President Roosevelt in San Rafael

by Laurie Thompson and Brody Levesque

Franklin D. Roosevelt in San Rafael, Sept. 24, 1942. Anne T. Kent California Room Collection

While perusing the library scrapbooks of longtime County Librarian Virginia Keating, we came across an intriguing photograph that seemingly had nothing to do with the history of the Marin County Free Library.

The photograph was captioned: “President Roosevelt in San Rafael.” We know that during the 1940s the Marin County Free Library was headquartered at the former Coleman School at 1111 Grand Avenue in San Rafael. Apparently, President Roosevelt came to town and Mrs. Keating was able to snap his picture.

When journalist and historian Brody Levesque came across our photograph of Franklin D. Roosevelt in our online archive, he immediately got in touch and said we had something rare. Levesque, the author of The Sunshine Special -FDR’s 1939 Lincoln K Series Presidential Limousine, relates:

One of FDR’s earliest secret inspections trips of the United States to tour manufacturers and war materials suppliers, coupled with additional stops at major military commands, took place between September 17th and October 1st, 1942….

Levesque said Keating’s photograph was taken during this secret inspection trip and he was able to pinpoint the date as Thursday, September 24th, 1942. Levesque goes on to relate that when Mrs. Keating snapped the photo “FDR, who was on a nationwide inspection tour of war materials manufacturers, suppliers, and military installations, had just inspected the 7th Bombardment Group and the 354th Fighter Group at Hamilton Army Air Field, just outside of Novato…. He was en route to inspect the massive Oakland Naval Supply Depot and U.S. Army Embarkation Port across San Francisco Bay, via neighboring Richmond, California.”

Thanks to Librarian Virginia Keating this fleeting moment in history was captured for us all!

Originally published at



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Anne T. Kent California Room

Anne T. Kent California Room


The official Medium account of the archive of Marin County history & culture at the Marin County Free Library