Anna Eleanor Roosevelt (New York, October 11, 1884-ib., November 7, 1962) was an American writer, activist and politician. She served as First Lady of the United States from March 4, 1933, to April 12, 1945, during the four presidential terms of her husband Franklin D. Roosevelt. She served as a United States delegate to the United Nations General Assembly from 1945 to 1952. Harry S. Truman later called her the “First Lady of the World” for her advances in human rights.
A member of the renowned American Roosevelt and Livingston families and niece of President Theodore Roosevelt, she had an unhappy childhood, suffering the death of her parents and one of her brothers at an early age. At the age of fifteen, she attended the Allenwood Academy in London and was deeply influenced by its director Marie Souvestre. Returning to the United States, she married her distant relative Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1905. The marriage was complicated from the beginning by her mother-in-law Sara and after she discovered her husband”s affair with Lucy Mercer in 1918, which led her to seek satisfaction with a public life of her own. She convinced her husband to pursue politics after he suffered a paralytic illness in 1921, which deprived him of the normal use of his legs, and began giving speeches and appearing at campaign events on Franklin”s behalf. After her husband won election to governor of New York in 1928 and throughout the remainder of his public career in government, she made public appearances on his behalf and, as first lady of the United States, significantly reformulated and redefined this protocol role.
Although highly respected in her later years, she was a controversial first lady at this point because of her outspokenness, particularly on the civil rights of African Americans. She was the first presidential wife to hold regular press conferences, write a newspaper column every day, publish a monthly magazine column, host a weekly radio show, and speak at a national party convention. On a few occasions, she publicly disagreed with her husband”s policies.
Launched an experimental community in Arthurdale, West Virginia, for the families of unemployed miners, a project later deemed a failure. She advocated for expanded roles for women in the workplace, civil rights for African Americans and Asian Americans, and rights for World War II refugees. After her husband”s death in 1945, she remained active in politics for the remaining seventeen years of her life. She lobbied the U.S. federal government to join and support the United Nations, becoming its first delegate. She served as the first chairperson of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights and oversaw the drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
First years of life
Born on October 11, 1884 in Manhattan, New York, the daughter of socialites Anna Rebecca Hall and Elliott Bulloch Roosevelt, Roosevelt from an early age preferred to be called by her middle name, Eleanor. On her father”s side, she was the niece of Theodore Roosevelt, president of the United States; on her maternal side, she was the niece of tennis champions Valentine Gill “Vallie” Hall III and Edward Ludlow Hall. Her mother nicknamed her Granny (she was also somewhat embarrassed by her daughter”s simplicity).
He had two younger brothers – Elliott Jr. and Hall – and a half-brother – Elliott Roosevelt Mann – born of his father”s affair with Katy Mann, a maid who worked for the family. Roosevelt was born into a world of great wealth and privilege, as his family was part of New York”s high society, nicknamed swells (lit., “good people”).
Her mother died of diphtheria on December 7, 1892, and Elliott Jr. died of the same disease in May of the following year. Her father, an alcoholic confined to a sanitarium, died on August 14, 1894, after jumping out of a window during an attack of delirium tremens. She survived the fall although she perished from a seizure. These childhood losses left her prone to depression throughout her life. Her brother Hall also suffered from alcoholism in adulthood. Before her father died, he implored her to act as a mother to Hall, a request she honored for the rest of her brother”s life. She adored him and, when her brother enrolled in the private Groton School in 1907, she accompanied him as a supervisor. While Hall attended Groton, she wrote to him almost daily, but always felt a twinge of guilt that her brother had not had a fuller childhood. She enjoyed Hall”s brilliant performance at school and was proud of his academic achievements, with his graduation as a master”s degree in engineering from Harvard.
After the death of her parents, she grew up in the home of her maternal grandmother Mary Livingston Ludlow in Tivoli. As a child, she was insecure, lacking in affection and considered herself an “ugly duckling.” However, at age fourteen she wrote that one”s prospects in life did not depend entirely on physical beauty: “No matter how plain a woman may be if truth and loyalty are stamped on her face, everyone will be attracted to her.”
She received private tutoring and, with the encouragement of her aunt Anna “Bamie” Roosevelt, at age fifteen was sent to Allenswood Academy, a private girls” school in Wimbledon, outside London, where she was educated from 1899-1902. The headmistress, Marie Souvestre, was an outstanding educator who sought to cultivate independent thinking in young women. Souvestre took a special interest in her, who learned to speak French fluently and gained self-confidence. The two corresponded until March 1905, when Souvestre died, after which Roosevelt placed her portrait on his desk and brought her letters with her. Her first cousin Corinne Douglas Robinson, whose first year at Allenswood overlapped with her relative”s last, said, that when she arrived at the school, Roosevelt “was ”everything” at the school. She was loved by everyone.” She wished to continue at Allenwood, but her grandmother called her home in 1902 to make her social debut.
In 1902, at the age of seventeen, she completed her formal education and returned to the United States; she made her debut in society at a debutante ball at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel on December 14. Later she was given her own “coming-out party.” Roosevelt commented on her debut in a public discussion once: “It was just awful. It was a beautiful party, of course, but I felt very sad, because a girl who has come out is very miserable if she doesn”t know all the young people. Of course, I had spent so much time abroad that I had lost touch with all the girls I used to know in New York. I was miserable about all that.”
He was an active member in the Association of Junior Leagues International of New York shortly after its founding, teaching dance and calisthenics in the slums of Manhattan”s East Side. The organization had come to Roosevelt”s attention because of a friend, founder Mary Harriman, and a relative who criticized the group for “luring young women into public activity.”
She regularly attended Episcopal Church services and was very familiar with the New Testament. Harold Ivan Smith states that “her faith was common knowledge. In hundreds of “My day” and “If you ask me” columns she addressed issues of faith, prayer and the Bible.”
Marriage to Franklin D. Roosevelt
In the summer of 1902, on a train to Tivoli she met her father”s fifth cousin, Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The two began a secret correspondence and romance; they became engaged on November 22, 1903. Franklin”s mother, Sara Ann Delano, opposed the union and made him promise that the engagement would not be officially announced for a year. “I know the pain I must have caused you,” he wrote to his mother about his decision, but, he added, “I know my own mind, I knew it for a long time and I know I could never think otherwise.” His mother took him on a Caribbean cruise in 1904, hoping that the separation would fizzle out the romance, but he remained determined. The wedding date was scheduled to fit the schedule of Theodore Roosevelt, who was scheduled to be in New York for the St. Patrick”s Day parade and agreed to give the bride away.
