First Lady, humanitarian
1884 - 1962

Eleanor Roosevelt with Marian Anderson

Eleanor Roosevelt with Marian Anderson

Eleanor Roosevelt (ROHZ uh velt) was born October 11, 1884 into a wealthy New York family. She was not a pretty child, in fact she was quite homely *, and her mother seemed to be disappointed because she had hoped for an attractive daughter. Hurtful comments were made in front of Eleanor.

Larger view

Her father, Elliot however adored his child. He made her feel loved. There was just one problem; he was an alcoholic and was a constant disappointment to her. He would make promises to her and not fulfill them. Sometimes he would leave her waiting outside a bar while he went in and became drunk.

Her mother died of diphtheria * when Eleanor was eight years old, but her father was in a mental institution because of his addictions, so Eleanor and her brothers went to live with Grandmother Hall, their maternal* grandmother. She was very strict with the children, but she loved them. Her father would die two years later.

When she was 15 her grandmother enrolled her in a boarding school called Allenswood which was near London. She blossomed at the school. The emphasis at the school was on intellect and what a person was like inside rather than on outward appearances. For the first time in her life she found a place of acceptance and belonging.

Eleanor and Franklin with Anna and James (Larger view)

She returned to New York at age 18 and there she met a distant cousin, Franklin Roosevelt. He was impressed with the good works she was doing in the slums among the poor immigrants of the city. They became engaged and married in 1905. They started a family. Anna was born first, then James the next year. Franklin Jr. only lived seven months. Next came Elliot, then another son they named Franklin Jr., and John was their last son.

Family portrait including mother-in-law Sara Roosevelt (Larger view)

Sara Roosevelt, Eleanor's mother-in-law was always "in the picture". She tried to run their lives. When they married she bought a townhouse for them ... and also furnished it. She bought the house right next to theirs for herself and had connecting doors installed. The family had no privacy. She competed with Eleanor for the love of the children. It was not a happy situation, and her marriage with Franklin was turbulent *.

Her husband Franklin Delano Roosevelt became a lawyer, then a senator, and next the Assistant Secretary of the Navy. Eleanor decided she had to make something of her life apart from her husband. She was an organizer and a fund raiser.

Tragedy struck the family. Franklin became ill with the dreaded disease polio *. He became paralyzed and could not walk. He went to live in Warm Springs, Georgia to receive treatment for the effects of the polio.

Louis Howe encouraged Eleanor and helped her. She was adept* at organizing women. She enlisted the press to help further her causes. She became a powerful force in the Democratic Party. She became a teacher three days a week. She and the children moved into a home of her own; Val Kill Cottage in Hyde Park.

Her husband campaigned for governor of New York and won. She was now the governor's wife. Then he ran for President in 1932 and won that office also. His slogan was "Happy days are here again".

As First Lady she now had even more influence even though she didn't cherish the role. She urged FDR to appoint women to positions in the government. She traveled extensively. In a three month period she traveled 40,000 miles.

From 1935 to 1962 she wrote a syndicated * newspaper column six days a week which appeared in many newspapers. It was called My Day.

Eleanor visits a WPA nursery school in Iowa (Larger view)

She worked tirelessly for the advancement of African Americans in America.

In 1958 the Ku Klux Klan put a bounty of $25,000 on her head because they didn't want her teaching people how to protest discrimination.

"We can't afford to have two kinds of citizens, We must have equal citizenship for anybody in our country." Eleanor Roosevelt

In 1936 her husband ran for a second term as President and won by a landslide *. In 1939 the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) refused to let Marian Anderson perform in Constitution Hall in Washington D.C. because of her race. Mrs. Roosevelt resigned her membership in the DAR as a result of the prejudice shown to Marian, and she arranged for the singer to give a performance at the Lincoln Memorial. There were 75,000 people in attendance.

Awarding a Purple Heart in New Caledonia (Larger view)

World War 2 started during Roosevelt's third term in office. Eleanor visited the troops and went to the hospitals to encourage the wounded. The soldiers loved her. Her husband was elected to a fourth term as President in 1944. However, his health was declining and he died in April of the following year. Eleanor moved back to her house.

