The film was donated to the commonwealth by the family of Jimmie DeShong, a Major League Baseball pitcher and Harrisburg native who shot the film in 1937. DeShong played for the Philadelphia Athletics, New York Yankees and Washington Senators.
President Roosevelt was paralyzed from the waist down by polio in 1921. The film from 1937 shows him wearing braces on his legs and holding on to an assistant and a handrail as he walks up a ramp at Griffith Stadium in Washington, D.C.
The film shot by DeShong and donated to the commonwealth is incredibly rare -- only one other video in existence shows FDR walking.
The film was donated to the Pennsylvania State Archives by DeShong’s daughter, Judith Savastio.
“Her generous donation is allowing the world to see something it has never seen before," First Lady and Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commissioner Susan Corbett said. "This unique look at Franklin Delano Roosevelt gives us a better understanding of his physical struggles and his courage and strength in leading our country through difficult times despite personal challenges.”
Filmmaker Ken Burns plans to use the footage in his upcoming documentary “The Roosevelts: An Intimate History," which will air Sept. 14 on PBS.
"We were thrilled with the discovery of a new piece of film footage of Franklin Delano Roosevelt walking. Any film of him struggling to get from one place to another is extremely rare, as the Secret Service either prohibited or confiscated cameras whenever FDR was making an attempt to propel himself from his car to anywhere else,” Burns said. “The President wanted to minimize the public's knowledge of the devastating effects polio had had on him -- he was completely paralyzed from the waist down and he could not walk without the aid of a cane and braces on both legs. The press in those days complied with his request not to be filmed.”