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James Roosevelt Papers, 1941: Finding Aid

Published in September 2010

Summary Information

  • Publisher: United States Naval Academy. Special Collections & Archives.
  • Publisher Address:
    589 McNair Road
    Annapolis, Maryland 21402-5029, USA
    Phone: 410-293-6917
  • Call number: MS 412
  • Location: Special Collections & Archives Department - Manuscripts
  • Title: James Roosevelt Papers
  • Dates: 1941
  • Size: 0.04 linear feet
  • Container Summary: 4 folders containing 23 items
  • Creator: Roosevelt, James, 1907-1991
  • Language(s) of material: English
  • Abstract: James Roosevelt, the eldest son of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, was an officer in the Marine Corps Reserve, an insurance executive, and later, a member of the House of Representative from California. The Roosevelt Papers, which span from April to August 1941, pertain to the Battle of Crete, and a report regarding military readiness and civilian attitudes towards World War II in Portugal, Egypt, India, China, and the Philippines.

Biography of James Roosevelt

James Roosevelt, eldest son of Franklin Delano and Eleanor Roosevelt, was born in New York City on December 23, 1907. In his youth, Roosevelt attended schools in New York and St. Albans School in Washington, DC, before attending Groton School in Massachusetts. After graduating from Groton in 1926, Roosevelt attended Harvard University, from which he graduated in 1930.

Following graduation from Harvard, Roosevelt began working for the insurance firm of Victor De Gerard of Boston, and remained with its successors until founding Roosevelt & Sargent, Inc. While serving as president of Roosevelt & Sargent, Roosevelt received a commission as a Lieutenant Colonel in the Marine Corps., and accompanied his father, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, to the Inter-American Conference in Buenos Aires as a military aide later that year. On January 1, 1937, Roosevelt resigned from Roosevelt & Sargent, and subsequently served as an administrative assistant, and later, secretary to his father until November 1938.

After leaving the White House staff, Roosevelt worked for two years in the motion picture industry. During this time, Roosevelt resigned his commission in the Marine Corps, effective October 3, 1939. Less than two months later, he was recommissioned as a Captain in the Marine Corps Reserve. In 1941, Roosevelt was assigned as an Assistant Naval Attaché and subsequently traveled with the British Middle Eastern Forces throughout the Middle and Far East. Following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Roosevelt was reassigned to combat duty, serving with Marine Raider battalions at Makin Island and in the New Hebrides. In August 1943, Roosevelt was assigned as an intelligence officer, subsequently serving in the Aleutian Islands and in the invasion of Okinawa. In August 1945, Roosevelt was released from active duty. He continued to remain active in the Marine Corps Reserves until his retirement in 1959, at which time he was promoted to Brigadier General.

In June 1946, Roosevelt returned to Roosevelt & Sargent, Inc. as executive vice president and established the firm's office in Los Angeles. After relocating to California, Roosevelt also made a return to politics. In July 1946, he became chairman of the California State Democratic Central Committee. In 1950, Roosevelt ran as the Democratic candidate for governor of California, losing to incumbent Earl Warren. Four years later, Roosevelt was elected to the 84th Congress as the Representative for California's 26th district. Roosevelt was reelected five more times before resigning his seat on September 30, 1965, when he was appointed to the United Nations Economic and Social Council by President Lyndon Johnson.

In December 1966, Roosevelt resigned as United States' representative to the United Nations Economic and Social Council in order to become an executive at the Investors Overseas Services Management Company, where he served until 1971. After leaving Investors Overseas Services, Roosevelt worked as a business and public relations consultant, an author, and lecturer, as well as continuing to serve on various boards.

James Roosevelt died on August 13, 1991 in Newport Beach, California.

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Description of Contents

The James Roosevelt Papers, comprising 0.04 linear feet of documentation, span from April to August 1941. The papers pertain to the Battle of Crete, and a report regarding military readiness and civilian attitudes towards World War II in Portugal, Egypt, India, China, and the Philippines.

