Franklin D. Roosevelt's 1913 Application For "Who's Who In America"

This is FDR's actual1913 application for "Who's Who in America," written in deep blue ink on porous yellow paper just before he became Assistant Secretary of the Navy. The application contains some 40 lines in his hand. He provides biographical and factual information about himself, his family, and his personal and professional activities. Significantly, this is one of the few documents known to exist where FDR signs his full name, including his middle name "Delano." FDR biographer Nathan Miller states in a footnote to his 1983 book, FDR: An Intimate History, that signing his middle name was a rare event. Miller quotes Roosevelt's mother, Sarah, as telling him, "Try not to write your name too small, as it gets a cramped look and is not distinct. So many public men have such awful signatures and so unreadable." An extremely rare document. Purchased from the collection of Dr. Joseph J. Plaud.

This document, joined pages on both sides completely written out by FDR, is his original application for Marquis' Who's Who in America. FDR's application contains some 40 lines in FDR's own hand, as well as additional surname signatures where he mentions his wife, mother, father, and law firm. In deep blue ink on porous yellow paper, accompanied by a separate summary of the information from a clerk at Who's Who, 2pp 8vo, of the form. The instructions on the Who's Who application state: "Kindly furnish on this sheet the necessary data for a concise personal sketch of yourself, and return it at your early convenience. The facts will be arranged in proper form and sent for revision before they are put into print." FDR responds in his own hand as follows on the Who's Who application (the application question is typed and precedes each colon that follows, the response after the question is in FDR's own hand): "Name in full: Franklin Delano Roosevelt/ Chief Occupation or Profession: Lawyer – Assistant Secretary of the Navy, appointed March 17, 1913/ Residence Address: Hyde Park, Dutchess Co., N.Y./ Business Address: Navy Department, Washington/ Place of Birth: Hyde Park, Dutchess Co., N.Y./ Father's Name in full: James Roosevelt/ Mother's Maiden Name in full: Sara Delano/ Education, when and where, in detail: Groton School, Groton, Mass; Harvard University A.B. 1904; Columbia Law School/ Are you Married? Yes/ If Married, to whom? Anna Eleanor Roosevelt of New York/ Date of Marriage: March 17, 1905/ Military, Political and Civic Record: Elected to N.Y. State Senate from Dutchess, Columbia & Putnam Counties 1910, first Democrat for 30 years, Reelected by increased majority 1912. Resigned March 1913 to accept appointment as Assistant Secretary of the Navy; Hudson-Fulton Celebration Commissioner 1909; Plattsburg Centennial Commissioner, 1913/ Director or Trustee of the following Educational or Public Institutions: Director 1st Nat. Bank Poughkeepsie; Trustee Laura Franklin Free Hospital for Children – & of Seamen's Institute/ Politics: Democrat/ Religious Denomination (if any): Protestant Episcopal/ Professional Associations, Learned and Technical Societies, Decorations, etc.: Member Law firm of Marvin, Hooker, & Roosevelt N.Y.; Naval History Soc.; N.Y. Historical Society; Holland Society, etc. etc./ Secret Societies, Fraternities, etc.: !)2; I.O.O. Fi; F.A.M./ City Clubs: (N.Y.) City; Harvard; Knickerbocker; Racquet & Tennis; (Washington) Army & Navy; Metropolitan/ Please furnish here sufficient data to enable the editor to do complete justice to your business or professional record, as the case may be: Practiced law 1907-1910 with Carter, Ledyard & Milburn N.Y. City; In 1911 formed firm of Marvin, Hooker & Roosevelt/ Name of Firm or Company and character of business: Marvin, Hooker & Roosevelt Lawyers – N. Y. City." Essentially, FDR writes his own biography, and signs his full name, including his middle name Delano. The original Who's Who in America was founded and published by Albert Nelson Marquis in 1899 to serve as an accurate, concise source of biography for notable Americans. Marquis wanted to create a reference source that would reflect America's unique ethic of hard work and success. Significant contribution to society through achievement or position was the major criterion established to earn a place in Who's Who. Wealth, notoriety, or social status alone did not qualify for listing in the absence of significant socially-relevant behavior.  Only a few months after he was appointed Assistant Secretary of the Navy in the Woodrow Wilson Administration, FDR was selected to make application to Marquis's "Who's Who In America. In the photograph below, Roosevelt stands next to Navy Secretary Josephus Daniels.