The Eleanor Roosevelt Encyclopedia

By Maurine H. Beasley; Holly C. Shulman et al. | Go to book overview
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HALSTED, ANNA ELEANOR ROOSEVELT (3 May 1906, New York– 1 December 1975, New York).

Anna Eleanor Roosevelt Halsted, the first child and only daughter of Eleanor Roosevelt and Franklin D. Roosevelt,* sought a livelihood in newspaper publishing, broadcasting, and other communications-related occupations, while retaining ties to both of her parents. Closer to her father than her mother as a child, she experienced an upper-class upbringing with strict nannies and attendance at Miss Chapin’s finishing school in New York City. In later life, ER said that her children would have had happier childhoods if she had not relied on servants for child care, while Anna said that her mother was inconsistent and unpredictable in raising her children. As an adult, however, Anna reached an understanding of her parents’ complex marriage* and more fully comprehended ER’s alternating moods. Of all her children, ER considered Anna the strongest in terms of character.

A tense relationship between daughter and mother escalated after FDR was stricken with infantile paralysis in 1921, when Anna was fifteen. Anna, with the encouragement of her paternal grandmother, Sara Delano Roosevelt,* resented ER’s insistence that she give up her bedroom to FDR’s chief political associate, Louis Howe,* who had moved into the Roosevelts’ New York City home to assist FDR during his illness. Out of that family crisis, intimacy between Anna and her mother began to emerge after ER took Anna into her confidence and made her realize that it was important for her father to keep involved in politics in spite of the objections of her grandmother. When Anna was eighteen, ER told her about the event that had nearly destroyed the Roosevelt marriage—her discovery in 1918 in FDR’s luggage of letters from Lucy Mercer (Rutherfurd*) that revealed a love affair between her and FDR.


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