Primary Sources – FDR Correspondence

Franklin Roosevelt was a frequent correspondent with his parents during his Groton and Harvard years, often writing several times a week. Here is a brief selection of his correspodence, compiled by Research Associate Justin Roshak from FDR: His Personal Letters Vol 1: Early Years, which gives some remarkable insights into how the suite was decorated and arranged.

 

Date

From

To

Page

Contents

10.31.99 FDR Parents 353 On Saturday morning Mr. Cushing sold some awfully pretty sporting prints he got at an auction in Boston. I got the pick of the lot, a perfect little beauty for $1.50 this shape [FDR here draws an extended oblong] and a steeple-chase. I have hung it in my [Groton] study which is now better fitted up than any other, I think.
11.12.99 FDR Parents 360 What do you think? Lathrop Brown and I have decided definitely to room together next year! We are going to Cambridge together sometime during the holidays, probably the last day, so see about rooms, so if you here anything from Randolph Hall you can tell them I don't want a single room there. We are much inclined to go to the new place, Russell, but we can decide later.
11.26.99 FDR Parents 363 I hope you have written to Randolph to apply for a double room for us; we are also applying at Claverley and Russell in case we nothing at Randolph.
1.9.00 FDR Parents 371 Then we went to the different agents & went al over the buildings, Randolph, Claverley, Russell and Westmorely. We saw many rooms, but the pick was at Westmorely, 1st floor corner looking on the South-West, and guess the price? $400 without extras. The floor plan is roughly like this [FDR draws suite floor plan]. We both thought it a chance and are sure of getting it as we will be given 1st choice on Mar. 1st. On the W. side of Westmorely is Russell, then Randolph, then Claverley so all four buildings are together. The sitting room is large enough for two desks & the bedrooms and bath room are light and airy. The ceilings are very high.
3.14.00 FDR Parents 389 A very funny thing has happened. The letter you enclosed was from Thurston the agent of Westmorely asking me to sign the lease which he sent me on Feb. 28th. Now no lease has come and I can find no trace of it. I have written him to send another and I hope it will be all right.
3.19.00 FDR Parents 391 I enclose my lease which came today and is all right. I have signed it and after Papa has done so & had his signature witnessed please send it to Mr. Charles S. Brown 247 Lexington Ave. New York. I am writing him to sing it & send it to Lathrop. Also please sign a cheque for $112.50/100 for my semi-annual share of the rent and you had better send it right on with the two bills & the lease, so that Lathrop can send the whole thing back to Thurston.
4.10.00 FDR Parents 393 I had breakfast at the Touraine, then a hair-cut & then to Cambridge. We saw our rooms, they are only one flight up, & the walls are light brown. We saw a few pieces of second-hand furniture which Lathrop may get for his rooms. We lunched at the Groton table, and I left at 1:30...
6.25.00 FDR Parents 413 I am sending my pictures to Westmorly 27, where they will be taken care of until I arrive.

9.25.00

FDR

Parents

422

"The rooms look as if struck by sheet lightning, the sitting-room having the chairs and tables but no curtains or carpets.  The bed is in place in my room and it looks inhabitable."

9.27.00

SDR

FDR

 

"I am surprised at Jordan & Marsh not having sent your rugs and put up your curtains. I intended you to find all in fairly good order. If not yet done, just telephone or write to the carpet and curtain departments. I hope your sheets, blankets and spreads have come. I ordered yesterday in New York three bath sheets to be marked and sent to you in a few days."

9.30.00

SDR

FDR

 

"Also tell me if you have your two big rugs, blue and red and the small rugs I ordered.  I have a bill from Paine for only the large red room rug, and Lathrop's spring (without the mattress or covering). I enclose a card showing a desk which might suit Lathrop if he has not bought his." She then goes on to correct his grammar: "*One does not say "inhabitable"* 

10.5.00

FDR

SDR

425

"The curtains haven't come but I am writing J&M Paine will send the rug for my room in a few days.  I am pretty well unpacked tho' no pictures are hung yet."

10.6.00

SDR

FDR

 

"They write me from Jordan and March that the curtains are to be put up in your rooms today, so I hope you will be in order by tomorrow."

10.8.00

SDR

FDR

 

“I have written to Paine.  I wonder if you have your Morris Chair and if the cushions are high and fit well."

10.19.00

FDR

Parents

426

“Many thanks for the Graphics & photo on board the “1/2 Moon”, By the way, Nancy wants to see the others taken that day, so if you have any extra prints you might send them to me.”

10.19.00

FDR

Parents

426

“I want very much to see the new horses, do send a photo of them, also of “Tip,” & the other photos at campo.”

11.6.00

FDR

Parents

432

“I won’t bring my tuxedo home unless you wire me to do so, & will bring just my coat case, also the big trunk with some summer flannels.”

11.23.00

FDR

Parents

435

"Our piano is coming tomorrow, $40 for the year which is $10 off the regular price.  It is a very nice one and of good tone."

11.23.00

SDR

FDR

 

"I have sent you today an express parcel, containing your warm dressing gown, butterflies, golf cup, etc. and you must open it carefully as the things are breakable.  I hope you have you piano and that the trunk is gone from the sitting room."

11.27.00

FDR

Parents

436

"*the butterflies are most ornamental."

1.4.01

FDR

SDR

 

"My bronze is much admired."

1.6.01

FDR

SDR

439

"I cooked a most scrumptious breakfast on two chafing dishes... The prints came last night and are much admired by everyone, as is the bronze. My hat came also…I am going for the Book-Case this week”"

1.8.01

FDR

SDR

439

"The delightful rug & quilt came today & are too pretty, the rug is already down & looks so well.  I am using my old quilt to cover my trunk and rooms is [sic] perfect now."

2.18.01

FDR

SDR

447

"The book-case turned out to be just ½ inch too wide for the space, & it was the narrowest I could getI have got a beautiful table & it looks very well between the two front windows."

3.19.01

FDR

SDR

450

“My Scientific American has begun coming & I am very glad to have it.”

11.18.01

FDR

SDR

464

“Do please copy for me all the extracts in our old Dutch Bible & send them to me. Also the old brown genealogy which you have, a pamphlet, & any other records you have. I will be very careful of them & bring them back on Dec. 16th.”

11.18.01

FDR

SDR

465

“I have ordered a beautiful frock coat, vest, & trousers for $70.”

1.6.02

FDR

SDR

468

“Please bring when you come the “dog” tobacco jar on my bureau.”

1.9.02

FDR

SDR

469

“I did not find Tom Beal’s pipe when I unpacked. It was in an envelope, & I left it with the other things…please bring my DOG tobacco jar. Also my riding pants. Also some more of my cards.”

10.26.02

FDR

SDR

481

“I am packing the valise today with the books and my old grey suit”