Rare View of FDR Found In Film Clip

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July 11, 2013 — A central Indiana professor has discovered a rare video of President Franklin D. Roosevelt being pushed in his wheelchair. As Indiana Public Broadcasting’s Gretchen Frazee reports, archivists say they don’t know of any other similar videos.

Franklin College Journalism Professor Ray Begovich was searching for video for Roosevelt’s Office of War Information director when he came across some very unexpected footage.

“I found what at first glance appeared to be President Roosevelt in a wheelchair, and then after looking at it dozens and later hundreds of times indeed was the president being pushed in his wheelchair. “

The video found in the U.S. National Archives was taken in 1944 when Roosevelt was visiting Pearl Harbor. The eight-second clip shows the president going down a ramp on the USS Baltimore. It doesn’t actually show the wheelchair, but the way the president is moving suggest he is sitting in one.

Roosevelt was diagnosed with polio in 1921 and reporters were not allowed to show him in his wheelchair.

In an email, a National Archives spokeswoman says she cannot say for certain whether the video is the only existing footage of FDR in a wheelchair because there may be films in other archives that haven’t been discovered. But she says the footage is very rare.

Begovich says he doesn’t have a specific plan for the footage, but he hopes its discovery will encourage historians to look for similar videos.

“It may spark historians and archivists to more purposefully look for perhaps other unknown footage of President Roosevelt in his wheelchair. Maybe even more clear footage so that those can be made public as well.”

Begovich says he also hopes the video will help breakdown stereotypes of people with disabilities.

For Indiana Public Broadcating, I’m Gretchen Frazee in Bloomington


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