The Autobiography of Eleanor Roosevelt

The Autobiography of Eleanor Roosevelt➹ [Reading] ➻ The Autobiography of Eleanor Roosevelt By Eleanor Roosevelt ➮ – The long and eventful life of Eleanor Roosevelt – was full of rich experiences and courageous actions The niece of Theodore Roosevelt, she married a distant relative and Columbia University law stud of Eleanor Epub Ù The long and eventful life of Eleanor Roosevelt – was full of rich experiences and courageous actions The niece of Theodore Roosevelt, she married a distant relative and Columbia University law student named Franklin Delano Roosevelt; he gradually ascended throughout the world of New York politics to reach the US presidency inThroughout his three terms, Eleanor Roosevelt was not only intimately involved in FDR’s personal and political The Autobiography PDF/EPUB ² life, but led women’s organizations and youth movements and fought for consumer welfare, civil rights, and improved housing During World War II she traveled with her husband to meet leaders of many powerful nations; after his death inshe worked as a UN delegate, chairman of the Commission on Human Rights, newspaper columnist, Democratic party activist, worldtraveler, and diplomat By the end of her life, Eleanor Roosevelt was recognized Autobiography of Eleanor Kindle Ï throughout the world for her fortitude and commitment to the ideals of liberty and human rights Her autobiography constitutes a selfportrait no biography can match for its candor and liveliness, its wisdom, tolerance, and breadth of view—a selfportrait of one of the greatest American humanitarians of our time.

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    Import EPUB to the Program Import EPUB presidency inThroughout his three terms, Eleanor Roosevelt was not only intimately involved in FDR’s personal and political The Autobiography PDF/EPUB ² life, but led women’s organizations and youth movements and fought for consumer welfare, civil rights, and improved housing During World War II she traveled with her husband to meet leaders of many powerful nations; after his death inshe worked as a UN delegate, chairman of the Commission on Human Rights, newspaper columnist, Democratic party activist, worldtraveler, and diplomat By the end of her life, Eleanor Roosevelt was recognized Autobiography of Eleanor Kindle Ï throughout the world for her fortitude and commitment to the ideals of liberty and human rights Her autobiography constitutes a selfportrait no biography can match for its candor and liveliness, its wisdom, tolerance, and breadth of view—a selfportrait of one of the greatest American humanitarians of our time."/>
  • Paperback
  • 454 pages
  • The Autobiography of Eleanor Roosevelt
  • Eleanor Roosevelt
  • English
  • 13 August 2019
  • 9780306804762

10 thoughts on “The Autobiography of Eleanor Roosevelt

  1. Chrissie says:

    This book is a collection of several volumes originally sold separately. Portions of these have been abridged and additional information has been added. All alterations were done by the author herself, in an effort to improve the content. Thus the book is split up into different sections, each having a specific theme. I liked some sections and disliked others.

    The first part is about her childhood and familial relationships. This part was excellent. You see how Eleanor develops from an insecure and naive girl into a strong, independent woman. Watching this transformation is inspiring. You come to understand how and why she changes. You understand how she came to marry Franklin. You also understand the family she married into. This shaped her too.

    Then you follow her years with Franklin. He establishes his career, becomes president and dies. How they influenced each other is covered, but historical events are skimmed over. This is not the book to pick if you want the details of Franklin’s political decisions or the war years. There are huge gaps in both historical events and personal relationships. This is an autobiography and clearly Eleanor is telling us what SHE wants said. There is no mention of either her own or her husband's extramarital relationships. It is not just the relationships that are lacking but also Eleanor’s support of Blacks and Jews is scarcely dealt with. I was disappointed that so very much was missing. I wanted to hear more about her efforts to coerce her husband into helping these groups. Oh, and it was strange how she spoke of her husband not as Franklin, but as “my husband”!

