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 Franklin D. Roosevelt "Lost Files" and FDR Secretary Papers

President Franklin D. Roosevelt
"Lost Files" and FDR Secretary Papers

7,455 pages of President Franklin D. Roosevelt papers unavailable to the public until 2011 and the papers of FDR secretaries Grace Tully and Marguerite A. LeHand.


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This compilation contains three distinct collections, which are often referred to as the Tully Archive. Grace Tully was President Roosevelt's last personal secretary. They are called the Tully Archive because before being obtained by the National Archives and Records Administration, they were all in the possession of Grace Tully.

Grace Tully was the last personal secretary of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. She first started working for Roosevelt during the 1928 New York State Governor campaign, and remained on his staff until his death in 1945. Her primary duties included dictation, typing of speech drafts, the President's mail, and oversight of the President's speech files.

The three collections in this compilation are:

Franklin D. Roosevelt Papers

This collection can truly be described as a "first draft of history." As FDR's personal secretaries, both Missy LeHand and Grace Tully took dictation, drafted correspondence, and worked on the President's speech drafts. As a result, LeHand and Tully handled drafts of correspondence, handwritten notes or chits from FDR that would have been typed into memorandum form, and first and intermediate drafts of speeches and messages. This collection contains all of this variety of material and is primarily composed of documents that normally would have been filed in FDR's own papers in the White House that went to the National Archives after his death. For reasons unknown, this material remained in the custody of his secretaries and became part of the Tully Archive instead of being filed within FDR's own papers.

Grace Tully Papers

This collection includes an extensive series of personal correspondence between Grace Tully, Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, other members of the Roosevelt Administration and White House staff, friends and family. A recurring name throughout the correspondence is Paula Tully/Paula Larrabee. Paula was Grace's sister who also worked in the White House. Of particular interest in the correspondence files are letters from Eleanor Roosevelt revealing the extent to which Grace assisted Mrs. Roosevelt in her day-to-day activities. There also is correspondence exchanged between Tully and Lyndon B. and Lady Bird Johnson that casts light on Grace's life after the Roosevelt years. The collection also contains a series of writings by Grace Tully, including draft notes and chapters for her book "FDR: My Boss" as well as unpublished reminiscences of FDR. Finally, there is an extensive series of memorabilia, including copies of FDR speech texts inscribed by the President to Grace, copies of White House press releases, a set of official Logs of the President's Trips, inauguration memorabilia, and colorful menus from railroad trips Grace took with the President.

The collection includes correspondence with Vincent Astor, Admiral Richard E. Byrd, William J. Donovan, William Douglas, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Felix Frankfurter, Lord Halifax, J. Edgar Hoover, Cordell Hull, Harold L. Ickes, Joseph P. Kennedy, Henry, Jr. Morgenthau, Francis J. Spellman, Adlai E. Stevenson, and Harry S. Truman.

Marguerite "Missy" A. LeHand Papers

This collection is composed primarily of personal correspondence files. Of particular importance are personal letters Missy received from diplomatic figures abroad at the outbreak of and in the early years of the war, including Ambassador Joseph P. Kennedy in London, Ambassador. William C. Bullitt in Paris, and Carmel Offie, Bullitt's assistant in Paris. Also interesting are the letters from FDR's mother Sara Delano Roosevelt. The collection also includes Missy's 1935 Testamentary Instructions as well as a draft article about her experiences working in the White House with FDR.

