On July 28, the National Archives released a group of papers from the “Grace Tully Archive” that was recently donated to the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library. The Grace Tully Archive is a collection of documents and memorabilia pertaining to President Franklin Roosevelt that is comprised of items that were gathered by his personal secretary throughout FDR’s private and public career as Governor of New York and as President.
After Tully’s death in 1981, her collection of personal papers passed on through her niece into the hands of private collectors, and finally, to the current owner, Sun Times Media, which bought the collection for $8 million in 2001. Subsequently, Sun Times Media decided to donate the entire collection to the FDR Presidential Library.
In 2004, the National Archives asserted a claim of ownership to certain documents in the collection, arguing that those documents were Presidential records and should have originally been provided to NARA instead of staying with Grace Tully’s collection. Specific statues governing the maintenance and ownership of such records were not enacted until after the death of President Roosevelt.
The donation to the Roosevelt Library is the result of more than five years of negotiation between the government and the private parties involved. Due to the Archives’ formal claim, Sun Times Media had been prevented from receiving any type of tax deduction for the donation. In February 2010 Congress enacted Public Law 111-138, which removed the legal tax barriers preventing the donation of the papers.