The couple were married on March 17, 1905, in a wedding officiated by Endicott Peabody, the groom”s principal at Groton School. His cousin Corinne Douglas Robinson was a bridesmaid. President Roosevelt”s attendance at the ceremony was front-page news in the New York Times and other newspapers. When asked by the press what he thought about the Roosevelt-Roosevelt liaison, he said, “It”s good to keep the name in the family.” The couple spent a preliminary weeklong honeymoon in Hyde Park, then set up housekeeping in a New York apartment. That summer they went on their formal honeymoon, a three-month tour of Europe.
Upon returning to the United States, the newlyweds settled into a home in New York provided by Franklin”s mother, as well as a second residence on the family estate overlooking the Hudson River in Hyde Park. From the beginning, Eleanor had a contentious relationship with her controlling mother-in-law. The townhouse she gave them was connected to her own residence by sliding doors, and her mother-in-law ran both homes in the decade after the marriage. At first, Eleanor had a nervous breakdown in which she told her husband, “I didn”t like living in a house that wasn”t mine, one that I hadn”t done anything in and that didn”t represent the way I wanted to live,” but little changed. Sarah also tried to control the upbringing of her grandchildren; on this, Eleanor later reflected, “Franklin”s children were more my mother-in-law”s children than mine.” Her oldest son, James, recalled his grandmother telling his siblings, “Your mother only gave birth to you, I am more your mother than your mother.” Eleanor and Franklin Roosevelt had six children:
Despite her several pregnancies, Eleanor, like many well-to-do women of the time due to upbringing in traditional morals that ignored such issues, disliked being intimate with her husband; she once told her daughter Anna that it was “a very difficult experience to endure.” She also considered herself unsuited to motherhood and later wrote, “It did not come naturally to me to understand small children or to enjoy them.”
In September 1918, she was unpacking some of her husband”s suitcases when she discovered a packet of love letters from his personal secretary Lucy Mercer. In the missives, he said he had been thinking of leaving her for her. However, due to pressure from Franklin”s political advisor, Louis Howe, and from his mother, who threatened to disinherit him if he divorced, the couple remained married. The union was from then on nothing more than a political partnership. Disillusioned, she became active in public life, despite her introverted nature, and focused increasingly on her social work rather than her role as a wife.
In August 1921, during a family vacation on New Brunswick”s Campobello Island, Franklin suffered a paralytic illness that was diagnosed as polio, although its symptoms are more consistent with Guillain-Barre syndrome. During his illness, his wife, serving as a nurse, probably saved his life. His legs were permanently paralyzed. When the disability became apparent, he confronted his mother-in-law about his future, convincing him to remain in politics despite his mother”s wish that he retire and become a rural gentleman. Franklin”s treating physician, William Keen, praised Eleanor”s devotion to her afflicted husband in his daily labors. “You have been a rare wife and have borne your heavy burden with the greatest bravery,” he told her, proclaiming her “one of my heroines.”
This proved to be a turning point in the feuding struggle with her mother-in-law and, as his public role grew, increasingly broke her control over his life. Tensions with Sara over her new political friends increased to the point that the family built a cottage at Val-Kill, where Eleanor and her guests lived when her husband and children were away from Hyde Park. She named the place Val-Kill (lit. “waterfall stream”) after the original Dutch settlers in the area, “waterfall stream”) after the original Dutch settlers in the area. Her husband encouraged her to expand this property as a place where she could implement some of her ideas about winter jobs for women and rural workers.
In 1924 she campaigned for Democrat Alfred E. Smith in his successful bid for reelection as governor of New York against the Republican candidate, her first cousin Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. Her aunt Bamie Roosevelt publicly broke with her after the election; in a letter to her niece she wrote: “I hate Eleanor to let her be seen as she is. Although she was never pretty, she always had a charming effect, but to great disgrace! Now that politics has become her choicest interest, all her charm has disappeared! However, the two eventually reconciled. Theodore Sr.”s eldest daughter, Alice, also broke up with Eleanor over his campaign. They reconciled after she wrote him a heartwarming letter about the death of Alice”s daughter, Paulina Longworth.
She separated from her daughter Anna when she took on some of the social duties at the White House. The relationship was further strained because she desperately wanted to go with her husband to Yalta in February 1945, two months before Franklin”s death, but took her daughter instead. A few years later, the two were able to reconcile and cooperate on numerous projects. Anna took care of her mother when she was terminally ill in 1962.
Her son Elliott wrote numerous books, such as a mystery series in which his mother was the detective, although they were researched and elaborated by William Harrington. With James Brough, he also published a book about his parents called The Roosevelts of Hyde Park: an untold story, in which he revealed details about his parents” sex life, such as Franklin”s relationships with Lucy Mercer and Marguerite LeHand. When he published this book in 1973, his brother Franklin Delano Roosevelt Jr. filed a family lawsuit against him. Another of the brothers, James, published My parents, a differing view (1976), in response to Elliot”s book.
In the 1930s, she had a very close friendship with aviator Amelia Earhart. On one occasion, the two slipped away from the White House and went to a party wearing clothes for the occasion. After flying with Earhart, she obtained a student permit, but did not follow through on her plans to learn to use an airplane. Franklin did not support the idea of his wife becoming a pilot. However, the two communicated frequently until Earhart”s disappearance in 1937.
She also had a close relationship with Associated Press (AP) reporter Lorena Hickok, who covered her during the last months of the 1928 presidential campaign and “fell madly in love with her.” During this time, Eleanor wrote daily letters of ten to fifteen pages to “Hick,” who planned to write a biography about her. The letters included endearments such as, “I want to hug you and kiss you on the corner of your mouth” and “I can”t kiss you, so I kiss your ”picture” and say good night and good morning!” At Franklin”s inauguration in 1933, his wife wore a sapphire ring that the journalist had given her. FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover despised the first lady”s liberalism-according to him, these ideas bordered on communism or made her a “pawn” of the communists-her stance on civil rights and the Roosevelts” criticism of her surveillance tactics, so he kept a large file on her, one of the most extensive in FBI history on an individual. Committed to her work, Hickok soon resigned her position at AP to be closer to Eleanor, who secured her a position as a researcher for a New Deal program.