    After the death of Franklin her role as a UN Delegate and Chairman of the Commission of Human Rights is meticulously covered, but here the writing sounded like a political speeches selling her views against the prevalent beliefs during the Cold War period. This section felt dated and extremely repetitive! I would mutter, OK, here we go again.......another speech with the same message for the fifth, sixth time! Old truths are proclaimed. This was the part of the book that was most thoroughly covered. She traveled all over the world speaking to political leaders. Much of this section reads as a travelogue recounting all the different places she visited. She worked as a columnist, a speaker and a radio correspondent. She never stopped working; the book follows her through her 75th year, as an activist and speaker of human rights. Her death, three years later, is not covered.

    The audiobook is narrated by Tavia Gilbert. This narrator has a young voice, and it worked well for the young, naive Eleanor. As her self-assurance grows it felt more and more misplaced.

  2. Mikey B. says:


    Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site at Hyde Park, New York

    This autobiography is interesting for what it contains and what is missing!

    Many of Eleanor Roosevelts’ great friendships are barely mentioned – and some not at all (Lorena Hickok, Joseph P. Lash, Edna Gurewitsch). She does discuss her upbringing. She had neglectful parents and both died when she was very young. She skips over her father’s alcoholism and his frequent absences from her when he was placed in a sanitorium. As this autobiography shows she still idolized him – my what would a psychologist make of that? Her mother found her distasteful and called her “Granny”. She refers frequently to her mother as being a very beautiful woman who avoided her. What affect can this have had on you when these are the memories carried into adulthood?

    She had her coming out as an individual and gained great confidence in herself when she went as a teenager to a French language school in England for two years. After her marriage to Franklin Roosevelt she did volunteer work during World War I which triggered her pathway to activism when she helped wounded veterans in the hospitals.

    This led to increasing independence and her involvement in various causes like the struggle of African-Americans for their human rights. Disappointingly, she does not discuss racial issues at all in this book. She does mention the role played by Louis Howe in aiding and advising her (and Franklin) on political issues and importantly in speech-making.

    Also, she discusses her husband’s polio affliction and his brave rise to overcome this and continue his career. She does not bring up his affair with Lucy Mercer which is understandable.

    There is a certain distancing in this autobiography – one becomes aware that Eleanor is not giving us a close-up portrait. She avoids discussing her children. She traveled frequently after 1945 but I found her descriptions of these trips tepid and dated with a Cold War perspective. More interesting was her strong role in the U.N. declaration of Human Rights.


    Eleanor Roosevelt's home at Val-Kill, near the Roosevelt home at Hyde Park

    I would recommend this book strictly for Eleanor Roosevelt devotees. I really admire what she achieved and her courage on taking a stand on a multitude of significant issues. Throughout her life, she continued to learn and change.

    For an introduction to Eleanor Roosevelt I would recommend Eleanor and Franklin which I read years ago. There is alsoA World Made New: Eleanor Roosevelt and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.


    Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, Washington, DC

  3. Gina says:

    This is a very careful, guarded autobiography, written towards the end of Eleanor's life. And it was an extraordinary life, indeed. It is a challenge for anyone to write a candid autobiography, of course; there are people in everyone's life who deserve privacy and forgiveness and respect despite their failings. But it makes for a sterile book. There is nothing salacious here; no insight at all in to the experience of being married to a serial womanizer, for example, or even acknowledgement that she was in fact married to one. The years after his polio are treated as a mild rough patch and largely glossed over. This makes the parts about her married life pretty tedious, and little more than an accounting of who came to dinner at the White House when, with a big chunk detailing her visit with the Queen of England. Even her political activities during this time are fairly opaque, and she often refers to incidents with the assumption that everyone will know what she is talking about, which might have been more true at the books publication fifty years ago. It is clear, however, that FDR was an absolute genius in so many ways, with insatiable curiosity, a prodigious memory, a gift for listening to various points of view, and an unsurpassed sense for political power. Eleanor was obviously gifted in her own right, but there is no question she gained much through the opportunity to closely observe and be tutored by him.

