A large selection of 300 books and original period magazines about the Progressive Era—and on such contemporary topics as public policy, democracy, and economic inequality—has been donated to Hunter College’s Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute by the iconic broadcast journalist and former White House advisor Bill Moyers. Mr. Moyers acquired many of the materials during years of research for a projected PBS documentary series about the Progressive Era.
The gift was reported to the Roosevelt House Advisory Board at a June 21 meeting at the landmark building where Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt lived from 1908-1933, and which now serves as the school’s public policy institute.
Mr. Moyers was an organizing founder of the Peace Corps in 1960. When Lyndon B. Johnson became President, he joined his Administration as a special assistant with a portfolio of politics and domestic policy. President Johnson asked him to become White House Press Secretary in 1965. In 1967 he moved to New York as publisher of Newsday and in 1970 traveled the country to write the best-selling book Listening to America. The response led Mr. Moyers to a 50-year-long career as a broadcast journalist and producer for CBS News and PBS. His work spanned topics from mythology to race and class, from culture and media to creativity, history, faith and reason, the Constitution, and the shifting state of democracy.
His work received 37 Emmy Awards and nine Peabody Awards, The American Film Institute presented him its first honorary doctorates of fine arts and The Woodrow Wilson Foundation awarded him the first Frank Taplin Award “for extraordinary contributions to public, cultural, civic and intellectual life.
The 300 Progressive Era books from Mr. Moyers will be housed in the Roosevelt House Library, which occupies two spaces in the landmark building, including the original room that FDR used as an office during his residence at the East 65th Street townhouse from 1908 through his departure for his first presidential inauguration in March 1933. The adjacent Sara Delano Roosevelt Library will house the books on contemporary topics, fittingly in a room dedicated now to student study and seminars. The period magazines become part of the Roosevelt House Archives Collections.
“This is a wonderful gift that truly enriches the Roosevelt House collections in the house that Franklin and Eleanor used as their New York City base,” commented Jennifer J. Raab, Hunter College President. “We are enormously grateful to the great Bill Moyers for choosing this historic site as the repository for this generous donation. Many of our classes and programs in public policy and human rights, as well as our public programs and conferences, touch on the very issues covered in these very books. Available now for study and consultation, they will surely stimulate a new generation of students and faculty.”
Harold Holzer, the Jonathan F. Fanton Director of Roosevelt House, noted: “Progressive Era ideas served as the moral inspiration and policy foundation for FDR’s New Deal. Similarly, Bill Moyers’ telecasts inspired generations of viewers to connect with the better angels of their nature on policy questions. The Moyers series and specials were the Fireside Chats of public television—thought-provoking, humane, and eloquent. So, it is fitting that some of the Moyers source materials should hereafter reside at FDR’s home. As a former colleague of Bill’s at the PBS station WNET, I feel particularly blessed by his interest in Roosevelt House.”