The collection consists of reports, orders, and incoming and outgoing letters.

The Roosevelt Papers are organized alphabetically by document type into a single series with no subdivisions. The papers, which are the product of Roosevelt's service in the United States Marine Corps during World War II, focus largely on a report drafted by Roosevelt for Admiral Harold R. Stark pertaining to the Middle and Far East. The report, which is split between military and non-military issues, concerns the attitudes of American citizens living in the Philippines; cultural and idiomatic misunderstandings with the Chinese; British difficulties in India; Egyptian opinions of the Axis and Allied powers; Axis propaganda in Arab states and Jewish/Arab tension; tribal attitudes in British West Africa; Axis propaganda in Portugal; evaluations of the Chinese military; British equipment maintenance and supply lines; and British losses in the Battle of Crete. All of the orders, and a majority of the correspondence in the collection concern the production of this report.

The remainder of the collection consists of copies of British reports and statements on the Battle of Crete. Included among these documents is a British estimate of German forces in Crete; a list of British forces in Crete; and a statement by Lord Louis Mountbatten regarding naval actions in the waters around Crete and the resulting British losses.

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The Roosevelt Papers are organized alphabetically by document type into a single series with no subdivisions.

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Access and Use


Access is unrestricted.

Copyright and Permission

The James Roosevelt Papers are the physical property of Nimitz Library. Copyright belongs to the authors or creators of the works, or their legal representatives. For further information, consult the Head, Special Collections & Archives.

It is the responsibility of the researcher to secure written permission to publish, reprint, or reproduce material from Special Collections & Archives. The researcher assumes responsibility for infringement of copyright or literary or publication rights. Please contact the Head, Special Collections & Archives for permission to publish and for further information.

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Acquisition and Appraisal

Provenance and Acquisition

Purchased in October 2005. Accession No. 07-55.

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Related Materials

Related Archival Material

Additional manuscript material pertaining to James Roosevelt can be found within the holdings of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum (

Materials Cataloged Separately

No materials have been removed from this collection.

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Processing and Other Information

Preferred Citation

James Roosevelt Papers, MS 412

Special Collections & Archives Department

Nimitz Library

United States Naval Academy

Selected Bibliography

The following sources were consulted during preparation of the biographical note:

"James Roosevelt Papers." Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum (Accessed September 10, 2010)

"Roosevelt, James, (1907-1991)." Biographical Directory of the United States Congress (Accessed September 10, 2010)

Who Was Who in America, vol. 10 (1989-1993): 306-307.

"Who's Who in Marine Corps History." United States Marine Corps History Division (Accessed September 10, 2010)

Processing Information

This collection was processed by David D'Onofrio in September 2010. Finding aid written by David D'Onofrio in September 2010.

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Subject Headings

Name and Subject Terms

  • Roosevelt, James, 1907-1991
  • World War, 1939-1945 -- Asia
  • World War, 1939-1945 -- Campaigns -- Greece -- Crete
  • World War, 1939-1945 -- Middle East

Genre Terms

  • Correspondence
  • Manuscripts
  • Orders (military records)
  • Reports
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Contents List

Box 1 Folder 1

Correspondence, 1941 June-August

Letters and memoranda pertaining to Roosevelt's report on the Middle and Far East, as well as a Marine Corps circular concerning advancement in rank at retirement.

Box 1 Folder 2

Orders, 1941 April-June

Orders pertaining to Roosevelt's tour of Portugal, Egypt, India, China, and the Philippines as a military attaché.

Box 1 Folder 3

Reports - Battle of Crete, 1941 (approximate)

Includes British estimates of German force strength, a list of British forces, and a statement by Lord Louis Mountbatten regarding naval engagements and British losses.

Box 1 Folder 4

Reports - Middle and Far East, 1941 (approximate)

Roosevelt's impressions of Chinese and British military capabilities; and civilian opinions of the Axis and Allies among the populations of Portugal, Egypt, China, India and the Philippines.

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