UN Declaration of Human Rights in Spanish (Larger view)

Harry Truman, who was the next President, asked her to be a delegate to the United Nations in London. She was instrumental in the creation of the Human Rights Declaration. She continued to work for human rights the remainder of her life. Her accomplishments were amazing during her latter years. She is one of the most admired women in American history.
Eleanor Roosevelt died of bone marrow tuberculosis * on November 7, 1962. She was 78 years old.

This biography by Patsy Stevens, a retired teacher, was written in 2008.

A frequent question:
"Who wrote this biography
and when was it written?"
Look on this Reference Citations Chart.

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The American Experience: Eleanor Roosevelt
transcript of PBS program (Students may want to increase the text size.)

Eleanor Roosevelt
Timeline at PBS

Eleanor Roosevelt Timeline
at George Washington University

Eleanor Roosevelt
Women in History

Eleanor Roosevelt Virtual Museum Exhibit
National Historic Site

Dear Mrs. Roosevelt
letters written to her during the Depression

Eleanor and Franklin Roosevelt - Rendezvous With History
Poughkeepsie Journal

Eleanor Roosevelt Center at Val-Kill

Eleanor Roosevelt and Human Rights

Eleanor Roosevelt
biography with audio version

Article by Eleanor Roosevelt
Japanese-American internment camps

The Relentless Mrs. Roosevelt
The Time 100

Eleanor Roosevelt
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From Word Central's Student Dictionary
by Merriam - Webster

muh TERN əl
Function: adjective
related through a mother as maternal grandparents

TURB yoo lunt
Function: adjective
characterized by agitation or tumult

Function: adjective
thoroughly proficient : expert

SIN də kAt
Function: verb
to sell (as an article) to a syndicate or for publication in many newspapers or periodicals at once

Function: adjective
not pretty or handsome as a homely person

dif THIR e ə
Function: noun
a contagious bacterial disease with fever in which the air passages
become coated with a membranous layer that often obstructs breathing

PO le OH MY ə lite us
Function: noun
an infectious virus disease marked by inflammation of nerve cells
in the spinal cord accompanied by fever and often paralysis
and wasting of muscles -- called also infantile paralysis

Function: noun
an overwhelming victory especially in a political contest as in he won by a landslide

t(y)oo bur kyoo LO sus
Function: noun
a disease of human beings and some other vertebrates caused by a bacterium
and usually marked by wasting, fever, and formation of
cheesy tubercles that in human beings occur mostly in the lungs

Eleanor Roosevelt: A Life of Discovery by Freedman/Houghton-mifflin

845203: Eleanor Roosevelt: A Life of Discovery, Softcover Eleanor Roosevelt: A Life of Discovery, Softcover
By Russell Freedman / Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Widely recognized as the most influential woman of her time, Eleanor Roosevelt began life as by her own account and "ugly duckling," the timid and lonely child of unhappy parents. She was serious and reserved, not beautiful and bubbly like other society women. She was expected to devote herself strictly to the traditional roles of wife and mother, and to her husband Franklin's political career. As First Lady, she went beyond the long-established position of White House hostess to act as FDR's eyes and ears, traveling extensively to gather information and represent her husband in places he, wheelchair-bound, could not go. Mrs. Roosevelt became a passionate advocate for the weak an disadvantaged in American society. After her husband's death in 1945, she continued her activities on a global scale, serving as an American delegate to the United Nations, where her work on behalf of human rights earned her the title "First Lady of the World." Recommended for ages 8 to 12. A 1994 Newbery Honor book.


You Learn by Living
by Eleanor Roosevelt (selected pages) Order here

Eleanor Roosevelt, More Than a First Lady
by Joanne Mattern (selected pages) Order here

Eleanor Roosevelt, First Lady of the World
by Barbara A. Somervill (selected pages) Order here

Eleanor Roosevelt, A Very Special First Lady
by Barbara Silberdick Feinberg (selected pages) Order here

Eleanor Roosevelt, First Lady and Human Rights Advocate
by Katie Marsico (selected pages) Order here

Eleanor Roosevelt, Making the World a Better Place
by Sneed B. Collard (selected pages) Order here

Stateswoman to the World: A Story About Eleanor Roosevelt
by Maryann N. Weidt (selected pages) Order here

Eleanor Roosevelt
by Sarah Tieck (selected pages) Order here

Eleanor Roosevelt, First Lady and Humanitarian, 1000 Readers
by Carole Marsh (selected pages) Order here

Eleanor Roosevelt and Marian Anderson, Reader's Theater
by Candice Kramer (selected pages)
(Can be ordered from benchmarkeducation.com)

Eleanor Roosevelt, First Biographies
by Lisa Trumbauer (selected pages) Order here

Using Biographies in the Classroom
by Garth Sundem, Shell Education ,See Sample pages
Order here

Preview these Amazon books using the links below.

