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Sara Delano Roosevelt Library

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About the Library

The historic Sara Delano Roosevelt Library is a student space on the 2nd floor of the Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute.  Students involved with Roosevelt House are encouraged to respectfully read, visit, and relax in this space.

Once the personal library of Sara Delano Roosevelt, today the SDR Library serves as a student study center for students taking classes at Roosevelt House in public policy and human rights courses. The library’s collection holds over 2,000 books on the Roosevelts, the New Deal, contemporary history, public policy, human rights, and war and peace studies, as well current newspapers and periodicals.  The library also includes books and video (DVDs) featured in Roosevelt House book discussions.

History

Most wealthy families had libraries in their homes in the 19th and early 20th centuries.  These rooms functioned as much as social centers for the residents of the house and their guests as places for reading or letter writing.  Sara Delano Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt’s mother, was in continuous residence in the house from 1908 to 1941, and would have used this room regularly as a library for entertaining family and friends.

In the 1934 photo of the library (at right), we can see comfortable seating, oriental carpets, furniture and china imported from China, as well as art work that includes a portrait of FDR, a portrait of family ancestor James Roosevelt (1760-1847), and photos of Springwood, the family home in Hyde Park.

Following Sara’s death, during the years 1943 to 1992, the house operated as Hunter College’s Sara Delano Roosevelt Memorial House.  Dedication ceremonies for Sara Delano Roosevelt Memorial House were held at the main campus on November 22, 1943.  Eleanor Roosevelt attended the ceremony.  Though FDR was in Cairo at a conference with Winston Churchill, Chiang Kai-shek and others at the time, he sent this congratulatory message, which Eleanor read to the gathered crowd:

“I feel that my dear mother would be very happy in the realization of plans whereby the old home in East Sixty-fifth Street, with all of its memories of joy and sorrow, is now to become Interfaith House… It is to me of happy significance that this place of sacred memories is to become the first college center established for the high purpose of mutual understanding between Protestant, Jewish, and Catholic students. I hope this movement for toleration will grow and prosper until there is a similar establishment in every institution of higher learning in the land.”

Eleanor would also describe the dedication ceremony in her My Day column, echoing the sentiment that would characterize the students’ experience at the House over the following 50 years: 

“Yesterday I went to New York for the dedication of our old houses…my mother-in-law lived in hers steadily for many years…though she had been brought up as a Unitarian and became an Episcopalian after her marriage, she was very tolerant of all other religions. I think she would have been interested in having work go on in these houses, which will bring about greater understanding and tolerance in young people…Always in both houses there was an effort to look on all human beings with respect, and to have a true understanding of the points of view of others.”

Use of the Library

Students may use the second floor Sara Delano Roosevelt Library to study and prepare for classes.  The library will generally be available to students during regular business hours (9:00am-5:30pm, Monday-Friday), except when otherwise in use.  (The SDR library may occasionally be in use for meetings or  other Hunter College purposes.)  Please click here for this week’s library calendar.

The library contains a small collection of books and journals for your use within the library, though they may not be removed from the library except by special permission.

Roosevelt House also has 5 iPads available for student use.  Students interested in using an ipad should ask a Roosevelt House staff member in RM 502 (fifth floor). You will need to turn in your Hunter student ID in order to use an iPad, and while iPads can be borrowed throughout the day, they must be returned to RM 5.02 no later than 5:30pm.

Please note that Roosevelt House does NOT have printing services for students.  Students should plan accordingly, and print papers, handouts, and any other materials they may need at main campus or at home, prior to class.

Food and Drink

Roosevelt House is an historic building and requires special maintenance.  Because of this, we ask that you do not bring food or drink into the house, with the exception of water.

There are two water fountains located on L1 (one level down from the main entrance floor).

We hope you enjoy your time here.  If you have any questions about the house or facilities please contact your undergraduate program assistant, or call the Roosevelt House main line at (212) 650-3174.

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Public Policy Capstone Seminar meeting in SDR Library (2012)

SDR Library as depicted in a Ladies Home Journal article.

SDR Library as depicted in a Ladies Home Journal article (1934)

Students in the Roosevelt Library

Students gather in Sara’s Library in the Sara Delano Roosevelt Memorial House (c. 1944-45)