    The most interesting parts of the book to me were towards the end when she recounts her visits to the Soviet Union and shares her thoughts about the threats communism posed. It is fascinating to read someone's impressions, the visceral fear, at a point in time from the near-ish future, when you know at least how part of the story plays out. She explains that the people in communist countries are then not free, but they are fed, and that forty years previous they were not free but unfed. She implores the western world to not underestimate the power of the freedom to eat. It is also a bit sad to see her genuine hope in the UN to make things better, which seems to not have really worked out either, at least to the degree she imagined.

  4. Jean says:

    This book was originally published in 1946. I first read it in 1960 just after I attended a lecture by Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962). Over the years I have read everything I could get my hands on about Eleanor. I was reviewing some notes the other day and decided it was about time I reread “Autobiography of Eleanor Roosevelt” by Eleanor Roosevelt.

    The book is well written but it must be taken in the age it was written, by a woman of the 19th century. The book is written in the reserve style of that era. Eleanor reviews her early life in the large Roosevelt family. She goes into details about her life as first lady and at the end of her life her hopes for the United Nations. (Last section was added to new edition issued just before her death) I could see how Eleanor rose to the challenge of first lady and the need for her to be the eyes and ears for her invalid husband, the president. Many former first ladies were overwhelmed with the role but it brought out the best in Eleanor. Mrs. Roosevelt was a complex woman and to begin to understand her it is necessary to read a wide range books about her from all points of view. For anyone wanting to learn about Eleanor Roosevelt or about first ladies, this is a must-read book.

    I read this as an audiobook downloaded from Audible. The book is eighteen and a half hours. Tavia Gilbert does an excellent job narrating the book. Gilbert is an actress, voice-over artist and audiobook narrator. Gilbert won the Audie Award for the Best Female Narrator for 2017.

  5. Rachielle says:

    Eleanor lived through very interesting phases of the country's history - World War I, World War II, the suffrage movement, and the Cold War to name a few. She played a significant part of her husband's presidency, being FDR's eyes, ears and legs, so to speak.

    I read this book because it was used heavily as a source in Noelle Hancock's A Year with Eleanor. Hancock was an entertainment blogger who got laid off. One day, she read a quote from Eleanor Roosevelt, Do one thing every day that scares you. She took a year off to deal with her third-life crisis, and Eleanor's inspiration guided her through her Year of Fear.

    Eleanor continues to be on my list of strong women whom I admire. She said, I am not a gifted person...I had only three assets: I was keenly interested, I accepted every challenge and every opportunity to learn more, and I had great energy and discipline.

  6. Mike says:

    This is one of those books I should have read a long time ago and I am not sure why I put it off. This was a nice read that covers the life of Eleanor Roosevelt. I loved the times she described her world view and how she described people she knew or came into contact with. I won't cover her biography here but she was active and involved in her community, country, and world for her entire adult life and into her senior years. I actually felt guilt reading this as I sit here in middle age and realize how much more I could be doing out in the world. A great historical read and a book that makes you think.

  7. Carol says:

    This is a very inspiring book, Eleanor is a most inspiring woman. Have been a groupie of hers for many many years. Highly Recommend

    Early life

    Roosevelt as a small child, 1887
    Anna Eleanor Roosevelt was born in 1884 at 56 West 37th Street in Manhattan, New York City, to socialites Anna Rebecca Hall and Elliott Bulloch Roosevelt from an early age she preferred to be called by her middle name, Eleanor. Through her father, she was a niece of President Theodore Roosevelt. Through her mother, she was a niece of tennis champions Valentine Gill Vallie Hall III and Edward Ludlow Hall. Her mother nicknamed her Granny because she acted in such a serious manner as a child. Anna was also somewhat ashamed of her daughter's plainness.