Highlights from the three collections include:
FDR "Chit" regarding Promotion of George C. Marshall to Brigadier General, ca. 1936. This document is an example of what the White House staff referred to as a "chit"´┐Ża short hand-written note that was the basis for a typewritten memorandum or letter. In this chit from early 1936, FDR is requesting that the Secretary of War proceed with the next military officer promotion list so as to promote Col. George C. Marshall to Brigadier General. Marshall's promotion was encouraged by the hero of World War I, the highly respected Gen. John J. Pershing. Three years later, the President named Marshall to be the Chief of Staff of the Army, and he was one of FDR's most trusted and indispensable military advisers during World War II.
Letter from Joseph P. Kennedy to Marguerite "Missy" LeHand, October 3, 1939. A month after the outbreak of World War II in Europe, U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom Joseph P. Kennedy wrote as personal letter to Missy LeHand, FDR's primary personal secretary and close associate and friend of Grace Tully. From this letter, it is obvious that there is a personal connection between Kennedy, LeHand and Tully.  In the letter, after taking care of some personal business, Ambassador Kennedy describes his views on the war, the social scene in London following the outbreak, and the loneliness of serving abroad without his family.
Letter from Benito Mussolini to FDR, ca. June 1933. Shortly after his inauguration in March 1933, President Roosevelt appointed Breckinridge Long to be the United States Ambassador to Italy. Upon presenting his credentials to Mussolini, Ambassador Long also gave Il Duce a letter from FDR and the gift of an inscribed copy of President Roosevelt's First Inaugural Address. In this unique handwritten letter, Mussolini expresses his deep gratitude and admiration to the President. Il Duce also expresses his hope that he and FDR might meet one day to "discuss the outstanding world problems in which the United States and Italy are mutually interested." The letter was delivered through the State Department to the White House. The National Archives does not know how this letter ended up in Grace Tully's private possession.
Letter from Lucy Mercer Rutherfurd to Grace Tully, April 5, 1945. In this handwritten letter written to Grace Tully one week before FDR's death in Warm Springs, Georgia, Lucy Mercer Rutherfurd makes arrangements for herself, famed portrait painter Madame Elizabeth Shoumatoff, and Shoumatoff's photographer Nicholas Robbins to come to President Roosevelt's retreat at Warm Springs. As is well known, Lucy Mercer and FDR had a brief affair which, when discovered by Eleanor Roosevelt in 1918, forever changed the nature of their marriage. FDR continued to maintain some limited contact with Rutherfurd throughout his life, increasing to more frequent social visits and car rides together during the last year and a half of FDR's life as he grew weary and isolated with his wartime duties. As this letter suggests, Grace Tully played a major role in facilitating these private meetings that were kept secret from Eleanor Roosevelt until after FDR's death. Rutherfurd, Shoumatoff and Robbins were at Warm Springs with FDR when he was stricken with the massive cerebral hemorrhage from which he would die a few hours later. The portrait being painted by Shoumatoff would forever remain "The Unfinished Portrait."
FDR Chit Listing "Must" Legislation for 1935, May 31, 1935. This handwritten list by FDR indicates his legislative priorities for the year 1935, including Social Security and the Wagner Labor Bill. Both of these bills were signed into law in 1935 are among the most lasting products of the New Deal.
FDR Chit to Harry Hopkins about Works Programs, July 6, 1935. This chit in FDR's hand is addressed to Harry Hopkins, administrator of the Works Progress Administration. It shows the interconnectedness in FDR's mind of all aspects of the economy. FDR instructs Hopkins to put 280,000 unemployed people to work making overalls and other clothing because this not only would give them gainful employment, but also consume 750,000 bales of cotton that would increase cotton prices.

Letter from FDR to Grace Tully, November 26, 1943. This letter in FDR's handwriting was sent to Grace Tully from Cairo, Egypt where the President was meeting with Winston Churchill and Chiang Kai-Shek before proceeding on to the Teheran Conference with Churchill and Stalin. The letter would have accompanied the pouch of the President's paperwork, such as letter, bills signed into law, appointments, and nominations, sent back to the White House from Cairo via military transport. Its kind and joking nature reveals the affectionate place Tully held in Roosevelt's official family.

Letter from Eleanor Roosevelt to Grace Tully, ca. 1930. This letter from Eleanor Roosevelt was written to Grace Tully during the years that Franklin Roosevelt served as Governor of the State of New York
(1929-1932). Although Tully primarily served on Roosevelt's secretarial staff, she actually got her start with the Roosevelts working with Mrs. Roosevelt during the 1928 campaign. It reveals not only the variety of tasked, both personal and official, that Tully performed for the Roosevelts, but also the busy schedule of activities kept by Mrs. Roosevelt.

