Eleanor Roosevelt

Lived:October 11, 1884—November 7, 1962 (aged 78)
Career:Chair of the Presidential Commission on the Status of Women, 1961-1962
President and chair of the U.N. Commission on Human Rights, 1946-1952
U.S. delegate to the U.N. General Assembly, 1946-1952
First lady of the United States, 1933-1945

Eleanor Roosevelt was the first lady of the United States from 1933 until 1945. She was a supporter of the New Deal through her husband, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and a civil rights activist. After her husband died in 1945, Eleanor continued as an author, speaker, activist and politician.

Anna Eleanor Roosevelt was born on October 11, 1884, in New York City and died on November 7, 1962. She was tutored privately, and when she turned 15 years old, she was encouraged to go to Allenswood Academy, a private finishing school near London, England. When she was 17, she returned to the United States. She had a debutante party and became a social worker, where she worked on the East Side slums of New York. Franklin D. Roosevelt and Eleanor were married on March 17, 1905.

Around 1920, Mrs. Roosevelt began working for the Women's Trade Union League, and she raised funds and supported the goals of the union. Some of the goals included a minimum wage, a 48-hour work week and the abolishment of child labor. In the 1920s, she also became more influential as a leader in the New York State Democratic Party. This helped her husband, due to her strength, with Democratic women. During the 1920s, Mrs. Roosevelt also taught American history and literature at the Todhunter School for Girls in New York City.

After the presidential inauguration of her husband in 1933, she became the first lady of the United States. She was the first First Lady to have weekly press conferences and began a syndicated newspaper column entitled "My Day." During her 12 years as First Lady, she made many personal appearances at labor meetings to let workers struggling in the Depression know that the White House knew what they were going through. She also helped to make connections to the African American population. She was a vocal supporter of the Civil Rights movement.

Mrs. Roosevelt felt it was important for her to use her position as first lady to share her knowledge, inspiration and thoughts with the media in order to communicate to women. At the time of Roosevelt's presidency, most women were still working inside the home as unpaid homemakers. Mrs. Roosevelt believed that she could connect to these women. In 1933, she began writing a monthly column with Woman's Home Companion, a big women's magazine at the time. This column was a way for her to communicate answers to mail that she received from her readers. She was able to discuss social concerns in her column. While she was in the White House, Mrs. Roosevelt published more than 60 different articles in magazines and national circulations for people to read.

In 1941, Mrs. Roosevelt and others established Freedom House. She became active on a national committee on civil defense once the United States became involved in World War II. She was sent to the South Pacific in 1943, and she visited many wounded servicemen. She wanted to improve the relationship between the United States and nations in the Western Hemisphere, so she took a tour of Latin American nations beginning in 1944.

After her husband died on April 12, 1945, Mrs. Roosevelt became a delegate to the United Nations General Assembly. Here she played an important role in drafting the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights. She was the first chairperson of the UN Human Rights Commission. In 1948, people wanted Roosevelt to run alongside President Truman, but she said she had no interest in elective politics. In the 1950s, she continued on national and international speaking roles and continued to write her column. She also made a number of appearances on radio and television.

During her life, Eleanor Roosevelt received forty-eight honorary degrees. After the death of her husband, she moved to Val-Kill Cottage in Hyde Park in New York. She remained here for the remainder of her life. In 1961, all the volumes of Eleanor Roosevelt's autobiography, which she began to write in 1937, were compiled into her book, "The Autobiography of Eleanor Roosevelt." Roosevelt was injured in 1960 after being hit by a car in New York City. Soon her health declined quickly. She was diagnosed with aplastic anemia and developed bone marrow tuberculosis. On November 7, 1962, Eleanor Roosevelt died at the age of 78.

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