    Roosevelt had two younger brothers: Elliott Jr. and Hall. She also had a half brother, Elliott Roosevelt Mann, through her father's affair with Katy Mann, a servant employed by the famiy Roosevelt was born into a world of immense wealth and privilege, as her family was part of New York high society called the swells.

    Her mother died from diphtheria on December 7, 1892, and Elliott Jr. died of the same disease the following Major Her father, an alcoholic confined to a sanitarium, died on August 14, 1894 after jumping from a window during a fit of delirium tremens. He survived the fall but died from a seizure. Roosevelt's childhood losses left her prone to depression throughout her life. Her brother Hall later suffered from alcoholism. Before her father died, he implored her to act as a mother towards Hall, and it was a request she made good upon for the rest of Hall's life. Roosevelt doted on Hall, and when he enrolled at Groton School in 1907, she accompanied him as a chaperone. While he was attending Groton, she wrote him almost daily, but always felt a touch of guilt that Hall had not had a fuller childhood. She took pleasure in Hall's brilliant performance at school, and was proud of his many academic accomplishments, which included a master's degree in engineering from Harvard.

    School photo of Roosevelt, 1898
    After the deaths of her parents, Roosevelt was raised in the household of her maternal grandmother, Mary Livingston Ludlow of the Livingston family in Tivoli, New York. As a child, she was insecure and starved for affection, and considered herself the ugly duckling. However, Roosevelt wrote at 14 that one's prospects in life were not totally dependent on physical beauty: no matter how plain a woman may be if truth and loyalty are stamped upon her face all will be attracted to her.

    Roosevelt was tutored privately and with the encouragement of her aunt Anna Bamie Roosevelt, she was sent to Allenswood Academy at the age of 15, a private finishing school in Wimbledon, outside London, England, where she was educated from 1899 to 1902. The headmistress, Marie Souvestre, was a noted educator who sought to cultivate independent thinking in young women. Souvestre took a special interest in Roosevelt, who learned to speak French fluently and gained self-confidence. Roosevelt and Souvestre maintained a correspondence until March 1905, when Souvestre died, and after this Roosevelt placed Souvestre's portrait on her desk and brought her letters with her. Roosevelt's first cousin Corinne Douglas Robinson, whose first term at Allenswood overlapped with Roosevelt's last, said that when she arrived at the school, Roosevelt was 'everything' at the school. She was beloved by everybody. Roosevelt wished to continue at Allenswood, but she was summoned home by her grandmother in 1902 to make her social debut.[

    At age 17 in 1902, Roosevelt completed her formal education and returned to the United States; she was presented at a debutante ball at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel on December 14. She was later given her own coming out party. She said of her debut in a public discussion once, It was simply awful. It was a beautiful party, of course, but I was so unhappy, because a girl who comes out is so utterly miserable if she does not know all the young people. Of course I had been so long abroad that I had lost touch with all the girls I used to know in New York. I was miserable through all that.

    Roosevelt was active with the New York Junior League shortly after its founding, teaching dancing and calisthenics in the East Side slums. The organization had been brought to Roosevelt's attention by her friend, organization founder Mary Harriman, and a male relative who criticized the group for drawing young women into public activity.

    Marriage and family life 1905 summer of 1902, Roosevelt encountered her father's fifth cousin, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, on a train to Tivoli, New York. The two began a secret correspondence and romance, and became engaged on November 22, 1903. Franklin's mother, Sara Ann Delano, opposed the union, and made him promise that the engagement would not be officially announced for a year. I know what pain I must have caused you, he wrote his mother of his decision. But, he added, I know my own mind, and known it for a long time, and know that I could never think otherwise. Sara took her son on a Caribbean cruise in 1904, hoping that a separation would squelch the romance, but Franklin remained determined. The wedding date was set to accommodate President Theodore Roosevelt, who was scheduled to be in New York City for the St. Patrick's Day parade, and who agreed to give the bride away.

