From the Museum

FDR’s World Map Globe (MO 1944.121.5)


For Christmas in 1942, President Roosevelt received a rather large gift—a 50-inch diameter, 500 pound globe from the U.S. Army. The giant globe—which was believed to be the largest and most accurate printed globe of its time—was commissioned by Army Chief of Staff General George C. Marshall. It took over 50 geographers, cartographers, and draftsmen from the Geographic Division of the Office of Strategic Services to compile the information to make the globe. The globe was constructed by the Weber Costello Company of Chicago Heights, Illinois. At 1/10,000,000th the size of the earth, it was large enough to contain over 17,000 place names.

The globe consists of two wooden interlocking halves pasted over with printed paper gores. Each gore measures 48-inches by 36-inches. The globe rests on a series of rubber balls set within a steel stand, which allowed the President to rotate it in any direction.

Two identical globes were produced at the same time. One was presented to Prime Minister Winston Churchill. The other was used by General Marshall and Secretary of War Henry Stimson. Churchill’s globe now resides at Chartwell, his family estate in Kent, England. The other globe is at the Office of the Secretary of Defense. Marshall later ordered a number of additional globes for schools and other government agencies.

Seen here is a photograph of the President examining his globe, which he had placed near his Oval Office desk.