SUMMARY: Eleanor Roosevelt (October 11, 1884 – November 7, 1962) American First Lady, diplomat, activist
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Anna Eleanor Roosevelt was born in New York City on October 11, 1884 to wealthy parents Elliott Roosevelt and Anna Hall. Her father was the younger brother of the 26th President of the United States of America Theodore Roosevelt. She was born into a family of New York high society called the “Swells” and was the eldest of three children. When Eleanor was only eight years old, her mother contracted diphtheria and died in 1892 at age 29. After the passing of her mom, Eleanor, her two brothers Elliott Jr. and Gracie Hall went to live with their maternal grandmother Hall in Tivoli, New York. Shortly after, her father Elliot also passed away on August 14, 1894 from a seizure due to various suicide attempts and intensive alcohol intake. As a child, Eleanor was very shy and never felt good about her looks. She received private education until age 15. She was then sent to Allenswood, a distinguished school for girls in England. Eleanor learned to speak French fluently and gained self-confidence through the help and guidance of the headmistress Marie Souvestre.
At age 18, Eleanor Roosevelt returned to the United States, in New York where she resided with family and finished her formal education. Soon after her return from England she met one of her distant cousins Franklin D. Roosevelt who was then 20 years old and was attending Harvard University. On New Year’s Day of 1903, Franklin and Eleanor began their courtship. In November of 1903, they were engaged without the family knowledge and official approval until the following year in December 1, 1904. Eleanor and Franklin were married on March 17, 1905 on St. Patrick’s Day at her great-aunt’s home in New York City. The newlyweds settled in New York City in one of Franklin family estates. Together, they had six children but only five survived infancy.
While raising her five children, Eleanor joined the League of Women Voters, the National Consumer’s league and the Women’s Trade Union League. She was famous for her humanitarian work and for her example as a woman in public life. In 1921, her husband contracted polio leaving him paralyzed. She then started to represent her husband during his terms as governor of New York and later the 32nd President of the United States in 1933. She continually played an important role in her husband’s successful political campaigns. While being first lady, she frequently traveled nationwide and gave many uplifting lectures and held many press conferences. She started writing columns and articles for various newspapers and magazines. She worked for the Red Cross during the war. After the passing of her husband Franklin in April 12, 1945, Eleanor carried on staying active in politics. She became a great supporter for the needs of minorities, disadvantaged and of the poor. She was the chairperson of United Nations Commission on Human Rights. In 1961, President John F. Kennedy designated her head of the Commission of the Status of Women.
She also wrote books about her life including “This is my story” in 1937, “This I remember” in 1949 and “On my Own” in 1958 and her last book called “Tomorrow is Now” published after she died.
Eleanor died on November 6th, 1962 leaving a great legacy and making an impact on so many people’s lives.