    The couple were married on March 17, 1905, in a wedding officiated by Endicott Peabody, the groom's headmaster at Groton School, her cousin Corinne Douglas Robinson was a bridesmaid. Theodore Roosevelt's attendance at the ceremony was front-page news in The New York Times and other newspapers. When asked for his thoughts on the Roosevelt–Roosevelt union, the president said, It is a good thing to keep the name in the family. The couple spent a preliminary honeymoon of one week at Hyde Park, then set up housekeeping in an apartment in New York. That summer they went on their formal honeymoon, a three-month tour of Europe.

    Returning to the U.S., the newlyweds settled in a New York City house that was provided by Franklin's mother, as well as in a second residence at the family's estate overlooking the Hudson River in Hyde Park, New York. From the beginning, Roosevelt had a contentious relationship with her controlling mother-in-law. The townhouse that Sara gave to Roosevelt and Franklin was connected to her own residence by sliding doors, and Sara ran both households in the decade after the marriage. Early on, Roosevelt had a breakdown in which she explained to Franklin that I did not like to live in a house which was not in any way mine, one that I had done nothing about and which did not represent the way I wanted to live, but little changed. Sara also sought to control the raising of her grandchildren, and Roosevelt reflected later that Franklin's children were more my mother-in-law's children than they were mine. Roosevelt's eldest son James remembered Sara telling her grandchildren, Your mother only bore you, I am more your mother than your mother is.

    Eleanor and Franklin with their first two children, 1908
    Roosevelt and Franklin had six children:

    Anna Eleanor Roosevelt (1906–1975)
    James Roosevelt II (1907–1991)
    Franklin Roosevelt (1909–1909)
    Elliott Roosevelt (1910–1990)
    Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Jr. (1914–1988)
    John Aspinwall Roosevelt II (1916–1981)
    Despite becoming pregnant six times, Roosevelt disliked having sex with her husband. She once told her daughter Anna that it was an ordeal to be borne. She also considered herself ill-suited to motherhood, later writing, It did not come naturally to me to understand little children or to enjoy them.

    In September 1918, Roosevelt was unpacking one of Franklin's suitcases when she discovered a bundle of love letters to him from her social secretary, Lucy Mercer. He had been contemplating leaving his wife for Lucy. However, following pressure from his political advisor, Louis Howe, and from his mother, who threatened to disinherit Franklin if he followed through with a divorce, the couple remained married. Their union from that point on was more of a political partnership. Disillusioned, Roosevelt again became active in public life, and focused increasingly on her social work rather than her role as a wife.

    In August 1921, the family was vacationing at Campobello Island, New Brunswick, Canada, when Franklin was diagnosed with a paralytic illness, at the time believed to be polio. During the illness, through her nursing care, Roosevelt probably saved Franklin from death. His legs remained permanently paralyzed. When the extent of his disability became clear, Roosevelt fought a protracted battle with her mother-in-law over his future, persuading him to stay in politics despite Sara's urgings that he retire and become a country gentleman. Franklin's attending physician, Dr. William Keen, commended Roosevelt's devotion to the stricken Franklin during the time of his travail. You have been a rare wife and have borne your heavy burden most bravely, he said, proclaiming her one of my heroines.

    This proved a turning point in Roosevelt and Sara's long-running struggle, and as Eleanor's public role grew, she increasingly broke from Sara's control. Tensions between Sara and Roosevelt over her new political friends rose to the point that the family constructed a cottage at Val-Kill, in which Roosevelt and her guests lived when Franklin and the children were away from Hyde Park. Roosevelt herself named the place Val-Kill, loosely translated as waterfall-stream from the Dutch language common to the original European settlers of the area. Franklin encouraged his wife to develop this property as a place where she could implement some of her ideas for work with winter jobs for rural workers and women. Each year, when Roosevelt held a picnic at Val-Kill for delinquent boys, her granddaughter Eleanor Roosevelt Seagraves assisted her. She was close to her grandmother throughout her life. Seagraves concentrated her career as an educator and librarian on keeping alive many of the causes Roosevelt began and supported.