On this, there is an open debate as to whether or not he had a sexual relationship with Hickok. It was known in the White House press corps at the time that Hickok was a lesbian. Scholars such as Lillian Faderman have claimed that there was a physical component to the relationship, while Doris Faber, Hickok”s biographer, has argued that the insinuating phrases have misled historians. Doris Kearns Goodwin indicated that “it could not be determined with certainty whether Hick and Eleanor went beyond kissing and hugging.” Roosevelt was close friends with several lesbian couples, including Nancy Cook and Marion Dickerman and Esther Lape and Elizabeth Fisher Read, suggesting that she understood lesbianism; Marie Souvestre, her childhood teacher and a major influence on her later thinking, was also a lesbian. Faber published part of Roosevelt and Hickok”s correspondence in 1980, but concluded that the passionate phrase was simply an “exceptionally late schoolgirl amorous outburst” and warned historians not to let themselves fall for appearances. Leila J. Rupp criticized Faber”s argument, calling her book “a case study in homophobia” and argued that the biographer unintentionally presented “page after page of evidence delineating the growth and development of a love story between the two women.” In 1992, Blanche Wiesen Cook, Roosevelt”s biographer, noted that the relationship was indeed romantic and generated media attention. A 2011 essay by Russell Baker reviewing two new biographies in New York Review of Books (Franklin and Eleanor: an extraordinary marriage, by Hazel Rowley, and Eleanor Roosevelt: transformative First Lady, by Maurine H. Beasley) stated, “That the Hickok relationship was indeed erotic now seems indisputable, given what is known about the letters they exchanged.”
In the same years, rumors in the capital linked her romantically with New Deal administrator Harry Hopkins, with whom she worked closely. She also had a close relationship with Earl Miller, a sergeant in the New York State Police, whom the president assigned as her bodyguard. She was 44 when she met Miller, 32, in 1929; he was her friend and in her official companion, teaching her different sports, such as diving and horseback riding, and coached her in tennis. Her biographer Blanche Wiesen Cook stated that Miller was her “first romantic relationship” in her middle years. On this, Hazel Rowley concluded, “There is no doubt that Eleanor was in love with Earl for a time. But it is highly unlikely that they had an ”affair”.”
Her friendship with Miller occurred at the same time that her husband was rumored to be having an affair with his secretary Marguerite “Missy” LeHand. According to Jean Edward, “surprisingly, both Eleanor and Franklin recognized, accepted and encouraged this arrangement Eleanor and Franklin were determined people who cared deeply for each other”s happiness, but realized their own inability to provide it.” Allegedly, the relationship continued until Eleanor”s death in 1962; also that they corresponded daily, but the letters were lost. According to rumors, the letters were either purchased and destroyed anonymously or locked away when she died.
She was a friend of Carrie Chapman Catt and presented her with the Chi Omega Award at the White House in 1941.
She privately showed a revulsion against wealthy Jews in 1918, telling her mother-in-law that “the Jewish group I never wish to hear money, jewels, or sabers mentioned again.” When she was co-owner of the Todhunter School for Young Ladies in New York, a limited number of Jewish girls were admitted. Most of the students were upper-class Protestants; Roosevelt said the school spirit “would be different if we had too large a proportion of Jewish girls.” For her, the problem was not just quantity, but quality, since Jews were “very different from us” and not yet “American enough.” Her anti-Semitism gradually diminished, especially as her friendship with Bernard Baruch grew. After World War II, she had become a strong supporter of Israel, a country she admired for its commitment to New Deal values.
In the 1920 presidential election, her husband was nominated as the running mate of Democratic candidate James M. Cox. He joined a national tour, making his first campaign appearances. Cox was defeated by Republican Warren G. Harding, who won with 404 to 127 electoral votes.
After the onset of Franklin”s paralytic illness in 1921, she began serving as a surrogate for her incapacitated husband, making public appearances on his behalf, often carefully coached by Louis Howe. She also began her activities with the Women”s Trade Union League, raising funds in support of the union”s goals: a forty-eight-hour workweek, minimum wage, and the abolition of child labor. Throughout the 1920s, she became increasingly influential as a leader in the New York State Democratic Party, while her husband used his contacts among Democratic women to strengthen his position with them, gaining their committed endorsement for the future. In 1924, she campaigned for Democrat Alfred E. Smith in his successful bid for reelection as governor of New York against the Republican candidate and his first cousin Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. Franklin had spoken about Theodore Jr.”s “miserable record” as assistant secretary of the Navy during the Teapot Dome scandal; in response, Theodore Jr. said of him, “He”s a rebel! These attacks infuriated his cousin, who chased him on his campaign trail across the state in a car equipped with a papier-mâché hood shaped like a giant teapot, pretending to emit steam, in order to remind voters of Theodore Jr.”s alleged, later disproved, connections to the scandal; and Theodore Jr. Years later he would repudiate these methods and admitted that they undermined his dignity, but defended himself by saying that they had been devised by “dirty tricksters” in the Democratic Party. Theodore Jr. was defeated by 105,000 votes and never forgave her. In 1928, Eleanor was promoting Smith”s candidacy for president and Franklin”s nomination as the Democratic Party candidate for governor of New York, succeeding Smith. Although Smith lost the presidential race, Franklin won and the Roosevelts moved into the governor”s mansion in Albany. During the governorship, she traveled extensively around the state, making speeches and inspecting government agencies on behalf of her husband, to whom she reported her findings at the end of each trip.
In 1927, she joined her friends Marion Dickerman and Nancy Cook in acquiring Todhunter School for Girls, a school for girls that also offered college preparatory courses in New York City, where she taught upper-level courses in national literature and history, emphasizing independent thought, current events and social commitment. At the school, she taught upper-level courses in national literature and history, emphasizing independent thought, current events and social commitment. She taught classes three days a week while her husband served as governor, but was forced to give up teaching after Franklin”s election as president.
Also in 1927, she established Val-Kill Industries with Cook, Dickerman and Caroline O”Day, three friends she met in her activities in the Women”s Division of the New York State Democratic Party. The project was located on the banks of a stream that flowed through the Roosevelt family estate in Hyde Park. Roosevelt and her business partners financed the construction of a small factory to provide supplemental income for local farm families who would make furniture, pewter and homespun fabrics using traditional craft methods. Capitalizing on the popularity of the Colonial Revival, most Val-Kill products were modeled on 18th century patterns. She promoted her brand in interviews and public appearances. Val-Kill Industries were never part of the subsistence plans as she and her friends envisioned, but it paved the way for larger New Deal initiatives during Franklin”s presidential administration. Cook”s ill health and the pressures of the Great Depression forced the women to dissolve the partnership in 1938, at which time Roosevelt converted the commercial buildings into a cottage, which eventually became her permanent residence after her husband died in 1945. Otto Berge acquired the factory materials and the rights to the Val-Kill name to continue producing colonial-style furniture until his retirement in 1975. In 1977, the Val-Kill cottage and its surrounding 181-acre (0.73 km²) properties were designated by an act of Congress as the Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site, “to commemorate for the education, inspiration, and benefit of present and future generations the life and work of an outstanding woman in American history.”
