Madwoman Out of the Attic

a feminist trudging forward in a patriarchal world

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Eleanor Roosevelt

"When will our consciences grow so tender that we will act to prevent human misery rather than avenge it?" Eleanor Roosevelt

From the Writers' Almanac:

It's the birthday of (Anna) Eleanor Roosevelt, born in New York City (1884), who grew up feeling plain and boring compared to her beautiful, fashionable mother. She said, "I seemed like a little old woman entirely lacking in the spontaneous joy and mirth of youth."But one day on a train to visit her grandmother, she happened to bump into her distant cousin, Franklin Delano Roosevelt. They started a secret courtship and got married in 1905.

The Roosevelts' marriage nearly ended in 1918, when Eleanor found out FDR had been having an affair with a secretary. They agreed not to divorce, but after that Eleanor grew increasingly independent. She developed her own ideas about politics, joined the Women's Trade Union League and the League of Women Voters. When FDR was elected president in 1932, she helped institute regular White House press conferences for female correspondents only, which forced many news organizations to hire women for the first time.

She toured the country during the Great Depression togive her husband a firsthand account of how people were doing, and she was a supporter of civil rights before her husband was. In 1936, she started asyndicated newspaper column called "My Day," and after her husband died in 1945, she became a delegate to theUnited Nations and helped draft the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948.


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