Letter from Eleanor Roosevelt to Missy LeHand, July 30, 1935. Like Grace Tully, Missy LeHand was also an integral part of the Roosevelts' official family. This letter written by Mrs. Roosevelt from Campobello, New Brunswick shows not only Mrs. Roosevelt keeping up with her official activities, but also remembering more personal issues, such as suggesting a cake for Tully's upcoming birthday.

Drafts of important speeches including, Speech Accepting the Democratic Nomination for the Presidency, Chicago, Illinois, July 2, 1932; Appeal to Nations of the World on Disarmament, May 16, 1933; Message to Congress on the Use of National Resources, January 24, 1935; Message to Congress Vetoing the Soldiers' Bonus for a Second Time, January 24, 1936; Democratic National Platform, June 25, 1936; Acceptance Speech on Renomination for the Presidency, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, June 27, 1936; Message to Congress on Stimulating Recovery, April 14, 1938; Fireside Chat on Economic Conditions, April 14, 1938; Radio Address on Third Anniversary of Social Security, August 15, 1938; Annual Message to Congress, January 4, 1939; Third Inaugural Address, January 20, 1941
Address at the White House Correspondents' Dinner, March 15, 1941; D-Day Prayer, June 6, 1944.

History of the Collection

In 1980, Grace Tully gave an interview to the New York Times in which she mentioned that she had several dozen handwritten notes written by Franklin Roosevelt. The director of the Roosevelt Library at the time, William R. Emerson immediately wrote to Tully asking her to consider donating these materials to the Library. She declined, but stated that the Library would "undoubtedly get them" after her death.

Grace Tully died on June 15, 1984. She never married and had no children. The Archive passed into the hands of her surviving sister Paula Larrabee, who also worked in the Roosevelt White House. Emerson reached out to her without success.

On March 11, 1985 Emerson wrote again to Mrs. Larrabee and again expressed interest in obtaining Grace's collection of Roosevelt materials. No further contact between the National Archives and Grace's family took place after this. The Tully collection then disappeared. At some point it passed into the hands of two people (perhaps relatives, but this is unclear) who acted as caretakers for Mrs. Larrabee until her death. It is believed that the Archive passed from these individuals to a small auction house in Atlanta.

In 2000, the Archive was placed for sale through the Guernsey Auction house in New York. It is believed that Glenn Horowitz Bookseller, New York, New York, acquired the Archive for approximately $3.5 million and began preparing it for resale. It was during an event at the Horowitz showroom in 2000 that Roosevelt Library Director Cynthia Koch saw portions of the collection on display and suspected the true extent of the materials.

In 2002, the Tully Archive was purchased by Lord Conrad Black, CEO of Hollinger International Corporation, for $8 million. Lord Black is the author of "Franklin Delano Roosevelt: Champion of Freedom."

In August 2004, the National Archives was notified that Hollinger and its successor Sun Times Media Group had placed the collection up for auction at Christie's in New York, where it was to be broken up and sold in lots. Christie's allowed a team from the National Archives to survey the collection. The collection amounted to over 5,000 documents and memorabilia items, including personal letters, speech drafts, and notes or "chits" written by FDR giving instructions or directions to his staff and administration officials.

It was determined that portions of the collection were clearly presidential materials that should have passed to the FDR Presidential Library in accordance with President Roosevelt's directions prior to his death. In 2005, general counsel for the National Archives halted the auction and asserted a claim over a portion of the Tully Archive.

Thus began five years of negotiation with Sun Times Media. By agreement of the parties, in July 2005, the Library boxed and sealed the entire collection and removed it from Christie's to the FDR Library at Hyde Park for safekeeping pending the outcome of the negotiations or any litigation. Over the course of the ensuing years, negotiations slowly pushed through to a successful resolution despite many ups and downs, including the bankruptcy of Sun Times Media.

