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Biography Resource Center
The First Lady of the World
Anna Eleanor Roosevelt, wife of president
Franklin Delano Roosevelt
, was considered by many to be one of the most politically and socially involved first ladies of all time. Besides being wife to the president, Eleanor was an international diplomat, author, columnist, public speaker, and philanthropist. Although she did much good socially, including work with the Red Cross after World War I and touring French battlefields after an armistice, she was not recognized as a major activist and do-gooder until F.D.R. contracted polio in 1921. This was a major turning point in Eleanor's life; she nursed Franklin back into activity and became more publicly known in her own right. She became an integral part of the League of Women Voters, the National Consumers League, the Women's Trade Union League, and the women's division of New York State Democratic Committee. Aside from women, Eleanor fought for, and worked with, young people and the underprivileged. Equal rights for minorities were also a focus in her political career. In 1945 she became a delegate to the United Nations General Assembly. In 1946, Eleanor was elected chairman of the United Nations Human Rights Commission and helped draft the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Several years later, after she and her husband were out of the White house, president John F. Kennedy appointed her the head of the Commission on the Status of Women. Along with being a wife, mother, social activist, and political leader, Eleanor Roosevelt was a published author and columnist. She wrote a daily column in a newspaper and many articles for magazines, as well as several books. These include
This is My Story
This I Remember
On My Own
Tomorrow is Now
(1963 - published after her death).
"I once had a rose named after me and I was very flattered. But I was not pleased to read the description in the catalogue: no good in a bed, but fine up against a wall." ~Eleanor Roosevelt
Throughout Franklin and Eleanor's stay in the White House, there was much controversy over each of their affairs. During his presidency, F.D.R. had an affair with his secretary, Lucy Mercer. This extramarital activity was known, but never really emphasized. Eleanor's affair on the other hand, was quite different. She was accused multiple times of being a lesbian and having an intimate relationship with a Laura HIckock. A letter was found from Eleanor to HIckock that was very endearing and was yet another piece of evidence towards Eleanor's sexuality. Although F.D.R. and Eleanor both had these affairs, they still had a very strong marriage and truly cared for each other. Each knew about the other's affair, but accepted it as a need they couldn't provide.
"Do what you feel in your heart to be right - for you'll be criticized anyway. You'll be damned if you do, and damned if you don't."
1884: Anna Eleanor Roosevelt is born October 11 in New York City
1892: Eleanor's father, Elliot Roosevelt, is sent to a mental asylum
Eleanor's mother, Anna Hall Roosevelt, dies of diptheria
1894: Eleanor's father dies of alcoholism
1899: Eleanor enrolls at the Allenswood School in England
1901: Theodore Roosevelt assumes the presidency
Encyclopedia of World Biography
, 2nd edition, 17 volume: Gale Research 1998
World Book Encyclopedia, Volume 16, 2007
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