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46,000 pages in the FDR archive digitized

HYDE PARK, NY -- On Monday, December 7, 2015 -- in commemoration of Pearl Harbor Day -- the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum, with support from AT&T, Marist College and the Roosevelt Institute, formally launched online one of the Library's most in-demand archival collections -- FDR's Master Speech File. The Master Speech File contains over 46,000 pages of drafts, reading copies, and transcripts created throughout FDR's political career. Presented alongside the Speech File will be the Library's complete collection of Recorded Speeches of FDR, also newly digitized. AT&T, an industry leader in communications and technology, provided a significant contribution to support the initiative, giving people all over the world access to a deeper understanding of FDR's famous and important speeches.

"AT&T is proud to collaborate with the FDR Presidential Library and the Roosevelt Institute on Pearl Harbor Day to conserve these important speeches for decades to come," said Marissa Shorenstein, president of AT&T New York. "We are happy to be a part of this historic project, and applaud the library's use of technology to digitize these documents so they are preserved in perpetuity -- and accessible for future generations of students, academics, and researchers around the world."

According to renowned American historian and Roosevelt Library Trustee Douglas Brinkley, "This is a huge leap forward in the digitization of presidential records and an important new resource for presidential studies. It enables historians to track the changes made in the drafting of these historic speeches while listening to the original recordings. It is a powerful tool for understanding why President Roosevelt was such an effective leader."

This digitization project provides for the first time a linked interface to connect the document materials to audio recordings of the same respective speeches. Both sets of content are freely available through FRANKLIN, the Library's online digital repository (www.fdrlibrary.marist.edu), and soon through the National Archives Catalog as well.

The Library's digital collection of Recorded Speeches of FDR includes 315 unique audio recordings that demonstrate Roosevelt's mastery of the radio as a communications device and pioneering ability to reach the American people more personally and directly than any other president before him. FDR used communications technology in a way that would fundamentally alter the relation of the Office of the President to the American people. This collection chronicles the process by which that transformation took place.

The Master Speech File is the most extensive collection of primary source documents related to Franklin D. Roosevelt's lifetime of public addresses. These speech drafts, reading copies, and official as-delivered transcripts were collected and maintained by FDR's personal secretary, and kept in the White House before their transfer to the Roosevelt Library upon the President's death in 1945. Included in this remarkable collection are the famous Fireside Chats, all four Inaugural Addresses, the Four Freedoms Speech, the "Day of Infamy" Pearl Harbor Speech, the D-Day Prayer, hundreds of other addresses to Congress, extemporaneous remarks, campaign speeches, and policy addresses.

The drafts and reading copies in this collection include hand-written edits and annotations which provide an intimate view of the evolution of these speeches as well as the evolution of FDR himself into the one of the most talented communicators in American presidential history. They are an integral part of the Roosevelt legacy, revealing the innovative way in which FDR used communications to fundamentally alter the American presidency.


Prior to this day, researchers interested in FDR's speeches could either travel to Hyde Park to access the trove of documents and tapes physically housed in the archives, or purchase specific reproductions from archivists upon request. Now users can access digital representations online -- free of charge -- from anywhere in the world. The Library worked closely with the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) Audio and Video Preservation Lab to reformat the FDR sound recordings to digital WAV and MP3 files from ¾ inch reel-to-reel tape, and worked with Marist College to create streaming and download options for these files directly from the Library website. Each recording will soon be cataloged and accessible through the National Archives Catalog as well. Scanned in bulk from 48 reels of microfilm, then edited and arranged by archivists and interns of the FDR Library, the Master Speech File digital collection adds approximately 46,000 pages to FRANKLIN, bringing the current total number of historic documents available there to over 800,000.

Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum

Designed by Franklin Roosevelt and dedicated on June 30, 1941, the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum is the nation's first presidential library and the only one used by a sitting president. Every president since FDR has followed his example and established a presidential library administered by the National Archives and Records Administration to preserve and make accessible to the American people the records of their presidencies. The Roosevelt Library's mission is to foster a deeper understanding of the lives and times of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt and their continuing impact on contemporary life. This work is carried out through the Library's archives and research room, museum collections and exhibitions, innovative educational programs, and engaging public programming. For more information about the Library or its programs call (800) 337-8474 or visit www.fdrlibrary.marist.edu.