The Eleanor Roosevelt Encyclopedia

The Eleanor Roosevelt Encyclopedia

The Eleanor Roosevelt Encyclopedia

The Eleanor Roosevelt Encyclopedia


Perhaps the most important woman in 20th century America, Eleanor Roosevelt fascinates scholar and layperson alike. This exciting encyclopedia brings together basic information illuminating her complex career and making the interaction between her private and public lives accessible to scholars, students, and the general public. Written by scholars--including the most eminent Eleanor Roosevelt and New Deal scholars--journalists, and those who knew her, the 200 plus entries in this book provide easy access to material showing how Eleanor Roosevelt changed the First Lady's role in politics, widened opportunities for women, became a liberal leader during the Cold War era, and served as a guiding spirit at the United Nations. A unique resource, the book provides an introduction to American history through the vantage point of a woman who both represented her times and moved beyond them.


This unique encyclopedia is a wonderful introduction to Eleanor Roosevelt Roosevelt’s unprecedented, exhilarating, and ardent life. The power and wonder of her works and legacy, her friends, travels, and associations are generously represented by a range of scholars and activists, engaged students of ER’s enduring impact.

ER was convinced that governments exist for only one purpose: to make things better for all people. But, she advised, never depend on politicians to do anything about that. You have to be part of a movement, active locally and nationally, to put pressure on politicians. Emotionally driven by her own family’s torment, her childhood of tears and longing, surrounded by the bitterness and confusion of alcoholism and marital discord, ER always identified with people in want, in need, and in trouble.

Educated at Allenswood School near London, she was inspired by Marie Souvestre, the school’s famous headmistress, a great teacher who recognized and promoted young Eleanor’s many talents. ER wanted to go to college and return to teach at Allenswood. But her grandmother insisted that she remain home at eighteen to “come out” into society. In 1903 ER volunteered at the College Settlement founded by her girlhood friend Mary Harriman with other Barnard students. With Harriman, ER helped found the Junior League to promote social work among New York’s debutantes.

While ER endured the social whirl by night, she taught calisthenics and dancing to the needy children of New York City’s Lower East Side. That began her long relationship with the leaders of the social reform movement, notably, settlement house pioneers Florence Kelley, Lillian Wald, and Mary Simkhovitch; and the activists of the Women’s Trade Union League (WTUL), who remained her mentors and friends. Through

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