Finally, we’re thrilled to announce that you can now donate to the Foundation online. We’ve had many requests from folks looking for a quick and easy way support us while gaining card rewards or frequent flier miles at the same time. Now, through the good offices of Paypal (the same service used by EBay and other major corporations) you can do just that. Paypal accounts and all major credit cards are accepted. Just click the donate button at the bottom of of this post. The Donate section on the main FDR Site has also been updated to accommodate online payments.
A quick note on our capital campaign. As of today, we’ve raised $4250 of our $50K goal. We definitely need your help!
Also, just in time for summer, we have our new FDR Suite Foundation tee-shirts! Rest assured, these aren’t your grandpa’s tees! Sporting our own custom designed crest (a very cool combination of Adams House and Roosevelt Family heraldry – for more on that, click HERE) these super-soft shirts, super lightweight shirts are perfect for almost any casual occasion. Made of extra-fine 100% cotton, these shirts are pre-shrunk and run true to size. Available in M, L, XL, and XL. $20.00, plus 4.95 shipping. (US only.) These too can now be ordered on-line by clicking the picture above.
Some People Read History. Others Make It.
Come make a little history: support the FDR Suite Foundation!
Everyone at Adams House and the FDR Suite Foundation is truly proud to announce the inaugural edition of The New Fireside Chats.
My guest for the premier episode is John Gunther Dean, Adams House ’47.
To summarize Mr Dean’s life in a paragraph is to conjure a passage from some James Bond novel. Born in the last days of the Weimar Republic to a wealthy Jewish family, Dean fled to the US from Germany after Kristalnacht. Growing up in Kansas City, he entered Harvard, became involved with a top secret intelligence operation during WWII, returned, took his diploma (plus several more, including a law degree from the Sorbonne) and then entered the US foreign service. His 30-year career including journeying into far Togo to establish the first US Mission there; brokering the peace in Laos (and preventing a coup); getting shot down in Vietnam; carrying out the flag at the fall of Phnom Penh (left, from the cover of Newsweek); surviving two assassination attempts as Ambassador to Lebanon; rescuing the Chum Museum ( a world heritage site) and speaking his mind about Israeli involvement in Pakistan, which ultimately cost him his career in the US Diplomatic Corps.
We caught up with Mr. Dean a few weeks ago, when he visited Harvard for his 65th reunion. In all honestly, I was prepared to meet an elderly man, retired and retiring, dotting on memories. There was very little of that. Mostly there was a remarkably vital, often feisty, always entertaining old soul who has known (and who has a distinct opinion of) most of the major players on the world stage since the 50s. Our interview, originally scheduled for a half-hour, stretched to an hour and a half. It’s been edited here for cohesion into three largely chronological 20-minute segments. The first covers Dean’s youth and arrival in the US, including his Harvard years and War II experience. The second picks up the first years of his diplomatic career and posting to Southeast Asia; the third discusses the later (and often far too eventful) parts of Mr. Dean’s career, as well as his reflections on the world political stage, and the value, even after 65 years, of his Harvard education.
A word or two on this first episode. The most remarkable thing about my last four years at the FDR Suite has been the fascinating host of new people, places and technologies I’ve been exposed to. The Chats project is no exception. Creating this series included moving from in front of the camera (never easy) to in front and in back of the camera (remarkably frustrating, and full of hidden shoals, not to mention a post-production staff of…. one. Where’s my latte!Get it yourself, fool!) This first episode bears witness to my newness at this game, and has shown the way for many future improvements, including some annoying sound issues here and there. Still, I think that considering this was our first time out, we pulled off a remarkably professional interview. The “we” here, by the way, is cameraman Joe Brancale, ’13; our own Adams Drama Tutor Aubry Threlkeld (whom we gratefully drafted as cameraman when our film students had all departed for summer); Annie Douglas, ’12, who pitched in to help with logistics; and our inimitable Tim Smith, ’08, recently Timothy John Smith, Esq., (congrats) who will be hanging out with us one more year (thank god for that!). Plus, our ever patient Masters, Judy and Sean Palfrey, who appeared in loco clientis during our first video trial runs, and who believed enough in this project to shepherd it through. Bravo to all.
