FDR Global Fellows

Adams House and the FDR Suite Foundation are delighted to announce the 2013 inaugural FDR Global Fellows.

FDR Global crimson 6Charlotte McKechnie ’15 of Adams House and Glasgow Scotland will work in rural Tanzania this summer with the NGO Support for International Change teaching educational seminars about HIV/AIDS  transmission and treatment options. Estimates indicate that 5-10% of the population is HIV-positive; however there are few treatment resources in the rural areas. Charlotte travels to Tanzania as part of a movement not only to put HIV-positive people in touch with health resources but to provide crucial information about how to avoid the spread of this devastating disease.

A sophomore concentrating in History and Literature, Charlotte is a highly acclaimed classical singer who has made many televised and radio appearances mckenniewith the BBC and ITV.  She has also recorded with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Choir, the BBC Concert Orchestra, and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and given recitals in Edinburgh, Glasgow, London, Rome, Turin, Paris, Copenhagen, Nurenburg, Leipzig and China.  At Harvard she is a University Choir Choral Fellow and sings with Lowell House Opera and Dunster House Opera.

Charlotte is keen to utilize her experience and enthusiasm for bringing music to communities and, in her free time, aims to teach music classes in the village in which she will live. These classes, she hopes, will help bridge the oft-taboo subject of HIV and AIDS education in Tanzania.

As for the future, Charlotte hopes for a career that combines her keen interest in activism with her love of music.

ty (1)Government and East Asian Studies Concentrator Tyrell Walker ’14 of Asburn, VA and Mather House will be heading out to Kunming China and Taiwan this summer to study how Chinese minorities interact with their government. Though minority rights discourse dominates national and international media forums, Chinese minorities are often left out of the discussion in China studies, despite the fact that they amount to over 100 million people.  Studying how young minorities in China and Taiwan engage with their government’s ethnic policies will allow Tyrell to frame this discussion – the topic of his honors thesis – and help illuminate the young generation’s attitudes towards government-supported integration programs and celebrations of their respective cultures. Do minority programs create feelings of alienation or value? Do they benefit their communities? Do these modern minorities tend to shed their cultural stereotypes in order to assimilate? And most importantly,  is democracy the best promoter for ethnic minority livelihoods, or can an autocratic or communist regime protect them just as well? These are just a few of the questions Tyrell hopes to answer through his studies this summer.

Tyrell, who began studying Mandarin in high school (where he became a successful student activist and lobbyist when the local school board attempted to shut down the pilot language program) is now a fourth year Mandarin student at Harvard. Active in various ESL groups on campus, Tyrell also finds time for theatrical arts, having directed two plays and acted in six. He is considering a career in academics.

The Foundation, in conjunction with the Institute for Global Health and the Asian Center will  pay the full cost of their summer programs abroad, as well as provide the pair with a stipend to make up for lost summer income – income which Harvard requires them to pay towards their tuition costs. Without this support,  these talented individuals would be back home working in low paying service jobs for the summer.

Charlotte and Tyrell will be taking video cameras with them, and we look forward to frequent updates on their travels.

Remember, the FDR Global Fellowship Program, along with all other Foundation activities, are entirely supported by your donations. We receive no monies from Harvard, and look forward to your continued help to realize our endeavors.

To support the FDR Suite Foundation & the Global Fellowships you can safely donate online with any major credit card, or mail a check to FDR Suite Foundation, Inc., Adams House, Mailbox 471, 26 Plympton Street, Cambridge 02138




Books & People

“Books can not be killed by fire. People die, but books never die. No man and no force can abolish memory… In this war, we know, books are weapons. And it is a part of your dedication always to make them weapons for man’s freedom.” Franklin Delano Roosevelt

While many people are familiar with FDR’s philatelic fancies, few know that he was an ardent book collector from an early age. At Harvard he was the librarian of the Fly Club (a post not quite as arduous as it sounds, as presumably there was secretarial backup, but still important in the days before Harvard’s libraries carried any sort of popular reading: FDR was in charge of buying books for his fellow Club members.) He was also a member of the Union’s Library Committee, which at the time, housed Harvard’s principal undergraduate library, the equivalent of today’s Lamont. His notes and letters home are peppered with references to book purchases and in fact a principal impetus in founding his presidential library at Hyde Park (the first one in the country) was the sheer mass of material he had collected over the years, particularly on nautical matters, where his collection of manuscripts and prints was considered one of the finest in the nation.

