Dorothy Kemp Roosevelt Papers: 1922-1985
Summary Information
Title: Dorothy Kemp Roosevelt Papers
Creator: Roosevelt, Dorothy Kemp, 1899-1985
Inclusive dates: 1922-1985
Extent: 2 linear feet
Abstract:
Political activist, concert pianist, sister-in-law of Eleanor Roosevelt. Biographical materials; correspondence with politicians, musical figures and other dignitaries; also personal materials concerning her concert career, her campaign for Congress in 1942, notably a journal of her daughters' trip to Europe in 1949; and photographs.
Call number: 861044 Aa 2
Language: The materials are in English.
Repository: Bentley Historical Library
1150 Beal Ave.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-2113
Phone: 734-764-3482
Fax: 734-936-1333
e-mail: bentley.ref@umich.edu
Home Page: http://www.bentley.umich.edu/
Finding aid prepared by: Patty Lynn

Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

The collection was received from Mrs. Janet Roosevelt Katten (Donor no. 7235) in 1985.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.

To protect fragile audiovisual recordings (such as audio cassettes, film reels, and VHS tapes), the Bentley Historical Library has a policy of converting them to digital formats by a professional vendor whenever a researcher requests access. For more information, please see: http://bentley.umich.edu/research/duplication/.

Copyright:

Donor(s) have transferred any applicable copyright to the Regents of the University of Michigan but the collection may contain third-party materials for which copyright was not transferred. Patrons are responsible for determining the appropriate use or reuse of materials.

Preferred Citation:

item, folder title, box no., Dorothy Kemp Roosevelt Papers, Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan


Biography

Dorothy Kemp Roosevelt, political activist, concert pianist, and sister-in-law of Eleanor Roosevelt, was born in October 1898. Her father, Ulysses Grant Kemp, died several months earlier, after being thrown from a horse while training troops for the Spanish-American War. After this unfortunate accident, her mother, the daughter of Amelia Francis and Harry Hopkins, took Dorothy and her sister Amy to live in Detroit with their maternal grandmother and her second husband, Ralph L. Polk. He was founder of the national city directory and direct mail companies of the same name.

Received into the Polk family, Dorothy started studying the piano at the age of five and violin at the age of ten. She studied in Detroit, New York, and at the American Conservatoire at Fontainebleau, France in 1922. Shortly thereafter, she began delivering concert performances and teaching piano. Former Governor G. Mennen Williams was among her early students.

In February 1925, she married G. Hall Roosevelt, the brother of Eleanor Roosevelt. Hall, who came to Detroit in 1922, worked first in the sales department of General Electric, next became a vice-president of the Eastern Michigan Railways and then vice-president of the American State Bank, and later was appointed city controller by Mayor Frank Murphy. After G. Hall Roosevelt left his family in March 1931, Dorothy and her three daughters, Amy, Diana, and Janet, shared a house with Dorothy's mother.

Throughout the Depression Years, Dorothy continued her music career. At the invitation of her sister-in-law, Eleanor Roosevelt, Dorothy made two concert appearances at the White House; as a piano soloist at a musicale in the East Room in 1935 and in a two piano program in 1940. In 1938, she performed with the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington, D.C., under the direction of Hans Kindler.

In June 1940, Dorothy Roosevelt accepted the position of State Supervisor of the Works Projects Administration Music Project. Later she became Director of the Professional and Service Division of the WPA. From June 1941 to July 1942, Dorothy served as Director of the Wayne County Community Service Department of the WPA. In 1942, Dorothy was a candidate for the Democratic nomination for Congress in the Seventeenth District, which was then composed of Oakland County and Northwestern Wayne County, including part of Detroit. The first woman to win a primary in Michigan, Dorothy came within 5,000 votes of defeating Royal Oak Republican George Dondero, a five-term incumbent.

From 1943 to 1945, at the request of labor leader Victor Reuther, Dorothy served on the War Production Board in Detroit as a specialist of women's problems in war industries. In this capacity, she worked for adequate restroom facilities and child care for working women. When need for the War Production Board declined, she became Director of the Michigan Citizens Committee, and worked with future Lieutenant Governor Martha Griffiths to continue programs initiated by Franklin D. Roosevelt. Dorothy was also a founder of the Birmingham-Bloomfield chapter of the League of Women Voters and served on G. Mennen Williams' Cultural Commission.


Collection Scope and Content Note

The papers of Dorothy Kemp Roosevelt relate to her political and social interests and activities. The collection is divided into three series: Biographical materials, Correspondence, and Personal.

Subject Terms

This collection is indexed under the following headings in the finding aid database and catalog of The Bentley Historical Library/University of Michigan. Researchers desiring additional information about related topics should search the catalog using these headings.


