Collection Facts

Extent: 
20 items
Collection Owner:

Historical Context

The Vincent Astor Collection tells the untold story of one of America's most prominent businessmen, philanthropists and a life-long friend of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Roosevelt and Astor, both Dutchess County natives, were closely connected through family, social, and business ties but it was their work in defending America through two world wars that truly brought the old fishing buddies to new levels.

Ferncliff, the Astor estate in Rhinebeck is only a short drive from FDR's Hyde Park home of Springwood. At the Stanford White sporting pavilion of Astor Courts FDR would swim in Astor's indoor heated pool as part of his hydrotherapy treatments for polio. There is also evidence that Eleanor Roosevelt would make use of Astor Court's indoor shooting range and FDR would visit Vincent and his pet orangutan Freda for a relaxing break from his busy life.

While Astor and Roosevelt were lifelong friends, they were also both keenly interested in the defense of America. Throughout the 1930s Astor acted as an unofficial intelligence operative for Roosevelt and in the months preceding World War II, Astor would occupy the unique position of Area Controller of Intelligence for New York, a position created by FDR specifically for Vincent.

Scope of Collection

This collection includes historic photos, correspondence, and ephemera detailing FDR and Astor’s relationship in vivid detail. Within these papers friendly jokes and social plans exist side by side with intelligence reports and military matters of the gravest importance.