    In 1924, she campaigned for Democrat Alfred E. Smith in his successful re-election bid as governor of New York State against the Republican nominee and her first cousin Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. Theodore never forgave Roosevelt. Her aunt, Anna Bamie Roosevelt, publicly broke with her after the election. She wrote of her niece to her son, I just hate to see Eleanor let herself look as she does. Though never handsome, she always had to me a charming effect. Alas and alack, ever since politics have become her choicest interest, all her charm has disappeared!.[citation needed] Roosevelt dismissed Bamie's criticisms by referring to her as an aged woman.[citation needed] However, Bamie and Roosevelt eventually reconciled.

    Theodore's elder daughter Alice also broke with Roosevelt over her campaign. Alice and her aunt reconciled after the latter wrote Alice a comforting letter upon the death of Alice's daughter, Paulina Longworth.

    Roosevelt and her daughter Anna became estranged after she took over some of her mother's social duties at the White House. The relationship was further strained because Roosevelt desperately wanted to go with her husband to Yalta in February 1945 (two months before FDR's death), but he took Anna instead. A few years later, the two were able to reconcile and cooperate on numerous projects. Anna took care of her mother when she was terminally ill in 1962.

    Roosevelt's son Elliott authored numerous books, including a mystery series in which his mother was the detective. However, these murder mysteries were researched and written by William Harrington. They continued until Harrington's death in 2000, ten years after Elliott's death. With James Brough, Elliot also wrote a highly personal book about his parents called The Roosevelts of Hyde Park: An Untold Story, in which he revealed details about the sexual lives of his parents, including his father's relationships with mistress Lucy Mercer and secretary Marguerite (Missy) LeHand, as well as graphic details surrounding the illness that crippled his father. Published in 1973, the biography also contains valuable insights into FDR's run for vice president, his rise to the governorship of New York, and his capture of the presidency in 1932, particularly with the help of Louis Howe. When Elliott published this book in 1973, Franklin Delano Roosevelt Jr. led the family's denunciation of him; the book was fiercely repudiated by all Elliot's siblings. Another of the siblings, James, published My Parents, a Differing View (with Bill Libby, 1976), which was written in part as a response to Elliot's book. A sequel to An Untold Story with James Brough, published in 1975 and titled A Rendezvous With Destiny, carried the Roosevelt saga to the end of World War II. Mother R.: Eleanor Roosevelt's Untold Story, also with Brough, was published in 1977. Eleanor Roosevelt, with Love: A Centenary Remembrance, came out in 1984.

    Roosevelt in 1932

    Eleanor and Franklin Roosevelt in August 1932
    In the 1920 presidential election, Franklin was nominated as the running mate of Democratic presidential candidate James M. Cox. Roosevelt joined Franklin in touring the country, making her first campaign appearances. Rosevelt wasDefeated by Republican Warren G. Harding, who won with 404 electoral votes to 127]

    Following the onset of Franklin's paralytic illness in 1921, Roosevelt began serving as a stand-in for her incapacitated husband, making public appearances on his behalf, often carefully coached by Louis Howe. She also started working with the Women's Trade Union League (WTUL), raising funds in support of the union's goals: a 48-hour work week, minimum wage, and the abolition of child labor. Throughout the 1920s, Roosevelt became increasingly influential as a leader in the New York State Democratic Party while Franklin used her contacts among Democratic women to strengthen his standing with them, winning their committed support for the future. In 1924, she campaigned for Democrat Alfred E. Smith in his successful re-election bid as governor of New York State against the Republican nominee and her first cousin Theodore Roosevelt Jr. Franklin had spoken out on Theodore's wretched record as Assistant Secretary of the Navy during the Teapot Dome scandal, and in return, Theodore said of him, He's a maverick! He does not wear the brand of our family, which infuriated her. She dogged Theodore on the New York State campaign trail in a car fitted with a papier-mâché bonnet shaped like a giant teapot that was made to emit simulated steam (to remind voters of Theodore's supposed, but later disproved, connections to the scandal), and countered his speeches with those of her own, calling him immature. She would later decry these methods, admitting that they were below her dignity but saying that they had been contrived by Democratic Party dirty tricksters. Theodore was defeated by 105,000 votes, and he never forgave her. By 1928, Roosevelt was promoting Smith's candidacy for president and Franklin's nomination as the Democratic Party's candidate for governor of New York, succeeding Smith. Although Smith lost the presidential race, Franklin won handily and the Roosevelts moved into the governor's mansion in Albany, New York. During Franklin's term as governor, Roosevelt traveled widely in the state to make speeches and inspect state facilities on his behalf, reporting her findings to him at the end of each trip.

