Double Victory: Minorities and Women During World War II
Teaser Image

Roosevelt, Anna Eleanor (1884–1962)

Title: Eleanor Roosevelt at Japanese internment center
Button: Click to display an enlarged version of the image.
U.S. first lady from 1933 to 1945 and statesperson before, during, and after World War II. Born on 11 October 1884 in New York City, a niece of U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt, Eleanor Roosevelt was orphaned at 10 and was raised by her maternal grandmother. Privately educated until age 15, she later studied at Allenswood, a British school. She taught at the Rivington Street Settlement House and later at Todhunter School, both in New York. In 1905, she married her fifth cousin, Franklin D. Roosevelt. They had six children.

After nursing her husband through poliomyelitis in 1921, Eleanor encouraged Franklin to continue his political career. When he was elected governor of New York, she made suggestions for female appointees. An indefatigable volunteer, she was active in many organizations, including the League of Women Voters and the Democratic National Committee. The political environment of the late 1920s and 1930s constantly encouraged her to question gender, racial, and social inequality.

Once Franklin became president in 1933, Eleanor traveled extensively representing the White House. She tirelessly championed the cause of the underprivileged, children, women, and minorities. Her interventions led to a number of social improvements. An inexhaustible writer, she authored several books and articles, including the syndicated column "My Day." In 1940, she also developed the United States Committee for the Care of European Children.

During World War II, Eleanor visited Allied troops worldwide, and her steadfastness brought a level of comfort to many. Throughout the war, numerous social agencies sought her advice and intervention. After the president's death in April 1945, she remained politically active and continued her battle for human rights, especially for war refugees. In response to her universal recognition of human rights, President Harry S Truman appointed her to the U.S. delegation to the UN General Assembly, a position she held from 1945 to 1953. She also served as chairman of the Human Rights Commission and was instrumental in the passage of the Declaration of Human Rights. Additionally, she was actively involved with the Peace Corps under President John F. Kennedy. Eleanor Roosevelt died in New York City on 7 November 1962.

Wendy A. Maier

Further Reading
Berger, Jason. A New Deal for the World: Eleanor Roosevelt and American Foreign Policy. New York: Columbia University Press, 1981.; Glendon, Mary Ann. A World Made New: Eleanor Roosevelt and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. New York: Random House, 2001.; Kearns, Doris Goodwin. No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt—The Home Front in World War II. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1994.; Lash, Joseph P. Eleanor and Franklin: The Story of Their Relationship, Based on Eleanor Roosevelt's Private Papers. New York: W. W. Norton, 1971.; Roosevelt, Eleanor. What I Hope to Leave Behind: The Essential Essays of Eleanor Roosevelt. Ed. Allida M. Black. Brooklyn, NY: Carlson Publications, 1995.; Roosevelt, Elliott, and James Brough. Mother R: Eleanor Roosevelt's Untold Story. New York: G. P. Putnam, 1977.; Scharf, Lois. Eleanor Roosevelt: First Lady of American Liberalism. Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1987.

©2011 ABC-CLIO. All rights reserved.

  About the Author/Editor
  Documents Prior to 1938
  1939 Documents
  1940 Documents
  1941 Documents
  1942 Documents
  1943 Documents
  1944 Documents
  1945 Documents
ABC-cLIO Footer