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© 2015, The Columbia University Press.

Eleanor Roosevelt: Selected full-text books and articles

The Eleanor Roosevelt Encyclopedia By Maurine H. Beasley; Holly C. Shulman; Henry R. Beasley Greenwood Press, 2001
Eleanor Roosevelt: A Passion to Improve By Ray Spangenburg; Diane K. Moser Facts on File, 1997
On My Own By Eleanor Roosevelt Harper & Brothers, 1958
The Extraordinary Mrs. R: A Friend Remembers Eleanor Roosevelt By William Turner Levy; Cynthia Eagle Russett Wiley, 1999
The Roosevelt Women By Betty Boyd Caroli Basic Books, 1998
Eleanor: The Years Alone By Joseph P. Lash W. W. Norton, 1972
Leading Minds: An Anatomy of Leadership By 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 By 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
Covering Eleanor Roosevelt: Associated Press Reporter Bess Furman and Four Years with the First Lady By Watts, Liz Journalism History, Vol. 36, No. 1, Spring 2010
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Westbrook Pegler, Eleanor Roosevelt, and the FBI By Witwer, David Journalism History, Vol. 34, No. 4, Winter 2009
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
First Ladies By 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 By Nancy D. Signorielli Greenwood Press, 1996
Librarian’s tip: "Anna Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962)" begins on p. 339
FDR and the Modern Presidency: Leadership and Legacy By 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"
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