Four Degrees of Separation from FDR

That’s my great-granduncle Arthur Seligman, son of my great-great-grandparents Frances Nusbaum and Bernard Seligman, standing with the then governor of New York who would soon be President of the United States, Franklin Delano Roosevelt.  This was taken while FDR was campaigning in New Mexico in September, 1932.

FDR with Arthur Seligman

(Was FDR really that tall, or were all those politicos from the West really that short?)

(I just looked it up.  FDR was 6′ 2″.  Those guys must have been at least 8″ shorter.  I am not surprised my relative was short; we are not a tall family.  But all three of them together?  Didn’t they feed people well out West?)

And I once thought I was the member of my family who’d gotten closest to a future US President when I shook Jimmy Carter‘s hand very early in his run for President.  At the time, I’d never heard anything about him and never thought he’d end up as President.  I was just being polite to a man who’d come to speak at the school I was attending. And no one took our photograph.

Thanks to my cousin Pete for sharing this.  More about the photo can be found here.

10 thoughts on “Four Degrees of Separation from FDR

  1. This is what I mean about your family ;). Wow, so cool!!! The Dutch tend to be tall, so I’m not surprised FDR was tall. When I was in Europe, I saw many remarkably tall people in the Netherlands. After I read your post I actually looked up FDR’s Wikipedia for the first time and read his ancestry. His family was from Zeeland, the same area mine were from. Only his came here so early (1600s) they became part of the New York aristocrats that are described so well in Edith Wharton’s book House of Mirth ;). I think those other men, your relative included, look just under average height, not particularly short.


    • Interesting! I know my great-great uncle Arthur was short from descriptions I have read of him in the newspapers. I would not be surprised if he was just 5’6″—but if could also be that FDR was standing on something to help him stand upright as by that time he already had suffered from polio and could not really stand on his own.


  2. What a delightful photograph with such different expressions on each face! Your Arthur has a sweet smile, while the senator next to him looks like he is sucking lemons. The other senator looks to be entranced by FDR. I always marvel at how happy FDR looks in photographs, yet he was in constant pain. He was tall, but I agree that maybe he was on the speakers platform, and that gave him that extra stretch over the other three.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! Actually, Arthur’s father was only 5’2″ according to his passport description, so I am pretty sure my ancestors (at least on the Seligman side) were pretty short. But there’s nothing wrong with that! 🙂


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