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Teaching the New York State History Standards with Resources from the FDR Library

The New York State Department of Education has adopted five Social Studies Standards, these are: History of the United States and New York; World History; Geography; Economics; and Civics, Citizenship, and Government. It should come as no surprise that Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt's public careers are relevant to themes set forth in each of the standards. Below, each standard has been matched to an event or activity in the life and work of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt.  A digital document has been provided that can be used to develop a standard-based case study.  But these are just a few examples. Please visit our brief Biographies and Timelines of the lives of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt to create other case studies. Then visit Search Our Collections to access thousands of digitized documents through the Archives of the Roosevelt Library.

You can download a printable version of this page or download the individual documents associated with each standard. Click here to download the standards descriptions appearing below or scroll down to find individual archival document downloads.

Franklin D. Roosevelt

Franklin D. Roosevelt ranks among the greatest presidents in American history. Survey after survey of prominent historians lists him in the company of Washington and Lincoln. In his term as president he guided the nation through the two of the great challenges of the twentieth century, the Great Depression and World War II. His efforts laid the foundation for economic prosperity in the United States and international cooperation around the world for years to come.

Standard One: History of the United States and New York

Franklin Roosevelt believed in serving his community. He started his political career as a State Senator and rose to become the Governor of New York before setting off for Washington to serve as our 32nd President. While in Albany, Governor Roosevelt took a keen interest in the preservation and care of the state's natural resources as demonstrated in the inaugural address given by Governor Roosevelt on January 1, 1929.

Click here to download a scanned image of FDR's 1929 gubernatorial inaugural address. This scan shows the first printed release of the speech, FDR's signature, and the date: December 31, 1928.  

As Franklin Roosevelt began his second term as President, he fully expected to serve out his four years and then retire the presidency as every other chief executive, bowing to the tradition established by none other than George Washington himself, had done. But as his second term was drawing to a close, conditions in the country and around the world -especially in Europe - began to weigh heavily on the President's sense of duty.  Roosevelt concluded that the political reality of the time trumped the political tradition of the past and decided to run for an unprecedented third term.

Click here to download a scanned image of FDR's acceptance address delivered by radio to the Democratic National Convention in Chicago on July 19, 1940.  

Standard Two: World History

On December 7th, 1941, the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor was attacked by the Empire of Japan. Within days Franklin Roosevelt found himself leading the nation in its second world war, fighting not just the Japanese, but Nazi Germany, facist Italy, and the rest of the Axis powers. He addressed a frightened nation, describing the events on December 7th as a date that will live in infamy and pledged himself and the nation to absolute victory.

Click here to download a scanned image of the Day of Infamy speech. This image shows the draft in which FDR personally penciled the phrase, "live in infamy."

Standard three: Geography

Franklin Roosevelt believed that the nations of the world are drawn together by far more than what sets them apart from one another. Borrowing from the ideals of Woodrow Wilson's League of Nations, he envisioned an organization that would unite the nations of the world in the peaceful pursuit of solutions to our common problems. In 1943 he created a sketch of how the United Nations might be organized.

Click here to download a scanned image of FDR's sketch for the UN.

Standard Four: Economics

Franklin Roosevelt came to office at a time of great economic crisis. One in five Americans depended on charity or state and local relief to get by. The stock market was down 75% from its 1929 levels and the banking system was on the verge of collapse. Immediately upon taking office Roosevelt declared a "Bank Holiday" and set out to stabilize and reorganize the faltering system. Less than a week later he addressed the nation, in what would be the first of his "fireside chats," to explain the banking crisis and the actions he was taking to correct it.

Click here to download a scanned image of the first Fireside Chat. This image shows a signed draft of the address with FDR's revisions penciled in.

Standard Five: Civics, Citizenship, and Government

Franklin Roosevelt believed in the individual freedoms set forth for all Americans in the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights. As country after country fell to tyranny in the 1930s, FDR began to see these rights in more universal terms. In January 1941 he set forth a vision of a world founded on what he described as four essential human freedoms. Roosevelt defined these as: "freedom of speech and expression," "freedom of every person to worship God in his own way," "freedom from want," and "freedom from fear."

Click here to download a scanned image of FDR's reading copy of the Four Freedoms speech. 

Eleanor Roosevelt

Eleanor Roosevelt was, without doubt, one of the greatest figures of the twentieth century. Her life served as an example of tireless devotion and service to others both in the United States and around the world.

Standard One: History of the United States and New York

Eleanor Roosevelt believed in equal opportunity for all American citizens. When Franklin Roosevelt was stricken with polio, she became more active in  New York politics, attending meetings, giving speeches, and making sure that her husband was not forgotten. In the process she developed a keen sense of the role women could and should play in a democracy. In 1926 she presented her views in article in Red Book Magazine in which she described her views.

Click here to download a scanned image of Eleanor Roosevelt's 1926 Red Book Magazine article.

By 1940 Eleanor Roosevelt had more than proven herself to be a tireless first lady and political partner of the President. In July she addressed the Democratic National Convention which was being held in Chicago. In her short remarks, citing the extraordinary times the nation found itself in, she rallied the delegates to support her husband for an unprecedented third term.

Click here to download a scanned image of Eleanor Roosevelt's July 18, 1940 address to the Democratic National Convention along with her notes in preparing for the address.

Standard Two: World History

Eleanor Roosevelt shared Franklin Roosevelt's vision of a world united to end human suffering. She worked to achieve this goal at the United Nations. Her greatest accomplishment at the UN was the creation and adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Click here to download a scanned image of an annotated draft of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Standard Three: Geography

Eleanor Roosevelt traveled a great deal as First Lady of the United States and in her post-White House career as "First Lady of the World"-an  honorary title given to her by President Harry Truman. During World War II, she took a 10,000 mile, five- week trip to combat zones in the South Pacific to boost the morale of the Allied troops fighting there. 

Click here to download scanned images of Eleanor Roosevelt's 1943 trip diary entries where she recorded many details of her world travels.

Standard Four: Economics

Eleanor Roosevelt was always concerned with the welfare of the poor. She was a leading champion of the Arthurdale resettlement community in West Virginia. This was a planned community designed to improve the economic, educational, and aesthetic quality of life for destitute coal mining families.

Click here to download a scanned 1937 employment report and  personal birthday telegram, both addressed to Eleanor Roosevelt from residents and administrators of Arthurdale.

Standard Five: Civics, Citizenship, and Government

Eleanor Roosevelt believed that each of us has an important stake in the effective operation of our democracy. With our rights as citizens comes the responsibility to stand up for the rights of others. In 1939 she sent a letter of resignation to the Daughters of the American Revolution (D.A.R.) in protest of their refusal to allow African-American singer Marion Anderson to perform at their Washington, D.C. headquarters, Constitution Hall.

Click here to download a scanned image of Eleanor Roosevelt's letter of resignation from the DAR, dated February 26, 1939. This shows Mrs. Roosevelt's annotated draft copy that she kept for her files.