From the Museum

Marion Dickerman’s Toga Costume (MO 1975.38a-b)


Franklin Roosevelt’s harsher critics sometimes compared him to a dictator. In 1934, the President and his staff turned this criticism into a lighthearted joke at FDR’s 52nd birthday party.

The party was held on January 30, 1934, at the White House by members of the Cuff Links Gang, a group of longtime political advisers and friends who joined Roosevelt every year for his birthday. The 1934 party had a “Caesarian” theme, with guests wearing togas and centurion costumes. Marion Dickerman, a friend of the Roosevelts, wore the muslin toga costume seen above to the party. In the photo, FDR, as “Caesar,” is surrounded by friends, family members, and close advisers, including Eleanor Roosevelt (as the “Delphic Oracle”). Dickerman is standing at the far right, wearing the toga. Just below her is Louis Howe, FDR’s longtime political adviser, dressed as a member of the Praetorian Guard.

This photograph, along with hundreds more, can be seen in a new exhibit opening this Spring at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum: The Roosevelts: Public Figures, Private Lives.