1938 Fifty Years Ago

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President Franklin Delano Roosevelt announced on December 10 that he would donate his papers and correspondence and a private collection of books and prints to form the nucleus of the first presidential library open to scholars and the public.

Presidential papers had traditionally remained the private property of the departing Chief Executive. George Washington shipped his to Mount Vernon when he left office in 1797, and John Adams followed suit because he didn’t want his despised successor, Thomas Jefferson, rooting through his papers.

The Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library opened to the public in June of 1941 at the Roosevelt family estate in Hyde Park, New York.

American theater owners voted the child actress Shirley Temple the nation’s number-one box-office star for the fourth consecutive year on December 22. The runner-up, for the third year in a row, was Clark Gable.