On March 4, 1933, her husband was inaugurated President of the United States, initiating her time in the ceremonial position of First Lady. Knowing previous first ladies of the 20th century, she was greatly depressed at having to assume the role, which was traditionally limited to domestic activities and receiving guests. Her immediate predecessor, Lou Henry Hoover, had ended her feminist activism with her husband”s accession to the presidency, declaring her intention to be only a “backdrop for Bertie.” Eleanor”s distress at these precedents was so severe that her friend Hickok subtitled his biography of her “The Reluctant First Lady.”
With the support of Howe and Hickok, she set out to redefine the role. According to Blanche Wiesen Cook, she became in the process “the most controversial first lady in the history of the United States” Despite the criticism, with her husband”s strong backing she continued active in her business and public speaking agenda that she had begun before assuming the role of first lady, at a time when few married women had their own careers. She was the first presidential wife to hold regular press conferences and, in 1940, the first to speak at a national party convention. She also wrote a widely circulated daily newspaper column, “My Day”; she was also the first to write a monthly magazine column and to host a weekly radio program.
In the first year of her husband”s administration, she was determined to match his presidential salary, earning $75,000 from her lectures and writings, although much of these funds she gave to charity. By 1941, she was receiving $1,000 in lecture fees and was named an honorary member of Phi Beta Kappa in one of her speeches celebrating her accomplishments.
He had a heavy travel itinerary in his twelve years in the White House, often making personal appearances at labor meetings to assure Depression-era workers that the federal government was aware of their plight. In a famous cartoon of the time in The New Yorker magazine (June 3, 1933), satirizing a visit he had made to a coal mine, an astonished miner, peering down a dark tunnel, said to a fellow worker, “Here comes Mrs. Roosevelt!” In early 1933, the Bonus Army, a protest group of World War I veterans, marched on the capital for the second time in two years, demanding that their veteran bonus certificates be granted early. The year before, President Hoover ordered their dispersal and the U.S. Army cavalry charged and tear-gassed the veterans.This time, Eleanor visited the veterans in their muddy camp, listened to their concerns and sang Army songs with them.The meeting defused the tension between the veterans and the administration; one of the protesters later commented, “Hoover sent the Army. Roosevelt sent his wife.”
In 1937 she began writing her autobiography, the volumes of which were compiled as The autobiography of Eleanor Roosevelt in 1961 by Harper and Brothers Publishers.
Congreso Americano de la Juventud y Administración Nacional de la Juventud
The American Youth Congress was formed in 1935 to advocate for the rights of young people in national politics and was responsible for submitting an American Youth Bill of Rights to the federal Congress. Her relationship with the AYC eventually led to the formation of the National Youth Administration, a New Deal agency founded in 1935, which focused on providing jobs and education for Americans between the ages of 16 and 25; the NYA was headed by Aubrey Willis Williams, a liberal Alabama politician close to her and Harry Hopkins. Commenting on the NYA in the 1930s, Roosevelt expressed concern about the aging population: “I live with real horror when I think we may be losing this generation. We have to bring these young people into active life in the community and make them feel that they are needed.” In 1939, the Dies Committee singled out several AYC leaders for membership in the Young Communist League. Roosevelt attended the hearings and later invited the subpoenaed witnesses to address the issue at the White House during his stay in the capital. On February 10, 1940, AYC members attended a picnic hosted by the first lady in the White House Rose Garden, where the president addressed them from the south portico. The president urged them to condemn not only the Nazi regime but all dictatorships; the group reportedly booed him. Subsequently, many of the same young people protested at the White House as representatives of the American Peace Mobilization. Later, in 1940, despite explaining their reasons in the publication “Why I still believe in the Youth Congress,” the AYC disbanded and the NYA was discontinued in 1943.
Her major project during her husband”s first two presidential terms was the establishment of a planned community in Arthurdale, West Virginia. On August 18, 1933, with Hickok”s help, she visited homeless miners” families in Morgantown who had been blacklisted for their union activities. Deeply affected by the visit, she proposed a resettlement community for the miners in Arthurdale, where they could make a living with subsistence farming, handicrafts, and a local manufacturing plant. She hoped the project could become a model for “a new kind of community” in the United States, where the workers would be better served. Her husband enthusiastically supported the project.
After an initial, disastrous experiment with prefabricated housing, construction restarted in 1934 to their specifications, this time with “all modern conveniences,” such as indoor plumbing and steam-heated power plants. Families occupied the first 50 houses in June and agreed to pay the federal government over 30 years. Although he dreamed of a racially mixed community, the miners insisted on limiting membership to white Christians. After losing a community vote, she recommended the creation of other communities for excluded African-American and Jewish miners. The experience motivated her to be much more open about the issue of racial discrimination.
He continued to raise a lot of funds for the community for several years, in addition to spending most of his own income on the project. However, the initiative was criticized by both the political left and right. Conservatives condemned it as socialist and a “communist plot,” while Democratic members of Congress opposed the federal government”s competition with private enterprise. Secretary of the Interior Harold L. Ickes also opposed the project, citing its high cost per family. Arthurdale gradually was displaced as a spending priority of the federal government until 1941, when the last of its holdings in the community were sold at a loss.
Later commentators described the Arthurdale experiment as a failure. The booster herself was discouraged on a visit in 1940, when she felt that the community had become overly dependent on outside assistance. Nevertheless, residents considered the project a “utopia” compared to their previous circumstances, and many returned to economic self-sufficiency. Roosevelt personally considered the project a success and spoke of the improvements he saw in the lives of the people there, “I don”t know if they think it”s worth half a million dollars, but I do.”
Civil rights activism
During her husband”s presidency, she became an important connection to the African-American population in the era of segregation. Despite Franklin”s desire to appease Southern sentiment, Eleanor expressed support for the civil rights movement. After her experience with Arthurdale and her inspections of New Deal programs in southern states, she concluded that federal initiatives discriminated against African Americans, who received a disproportionately small share of aid money. As a result, she became one of the only voices in the Roosevelt administration to insist that benefits be extended equally to all Americans of all races.
