From the Museum

Button Vest (MO 1973.44)


This unique vest is among the many unusual gifts admirers sent to President Roosevelt. Lined with brown silk faille, it is completely covered with buttons of all sizes, shapes, and colors. On the back, “FDR 1944” is formed in white buttons.

The donor of this singular piece, Luella Smith of Inglewood, California, was a descendent of the van Stoutenburg Family, which—like the Roosevelt family—settled in the Dutch Colony of New Amsterdam. In the letter below, Mrs. Smith claims to have “adopted” both Franklin and Eleanor, hinting at the history between the two families. When Roosevelt ancestors Claes Martenzen van Rosenvelt and Jannetje Thomas died, Pieter van Soutenburg adopted and raised the Rosenvelt children.