To reflect FDR bibliophile tendencies, the Suite has slowly been collected books from the early 1800’s to 1904. This is not a quick process: not only do the books have to fall within a strict timeline, they have to represent books that FDR and Lathrop might have wished to acquire in terms of subject matter, and the quality of the volume itself. (No cheap books here.)  Additionally, we have to find books that are old, but still look reasonably new – it is after all 1904 in the Suite, and everything, with the exception of rare antique volumes, would have appeared fresh off the press, as it indeed they were.

This past winter, I and two student interns spent weeks inventorying the Suite, photographing each item, and selecting additional photographic views for the Internet museum we’re engaged in building. For the books, that mean choosing to highlight some of the internal illustrations. Today I thought I might share with you a few of the images that caught my fancy along the way. (Click on any to expand.)

The first three come from a grand leather-bound volume called Napoléon en Égypte; poëme en huit chants. (Paris 1829)

Here we have Napoléon waiting (impatiently) to disembark: (Note the barely detailed sailors on the deck below half-heartedly raising a cheer, also waiting to diseembark; reminds you of trying to get off the back of a packed 777 from coach!)

napolean

Encountering the wonders of the Egyptian desert:

desert

And perhaps my favorite of all, leading his troops past the pyramids.

pyramids

Here’s a delightful book given FDR’s Hyde Park associations: Summer Days on the Hudson (New York 1875) detailing a holiday up the Hudson, and showing the interior of Washington Irving’s study at Sunnyside. Amazingly, today’s visitor sees much the same view. (For those of you who haven’t taken the trip up the Hudson from New York to Albany (or vice versa) I highly recommend it. It’s a marvelous romp through some of the most beautiful countryside in the US and absolutely stuffed with incredible historic sites. Much maligned Albany and its wonderful museums is worth a couple days alone.) sunnyside
And how about lovely hand-tinted scene from Cape Cod by Henry David Thoreau? (It makes reading Thoreau, never one of my favorites, almost entertaining.) (Boston, 1896)

cape cod thoreau

And finally, a handy little volume donated by Steve and Susan Heard, the 1842 Massachusetts Register, which details, among others, a small college in Cambridge:

register

All I can say is, thank god Commencement is no longer held in the first week of August!

These books and several hundred more are now part of our growing on-line collection. It’s a huge project to digitalize them all, but we persevere, counting as ever, on your support.

Please help support the FDR Suite Foundation.
We exist solely through the contributions of our supporters and your our donations are tax deductible



 

Hasty Pudding Season

On Thursday I went to the Hasty Pudding Play with some fellows and again on Friday with the Quincy’s & dined there also. Saturday afternoon after rowing I went into the Touraine & saw Muriel…. Then took the 8 PM train to Groton and am just back from there after a nice quiet Sunday…. FDR to Sara, May 1902

front cover 1

As the 2013 Hasty Pudding Show, There’s Something About Maui, comes to the end of its run, we’re pleased to have received the donation of a very rare piece of FDR ephemera: the complete score of the 1902 Hasty Pudding production Hi-Ka-Ya, the very play that Pudding member Franklin Roosevelt writes that he saw not once, but twice.

As with most Pudding affairs, the plot is predictably silly. As the 1902 Harvard Bulletin noted: Hi Kaya [sic] is a comic opera in three acts, the scene of which is laid, in the first and third acts, among the Eskimos in the arctic regions. The scene of the second act is laid at the Sheepshead Bay racetrack.

Paul Revere Hall, a man about town, Professor Lasher, a geologist, and Obediah Ham, a grind, go to the polar regions together to see Hi-Kaya, the chief of a northern tribe, and they prevail upon him to return with them to America. In the second act they are seen at the Sheepshead Bay racetrack in New York. In the third act they become involved in international complications in the polar regions. English, German, French and Austrian warships with their officers are trying to get possession of the country, but finally relinquish to the United States all their claims.

(How typically Teddy-Rooseveltian!)

Judging by reviews in the Crimson and the Harvard Illustrated Magazine, the 1902 effort was quite well received, with particular notice going to the score.

