American Women!
A Celebration of Our History
April 22 -- October 29, 2000

First Lady to the World

1884 -1962

"No one can make you feel inferior without your consent."

Born into New York society and the niece of Theodore Roosevelt, Anna Eleanor Roosevelt was shy and awkward. After being orphaned at age 10, she was sent to school in England. On her return, Eleanor taught immigrant children at a settlement house before marrying her distant cousin, Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Happy with their close relationship, Eleanor bore six children, but lost one son in infancy. Then in 1918, deeply hurt by her discovery of Franklin's secret affair, she withdrew from her husband and threw herself into social causes. Three years later he was stricken with polio. Eleanor became his "legs and eyes," keeping alive his interest in politics.

When FDR was elected to the presidency in 1933, Eleanor radically redefined the role of First Lady. She supported programs for welfare, employment, and racial equality through press conferences, travel, radio broadcasts and a daily newspaper column. Unofficially, she was one of the president's top advisors.

After Franklin died in 1945, she became a delegate to the United Nations and chaired its Human Rights Commission. In the 1960s she chaired President Kennedy's Commission on the Status of Women, a post she held until six months before her death.

Overcoming personal sorrows, Eleanor Roosevelt became "the most influential American woman of the 20th century."

Historic Artifacts:

MEDALLION AWARD to Eleanor Roosevelt from Parents Magazine, 1939
MEDALLION AWARD to Roosevelt from the National Council of Jewish Women, 1948
MEDALLION AWARD to Roosevelt from the General Federation of Women's clubs, 1960
APPOINTMENT of Roosevelt by President Truman to the United Nations Human Rights Commission, 1946
PLAQUE AWARD to Roosevelt from the United Nations, 1968
DRESS worn by Roosevelt while chairing the Commission on the Status of Women, 1960s
BOOK, It's Up to the Women, written by Roosevelt
COLOR PORTRAIT (photo) painted of Roosevelt by Douglas Chandor, 1949
PHOTOS of Roosevelt
-- On loan from the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library-Museum, Hyde Park NY

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