She also broke with tradition by inviting hundreds of African-American guests to the White House. In 1936, she learned of conditions at the National Training School for Girls, a predominantly African-American girls” school once located in the Palisades neighborhood of Washington, D.C. She visited the school, wrote about it in her “My Day” column, lobbied for additional funding, and insisted on changes in staffing and curriculum. Her White House invitation to the students became an issue in her husband”s 1936 reelection campaign. In 1939, when the Daughters of the American Revolution denied African-American contralto Marian Anderson”s participation in a concert at the capital”s Constitution Hall, Roosevelt resigned from the group in protest and helped organize another performance on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. She then introduced Anderson to the monarchs of the United Kingdom, following a performance by the contralto at a White House dinner. She also arranged the appointment of African-American educator Mary McLeod Bethune, with whom she had become friends, as director of the NYA”s Division of Negro Affairs. To avoid problems with staff when Bethune visited the White House, the first lady would meet her at the door, hug her and they would enter arm in arm.
He was so involved in being “the eyes and ears” of the New Deal. She had a vision for the future and was committed to social reform. One such program helped working women receive better wages. The New Deal also placed women in fewer factory jobs and more white-collar jobs. Women did not have to work in factories making war supplies, because their husbands returned home to take care of the long days and nights they had been working to contribute to the war effort. Roosevelt brought unprecedented activism and aptitude to the role of the first lady.
In contrast to his usual support for the rights of people of African descent, the “sundown town” of Eleanor (West Virginia) received its name in 1934 when the presidential couple visited Putnam County and established it as an experimental site for families. It was set up as a New Deal project; it was a whites-only “sundown town,” like other settlements founded by President Roosevelt around the country – such as Greenbelt, Greenhills, Greendale, Hanford, or Norris.
She lobbied behind the scenes to make lynching a federal crime in the 1934 Costigan-Wagner bill, as well as arranging a meeting between her husband and NAACP President Walter Francis White. However, fearing that her legislative agenda would lose votes from congressional delegations in southern states, Franklin refused to publicly support the bill, which ultimately failed to pass in the Senate. In 1942, Eleanor worked with activist Pauli Murray to convince Franklin to appeal on behalf of sharecropper Odell Waller, sentenced to death for killing a white farmer during a scuffle; although the president sent a letter to Virginia Governor Colgate Darden, urging him to commute the sentence to life imprisonment, Waller was executed in the electric chair as scheduled.
Her support for African-American rights made her an unpopular figure among whites in the South. Rumors spread about “Eleanor Clubs,” formed by servants to oppose their employers, and “Eleanor Tuesdays,” in which men of African descent knocked down white women on the street, although no evidence of either practice has ever been found. When race riots broke out in Detroit in June 1943, critics from both the North and South wrote that the First Lady was to blame. At the same time, she became so well known among African Americans, formerly a solid Republican voting bloc, that they became a base of support for the Democrats.
After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, she decried prejudice against Japanese Americans, warning of “great hysteria against minority groups.” She also privately opposed her husband”s Executive Order 9066, which required Japanese Americans, in many areas of the homeland, to enter internment camps. She was so criticized for defending citizens of Japanese descent that a Los Angeles Times editorial called for “forcing her to be removed from public life” for her stance on the issue.
Use of media
In her role as First Lady, she was an outspoken and original person who made far more use of the media than her predecessors; she held 348 press conferences during her husband”s twelve-year presidency. Inspired by her relationship with Hickok, she banned male reporters from attending press conferences, forcing newspapers to keep women reporters on staff to cover them. She relaxed this rule only once, upon her return from a 1943 trip to the Pacific. Because the reporters” association Gridiron Club vetoed female journalists from its annual banquet, Roosevelt organized a competitive event for female reporters at the White House, which he called “Gridiron Widows.” New Orleans journalist Iris Kelso described her as her most interesting interviewee. In the early days of her all-female press conferences, she said she would not address “policy, legislation, or executive decision,” as the first lady”s role was expected to be non-political at the time. She also agreed at the outset that she would avoid discussing her views on pending congressional action. Still, the press conferences provided a welcome opportunity for reporters, allowing them to speak directly with her, access that had not been available in previous administrations.
Just before her husband assumed the presidency in 1933, she published an editorial in Women”s Daily News that conflicted so sharply with Franklin”s planned public spending policies that she had to publish a rejoinder in the next issue. Upon entering the White House, she signed a contract with Woman”s Home Companion magazine for a monthly column, in which she answered mail sent to her by readers; this experience was cancelled in 1936 as the presidential election approached. She continued her articles in other media, publishing more than sixty articles in national magazines during her role as first lady. She also began a widely circulated newspaper column, entitled “My Day,” which appeared six days a week from 1936 until her death in 1962; there she discussed her daily activities and humanitarian concerns. George T. Bye, her literary agent, and Hickok encouraged her to write the column. From 1941 until her death in 1962, she also penned an advice column, “If you ask me,” first published in Ladies Home Journal and then in McCall”s. A selection of her writings was compiled in the book If you ask me: essential advice by Eleanor Roosevelt in 2018. Beasley argued that Roosevelt”s publications, which often addressed women”s issues and invited female readers to weigh in, represented a conscious attempt to use journalism “to overcome the social isolation” of women by making “public communication a two-way channel.”
World War II
On May 10, 1940, Germany invaded Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands, marking the end of the relatively conflict-free “mock war” phase of World War II. As the United States moved toward war, Roosevelt felt depressed again, fearing that her role in the struggle for justice would become irrelevant in a nation focused on foreign affairs. She briefly considered traveling to Europe to work with the Red Cross, but was dissuaded by presidential advisors who pointed out possible consequences if the president”s wife were captured as a prisoner of war. However, she soon found other war causes to work on, beginning with a popular movement to allow immigration of European refugee children. She also pressed her husband to allow greater immigration of groups persecuted by the Nazis, such as Jews, but fear of fifth columnists caused Franklin to restrict rather than expand immigration. Eleanor successfully secured political refugee status for eighty-three Jewish asylees from the passenger ship SS Quanza in August 1940, rejected on several occasions. Her son James later wrote that “her deepest regret at the end of her life” was that she had not forced her father to accept more refugees from Nazism during the war.
She was also active on the home front. Beginning in 1941, she co-chaired the Office of Civilian Defense (OCD) with New York Mayor Fiorello H. LaGuardia in an effort to give civilian volunteers a greater role in war preparations. She soon found herself in a power struggle with LaGuardia, who preferred to focus on aspects closer to defense, while she saw solutions to broader social problems equally important to the war effort. Although LaGuardia resigned from OCD in December 1941, she was forced to resign after anger in the House of Representatives over the high salaries of several OCD members, including two of her closest friends.