What I find fascinating about this, aside from the very fact that this score survived at all, is how many of the inside jokes we still understand, or rather, how many we understand now, after five years of Foundation research.

Take for instance, the ‘Geologist’s Song’

Perhaps you think it odd
That these many miles we plod
To learn the dip and strike of all the glaciers in the land
To make the matter plain
I’ll say once and then again;
‘Tis the little drops of water that make the little grains of sand!”

Professor Lasher, we now know, is a very thinly veiled caricature of Harvard Geology Professor Nathaniel Shaler, whose Geology 4 course FDR took his freshman year, and who was equally famous for his congenial student field trips about New England — and his notoriously easy grading.

page 34 1

Click to enlarge

Nor, five years ago, would we have known much about the subject of this little ditty:

Nice oranges, good people, buy a few.
Five cents will by you two.
I need the money, good people, more than you!

Frequent readers of this column may also remember my recent post on “Shopping for Gems and Snaps,” and recall that in FDR’s era, students who paid too much attention to their studies were called “grinds.”

Well, in Hi-Ka-Ya they receive their own song:

I’m a typical college grind
I look it you’ll admit, you’ll admit, you’ll admit.
You’ve heard it’s a grind to be a grind
Not a bit, not a bit, not a bit.
Just the opposite!

Don’t let my words belie my looks.
My happiness is in my books.
I love to work.
I hate to play.
For me life’s simply the other way.
Don’t enlist your sympathy,
I’m as happy as can be,
For to read my Latin Grammar
Is life in Arcadie!
Oh grinding I adore it!
My work is joy to me!

The score, incidentally, arrived to us intact but in pretty rough shape: cover torn, pages faded and water damaged. However, thanks to the miracles of modern digital restoration (and about a full day’s labor on our part) the entire 60 page score went from the front cover 2condition you see at left, to the crisp, shimmering original white version you see above. Hi-Ka-Ya, along with the rest of our Harvard ephemera collection, is currently being digitalized and restored, soon to be available online via our new FDR Suite Internet Museum.

All thanks to supporters like you, of course! Donations to the Foundation are quick, easy and tax deductible using the button below. Frequent fliers: consider using your airline miles credit card to help us and help yourself at the same time!



The FDR Suite Foundation, Inc. is a 501(c)3 U.S public charity dedicated to expanding the legacy of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and preserving the historic nature of Adams House, Harvard College, including the newly restored Franklin Delano Roosevelt Suite in Westmorly Hall. Your contributions to the Foundation are deductible to the extent allowed by law.

Foundation to Publish New FDR Bio

We’re delighted to announce that thanks to a $20,000 donation from a supporter who wishes to remain anonymous, we’ve been able to bring two fantastic projects to fruition: The FDR Suite Timeline, and a new presidential biography, FDR: A Life in Pictures. Both are outlined in the short intro to our new book,  included below. The 150 page volume, which given its origin, pays special attention to FDR’s Harvard connections, should appear next month and will be available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and bookstores worldwide. Sales, of course, to benefit the Foundation, so start thinking Christmas and birthday gifts to your favorite FDR fan!

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From the Introduction:

The origins of this book are, like many I suppose, serendipitous. During visitor tours of FDR’s newly restored student rooms at Adam House, I noticed that many of our guests had questions as to where, exactly, the FDR Suite stood in the grand scheme of things. Did Roosevelt have polio when he was at Harvard?  Did we have pictures of the president as a student? How exactly did FDR get into politics? What were his later relations with the University? When exactly was he governor of New York? Wasn’t Roosevelt also the secretary of the navy before coming president? What about Sara? What about Eleanor…? Just enough time has passed since FDR’s death in 1945 to make the general outline of events slightly fuzzy for many, so I proposed building a simple illustrated exhibit in the hallway outside the Suite to place the restoration in the larger historical context of FDR’s overall life.

Simple. Yes, simple. That was the original idea. A quick, easy project. But there is nothing simple about Franklin Delano Roosevelt, his life, his family or his political career, and given that we only had ten feet of wall space to cover the events  of 63 eventful years, deciding which life moments were singular enough for inclusion became an almost impossible triage. I must admit to having felt rather daunted — that is until I had another grand idea, to consult my good friend and member of the Foundation’s historical advisory board, Dr. Cynthia Koch, the Past Director of the FDR Presidential Library and Museum at Hyde Park. Cynthia was kind enough to donate hours of her spare time to guide me through the thousands of pictures available from the FDR Library, and with her help and counsel, our exhibit was born. Still, there were so many wonderful images left over, so many interesting aspects of the FDR legacy necessarily left out, that I felt strongly we ought to combine our top selections into the volume you now hold.

