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FDR knew networks

By Laurie Bennett

July 29, 2010 at 8:03am

A 75-year-old document released Wednesday by the National Archives highlights Franklin Roosevelt’s keen understanding of network dynamics.

In a 1935 note to Harry Hopkins, he quickly outlines $150 million in spending on work relief, urging the manufacture of overalls and other clothing to employ 280,000 garment workers and consume 750,000 bales of cotton.

The single-page memo “shows the interconnectiveness of everything he’s doing: using bales of cotton to make overalls, which would support farm prices, which would put money in people’s pockets and improve the economy,” archivist Robert W. Clark tells The New York Times.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt
Franklin Delano Roosevelt

As federal relief administrator, Hopkins helped Roosevelt assemble programs designed to put people back to work. The New Deal was itself a network of interconnected programs and objectives. (New Deal Network is also the name of an online guide to the Depression, sponsored by the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute.)

FDR’s note to Hopkins is part of a cache of documents once held by Grace Tully, personal secretary to the president, who died in 1984.

The chain of possession forms another interesting network - one that suggests there might be a bit of bad luck associated with ownership:

  • The documents were donated to the Roosevelt Presidential Library by the Sun-Times Media Group.
  • Sun-Times Media, which declared bankruptcy last year, acquired the collection as a successor to Hollinger International.
  • Hollinger’s former CEO, Conrad Black, had purchased the archive and written a biography of Roosevelt.
  • Black, convicted in 2007 of defrauding investors, was released from federal prison this month pending the outcome of his appeal.
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1 Comments

  • #1.   Wayne McGinnis 08.02.2010

    FDR Rocked! We need another FDR now!

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