Friday, March 18, 2016

The wall of letters at the FDR Library and Museum

When you visit the FDR library and museum, you are greeted with a wall of letters. Handwritten, old typewriter typed, with hand signatures, on stationery. These letters were written to President Roosevelt and First Lady Eleanor. They are very personal, kind and not so kind, thankful and critical, but most of all interesting. You could spend your entire visit reading them. So it got me will future Presidential libraries and museums archive the emails, Facebook posts, and Tweets sent to our Presidents. This new way of communicating to our leaders is so very different. It is there for all of us to see, in real time. It is spontaneous and short. It is entertaining. And it is voluminous. But after you read these handwritten letters to Franklin and Eleanor, you notice that this new way of communicating lacks the thoughtfulness of those letters. Those letters were crafted. Even the most scathing rebuke is eloquent. That is one of the reasons Presidential libraries are so important - you not only experience the history of a Presidency - you experience the world they lived in and the people they served. So when you come and visit, take some time to read those letters. The world and the people of the 1930s and 1940s will come to life.