Eleanor Roosevelt, Compass Point Books
by Pam Rosenberg (selected pages)

Eleanor Roosevelt, A Courageous Spirit
by Victoria Garrett Jones (selected pages)

Eleanor Roosevelt, History Maker Bios
by Mary Winget (selected pages)

Eleanor Roosevelt, People We Should Know, Weekly Reader
by Jonatha A. Brown (selected pages)

Eleanor Roosevelt, Photo-illustrated Biographies
by Lucile Davis (selected pages)

Eleanor Roosevelt, Fighting for Social Justice
by Ann Weil (selected pages)

A Picture Book of Eleanor Roosevelt
by David A. Adler (selected pages)

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It was okay wish there was more information
Great site. Very helpful. A page on Mary MeLeod Bethune would be agood addition.
I think this is a fantastic site for teachers. I am brand new to teaching and this is such a great resource. Would you consider adding Mary McLeod Bethune, Thurgood Marshall, and Lyndon B Johnson? These historical figures are important in my state's social studies standards of education for 3rd grade students. Thank you so much.

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Biographies in this Series

Reference citations information for these biographies

Presidents of
the United States
George Washington John Adams Thomas Jefferson James Madison James Monroe Andrew Jackson
  Martin Van Buren Abraham Lincoln Theodore Roosevelt Franklin D. Roosevelt Harry S. Truman Dwight D. Eisenhower
  John F. Kennedy Lyndon B. Johnson Jimmy Carter Ronald Reagan Barack Obama Calvin Coolidge
American Patriots Benjamin Franklin Francis Scott Key Deborah Sampson Molly Pitcher
World Leaders Constantine Alexander the Great Winston Churchill Margaret Thatcher
Inventors Alexander Graham Bell Johann Gutenberg Cyrus McCormick The Wright Brothers Henry Ford Thomas A. Edison
  Sequoyah Nikola Tesla Michael Faraday Dean Kamen Jack Kilby Leonardo Da Vinci
  Donald O'Neal
Explorers Christopher Columbus Meriwether Lewis Robert Peary John Muir Matthew Henson Sir Edmund Hillary
  Kit Carson Johnny Appleseed Daniel Boone
Women who made
a difference
Clara Barton Helen Keller Florence Nightingale Joan of Arc Amelia Earhart Annie Oakley
  Susan B. Anthony Elizabeth Keckly Harriet Tubman Anne Frank Eleanor Roosevelt Madam C.J. Walker
  Sadako Sasaki Henrietta Lacks Malala Yousafzai      
Scientists George Washington Carver Sir Isaac Newton Marie Curie Louis Pasteur Albert Einstein Galileo
  Lise Meitner Norman Borlaug Benjamin Banneker
Educators Noah Webster Booker T. Washington Aristotle Mary McLeod Bethune
Physicians Hippocrates Walter Reed Albert Schweitzer
Religious Leaders George Muller Increase Mather
Athletes Lou Gehrig Wilma Rudolph Tiger Woods Michael Phelps
Civil Rights
Martin Luther King Rosa Parks Sojourner Truth Frederick Douglass Mary Ann Shadd Cary James Forten
  Gandhi César Chávez William Wilberforce Nelson Mandela
Composers Beethoven Mozart
Authors Laura Ingalls Wilder Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) Ernest Hemingway Greg Mortenson Phillis Wheatley
Artists John James Audubon Gutzon Borglum Ansel Adams Dale Chihuly Van Gogh Michelangelo
  Rembrandt Grandma Moses Cassatt Renoir Cezanne Rockwell


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Pictures of Eleanor Roosevelt at Wikimedia Commons.

Photos courtesy Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum public domain pictures,

Puzzles on these pages courtesy of
Songs of Praise and Armored Penguin

*Word Match Solution