Also in that year, the short film Women in defense, written by Roosevelt, narrated by Katharine Hepburn, directed by John Ford and produced by the Office of Emergency Management, was released, which briefly described how women could help prepare the country for a possible war. It also had a segment on the types of costumes women would wear during war work. At the end of the film, the narrator explains that women are vital to ensuring a healthy home life in the country and raising children “which has always been the first line of defense.”
She supported increased roles for women and people of African descent in the war effort and advocated for women to be given jobs in factories, a year before it became a widespread practice. In 1942, she urged women of all social backgrounds to learn trades: “If I were of debutante age I would go to a factory, any factory where I could learn a skill and be useful.” She learned of the high rate of absenteeism among working mothers and campaigned for government-sponsored day care services. She supported the Tuskegee Airmen in their successful effort to become the first African-American fighter pilots and visited them at the Tuskegee Air Corps Advanced Flying School in Alabama. She also flew with chief civilian instructor C. Alfred “Chief” Anderson, who took her on a half-hour flight in a Piper J-3 Cub. Upon landing, he cheerfully announced, “Well, you can fly well.” The subsequent hubbub over the first lady”s flight had such an impact that it is erroneously cited as the start of the Civilian Pilot Training Program at Tuskegee, even though he was already five months old. Roosevelt used her position as a trustee of the Julius Rosenwald Fund to arrange a $175,000 loan to help finance the construction of the Moton Training Field at Tuskegee.
After the war, she was a strong advocate of the Morgenthau Plan to deindustrialize Germany in the postwar period. In 1947 she attended the National Conference on the German Question in New York, which she had helped to organize. She issued a statement that “any plan to resurrect Germany”s economic and political power” would be dangerous to international security.
Her husband died on April 12, 1945, after suffering a cerebral hemorrhage at Little White House in Warm Springs, Georgia. Some time later, she learned that Lucy Mercer – her husband”s mistress, now surnamed Rutherfurd – had been with him on his deathbed, a discovery that became more bitter when she learned that her daughter Anna knew of this relationship between the president and Rutherfurd; in fact, it was her daughter who told her that Franklin had died with Rutherfurd by his side, that the relationship had continued for decades, and that his close associates and friends had kept this information from his wife. After the funeral, Roosevelt temporarily returned to Val-Kill. Her late husband had given her instructions in the event of his death; he proposed turning Hyde Park over to the federal government as a museum, so she spent the next few months cataloging the estate and arranging the transfer. After Franklin”s death, she moved into an apartment at 29 Washington Square West in Greenwich Village. In 1950, she rented suites at the Park Sheraton Hotel (202 West 56th Street) and lived there until 1953, when she moved to 211 East 62nd Street. When that lease expired in 1958, he returned to the Park Sheraton while waiting for the house he bought with Edna and David Gurewitsch at 55 East 74th Street to be renovated. The Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum opened on April 12, 1946, setting a precedent for future presidential libraries.
In December 1945, President Harry S. Truman appointed her as a delegate to the United Nations General Assembly. In February 1946, she read the “Open Letter to the Women of the World,” also signed by Minerva Bernardino, Marie-Hélène Lefaucheux and 14 delegates at the 29th plenary session of the United Nations General Assembly in London. In April, she became the first chairperson of the newly created United Nations Commission on Human Rights. She served as chairperson when the commission was established on a permanent basis in January 1947.
Along with René Cassin, John Peters Humphrey and others, he played a key role in drafting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). In a speech on the evening of September 28, 1948, he defended the UDHR and called it “the international magna carta of all men everywhere”. The UDHR was adopted by the General Assembly on December 10, 1948. The vote was unanimous, with eight abstentions: six Soviet bloc countries, as well as South Africa and Saudi Arabia. Roosevelt attributed the Soviet satellites” abstention to Article 13, which gave citizens the right to leave their countries.
He also served as the first U.S. representative to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights and remained in that position until 1953, even after resigning as chair of the commission in 1951. The United Nations posthumously awarded him one of its first Human Rights Awards in 1968 in recognition of his work.
In the late 1940s, Democrats in New York and across the country tried unsuccessfully to get Roosevelt to run for political office.
Catholics were an important element of the Democratic Party in New York. Roosevelt supported the reformers who were trying to overthrow the Irish Tammany Hall machine, for which some Catholics labeled it anti-Catholic. In July 1949, he had a bitter public argument with Cardinal Francis Spellman, Archbishop of New York, which was characterized as “a battle still remembered for its vehemence and hostility.” In his columns, Roosevelt had attacked proposals for federal funding of certain nonreligious activities in parochial schools, such as busing for students. Spellman cited the Supreme Court decision that endorsed such provisions and charged anti-Catholicism. Most Democrats sided with Roosevelt, so Spellman had to meet with her at her Hyde Park home to calm tempers. However, Roosevelt was adamant that Catholic schools should not receive federal aid, leaning on secular writers such as Paul Blanshard. Privately, she said that if the Catholic Church got school aid, “once that was done, they would control the schools or at least a large part of them.” Lash denied that she was anti-Catholic and put on record her public endorsement of Catholic Alfred E. Smith in the 1928 presidential campaign and her statement to a New York Times reporter that year quoting her uncle, Theodore Roosevelt, who had expressed “the hope of seeing the day when a Catholic or a Jew would become president.”
During the Spanish Civil War in the late 1930s, he favored the loyal Republicans against the Nationalists (rebels) of General Francisco Franco; after 1945, he opposed the normalization of relations with Spain. She told Spellman bluntly, “I cannot say, however, that in European countries the control by the Roman Catholic Church of large tracts of land has always brought happiness to the people of those countries.” Her son Elliott suggested that her “reservations toward Catholicism” were rooted in her husband”s sex scandals with Lucy Mercer and Marguerite LeHand, both Catholics.
In 1949, she was made an honorary member of the historically Afro-descendant organization Alpha Kappa Alpha.
She was an early supporter of Encampment for Citizenship, a non-profit organization that runs summer residential programs with year-round follow-up for young people from widely diverse backgrounds and nations. She routinely organized encampment workshops on her Hyde Park property and, when the program was attacked as “socialist” by McCarthyite forces in the early 1950s, she vehemently defended it.
