Eleanor Roosevelt

Eleanor Roosevelt (Anna Eleanor Roosevelt) (rō´zəvĕlt), 1884–1962, American humanitarian, b. New York City. The daughter of Elliott Roosevelt and niece of Theodore Roosevelt, she was an active worker in social causes before she married (1905) Franklin Delano Roosevelt, a distant cousin. She retained these interests after marriage and while rearing her five children.

When Franklin Roosevelt was stricken (1921) with poliomyelitis, she took a more active interest in public issues in order to restore his links with the world of politics. As wife of the governor of New York and then as wife of the U.S. president, she played a leading part in women's organizations and was active in encouraging youth movements, in promoting consumer welfare, in working for the civil rights of minorities, and in combating poor housing and unemployment. In 1933 she conducted the first press conference ever held by a U.S. president's wife. An accomplished writer, she initiated (1935) a daily column, "My Day," syndicated in many newspapers. She also for a time conducted a radio program, and she traveled around the country, lecturing, observing conditions, and furthering causes. In World War II she was (1941–42) assistant director of the Office of Civilian Defense. She also visited Great Britain (1942), the SW Pacific (1943), and the Caribbean (1944).

From 1945 to 1953 (and again in 1961) she was a U.S. delegate to the United Nations, and in 1946 she was made chair of the Commission on Human Rights, a subsidiary of the UN Economic and Social Council. In that capacity, she was a key figure in the creation of the groundbreaking Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948). In the 1950s she became a leader of the liberal wing of the Democratic party. With Herbert H. Lehman and Thomas K. Finletter, she headed a movement in New York City to wrest control of Democratic policy from Tammany Hall. Her dedication to the cause of human welfare won her affection and honor throughout the world as well as the respect of many of her critics. Many of her magazine and newspaper articles have been collected. Her other writings include The Moral Basis of Democracy (1940) and You Can Learn by Living (1960).

See her This Is My Story (1937), This I Remember (1949), On My Own (1958), and The Autobiography of Eleanor Roosevelt (1961); S. Neal, ed., Eleanor and Harry: The Correspondence of Eleanor Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman (2002); A. Black et al., ed., The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers (2 vol., 2009–); biographies by T. K. Hareven (1968), J. R. Kearney (1968), J. P. Lash (2 vol., 1971–72), and B. W. Cook (2 vol., 1997–99); M. A. Glendon, A World Made New: Eleanor Roosevelt and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (2001); H. Rowley, Franklin and Eleanor (2010); M. H. Beasley, Eleanor Roosevelt: Transformative First Lady (2010).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

The Eleanor Roosevelt Encyclopedia
Maurine H. Beasley; Holly C. Shulman; Henry R. Beasley.
Greenwood Press, 2001
Eleanor Roosevelt: A Passion to Improve
Ray Spangenburg; Diane K. Moser.
Facts on File, 1997
On My Own
Eleanor Roosevelt.
Harper & Brothers, 1958
The Extraordinary Mrs. R: A Friend Remembers Eleanor Roosevelt
William Turner Levy; Cynthia Eagle Russett.
Wiley, 1999
The Roosevelt Women
Betty Boyd Caroli.
Basic Books, 1998
The President's Partner: The First Lady in the Twentieth Century
Myra G. Gutin.
Greenwood Press, 1989
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 4 "Political Surrogates and Independent Advocates: Eleanor Roosevelt"
FDR and the Modern Presidency: Leadership and Legacy
Mark J. Rozell; William D. Pederson.
Praeger, 1997
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 12 "Defining Eleanor, Defining Power: World War II, Racism, and a Preoccupied White House"
Leading Minds: An Anatomy of Leadership
Howard Gardner; Emma Laskin.
BasicBooks, 1996
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 10 "Eleanor Roosevelt: Ordinariness and Extraordinariness"
American Orators of the Twentieth Century: Critical Studies and Sources
Bernard K. Duffy; Halford R. Ryan.
Greenwood Press, 1987
Librarian’s tip: "Anna Eleonor Roosevelt (1884-1962): Social Reformer and Humanitarian" begins on p. 337
Women Public Speakers in the United States, 1925-1993: A Bio-Critical Sourcebook
Karlyn Kohrs Campbell.
Greenwood Press, 1994
Librarian’s tip: "Anna Eleanor Roosevelt" begins on 379
Changing Differences: Women and the Shaping of American Foreign Policy, 1917-1994
Rhodri Jeffreys-Jones.
Rutgers University Press, 1995
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 6 "A Tale of Two Women: Harriet Elliott, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Changing Differences"
First Ladies
Betty Boyd Caroli.
Oxford University Press, 1995 (Expanded edition)
Librarian’s tip: Includes information on Eleanor Roosevelt in "Breaking Precedents and Reaffirming Old Ones"
Women in Communication: A Biographical Sourcebook
Nancy D. Signorielli.
Greenwood Press, 1996
Librarian’s tip: "Anna Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962)" begins on p. 339
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