Thus, may I present to you, from the (almost) restored FDR Suite, The New Fireside Chats, Episode 1: (Note: If you’re having trouble clearly viewing the video on the FDR site, you may also watch the Chats directly on the vimeo site, here. You will need a fast internet connection, and updated computer, in either case.)
I put together this short tour from several hours of footage we shot this week while testing the cameras and lighting for the New Fireside Chats. There’s many a photographic gaffe here as we are still learning how to use this new equipment (not to mention how to hold these new ultra-sensitive cameras steady) but despite our first efforts, I think this still gives you a much better idea of what things look like now than mere photos, so I thought you might enjoy a private, members-only sneak peek.
PS: As of today we have raised 2K of the $50,000 goal in our 2011 capital campaign. Remember, we receive no direct support from the College, and all this progress flows entirely from your contributions.
Look familiar? An illustration from the 1897 Scribner's article "Undergraduate Life at Harvard," picturing a room in Claverley, and a recent addition to the Suite's expanding collection of Harvard ephemera.
We are thrilled today to announce two $50,000 grants from the Lillian Goldman Charitable Trust to help fund the Foundation’s operations for the next two years. In addition to providing the money necessary to launch The New Fireside Chats web broadcasts, the annual grants will help develop our planned FDR Suite Internet Museum, expand the Suite’s historical collections, as well as fund day-to-day operations at the Suite. (And we have considerable day-to-day expenses: insurance on the Suite alone runs close to 2K per year, and other than heat and electricity, we receive no financial support from the College…)
The structure of this award was deliberate: splitting the amount into two 50K segments to be paid this year and next was designed to act as a challenge grant, spurring folks like you to help us raise the additional 50K we need complete our annual budget and begin our educational mission of expanding FDR’s legacy into the electronic age.
So in order to put the Foundation on a firm financial footing, we launch today our 2011 capital campaign. Won’t you consider donating at one of these levels?
Member $100 Supporter $250 Donor $500 Trustee $1000 Angel $5000
(And of course, there’s always the Deity level… lol)
If everyone on this mailing list donated just $100, we’d make our goals – unfortunately only a small percentage of you do – 4%, in fact.
I know there are a thousand demands on your charitable dollars, but we’d like to think that our particular combination of Harvard History, House History and presidential history is pretty special and worth supporting.
In addition, if we make our goal, it greatly increases the chance that these grants will be renewed in future years (and attract other monies to fund our planned scholarship programs, which are so far unfunded.)
So long story short, whatever you can contribute, please do. Just click the How to Donate Button at the top of this page. I will keep you posted on our progress.
And one final note: a number of you inquired during our hugely pleasant Fourth Annual Memorial Lecture & Reception this past Saturday whether or not these events were considered fundraisers for the Suite, and strictly, the answer is no: this lecture series is part of our educational mission, and we price the tickets each year principally to cover our costs, which means depending on attendance, we generally just break even. Hopefully however our attendees go away with a better sense of our mission and an increased inclination to support it. At least that’s the idea!
As always, we remain grateful for your interest and support.
For those of you not attending the Fourth Annual FDR Memorial Lecture this Saturday, I thought you might enjoy seeing a sneak preview of the The New Fireside Chats web casts I’ll be introducing there:
Of course, this is just an early version the trailer (well not so early, its the 15th one, actually) but I can’t tell you how excited we already are about this project – scheduled guests include nationally known scholar Skip Gates, who’ll talk about race relations in FDR’s time and what it means to be black in 2011, at Harvard and beyond; Nobel laureate Amartya Sen will visit to discuss the pluses and minuses of New Deal economic policy; historian and PBS scholar Doris Kearns Goodwin will be on hand to talk about FDR’s early years; Ambassador John Gunther Dean ’44 will review the tremendous ups and downs of four decades of diplomatic service – and that’s just for starters. We’ve been sending out invitations to a whole host of folks from both sides of the aisle, to come in and discuss politics, religion, history, the arts, world events, you name it. With any luck, we’ll be posting one or two new broadcasts each month.
