Human Rights Day
Tuesday was Human Rights Day, celebrated for the United Nations General Assembly’s adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on December 10, 1948.
Eleanor Roosevelt was the chair of the UN Commission on Human Rights at the time. She regarded her role in drafting and securing adoption of the Declaration as her greatest achievement.
As ER readily admitted, she had no legal training or expert knowledge of parliamentary procedure, but she brought to her job as chair the skills she had acquired as political activist, reformer, and advocate for those excluded from power and an understanding of the meaning of freedom earned through a deep engagement in the struggle in her own country for social and economic justice, civil rights, and women’s rights. She possessed not only a passionate commitment to human rights, but a hard-earned knowledge of the political and cultural obstacles to securing them in a divided world.
“Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home… Such are the places where every man, woman and child seeks equal justice, equal opportunity, equal dignity without discrimination. Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere.
1958 speech delivered on the tenth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Pictured: Eleanor Roosevelt holding poster of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Lake Success, New York. November 1949.
-from the FDR Library
FDR’s Study Secretary Desk
The Roosevelt Library is the only Presidential library ever used by a sitting president. When it opened to the public in June 1941, FDR was beginning his third term. He used his private study as a place to conduct government business, receive visitors, and work with his books and papers during his many visits to Hyde Park (totaling over 250 days) during World War II.
After FDR’s death in April 1945, his study was left largely as it was the last day he visited Hyde Park— with several exceptions. Roosevelt family members inherited a few pieces of furniture from the room, including this secretary-desk. On April 20, 2011, the secretary arrived back at the Library, donated through the generosity of Mr. Donald W. Stern, Ambassador William J. vanden Heuvel, and the Roosevelt Institute. For more information about this acquisition see: http://www.fdrlibrary.marist.edu/pdfs/newsletter2011.jul.pdf
Since then, the piece has been carefully cleaned and conserved in order to prepare it for its return to the President’s study. As of the reopening of the Roosevelt Library on June 30, 2013, the secretary has proudly been displayed in its rightful home, just where it sat sixty-eight years ago.
Remembering Pearl Harbor: Personal Stories Salvaged from the USS Arizona
Personal Story Saved from the USS Arizona: 72 Years Later
A big challenge in preserving paper is dealing with the consequences of how records were maintained during the time they were actively used. Navy personnel records are difficult ones. Folded in thirds to fit into “jackets” or “bricks,” as the expandable brown folders are called, pages get torn, creased, and scrunched, requiring treatment. In the case of career Seaman 1st class Walter Lewis Hampton, the record is one hefty assemblage of papers spilling out of the small folder. Enlisted in 1925, Hampton served on the USS Henderson, the Arkansas, and the Wyoming, among others, before reporting for his final duty in December 1940 when he joined the USS Arizona.
Hampton’s sizable record contains a very special segment of documents - the Service Record kept on board the Arizona itself. This portion of his record was maintained to keep at close hand information on his enlistment, service, training, and physical description while at sea. It was among the records salvaged by the Navy after the loss of the USS Arizona on Dec. 7th, 1941. As Archives staff identifies records damaged aboard the Arizona, they are brought to the Paper Lab.
Hampton was among the missing after the attack on Pearl Harbor. He left four children and a wife who had initiated divorce proceedings on the grounds of years of abandonment. Although bearing the scars of the attack, his service record still details his personal description. Brown hair, blue eyes, a ruddy face, and tattoos—a kewpie doll, sailor boy, Red Cross nurse, pig, and rooster. This personal information is all perfectly maintained despite the bloom of heat from the center of the booklet, or accretions of dirt along the edges of the pages that still remain from long ago blasts. For these special documents, not only the information they contain but the remnant damage of battle itself preserve an important piece of history.
Yesterday, December 7, 1941, a date which will live in infamy — the United States was suddenly and deliberately attached by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.
Metal fragment from the USS Arizona
Half of the deaths resulting from the Pearl Harbor attack occurred aboard the USS Arizona. The battleship sank in less than nine minutes after a 1,760 pound armor piercing shell slammed through her deck and ignited her forward ammunition magazine. The attack claimed the lives of 1,177 members of the ship’s crew.
This fragment from the Arizona’s superstructure was presented to the Roosevelt Library by the United States Navy in 2005.
On December 4, 2013, the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library launched FRANKLIN. What is FRANKLIN you ask?
FRANKLIN is a virtual research room and digital repository that provides free and open access to the digitized collections of the Roosevelt Library – to everyone, anywhere in the world. Whether you are a lover of history, a student working on a school project, or an experienced scholar and author, FRANKLIN opens a door to some of the most significant and in-demand historical materials our Library has to offer. Now you can search by keyword, browse through photograph galleries and document lists, and for the first time open whole folders of archival documents online – a level of discovery that till now was only possible in-person.
Many of the most important documents of the twentieth century are now available for you to view on FRANKLIN – from your living room, classroom, office or dorm room. With this initial launch, FRANKLIN makes 350,000 documents and 2,000 public domain photographs available to you now. And we will be adding even more digitized content in the months and years to come.
FRANKLIN is the result of a special cooperative effort — a unique combination of public, nonprofit, and corporate support. The Roosevelt Library and its parent agency, the National Archives, worked with nonprofit partner the Roosevelt Institute to digitize a large amount of microfilmed archival documents. The Library’s digital partner and web host, Marist College, then developed and implemented FRANKLIN’s underlying database infrastructure based on the Archon platform. Marist runs the system using powerful servers manufactured by Marist and Roosevelt Library corporate partner, IBM.
So go to the Roosevelt Library’s website www.fdrlibrary.marist.edu to start exploring FRANKLIN today!
The “Big Three” in Teheran, November 30, 1943
From November 28 to December 1, 1943, the “Big Three”—Franklin D. Roosevelt, Joseph Stalin, and Winston Churchill—met at Teheran, Iran to discuss the progress of the war and plans for what would become the D-day invasion of June 6, 1944.
Frames excerpted from:
THE CAPTURE OF TARAWA FROM JAPAN! [ETC.], 1943