help_outline Skip to main content

PV Logo w slogan Hoiz

HomeBlogsRead Post

Penn's Village Community Blog

Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library
By Blaine Bonham
Posted: 2023-02-01T14:00:00Z

Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum Earmarks Critical Time in American History

A six-day road trip from Philadelphia to New York’s Hudson Valley and Western Massachusetts’ Berkshire Mountains last fall introduced me to a region’s charming towns and villages, rolling riverside landscapes, historic mansions, formal gardens, and surprising art museums. How have I missed this close-by cultural treasure until now?!

On the east bank of the Hudson River sits Hyde Park, the location of “Springwood,” the estate of America’s thirty-second president, Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The estate contains The Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site and his Presidential Library and Museum. On the grounds also is “Val-Kill,” Eleanor Roosevelt’s retreat and later home after her husband’s death. Visitors can see all three sites; I chose the Library and Museum in which to spend a few hours.

Museums capture my attention when they open my eyes to a greater understanding of why my world is the way it is, and also manage to entertain me at the same time. History geek that I am, the Museum and Library fascinated me with its interpretive and interactive exhibits about our longest-serving President. Original film footage from the 1930s and 1940s showing in small-group theaters, posters of the day promoting federal programs to combat the Great Depression, audio recordings of his radio Fireside Chats, oodles of photographs and artifacts––all brought to life this dramatic upheaval period in American history.

The Museum, operated by the federal government’s National Archives and Records Administration, powerfully captures the dire economic crisis leading to FDR’s 1932 election and his subsequent development of a series of economic programs and projects called collectively the New Deal. With these programs, the federal government assumed a strong role in providing an economic safety net for Americans. Roosevelt’s engagement of the United States in World War II also figures prominently in telling the story of this era.

The Museum highlights Eleanor Roosevelt’s importance in her husband’s success and her support when he contracted polio that put him in a wheelchair for the rest of his life. Exhibits delicately address their personal lives, including relationship issues and arrangements they each accommodated outside of their marriage. Yet they worked together to advance their principles of a strong America throughout the twelve-plus years of his presidency.

The exhibition doesn’t skirt around opposition to this new federal role to support Americans’ basic well-being, or to the resistance to FDR’s successful fourth term victory as president, cut short by his death from a brain hemorrhage in 1945.

Like any museum I visit, I’m caught up in every detail and sideshow for the first ninety minutes; then tired feet and flagging concentration take over and I rush through the exhibits to the end. My advice: pace yourself. Select topics that catch your interest, pass by others, and you’ll be able to enjoy an overview of the entire story told here on two floors before your energy dissipates.

The Museum is open daily. Check the website for details. You can also sign up for tours of FDR’s residence, as well as Eleanor’s home.

Blaine Bonham is a seasoned 30+-year travel photographer with worldwide experience from Cuba to Myanmar to Morocco to Romania, with a particular focus on India and Southeast Asia. His work features fascinating, culturally atypical points of view and photos. Earlier in life, Blaine enjoyed national standing as a non-profit leader and environmental activist with the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society. His approach and character allow him to see countries and people with special empathy and a critical architectural eye. Archives of travel and street photography with stories of journeys and blog posts are available to view on his easy-to-navigate website: You can also access his occasional newsletter at

Penn’s Village helps older adults stay active, age in place in their own homes, and engage, connect, and thrive with others in our Village community. If you enjoy what you are reading, you can help ensure our continued viability and visibility by sharing our website and this post with others.

Leave a Comment
Load More Comments
No more comments available