And finally, returning of the subject of this weekend’s lecture by Cynthia Koch, we have just five seats left, so if you wish to attend, email me immediately to reserve your spot.
One of the most delightful aspects of my “job” with the FDR Suite Foundation has been the interaction I’ve had with our students over the last four years. They are an incredible group of young adults at that wonderful point in life where nothing seems impossible and all roads remain open – their energy and enthusiasm are palpable, and provide a tonic for older, wearier bones. Our students are also incredibly, incredibly diverse, in a way that many of you who still remember the tie-and-jacket-clad all male Harvard of old might find almost unfathomable. Even I, who lived in Adams during the fast and free – and now almost legendary – 1980s am impressed. Looking out over the dining hall, the sea of faces is almost kaleidoscopic: Asian, African, Caucasian, Indo-European, European, Native American, of every kind and creed imaginable. There is no one of anything. And the interesting point is, our students take this state of affairs entirely for granted, as if Harvard had always been that way. Of course, if asked, they’ll certainly acknowledge that history must have been far different. But I don’t think they comprehend how different, and sometimes that bothers me; for to measure the worth of such intangibles, don’t you need some personal understanding of the opposite? Can you truly appreciate heat without knowing cold? Sweet without sour? Light without dark? Life without death?
No, I don’t believe so. Not fully. Nor do I think you are fully able to appreciate the expansive man Franklin Delano Roosevelt became as President unless you understand the much more narrow ‘Frank’ Roosevelt at Harvard, along with his highly restricted and closed off college world.
So… long story short, when I give tours of the Suite, I’m always looking for poignant illustrations of how rarefied life in Westmorly Court was, and how different the Harvard College of 1904 is from today’s Harvard University – The Gold Coast with its maid service, private clubs, breakfast in bed, bootblacks and doormen; the $50 Harvard tuition; the $500 Westmorly rent (the equivalent of some 35K); the gaslit rooms with flickering hearths; the neighing four-in-hand at each street corner; the 10 days it took to reach Europe by steamer, or the 6 days to the West Coast by steam engine (if you were lucky)…. Remarkable changes all, but still only charming facts and figures to the young.
And then one day a few weeks back, I came across this, or more precisely, I came across this once again, for I personally hung the full size version of this picture in the Suite last fall. (Click on the image to expand the photo.)
Now, I’ve looked at this picture a hundred times at least, in a fruitless search to find FDR and Lathrop in the sea of faces. (FDR, almost assuredly, is there somewhere. The man never missed a photo-op in his life.) But what struck me as I passed the other day was how uniform those faces were. Surely, there must be someone of color somewhere? Seemingly not… But then, wait, up there on the very last row, far to the left…
Sure enough. One proud black face, and next to him… a missing place. And then I noticed something else I had never seen before. A man standing – the only man standing – in the top row, behind the seated figures.
While we can’t be sure, does this seem a likely coincidence to you, that the only face of color in a sea of white is the only one with no one sitting next to him, and that the sole standing man has somehow missed the one remaining seat a few spots down to his right?
I must admit that this discovery – perceived though it may be – has removed some of the pleasure this picture once held for me. Rather than playfully searching for Frank and Lapes as before, my gaze now inevitably wanders to that sole black face, sitting all alone, and I think to myself: what a courageous and remarkable person you must have been to attend a College where people chose not to sit next to you merely because of the color of your skin!
Still, as with most things, there’s a silver lining, I suppose. That perfect example I sought of how much life at Harvard has changed? It’s now just a mouse click away.