The Eleanor Roosevelt Encyclopedia

Article excerpt

Beasley, Maurine H., Holly C. Shulman, and Henry R. Beasley, eds. The Eleanor Roosevelt Encyclopedia. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2001. 656 pp. $65.

Eleanor Roosevelt's complex life as a First Lady, humanitarian, diplomat, and activist personifies the changing role of women in twentieth-century society. Therefore, the work by the writers and editors of the Eleanor Roosevelt Encyclopdia provides invaluable insight into her multiple interests and varied lifestyle and how her life affected both women's history and mass media history.

In the introduction, editors Maurine Beasley, Holly Schulman, and Henry Beasley note that the work is the first attempt to compile material about Roosevelt into one volume. More than 150 researchers, journalists, and professional writers contributed 237 entries that impart not only basic biographical information about her but also important facts about her contributions in six main areas: wife and mother, First Lady, humanitarian, diplomat, public communicator, and symbol of the changing position of women in the twentieth century. These six areas are addressed using three main themes: Roosevelt's network of relationships with reformers and politicians, her ability to communicate with the public through numerous media outlets, and her performance in the range of roles that encompassed her life.

Although the topics are arranged in an "A to Z format," the entries are more narrative than encyclopedic, offering anecdotal elements that detail important people and events in Roosevelt's life. Most beneficial to mass media historians are the items dealing with her interaction with media professionals, as well as her personal contributions to magazines and newspapers. For example, entries dealing with Associated Press reporter Lorena A. Hickok, a top newspaperwoman of the 1930s, and syndicated columnist Westbrook Pegler demonstrate Roosevelt's uncanny ability to establish a rapport, or a lifelong animosity, with those journalists assigned to report on her activities. …

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