BABIES-JUST BABIES. One of Eleanor Roosevelt’s major nonpolitical commitments as she began her tenure as First Lady in 1933 was the editorship of a new monthly magazine, Babies-Just Babies, aimed at middle-class parents. While the slick-paper publication lasted only six months, it drew considerable publicity and presented ER to the U.S. public as a career-minded individual. Each issue was about sixty-five pages and featured glossy black-and-white photographs of appealing infants and toddlers, as well as fiction, true stories, health and consumer advice, and children’s tales and lullabies. Although it did not last, its overriding theme, education for motherhood, fitted well with new ideas on parenting in the 1930s as middle-class couples reduced the size of their families and attached more importance to raising the children they did have. ER’s motivation for taking the editorship was unclear. She said her interest stemmed from nationwide travels* that had convinced her many young mothers lacked the necessary information to care for their infants properly. But she also appeared eager to locate a job for her daughter Anna Roosevelt Dall (Halsted*), who was in the process of separating from her husband. Under the terms of ER’s contract, Anna was paid for helping her.
The idea for Babies-Just Babies originated with Bernarr Macfadden, well-known publisher of bodybuilding, confession, and mystery magazines. Months before Franklin D. Roosevelt* was elected president in 1932, Macfadden had signed ER to a contract to edit the magazine in collaboration with her daughter. The contract gave ER complete editorial control over the magazine, including approval of its advertising. Her pay was $500 per issue, with a provision that the sum would double at the time of the contract renewal if she were living in the White House.