Anna Eleanor Roosevelt Early Life
Eleanor, born Anna Eleanor Roosevelt in New York October 11, 1884 , lost her mother Anna to diphtheria when she was eight. Her father, Elliot, a brother of Theodore Roosevelt, died as a result of alcoholism when she was 10 years old. In 1899, Roosevelt began her three years of study at London’s Allenswood Academy, where she became more independent and confident. Her teacher, Mademoiselle Marie Souvestre, with her passionate embrace of social issues, opened Roosevelt up to the world of ideas and was an early force in Roosevelt’s social and political development.
Roosevelt returned to New York for her social debut in 1902. She became involved with the settlement house movement, teaching immigrant children and families on Rivington Street. In 1905, after a long courtship, she married her distant cousin Franklin Delano Roosevelt, a charming, Harvard graduate in his first year of law school at Columbia University. Her uncle and close relative, President Theodore Roosevelt, walked her down the aisle.
The Roosevelts settled in New York, where Eleanor found herself under the thumb of her controlling mother-in-law, Sara Roosevelt, who, like her grandmother earlier, was harsh in her criticism of her daughter-in-law. While Franklin advanced his career, his wife raised their daughter and four sons under the watchful eye of her often belittling mother-in-law.
All that changed in 1911, when Franklin was elected to the New York State Senate, and the couple moved to Albany, away from Sara. Two years later, the Roosevelts moved to Washington, DC, when Franklin joined Woodrow Wilson’s administration as Assistant Secretary of the Navy. While she was initially uncomfortable with the DC political scene, Roosevelt was growing in her political consciousness.
When World War I broke out, she volunteered with various relief agencies, further increasing her visibility and political clout. Hurt when she discovered in 1918 that her husband had had an affair with another woman, she remained married, though her feelings changed. She began to live a more independent life and often escaped to Val-Kill, her upstate New York home, where she was also part of a women-owned furniture cooperative. Nonetheless, she remained his political ally and advisor, among those who urged him to remain in public life despite the polio he contracted in 1921.
Anna Eleanor Roosevelt Biography and Profile
She was born in New York City on October 11, 1884, daughter of lovely Anna Hall and Elliott Roosevelt, younger brother of Theodore. When her mother died in 1892, the children went to live with Grandmother Hall; her adored father died only two years later. Attending a distinguished school in England gave her, at 15, her first chance to develop self-confidence among other girls.
Who Was Anna Eleanor?
First lady Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962), wife of Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882-1945), the U.S. president from 1933 to 1945, was a leader in her own right and involved in numerous humanitarian causes throughout her life. The niece of President Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919), Eleanor was born into a wealthy New York family. She married Franklin Roosevelt, her fifth cousin once removed, in 1905. By the 1920s, Roosevelt, who raised five children, was involved in Democratic Party politics and numerous social reform organizations. In the White House, she was one of the most active first ladies in history and worked for political, racial and social justice. After President Roosevelt’s death, Eleanor was a delegate to the United Nations and continued to serve as an advocate for a wide range of human rights issues. She remained active in Democratic causes and was a prolific writer until her death at age 78.
Anna Eleanor and Franklin Delano Roosevelt Engaged
Tall, slender, graceful of figure but apprehensive at the thought of being a wallflower, Anna Eleanor returned for a debut that she dreaded. In her circle of friends was a distant cousin, handsome young Franklin Delano Roosevelt. They became engaged in 1903 and were married in 1905, with her uncle the President giving the bride away. Within eleven years Eleanor bore six children; one son died in infancy.
“I suppose I was fitting pretty well into the pattern of a fairly conventional, quiet, young society matron,” she wrote later in her autobiography.
Anna Eleanor Political Career
In Albany, where Franklin served in the state Senate from 1910 to 1913, Eleanor started her long career as political helpmate. She gained a knowledge of Washington and its ways while he served as Assistant Secretary of the Navy. When he was stricken with poliomyelitis in 1921, she tended him devotedly. She became active in the women’s division of the State Democratic Committee to keep his interest in politics alive. From his successful campaign for governor in 1928 to the day of his death, she dedicated her life to his purposes. She became eyes and ears for him, a trusted and tireless reporter.
First Lady of United States
When Mrs. Roosevelt came to the White House in 1933, she understood social conditions better than any of her predecessors and she transformed the role of First Lady accordingly. She never shirked official entertaining; she greeted thousands with charming friendliness. She also broke precedent to hold press conferences, travel to all parts of the country, give lectures and radio broadcasts, and express her opinions candidly in a daily syndicated newspaper column, “My Day.”
This made her a tempting target for political enemies but her integrity, her graciousness, and her sincerity of purpose endeared her personally to many–from heads of state to servicemen she visited abroad during World War II. As she had written wistfully at 14: “…no matter how plain a woman may be if truth & loyalty are stamped upon her face all will be attracted to her….”
Roosevelt had immense influence on her husband’s decisions as president and in shaping both his cabinet and the New Deal. Working with Molly Dewson, head of the Women’s Division of the DNC, she lobbied her husband to appoint more women, successfully securing Frances Perkins as the first woman to head the Department of Labor, among many others. She also ensured that groups left out of the New Deal were included by seeking revisions to programs and legislation, including greater participation for women in the heavily male-dominated Civilian Conservation Corps. She also championed racial justice, working to help black miners in West Virginia, advocating for the NAACP and National Urban League, and resigning, with much media fanfare, from the Daughters of the American Revolution when they refused to allow African American singer Marion Anderson to perform in their auditorium.
Anna Eleanor Roosevelt at United Nations
After the President’s death in 1945 she returned to a cottage at his Hyde Park estate; she told reporters: “the story is over.” Within a year, however, she began her service as American spokesman in the United Nations. She continued a vigorous career until her strength began to wane in 1962. She died in New York City that November, and was buried at Hyde Park beside her husband.
President John F. Kennedy reappointed her to the United States delegation to the U.N. in 1961, and later named her to the National Advisory Committee of the Peace Corps and as chair of the President’s Commission on the Status of Women.
Eleanor Roosevelt’s Books
Outside of her political work, Eleanor wrote several books about her life and experiences, including This Is My Story (1937), This I Remember (1949), On My Own (1958) and Autobiography (1961).
Anna Eleanor Roosevelt’s Death
Eleanor died of aplastic anemia, tuberculosis and heart failure on November 7, 1962, at the age of 78. She was buried at the family estate in Hyde Park.
Anna Eleanor Roosevelt Legacy
A revolutionary first lady, Eleanor was one of the most ambitious and outspoken women to ever live in the White House. Although she was both criticized and praised for her active role in public policy, she is remembered as a humanitarian who dedicated much of her life to fighting for political and social change, and as one of the first public officials to publicize important issues through the mass media
Eleanor Roosevelt Family
After Anna Eleanor became reacquainted with her distant cousin Franklin in 1902, the two embarked on a clandestine relationship. They were engaged in 1903 and, over the objections of Franklin’s mother, Sara, were married on March 17, 1905, a ceremony that featured Theodore walking his niece down the aisle. The couple went on to have six children: Anna, James, Franklin (who died as an infant), Elliott, Franklin Jr. and John.
As her husband achieved success in politics, Eleanor found her own voice in public service, working for the American Red Cross during World War I. She also exerted herself more prominently after Franklin suffered a polio attack in 1921 that essentially left him in need of physical assistance for the rest of his life
Anna Eleanor Roosevelt Biography and Profile