    In 1927, she joined friends Marion Dickerman and Nancy Cook in buying the Todhunter School for Girls, a finishing school which also offered college preparatory courses, in New York City. At the school, Roosevelt taught upper-level courses in American literature and history, emphasizing independent thought, current events, and social engagement. She continued to teach three days a week while FDR served as governor, but was forced to leave teaching after his election as president.

    Also in 1927, she established Val-Kill Industries with Cook, Dickerman, and Caroline O'Day, three friends she met through her activities in the Women's Division of the New York State Democratic Party. It was located on the banks of a stream that flowed through the Roosevelt family estate in Hyde Park, New York. Roosevelt and her business partners financed the construction of a small factory to provide supplemental income for local farming families who would make furniture, pewter, and homespun cloth using traditional craft methods. Capitalizing on the popularity of the Colonial Revival, most Val-Kill products were modeled on eighteenth-century forms. Roosevelt promoted Val-Kill through interviews and public appearances. Val-Kill Industries never became the subsistence program that Roosevelt and her friends imagined, but it did pave the way for larger New Deal initiatives during Franklin's presidential administration. Cook's failing health and pressures from the Great Depression compelled the women to dissolve the partnership in 1938, at which time Roosevelt converted the shop buildings into a cottage at Val-Kill, that eventually became her permanent residence after Franklin died in 1945. Otto Berge acquired the contents of the factory and the use of the Val-Kill name to continue making colonial-style furniture until he retired in 1975. In 1977, Roosevelt's cottage at Val-Kill and its surrounding property of 181 acres (0.73 km2), was formally designated by an act of Congress as the Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site, to commemorate for the education, inspiration, and benefit of present and future generations the life and work of an outstanding woman in American history.

    First Lady of the United States (1933–1945)
    File:1940-05-22 Mrs Roosevelt In Red Cross Appeal.ogv
    Roosevelt making an appeal for the Red Cross, May 22, 1940
    Roosevelt became First Lady of the United States when Franklin was inaugurated on March 4, 1933. Having known all of the twentieth century's previous First Ladies, she was seriously depressed at having to assume the role, which had traditionally been restricted to domesticity and hostessing. Her immediate predecessor, Lou Henry Hoover, had ended her feminist activism on becoming First Lady, stating her intention to be only a backdrop for Bertie. Eleanor's distress at these precedents was severe enough that Hickok subtitled her biography of Roosevelt Reluctant First Lady

    With support from Howe and Hickok, Roosevelt set out to redefine the position. According to her biographer Blanche Wiesen Cook, she became the most controversial First Lady in United States history in the process. Despite criticism of them both, with her husband's strong support she continued with the active business and speaking agenda she had begun before assuming the role of First Lady in an era when few married women had careers. She was the first presidential spouse to hold regular press conferences and in 1940 became the first to speak at a national party convention. She also wrote a daily and widely syndicated newspaper column, My Day, another first for a presidential spouse. She was also the first First Lady to write a monthly magazine column and to host a weekly radio show.

