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Eleanor Roosevelt - a Legacy of Service

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Time Magazine, Doris Kearns Goodwin

http://www.time.com/time/time100/leaders/profile/eleanor.html

Monday, April 13, 1998

When Eleanor Roosevelt journeyed to New York City a week after her husband's funeral in April 1945, a cluster of reporters was waiting at the door of her Washington Square apartment. "The story is over," she said simply, assuming that her words and opinions would no longer be of interest once her husband was dead and she was no longer First Lady. She could not have been more mistaken. As the years have passed, Eleanor Roosevelt's influence and stature have continued to grow. Today she remains a powerful inspiration to leaders in both the civil rights and women's movements.

13 years after her marriage and after bearing six children including one girl and five boys, she entered public life through the Presidency. Eleanor told young women, cautioning them against marrying too hastily before they had a chance to expand their horizons that:

"If I was of debutante age, I would go into a factory, where I could learn a skill and be useful," She was instrumental in securing the first government funds ever allotted for the building of child-care centers. And when women workers were unceremoniously fired as the war came to an end, she fought to stem the tide. She argued on principle that everyone who wanted to work had a right to be productive, and she railed against the closing of the child-care centers as a shortsighted response to a fundamental social need. What the women workers needed, she said, was the courage to ask for their rights with a loud voice.

http://www.fdrlibrary.marist.edu/erbio.html

Anna Eleanor Roosevelt was born in New York City on October 11, 1884. Her father was Elliott Roosevelt, President Theodore Roosevelt's younger brother and her mother was Anna Hall, a descendent of the Livingstons, a distinguished New York family. Both her parents died when she was a child, her mother in 1892, and her father in 1894. After her mother's death, Eleanor lived with her grandmother, Mrs. Valentine G. Hall, in Tivoli, New York. She was educated by private tutors until age 15, when she was sent to Allenswood, a school for girls in England, whose headmistress, Mademoiselle Marie Souvestre, had a great influence on her education and thinking. At age 18, Eleanor Roosevelt returned to New York where she resided with cousins. During that time she became involved in social service work, joined the Junior League and taught at the Rivington street Settlement House.

On March 17, 1905, she married her fifth cousin, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and between 1906 and 1916, they became the parents of six children, all of whom are deceased -- the first Franklin Delano, Jr. (1909), Anna Eleanor (1975), John (1981), Franklin Delano, Jr. (1988), Elliott (1990), and James (1991). During this period her public activities gave way to family concerns and her husband's political career. However, with American entry in World War I, she became active in the American Red Cross and in volunteer work in Navy hospitals. After Franklin Roosevelt was stricken with polio in 1921, Mrs. Roosevelt became increasingly active in politics both to help him maintain his interests and to assert her own personality and goals. She participated in the League of Women Voters, joined the Women's Trade Union League, and worked for the Women's Division of the New York State Democratic Committee. She helped to found Val-Kill Industries, a nonprofit furniture factory in Hyde Park, New York, and taught at the Todhunter School, a private girls' school in New York City.

After President Roosevelt's death on April 12, 1945, Mrs. Roosevelt continued public life. She was appointed by President Truman to the United States Delegation to the United Nations General Assembly, a position she held until 1953. She was chairman of the Human Rights Commission during the drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which was adopted by the General Assembly on December 10, 1948.

In 1953, Mrs. Roosevelt resigned from the United States Delegation to the United Nations and volunteered her services to the American Association for the United Nations. She was an American representative to the World Federation of the United Nations Associations, and later became the chairman of the Associations' Board of Directors. She was reappointed to the United States Delegation

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