This book is in no way meant to be inclusive or definitive; you would need a thousand pages for that, and perhaps still fail. What it is meant to do, and what I think it uniquely succeeds in doing, is to give a real sense of the multi-faceted richness of FDR’s life and times. In most of his biographies to date, illustrations are small and necessarily limited to a few pages. That’s a shame, as FDR’s life coincided with the great advance of photography that made it possible for the very first time to document events in actuality, rather than merely descriptively. FDR’s privileged childhood comes so much more alive when he is seen dressed in his perfectly tailored riding outfit, ready for the canter; the vivaciousness of his youth is immediately evident as a strikingly handsome FDR sits at the polished wheel of his sailboat, steps off a bi-plane or whizzes across the frozen Hudson in an ice-yacht; the inexperienced first-time candidate is amusingly revealed as he peers down his pince-nez; the boy-grown-to-man standing with a newly married Eleanor and — as always — mother in between, tells volumes; the travel-weary face returning from Yalta painfully etches in place the ravages of wartime office and responsibility. The Dustbowl, the breadlines, the wheelchair, the smoke over Omaha beach: these pictures speak as no words ever could.

To the 70-plus full-page pictures that form this extraordinary visual chronicle we’ve added explanatory captions, many extended, which attempt to give the reader some sense of how each photo relates not only to FDR’s life, but also to American history as a whole. Some of the images in this book have never been published; some have been published the world over; all of them are revelatory, a few extraordinarily so. None, however, are more extraordinary than the man we remember as Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and it’s my hope that FDR: A Life in Pictures provides a suitable tribute to one of the most remarkable figures of the 20th century.

The World Turned Upside Down

Tradition holds that as the defeated British soldiers retired off the field at Yorktown, their regimental band struck up an ancient march, The World Turned Upside Down:

If buttercups buzz’d after the bee
If boats were on land, churches on sea
If ponies rode men and if grass ate the cows
And cats should be chased into holes by the mouse
If the mamas sold their babies
To the Gypsies for half a crown
If summer were spring
And the other way ’round
Then all the world would be upside down!

I was reminded of these verses the other day, when looking through our collection of historical Harvard student room photos in preparation for a project we’re sponsoring, the Adams Room Catalog, which will allow occupants new and old to see who has lived in a particular suite before them. One of my favorite images has always been the one below. Simply put, it is precisely what you imagine when you think: Victorian room.

This particular picture has also been very important for us in terms of guiding acquisitions for the Suite. It is so clearly photographed that we can use digital enhancement to pick out the finest details. In particular, this photo led us to discover the wire carte de visite hangers we see again and again in the various period room photos. Here’s a closeup:

Eventually, after much searching we managed to find two of these extremely rare wire holders – at considerable cost. Here’s one of ours, above FDR’s desk:

But ours doesn’t look quite the same, does it? Rather bare in fact. Well, the reason is that the cards have mysteriously been dropping off the hanger. The slightly breeze or touch, and they fall like leaves off an autumn tree. There’s probably at least a good dozen on the floor behind the desk as I write. The solution however, is finally at hand: it seems I had hung the holders upside down: the Victorian hangers don’t clamp the pictures as modern refrigerator holders do, but rather support them in a wire loop from below – something you can clearly see in the period enlargement above, and which I saw, oh wise curator that I am, for the first time the other day. I wonder what other little jokes from the past await my discovery… The world turned upside down indeed.

And speaking of the future: Today’s article in the Wall Street Journal notes that with the potential change in tax laws for 2013, now is a particularly good time to consider year-end charitable giving, stating that “Under current law, donations of assets that have risen in value, such as shares of stock, often qualify for a deduction at the full market price, enabling donors to skip paying capital-gains tax on the appreciation.”

As a registered 501(c) 3 public charity, the Foundation stands more than ready to accept your charitable donation, and we can certainly use your support to fund our upcoming scholarship and educational programs.

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




 

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!