November 19, 1939: construction of the first presidential library began.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt laid the cornerstone next to his home in Hyde Park, New York. Roosevelt actually donated the land, but public donations funded the library building which was dedicated on June 30, 1941.
When President FDR first proposed the idea of building a library to house his papers and memorabilia, some thought he was just interested in constructing a monument to himself. FDR, however, saw the library as a way to preserve and provide public access to the records of his presidency. He had an “open government” attitude, believing that the people of the USA were entitled to a good look at how their government was working, even at the executive level.
Seems like we should go back to the “good ‘ole days” sometimes, huh? But then, who knows if they were were the good ‘ole days.
The library contains not only FDR’s collections of personal and family papers, but manuscripts related to his career at the state and national level, pictures, sound and motion picture recordings, books, and more. It even has his vast collection of ship models, prints and paintings, gifts from the American people, and family items.
At the cornerstone laying ceremony for the library, Roosevelt said:
“Of the papers which will come to rest here I personally attach less importance to the documents of those who have occupied high public or private office, than I do the spontaneous letters which have come to me and my family and my associates from men, from women, and from children in every part of the United States, telling me of their conditions and problems, and giving me their opinions.”
Talk about a pretty cool guy, am I right?
Have you visited it before? If you’re in the neighborhood, you should check it out– here’s the LINK to the library’s website.