Washington, D.C. Acme News Pictures Inc., 20 January 1941. Photograph. This is an original press photo of Franklin Delano Roosevelt on 20 January 1941 during the inaugural parade of his third term that made him unique among American presidents. This image, measuring 7 x 9 in (17.8 x 22.8 cm), is a silver gelatin print on glossy photo paper. Condition is very good. The paper is crisp, clean, and free of scuffing; there is some light creasing to the corners. The verso bears the copyright stamp of “Acme News Pictures, Inc.” and a typed paper caption. The original caption is titled “N.Y.A. YOUTHS PASS IN INAUGURAL REVIEW” and reads WASHINGTON, D.C.. -- Youths of the National Youth Administration, one of the organizations fostered by the previous Administrations of President Roosevelt, pass in review during the Inaugral [sic] Parade here today.” The date on the caption reads “1-20-41”.
This photograph captures the festivities of FDR’s singular third presidential inauguration, as FDR tips his hat to the crowd in the background. The 1941 inauguration occurred as America was emerging from one national crisis, the Great Depression, and facing its impending involvement in another, the Second World War. FDR’s inaugural address reflected these national anxieties as he rallied Americans to a common cause of freedom and democracy. “Against all threats – against all counsel of despair, all inward treasons and all outward forces, we know now, as we have never known before, that we can defend our future for ourselves – our right to live as free men in this world we have created – this New World.”
Such was the singular nature of both the man and his presidency that no mere biographical sketch of Franklin Delano Roosevelt seems to suffice. “Even those critical of his achievements recognize their magnitude” (ANB). America’s only crippled president and the only president ever elected to four terms in office was the indispensable leader of his country during its greatest economic crisis and its greatest foreign war. By any reasonable assessment, Roosevelt fundamentally reshaped social, political, and geopolitical expectations and realities not just of his nation, but of large parts of the world. FDR, as he became widely known, served as thirty-second president of the United States for twelve years, from 1933-1945, dying in office on 12 April 1945, only months after the beginning of his fourth term and less than a month before VE Day.
This is an original press photo from the Acme News Pictures Inc. press agency. During the first half of the twentieth century, photojournalism grew as a practice, fundamentally changing the way the public interacted with current events. Newspapers assembled expansive archives, including physical copies of all photographs published or deemed useful for potential future use, their versos typically marked with ink stamps and notes providing provenance and captions. Photo departments would often take brush, paint, pencil, and marker to the surface of photographs themselves to edit them before publication. Today these photographs exist as repositories of historical memory, technological artifacts, and often striking pieces of vernacular art. Item #005498