In 1954, Tammany Hall leader Carmine DeSapio led the effort to defeat Roosevelt”s son Franklin Jr. in the New York attorney general election. Roosevelt became disgusted with DeSapio”s political behavior for the rest of the 1950s. Eventually, he would join with his old friends Herbert H. Lehman and Thomas K. Finletter to form the New York Democratic Voters Committee, a group dedicated to opposing DeSapio”s reincarnated Tammany Hall. Their efforts eventually succeeded and DeSapio had to resign from power in 1961.
She was disappointed in Truman when he endorsed New York Governor Averell Harriman, a close associate of DeSapio, for the 1952 Democratic presidential nomination. She supported Adlai Stevenson for president in 1952 and 1956 and urged his nomination in 1960. She resigned her UN post in 1953, when Dwight D. Eisenhower became president, and led the Democratic National Convention in 1952 and 1956. Eisenhower became president, and addressed the Democratic National Convention in 1952 and 1956. Although she had reservations about John F. Kennedy because of his failure to condemn McCarthyism, she supported him in the presidential nomination against Richard Nixon. Kennedy reappointed her to a post at the United Nations, where she served from 1961 to 1962, and to the National Advisory Committee of the Peace Corps.
In the 1950s, her international role as a spokeswoman for women led her to stop publicly criticizing the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), although she never supported it. In the early 1960s, she announced that, because of the rise of more unions, she believed the ERA was no longer a threat to women, as it once had been, and told supporters that they could have the amendment if they wanted it. In 1961, President Kennedy”s Under Secretary of Labor, Esther Peterson, proposed a new Presidential Commission on the Status of Women. Kennedy appointed Roosevelt chairman of the commission, with Peterson as director. This was Roosevelt”s last public position, as he died just before the commission issued its report, which concluded that female equality was best achieved through recognition of gender differences and needs rather than through an Equal Rights Amendment.
During the 1950s, he embarked on many national and international speaking engagements. He continued to write his newspaper column and made appearances on radio and television broadcasts. Throughout the decade, he had about 150 lectures a year, many of them devoted to his activism on behalf of the United Nations.
She received the first annual Franklin Delano Roosevelt Brotherhood Award in 1946. Among other awards she received during her lifetime after the war were the Merit Award of the Federation of Women”s Clubs of New York City in 1948, the Four Freedoms Award in 1950, the Irving Geist Foundation Award in 1950, and the Prince Charles Medal (Sweden) in 1950. She was the most admired living woman in the country, according to Gallup”s poll of the most admired man and woman among Americans in 1948, 1949, 1950, 1952, 1952, 1953, 1954, 1955, 1956, 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, and 1961.
After the Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961, Kennedy asked Roosevelt, Milton S. Eisenhower -brother of Dwight D. Eisenhower- and labor leader Walter Reuther to privately try to raise the money needed to make an exchange for the prisoners with Fidel Castro. The plan failed after strong criticism of Kennedy for being willing to cede agricultural machinery in exchange for the captured.
In April 1960, she was diagnosed with aplastic anemia shortly after being hit by a car in New York. In 1962, she was given steroids, which activated latent tuberculosis in her bone marrow. On November 7 of that year, she died at the age of 78, of heart failure resulting from the steroid treatment, at her Manhattan home at 55 East 74th Street on the upper East Side. His daughter Anna had taken care of her when terminally ill. President Kennedy ordered all U.S. flags to be flown at half-staff around the world on November 8 in Roosevelt”s memory.
Kennedy, Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson and former Presidents Truman and Eisenhower honored her at funeral services in Hyde Park on November 10, where she was buried next to her husband in the rose garden of “Springwood,” the Roosevelt family home. At the services, Adlai Stevenson said, “What other human being has touched and transformed the existence of so many? I would rather light a candle than curse the darkness and its glow has warmed the world.”
After his death, his family turned over the family vacation home on Campobello Island to the U.S. and Canadian governments; in 1964 they created the 2800-acre (11 km²) Roosevelt Campobello International Park.
Honors and awards
In 1966, the White House Historical Association purchased the portrait of Eleanor Roosevelt by Douglas Chandor; the painting had been commissioned by the Roosevelt family in 1949 and was unveiled at a reception addressed by First Lady Lady Lady Bird Johnson at the White House on February 4, 1966, attended by over two hundred and fifty guests. The portrait is housed in the Vermeil Room.
In 1973, she was inducted into the National Women”s Hall of Fame. In 1989, the Eleanor Roosevelt Fund Award was founded, which “honors an individual, project, organization or institution for outstanding contributions to equality and education for women and girls.”
The Eleanor Roosevelt Memorial in New York”s Riverside Park was dedicated in 1996, with First Lady Hillary Clinton as the keynote speaker. It was the first memorial to an American woman in a New York City park. The centerpiece is a statue of Roosevelt sculpted by Penelope Jencks. The surrounding granite paving contains inscriptions designed by architect Michael Middleton Dwyer, including summaries of her accomplishments and a quote from her 1958 speech at the United Nations in defense of universal human rights. The following year, the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial was unveiled in Washington, D.C., which includes a bronze statue of Eleanor Roosevelt standing in front of the United Nations emblem, honoring her dedication to the UN. It is the only presidential monument depicting a first lady.
In 1998, President Bill Clinton established the Eleanor Roosevelt Human Rights Award to honor outstanding American human rights advocates in the United States. The award was first presented on the 50th anniversary of the UDHR, honoring Eleanor Roosevelt”s role as the “driving force” in the development of the U.N. UDHR. The award was presented from 1998 to 2001. In 2010, then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton revived the Eleanor Roosevelt Human Rights Award and presented it on behalf of then President Barack Obama.
The Gallup Organization released the “Gallup List of the Most Admired People of the 20th Century” survey to determine who Americans most admired for what they did in the 20th century in 1999. Eleanor Roosevelt was ranked ninth. In 2001, Judith Hollensworth Hope founded the Eleanor Roosevelt Legacy Committee (Eleanor”s Legacy), an organization that motivates and supports pro-choice women in the Democratic Party to run for local and state offices in New York. Hollensworth served as its president until April 2008. The organization also sponsors campaign training schools, links candidates with volunteers and experts, collaborates with like-minded organizations and provides campaign grants to endorsed candidates. In 2007, she was named a Woman hero by The MY HERO Project.
On April 20, 2016, Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew announced that Eleanor Roosevelt would appear with Marian Anderson and other well-known suffragettes on the $5 bill redesign project, which was expected to be ready by 2020, on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees women the right to vote. In a 2015 poll, Roosevelt was the favorite to replace Alexander Hamilton on the obverse of the $10 bill. The project has been stalled during the Trump administration. In 2020, Time magazine included her name on its list of 100 women of the year; she was named “woman of the year” in 1948 for her efforts to address human rights issues.
