Letters between FDR and Daisy Suckley
Will Be on Display for Three Weeks at Roosevelt House
May 8-May 31, 2019
(New York, NY, May 8, 2019) Hunter College announced today its receipt of an invaluable donation of historic correspondence—15 original, handwritten letters from Franklin Delano Roosevelt to his close friend and distant cousin Margaret (Daisy) Suckley that have never before been publicly displayed. The letters were generously donated to the Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute at Hunter College by philanthropists Roger and Susan (Hunter ’65) Hertog.
“We are honored and delighted that the Hertogs have chosen to give these remarkable FDR letters to our cherished Roosevelt home,” said Jennifer J. Raab, president of Hunter College. “The letters will be important for future scholarly research, and they are also interesting and fun for non-scholars to see a more personal side—candid, vulnerable, and human—of the longest serving American president.”
“This is a remarkable collection of letters from FDR to Daisy Suckley, who was a close confidante and trusted companion of Roosevelt—many believe even more than a confidante,” said Harold Holzer, the Jonathan F. Fanton Director of Roosevelt House. “Documenting Suckley’s importance as a confidante, these letters share fascinatingly frank language about the people and events of the day, the likes of which FDR shared with so few.”
The collection covers nearly the entire Roosevelt presidency, from October 22, 1934, through May 2, 1944. Among other points of interest, they provide documentation of Suckley’s visits to FDR at the White House, in Hyde Park, and other locales.
Roosevelt House will display all the original letters in a special exhibit, titled “Affectionately, F.D.R.,” curated by Roosevelt House Historian Deborah Gardner. It is open free to the public from May 8 through May 31, Mondays through Saturdays, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., and during evening events. The home of Franklin and Eleanor, Roosevelt House—originally a Christmas gift in 1908 for the newlyweds and, since 1943, a vital part of Hunter College—is located at47-49 East 65thStreet, Manhattan. For more information, please visit the visitor information page.
Delivering a lecture at Roosevelt House before the exhibit opened to the public, prize-winning historian Geoffrey C. Ward, author of Closest Companions: The Intimate Friendship between Franklin D. Roosevelt and Margaret Suckley, shared insights from his research behind the 1995 book. The book marked the first publication of the long-hidden trove of letters.
In one letter, Franklin Roosevelt writes about his disability that was kept from the public eye:
My trouble is in having to keep on my ‘braces’ from early morn till nearly midnight – because at every stop – even a water tower – a crowd surrounds the rear platform [of the train]& I cannot disappoint them by refusing to go out & say ‘Howdy.’
The “braces” to which he refers supported his legs while standing, either bolstered by the arm of an aide, a cane, or holding on to a railing.
In another letter, written in January 1936, Roosevelt reflects on his upcoming first re-election campaign: “
Will you not worry about all the horrid and unnecessary things of this political year? You are so right about them – but wemust bear them & while we try not to add to them still we must get the truth brought out – And if we carry on and lose at least we will have tried honorably – And there are lots & lots of other thrilling things to do in this life.
Roosevelt went on to win that election in a landslide.
The collection of letters donated by the Hertogs is a rare opportunity to see Franklin Delano Roosevelt as few had the opportunity to know him.