An important part of that resolution was literally an Act of Congress. In February 2010 of President Barack Obama signed into law SB 692, sponsored in the Senate by Charles Schumer (D-NY) and in the House by Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY), facilitating the donation of the Tully Archive in its entirety. The law provided for the waiver of the government's claims to the papers provided that the owner made a gift of the entire collection to the National Archives and Records Administration.

About Grace Tully

Grace Tully was born in Bayonne, New Jersey on August 9, 1900. Her father died when she was young, and she her two sisters and brother were raised by their mother. She attended parochial and convent schools before enrolling in secretarial school. After finishing school she worked ten years for Bishop Patrick Hayes, who became Cardinal Hayes.

In 1928, she was hired by the Democratic National Committee and was assigned to assist Eleanor Roosevelt who was organizing support for presidential nominee Al Smith. When FDR was nominated for Governor later that year, Tully went to work on Roosevelt's staff.

Tully performed the dictation and typing duties that FDR's principal personal secretary Missy LeHand disliked. She served with FDR in Albany during his four years as Governor of New York. She later moved to Washington in 1933 when FDR was elected President. Roles of Tully and LeHand were by this time well defined and accepted. Grace performed dictation and typing, managed the President's mail, and served as primary files manager for the White House.

After Missy LeHand suffered a stroke in 1941, Grace became FDR's primary personal secretary. Tully was in Warm Springs with FDR when he died on April 12, 1945. She thereafter became executive secretary of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial Foundation. Prior to his death, FDR appointed Grace to a three person committee to serve as a steward of FDR's papers in preparation for their opening to researchers.

The papers committee was disbanded in the late 1940s after ownership of the FDR papers was confirmed in the United States government following the administration of Roosevelt's estate. The establishment of the committee was deemed a non-testamentary request by the President not binding on the Archivist of the United States.

In 1955, Tully joined the staff of the Senate Democratic Policy Committee, working closely with then-Senate Majority leader Lyndon B. Johnson. She remained a Johnson aide there until 1965.

Grace Tully died on June 15, 1984 at George Washington University Hospital in Washington DC.

About Marguerite A. "Missy" LeHand

Marguerite A. LeHand, known as Missy, was born in Potsdam, New York on September 13, 1898, and grew up in Somerville, Massachusetts. LeHand held several clerical and secretarial jobs before going to work for the Democratic National Committee headquarters during the 1920 campaign. After the defeat of the 1920 Democratic ticket, including his own as the vice presidential nominee, Franklin D. Roosevelt, hired Missy as his personal secretary.

LeHand was working for FDR at the time he was stricken with polio in 1921. After FDR purchased property in Warm Springs, Georgia, Missy traveled with FDR and served as both personal secretary and hostess because Eleanor Roosevelt disliked Warm Springs. After FDR was elected Governor of New York, Missy continued to serve as sometime hostess in Albany in Mrs. Roosevelt's absence.

Upon FDR's election to the presidency, Missy accompanied the Roosevelts to Washington and moved into the White House.

Missy was principal personal secretary ("PS") to the President, and she would meet with FDR in the morning as he took breakfast in bed, read the newspapers with him, and prepare for the day's schedule. In addition to her official duties, Missy held power of attorney for FDR and managed his bank accounts, including paying his bills by check.  Missy was considered a valued member of the inner circle, and her opinion on matters of state and of politics was sought and considered. She was "one of the boys" and would gather with the rest of FDR's close advisers and listen to election returns, participate in regular card games, and attend FDR's daily afternoon cocktail hours.

LeHand suffered a debilitating stroke in 1941 after working 21 years for FDR. She was hospitalized for several months, then continued her convalescence in Warm Springs and then in Massachusetts. Missy LeHand died on July 31, 1944.  According to the terms of her 1935 Testamentary Instructions, Grace Tully oversaw the administration of her estate and was instructed to dispose of Missy's papers, which is how it is believed that the LeHand Papers became part of the Tully Archive.

Source: National Archives and Records Administration



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