Places with your name
In 1972, the Eleanor Roosevelt Institute was founded; it merged with the Four Freedoms Franklin D. Roosevelt Foundation in 1987 to become the Roosevelt Institute, a liberal American think tank. The New York-based organization states that its mission is “to carry forward the legacy and values of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt by developing progressive ideas and bold leadership in the service of restoring America”s promise of opportunity for all.”
Eleanor Roosevelt High School, a public high school specializing in science, mathematics, technology and engineering, was established in 1976 at its present location in Greenbelt Maryland. It was the first high school named after Eleanor Roosevelt and is part of the Prince George”s County Public School system.
Roosevelt lived in a stone cabin in Val-Kill two miles east of her Springwood property. The cabin had been her home after her husband”s death and was the only residence she had ever personally owned. In 1977, it was formally designated Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site by an act of Congress, “to commemorate for the education, inspiration, and benefit of present and future generations the life and work of an outstanding woman in American history.” In 1998, Save America”s Treasures announced that the Val-Kill cabin would be part of a new federal project. SAT”s involvement led to the Honoring Eleanor Roosevelt (HER) project, initially run by private volunteers and now part of SAT. Since then, the HER project has raised nearly $1 million, earmarked for restoration and development efforts at Val-Kill and the production of Eleanor Roosevelt: close to home, a documentary about her life at Val-Kill. Due in part to the success of these programs, Val-Kill received a $75,000 grant and was named one of twelve sites showcased in Restore America: a salute to preservation, a partnership between SAT, National Trust and HGTV. The Roosevelt Study Center, a research institute, conference center and library on 20th century American history, located in the 12th century Middelburg Abbey in the Netherlands, opened in 1986. It is named after Eleanor, Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt, whose ancestors emigrated from Zeeland to the United States in the 17th century.
In 1988, Eleanor Roosevelt College (ERC), one of six undergraduate residential colleges at the University of California, San Diego, was founded. ERC focuses on universal understanding, such as foreign language proficiency and a regional specialization. Eleanor Roosevelt High School, a small public high school on the upper East Side of Manhattan in New York, was founded in 2002. Another school of the same name, in California, opened in 2006.
In 1933, after becoming first lady, they honored with name a new hybrid of tea rose (Rosa × hybrida “Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt”).
On May 21, 1937, she visited Westmoreland Homesteads to mark the arrival of the community”s last owner. Accompanying her on the trip was the wife of Henry Morgenthau Jr. secretary of the Treasury. “I don”t believe in paternalism. I don”t like charities,” he had said earlier. However, cooperative communities like Westmoreland Homesteads, he continued, offered an alternative to “our well-established ideas” that could “provide equal opportunity for all and prevent the recurrence of a similar disaster in the future.” Residents were so moved by his personal expression of interest in the project that they quickly changed the community”s name to one in his honor. (The new name, Norvelt, was a combination of the last syllables in their names: EleaNOR RooseVELT.)
Sunrise at Campobello (1958), a Broadway play by Dore Schary, dramatized Franklin”s attack and eventual recovery from poliomyelitis, in which Mary Fickett played Eleanor. A 1960 film of the same name starred Greer Garson as Eleanor, nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress. The Eleanor Roosevelt story (1965), a biographical documentary film directed by Richard Kaplan, won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature; the Academy Film Archive preserved it in 2006. Roosevelt was the subject of Arlene Stadd”s historical play Eleanor (1976).
In 1976, Talent Associates released the television miniseries Eleanor and Franklin, starring Edward Herrmann as Franklin and Jane Alexander as Eleanor; it aired on ABC on January 11 and 12, 1976 and was based on Joseph P. Lash”s 1971 biography of the same title, which used recently declassified correspondence and archives. The film won numerous awards, including eleven Primetime Emmy Awards, a Golden Globe Award and the Peabody Award. Director Daniel Petrie won a Primetime Emmy for director of the year – special. In 1977 they released a sequel, Eleanor and Franklin: the White House years, with the same stars. It won seven Primetime Emmys, as well as Outstanding Special of the Year. Petrie again won a Primetime Emmy for director of the year – special for the second film. Both productions were acclaimed and recognized for their historical accuracy.
In 1979, NBC televised the miniseries Backstairs at the White House, based on the book My Thirty Years Backstairs at the White House (1961) by Lillian Rogers Parks. The series portrayed the lives of the presidents, their families, and the White House staff who served them from the administrations of William Howard Taft (1909-1913) through Dwight D. Eisenhower (1953-1961). Much of the book was based on notes from her mother, Maggie Rogers, a White House maid. Parks credited Eleanor Roosevelt for encouraging her mother to write a diary about her service on the White House staff. The series won the Writers Guild of America award for long-form television series, received a Golden Globe nomination for television drama series, and won a Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Achievement in Makeup. Among the ten additional Emmy nominations was Eileen Heckart for her portrayal of Eleanor Roosevelt; Heckart received a Primetime Emmy nomination again the following year for her performance of that same character in the NBC television movie F.D.R .: the last year.
In 1996, Washington Post writer Bob Woodward reported that Hillary Clinton had been having “imaginary discussions” with Roosevelt since the beginning of her role as first lady. Following the Democratic loss of control of Congress in the 1994 federal election, Clinton had enlisted the services of Jean Houston”s proponent of the human potential movement. Houston encouraged her to pursue a connection with Roosevelt, and although no psychic techniques were used, critics and comedians immediately suggested that Clinton was holding séances with the deceased. The White House claimed that this was simply a brainstorming exercise; a private poll some time later indicated that most of the public believed these were just imaginary conversations and the rest thought communication with the dead was actually possible. In her autobiography Living history (2003), Clinton titled an entire chapter Conversations with Eleanor and claimed that holding “imaginary conversations is actually a useful mental exercise to help analyze problems, provided you choose the right person to visualize. Eleanor Roosevelt was ideal”.
In 1996, Barbara Cooney”s children”s book Eleanor, about Roosevelt”s childhood, was published, describing her as a “shy child who does great things.”
In 2014, the documentary series The Roosevelts: an intimate history was launched. Produced and directed by Ken Burns, it focuses on the lives of Theodore, Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt. It premiered to positive reviews and was nominated for three Primetime Emmy Awards, winning Best Narrator for Peter Coyote”s first episode. In September 2014, The Roosevelts became the most streamed documentary on the PBS website to date.