    In the first year of her husband's administration, Roosevelt was determined to match his presidential salary, and she earned $75,000 from her lectures and writing, most of which she gave to charity. By 1941, she was receiving lecture fees of $1,000, and was made an honorary member of Phi Beta Kappa at one of her lectures to celebrate her achievements.

  8. Andrea says:

    I got into reading about past Presidents around the time of the inauguration and became very curious about Eleanor Roosevelt when reading about her husband. After reading this three-volume autobiography, I am no longer curious, but I have even more admiration.

    If you're very curious about her childhood, then by all means read the first volume, but if not, read the wikipedia article for a summary and skip to the good stuff. The second volume covers her years in the White House and contains many observations about the world and the US at the time. She definitely transforms from a woman unsure of herself at the beginning of her family life to an insightful commentator on world events. Roosevelt spends more time in the third volume detailing her own worldview as a member of the UN delegation and Civil Rights committee. The topics on which she spends the most time are colored heavily by the mounting Communist threat at the time she wrote that volume (around 1961), but her convictions that all people deserve basic human rights and that we all have a responsibility to bring about a world in which possession of these rights are the bare minimum to be expected are still as prescient and important today as ever. I enjoyed getting to know Eleanor thoroughly.

  9. Marilyn says:

    Interesting read. Autobiography's always have a different flavour than historical fiction or biography's, eg books by Doris Kearns Goodwin. One of the most interesting comments she makes is right in the preface The reason that fiction is more interesting than any other form of literature to those of us who like to study people is that in fiction, the author can really tell the truth without hurting anyone and without humiliating him/or herself too much.......In an autobiography this is hard to do, try as you will. The more honest you are about yourself and others, however, the more valuable what you have written will be in the future as a picture of the people and their problems during the period covered in the autobiography. She goes on to say I learned something which has stood me in a good stead many times- the most important thing in any relationship is not what you get but what you give.

    She certainly gave a life of service, her travels and all those she met along her way made these words come to life for me.

  10. Feisty Harriet says:

    2.5 stars. I was really hoping for more....for more SOMETHING from this book. Perhaps my expectations were just too damn high? Eleanor Roosevelt has always reigned in my mind as a champion for women and for civil rights, and in reading a biography about her you definitely get that sense. However, in her own words, she skips over most of that and focuses on FDR instead. She talks about racism as the social issue or something and doesn't address it directly. She does talk about her work for the UN and the Declaration of Human Rights a bit, which I appreciated. But in almost every stage of her life she is so self deprecating and humble that without having already read a biography I wouldn't think she had much to do with anything in regards to women's suffrage, civil rights, human rights, or feminism. Social programs to help poor miners in West Virginia? Yes, she talks about those at length. And she spends a lot of time analyzing the Soviet government, which, during the Cold War was formidable, but those thoughts haven't aged very well. Ditto her opinions on the government in India as it went from a colonial protectorate, to it's own country, and then the split between India and Pakistan.

    Honestly, the thing that comes through the most is that Eleanor Roosevelt is a wealthy, privileged, white woman from a well known family, her uncle AND her husband were President for crying out loud. Her life--even during the Depression, or ESPECIALLY during the Depression--was pretty comfortable. She always had money, and connections, and even her retirement cottage had 7 bedrooms and two sitting/drawing rooms. She wasn't really involved in improving the lives of the less fortunate until it was right in front of her face. Towards the end she talks at length about how she isn't really invested in social change until she is in direct contact with someone who is suffering. So, she didn't care about childhood hunger until she saw a starving child with her own eyes, THEN it became real. And that surprised me, I guess I thought she was more of a humanitarian than that? To be fair, she did possess a quality of wanting to learn everything, meet everyone, and she rarely said no to an opportunity, so for her birth/status in the social pecking order she probably experienced a lot more of the unwashed masses than most people would.

    I'd like to point out that a biography gives a completely different perspective of Eleanor Roosevelt, her telling her own life story in her own words, however, does not paint her as a champion of the underdog, the downtrodden, or the common man. And that really surprised me.

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