  • Europe -- Description and travel.
  • Musicians -- United States.
  • Voyages and travels.
  • Women in politics -- United States.
  • Women travelers -- Europe.
  • Europe.
  • Families.
  • Musicians.
  • Passengers.
  • Ships.
  • Travel.
  • Weddings.
  • Women.
  • Albums.
  • Diaries.
  • Photographs.
  • Roosevelt, Dorothy Kemp, 1899-1985.
  • Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962.
  • United States. Congress -- Elections, 1942.
  • Polk, Ralph L.
  • Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962.
  • Roosevelt, Dorothy Kemp, 1899-1985.
  • Roosevelt family.
  • Mann, Thomas, 1875-1955.
  • Roosevelt, Amy.
  • Roosevelt, Janet.
Contents List
Request materials for use in the Bentley Library
Container / Location Title
 
Biographical material [series]

The series, Biographical materials, contains several autobiographical writings. Included here is a short autobiographical essay, histories of the Kemp and Polk families, and reminiscences about Eleanor Roosevelt. Also contained here are complimentary notes from friends to whom Dorothy sent copies of her autobiography. Last is an oral history interview of Dorothy Kemp Roosevelt recorded for the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library in August 1979.

Box   1  
Autobiographical Writings
Box   1  
Letters, re Autobiography
Box   1  
Eleanor Roosevelt Oral History Project 1979
 
Correspondence [series]

The largest series, Correspondence, is an alphabetical arrangement of letters from friends, family, and many notables in politics and music. The bulk of these letters reflect Dorothy Kemp Roosevelt's life-long interest in political developments. Political communicants on the state level include James J. Blanchard, Jerome P. Cavanagh, John B. Swainson, and G. Mennen Williams. From the national political arena, this collection contains correspondence from Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, Lyndon B. Johnson, Jimmy Carter, and Ronald Reagan, as well as Patrick McNamara and Hubert H. Humphrey. Dorothy's love of music is revealed through correspondence with Isaac Stern and Robert Shaw.

Box   1  
Babin, Victor
Box   1  
Blanchard, James J.
Box   1  
Booth, Henry Scripps
Box   1  
Carter, Jimmy
Box   1  
Cavanagh, Jerome P.
Box   1  
Churchill, Mary
Box   1  
Hart, Phil
Box   1  
Hassberger, Jack B.
Box   1  
Hopkins, Harry
Box   1  
Halstead, Anna
Box   1  
Humphrey, Hubert H.
Box   1  
Jaicks, Diane Roosevelt
Box   1  
Johnson, Lyndon B.
Box   1  
Katten, Janet Roosevelt
Box   1  
Kemp, Bertha
Box   1  
Kemp, David
Box   1  
Kemp, Francis Polk
Box   1  
Kennedy, John F.
Box   1  
Kennedy, Edward M.
Box   1  
Kimmell, Effie
Box   1  
Lash, Joseph P.
Box   1  
McNamara, Patrick
Box   1  
Mann, Thomas
Box   1  
Polk, Ralph
Box   1  
Reagan, Ronald
Box   1  
Reuther, Victor
Box   1  
Reuther, Walter
Box   1  
Roach, Ellie
Box   1  
Roosevelt, Amy
 
Roosevelt, Franklin and Eleanor
Box   1  
Correspondence
Box   1  
Inauguration Invitations 1933, 1937, 1941, 1945
Box   1  
Sympathy Notes
Box   1  
Roosevelt, Franklin D., Jr.
Box   1  
Shaw, Robert
Box   1  
Snelling, Stuart P.
Box   1  
Staebler, Neil
Box   1  
Stannard, Amy Kemp
Box   1  
Stern, Isaac
Box   1  
Swainson, John B.
Box   1  
Truman, Harry S.
Box   1  
Williams, G. Mennen
Box   1  
Miscellaneous Correspondence
 
Personal [series]

The final series, Personal, contains materials reflecting highlights of Dorothy Kemp Roosevelt's life. Included here are several concert programs and materials on the congressional campaign of 1942. Also of note are reminiscences of trips to Europe, Colombia, Africa, and Israel. Much additional information on the political activities and musical career of Dorothy Kemp Roosevelt may be gathered from the four scrapbooks contained at the end of this collection.

Box   1  
Liggett School
Box   1  
Concert Programs
Box   1  
Congressional Campaign 1942
Box   1  
Residence
Box   1  
Passports 1966, 1975
 
Travels
Box   1  
Europe July-August, 1966
Box   1  
Colombia April, 1968
Box   1  
Africa July, 1969
Box   1  
Israel April, 1971
Box   1  
Eightieth Birthday October 25, 1978
Box   1  
Eleanor Roosevelt Centennial 1984
Box   1  
Sympathy 1985
Box   1  
Newspaper Clippings (3 folders)
Box   1  
Photographs

Formal and informal family photographs; portraits of various dignitaries; photo of Eleanor Roosevelt with Michigan WPA officials

Box   1  
Photographs (photocopies)
Box   2  
European Journal 1949

travel diary-photo album created by Amy and Janet Roosevelt documenting their trip to Europe in 1949

Box   2  
Scrapbook 1928-1937
Box   2  
Scrapbook 1934-1944
Box   2  
Scrapbook 1942
Box   2  
Scrapbook 1942
Box   2  
Copies of letters from Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt

(originals in Franklin D. Roosevelt Library, Hyde Park, NY)