NOVEMBER 25, 1949
HYDE PARK, Thursday—It has long been my habit to ignore any attacks made on me or on my husband or on my children. I haven't even been moved to speak up for my little dogs. But an article appeared in one of the metropolitan papers on Tuesday which I think might do harm to a book. I refer to a book that I hope will be not only interesting and factual, but also a great satisfaction to many people.
I urged my son, Elliott, to publish the letters that my husband left entirely to me. I thought it had been his intention to do so himself, with the object in the first volume of giving a clue through the letters to the kind of training that was helpful as preparation for certain kinds of work. The letters in the second volume, which his mother had saved, I thought he had kept largely because he felt that they also gave a clue to the development of intellectual interest and would perhaps open up avenues of thinking to other young men.
In making the decision to publish the last volumes that are now in preparation, my son and I did so because we felt that it would be of interest to many people to get a glimpse of the relationships existing between a man in high public office and those with whom he worked.
Books are not lightly undertaken. Nor should they be hurt by smears that are aimed at people, whether dead or alive. Animosity should not be used to hurt a book before it has actually come to life and is in the hands of the public. The public should be free to judge for themselves its value.
The attack in the newspaper article to which I refer was made on Joseph P. Lash and is, of course, absurd. The statement is made that he has been given the job of selecting the material to be included in the last volumes of the private correspondence of Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Any insinuation that Mr. Lash has the power to withhold any information from the public is completely incorrect. The last volumes, covering the period from 1928 to my husband's death in 1945, are now in process of compilation and annotation and they will be the responsibility—as far as the determination of what is to be included or excluded—solely of Elliott Roosevelt, as editor.
The truth is that Mr. Lash is a paid member of Elliott's staff, which is engaged in this and in other projects. Mr. Lash's present assignment calls for him to compile and list all personal correspondence as research assistant to Elliott. He is also charged with the compilation and correlation of information that explains the correspondence.
This information is obtained from the files in the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library, which are available to all historians and newspaper people, and from contemporary newspaper files, which are available to the public. This information is gathered to help the editor in the annotation and explanation of references within the letters.
The article I mention is the usual kind of smear article that has little regard for real truth. Though superficially stating certain facts, such articles never give a truthful explanation. I am always sorry for people who feel impelled to write in this manner, for they follow the well-known Nazi and Communist tactics of repeating untruths in the hope that they will be believed. It must be impoverishing to the spirit.