The Eleanor Roosevelt Encyclopedia

By Maurine H. Beasley; Holly C. Shulman et al. | Go to book overview
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EARHART, AMELIA (24 July 1897, Atchison, KS–c. 2 July 1937, near Howland Island in the Pacific).

Amelia Earhart and Eleanor Roosevelt were kindred spirits, and they developed a special, if brief, friendship that lasted until Earhart disappeared on her round-the-world flight in 1937. The pioneering female aviator had been the first woman to fly the Atlantic Ocean in 1928, although only as a passenger; in 1932 she soloed the route, the second person after Charles Lindbergh and the first woman to make the dangerous flight. Her exploits were widely covered in newspapers, journals, and the newsreels, making her one of the most widely known women of the 1930s, a trait she shared with ER.

In 1931 Earhart had married her publisher and manager, George Palmer Putnam, and shortly after the inauguration of President Franklin D. Roosevelt,* they went on 20 April 1933 to a dinner at the White House. Afterward, the First Lady, her brother, Hall Roosevelt,* Earhart, George Putnam, and a group of women reporters flew from Washington to Baltimore and back—the First Lady’s first night flight. This generated an Associated Press story beginning, “The first lady of the land and the first woman to fly the ocean went skylarking together tonight in a big Condor plane” (New York Times, 21 April 1933). ER considered getting a pilot’s license herself, but FDR vetoed the idea. That did not stop her from becoming a vocal and enthusiastic supporter of the infant airline industry. As early as 1933, Good Housekeeping called her “our flying First Lady” (Juno, 26).

Earhart stayed at the White House several times when business or lecturing took her to Washington. On one such occasion the aviator was immensely embarrassed when a wire-service story mistakenly quoted her as saying she had not had enough to eat while a guest there. ER just


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