( 1884-1962) , U.S. first lady and "first lady of the world"
DEBRA L. PETERSEN
Although Eleanor Roosevelt was a public figure prior to her tenure as first lady, she is best known for the years in which she spoke to a nation unaccustomed to hearing or heeding the voice of a woman from a White House platform. During her controversial years as first lady, she redefined the role of wife of the U.S. president as she became a significant national figure. Her successors are often compared to her in character and achievements. Although women's rights activists of her time were disappointed by the low priority she gave to major female reform issues, and although scholars today debate about whether or not she should be labeled a feminist, she kept women's and children's issues on the public agenda in the post-suffrage era.
Roosevelt later became a world figure, particularly in her groundbreaking role as the first female U.S. delegate to the United Nations. During more than forty years of public life, she used various forms of mass media to reach wide domestic and international audiences. Her significance arises not only from her political accomplishments but also from her rhetorical skills that demonstrated to U.S. and international audiences that women could be effective speakers and writers while remaining womanly. Such skills were of particular importance at a time when women's roles were rapidly changing and those changes were a matter of great controversy. She accomplished this through a variety of rhetorical strategies that included portraying herself as a traditional, feminine woman who merely fulfilled her individual responsibility as a citizen.
Born into a privileged and distinguished family, Anna Eleanor Roosevelt developed her progressive views and her commitment to social activism outside her family. Her schooling emphasized personal independence and individual