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Day 43: May 18

Leg braces used by Franklin Roosevelt
(Steel, leather)

FDR could not stand without the support of leg braces like these. They were strapped to his legs and locked at the knee. These braces weigh approximately ten pounds.

In order to appear to “walk” in public, Roosevelt used a cane and a strong companion’s arm to support his weight while he pitched his body forward. This required skill and considerable upper body strength, developed through practice and exercise.

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Day 71: April 20

ARTIFACT HIGHLIGHT:

Eleanor Roosevelt used this Red Cross uniform during her 25,000 mile tour of the South Pacific in August-September, 1943 as a representative of the American Red Cross. The First Lady also wore a second uniform made of seersucker fabric during her trip.

Day 3: June 27

President Franklin D. Roosevelt commissioned the construction of a library and museum to house his vast collection of papers, books, and memorabilia. Many previous presidents donated their papers to the Library of Congress, but this was not the best fit for Roosevelt. Not only was his collection too expansive for that institution at the time, but Roosevelt was concerned about having all of the nation’s important documents housed in only one place. Instead, he built a new facility on a 16 acre section of his mother’s home in Hyde Park, NY – an institution that would become the nation’s first presidential library.

The official Library dedication was a small, quiet affair, with close friends and family attending the ceremony. No formal invitations were issued, but a small article appeared in the paper a few days before the ceremony inviting Roosevelt’s Hudson Valley neighbors to join them for the dedication at 4pm on June 30, 1941. A few speeches were given, and the Library was officially opened to the public.

Read more about the 1941 Library Dedication

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Day 26: June 4

Controversial issues are part of every presidency.  As a four term president Franklin D. Roosevelt had his share and as our exhibit design team and historians committee planned our new permanent museum exhibits we talked at great length about how to deal with them.  Our decision was to address these issues head on.

Read more about our Confront the Issue interactives.

Day 15: June 15

Torah

This manuscript scroll of the Torah (the first five books of the Hebrew Bible, which Christians call the Old Testament) was removed from a synagogue in Czechoslovakia for safekeeping after the 1938 Munich Crisis and brought secretly to the United States. The overwhelming majority of Czechoslovakia’s Jews were murdered during the Holocaust.

On March 14, 1939, the National Council of Young Israel presented it to President Roosevelt to “inspire thousands upon thousands of young people with deeper respect and reverence for the eternal values contained therein.”

Under Jewish law, the sacred text of the Torah must be altered before it can be exhibited. A Jewish religious scribe (known as a sofer) has examined this Torah and confirmed that a portion of the sacred scroll was removed before it was given to FDR.

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Day 52: May 9

One of the many books in FDR’s private study is this Register of Visitors. This log has been signed by many of our famous visitors including Winston Churchill, Madame Chiang Kai-Shek, and President Bill Clinton. It will be back in the study when we rededicate the Library on June 30th. We hope you will plan a visit to our new innovative and interactive permanent museum exhibits and join our list of VIP’s! 

Day 64: April 27

ARTIFACT HIGHLIGHT:

Dutch Bible. Amsterdam, 1686.

FDR took the oath of office on the Roosevelt family Bible—opened to a verse in St. Paul’s First Epistle to the Corinthians: “And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.”

Roosevelt used this Bible at all four of his inaugurations.