Best known for: Being an active first lady who worked for human rights.
Where did Eleanor Roosevelt grow up?
Eleanor Roosevelt was born in New York City on October 11, 1884. Although she grew up in a fairly wealthy family, she had a tough childhood. Her mother died when she was eight and her father when she was only ten.
While her parents were alive, her mother treated her poorly, calling her "Granny" because she thought Eleanor was so serious and old-fashioned looking. Eleanor had few friends her age and was a quiet and frightened child. Her father was more encouraging, but wasn't around much. He would send her letters that she kept for the rest of her life.
Going to School
When Eleanor turned fifteen her grandmother sent her boarding school near London, England. At first Eleanor was scared, however the headmistress took a special interest her. By the time she graduated, Eleanor had gained confidence in herself. She had learned a lot about herself and life. She returned home a new person.
Upon her return to the United States, Eleanor began to date her distant cousin Franklin Roosevelt. He was a handsome young man attending Harvard University. They spent a lot of time together and Franklin fell in love with Eleanor. They were married on March 17, 1905. Eleanor's Uncle Theodore Roosevelt, President of the United States, gave away the bride in the wedding.
Once married, the couple began to have children. They had six children including Anna, James, Franklin (who died young), Elliott, Franklin Jr., and John. Eleanor kept busy running the household and taking care of the children.
Franklin Gets Sick
Franklin had become a famous politician. His goal was to become president. However, Franklin became very sick one summer with a disease called polio. He nearly died. Although Franklin lived, he would never walk again.
Despite his illness, Franklin decided to stay in politics. Eleanor was determined to help him in any way she could. She became involved in a number of organizations. She wanted to help poor people, black people, children, and women have better lives.
A New Kind of First Lady
Franklin D. Roosevelt was inaugurated as President of the United States on March 4, 1933. Eleanor was now the First Lady. The job of the First Lady had always been to host parties and entertain foreign dignitaries and political leaders. Eleanor decided she could do more than this.
At the start of Franklin's presidency, America was in the middle of the Great Depression. People around the country were struggling to find jobs and even to have enough to eat. Franklin created the New Deal to try and help poor people recover. Eleanor decided to travel around the country to see how people were doing. She traveled thousands and thousands of miles. She let her husband know where people needed help and where his programs were and weren't working.
World War II
When Japan attacked the United States at Pearl Harbor, Franklin had no choice but to declare war and enter World War II. Eleanor didn't stand still or stay at home in safety. She went to work for the Red Cross. She traveled to Europe and the South Pacific to visit the sick and the wounded and to let the troops know how much they were appreciated.
First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt Flying from the National Park Service
On April 12, 1945 Franklin died of a stroke. Eleanor was sad, but she wanted to continue their work. For seven years she represented the United States at the United Nations (UN), which was created in large part by her husband. While a member, she helped to write the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which described that people throughout the world should be treated fairly and had certain rights that no government should be able to take away.
Eleanor also wrote a number of books including This is My Story, This I Remember, On My Own, and an autobiography. She continued to fight for equal rights for black people and women. She served as chair for the Commission on the Status of Women for President Kennedy.
Eleanor died on November 7, 1962. She was buried next to her husband Franklin. After her death Time Magazine called her the "world's most admired and talked about woman".
Interesting Facts about Eleanor Roosevelt
She was born Anna Eleanor, but went by her middle name.
Franklin asked Eleanor to dance when she was fifteen at a family Christmas party.