The center holds some 1,500 artifacts in the Remembering FDR memorabilia collection. These include plaques, busts, political buttons, campaign textiles, toys, dolls, glass and tinware, china, paintings, and other artifacts.
While the bulk of this large collection is in storage, a representative sample of objects is on display at the Center, in Room 1040 of the Auditorium Building. In addition, displays have been exhibited at both the downtown and Robin campuses of Roosevelt University, and a slide show has been assembled for use in classes and lectures. Objects from the collection were featured in the 1997 exhibit on political conventions at the Chicago Historical Society.
The largest part of the ephemera comes from the Joseph M. Jacobs Collection of FDR Memorabilia. On loan from the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, this collection consists of nearly 1,500 pieces of ephemera related to FDR. The collection also includes a few objects owned personally by FDR, including a cigarette holder, shot glass, and a deck of playing cards.
Joseph M. Jacobs (1907-1995) was a Chicago labor lawyer. A graduate of Syracuse University and John Marshall Law School, he represented more than a dozen international unions and hundreds of locals, including the Chicago Teachers Union. A well known figure in the world of political memorabilia collection, he was also a founder and leader of the Illinois Labor History Society. He also amassed a 30,000 piece collection of FDR books and documents, which he donated to the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Supplementing this collection is the Herbert Lowery Collection of FDR Artifacts, donated to the Center by the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute of Hyde Park, New York. For more description of the items in these collections, see the paper, "The Iconography of FDR," by Center Executive Board Members Lynn Weiner and Ronald Tallman.