Eleanor Roosevelt Lecture Outline

Anna Eleanor Roosevelt


Early Life


I.                     Born in NY to Elliot the younger brother of Theodore Roosevelt and Anna Ludlow Hall, a descendant of the Livingstons

II.                   Father was carefree, fun-loving and an alcoholic and irresponsible

III.                 Mother was a beautiful woman, died when she was age 8 and her

Father died soon afterward.

IV.                 She was sent to live her grandmother, Mrs. Valentine Hall with her two younger brothers. Shortly thereafter the older of these brothers died.

V.                   She was a lonely child, suffered from probably an inferiority complex,

felt rejected and unloved by her mother, who called her granny, fantasized and rationalized about her father, who seemed to show her love and affection and was eventually raised by a stern Victorian grandmother.

VI.                 Educated in an English finishing school with other society daughters called Allenwood , that was run by one Mlle. Souvestre. This school

had a great impact on Eleanor, giving her first a carefree and open atmosphere of learning and a climate to develop her intellect. She developed both sensitivity to social issues and, the sense of duty to champion the underdog.


Life in NY after Allenwood


I.                     Upon returning to NY, at age 18, she found that the social life of her class

was uninteresting, vacuous, and boring

II.                   She was pressured by her grandmother to debut, but even retreated to her

 room during her coming out party.

III.                 To escape the life of leisure of women of her class she joined

a.        the Junior League

b.       taught dancing at the Rivington Street Settlement

c.        visited and aided needy slum children

d.       worked for the Consumer’s League

IV.                 During this period she meets her distant cousin Franklin D. Roosevelt

a.        he was from the Hyde Park branch of the Roosevelt family

b.       a graduate of Harvard

c.        a Democrat, like his father, White House at  11 with Grover


d.       active in campus politics, though a Democrat, forms a

support group for his cousin Teddy Roosevelt’s re-election

in 1904.

e.        Even starts to wear pince-nez glasses like his famous 5th


f.         Eleanor and Franklin court, marry in 1905, are given away by her famous Uncle Teddy, and leave for an extended European honeymoon.



V.                   From 1906-1916, she gives birth to six children, one dies in infancy.

a.        comes into conflict with her strong domineering mother-in-law

Sara Delano Roosevelt

b.       Sees children spoiled and swayed by their grandmother

c.        FDR enters politics

1.        FDR is elected to the State Senate 1910

2.        They live in Albany

3.        She gains independence from Sara

4.        She gets involved in state Democratic politics

5.        Conflict with Alice Roosevelt Longworth and the Oyster Bay Roosevelt children.


Life in Washington 1913-1920

I.                     The Roosevelts move to Washington in 1913

a.        FDR is rewarded for his work for Woodrow Wilson’s election

In 1912 and is appointed Asst. Sec. of the Navy, like his cousin

Theodore Roosevelt

b.       Eleanor develops her social skills as a Washington wife

c.        WWI opens up new opportunities for ER

1.        Works for the Red Cross

2.        Becomes an advocate for hospital reform after witnessing the conditions of the wounded

II.                   Conflict and anxiety

a.        The Lucy Mercer affair 1918

b.       Sickness, heartache and re-conciliation

c.        Positive influence of Sara Delano Roosevelt


III.                 FDR’s run for the Vice-Presidency 1920 with James Cox

a.        Active campaign

b.       Retreat to Campobello Island


IV.                 Polio strikes FDR 1921

a.        Period of partial recovery

b.       ER’s friendship with Louis Howe

c.        ER’s  partnership with Howe to help rehabilitate FDR

And keep his political name alive.

d.       She begins to volunteer with progressive groups

1.        Women’s City Club of NY

2.        Women’s Democratic Club of NY

3.        League of Women’s Voters

4.        National Consumer’s League

5.        Women’s Trade Union League

6.        NY and National Democratic Committees

7.        Active in Governor Al Smith’s campaigns


Life again in Albany 1928-1932

V.                   FDR’s partial recovery and return to public life

a.        FDR nominated Al Smith in 1924, the “Happy Warrior”

speech , FDR’s retreat to South Carolina

b.       FDR’s search for a cure for polio at Warm Springs, Ga

c.        FDR is nominated for Governor of NY in 1928, and

Elected in spite of a GOP national landslide.

1.        As wife of the Governor she travels the state as his

“legs, eyes, and ears” and inspects everything

2.        establishes important political and social contacts,

allies, and friendships: Harry Hopkins, Rose Schnei-

derman, Lillian Wald of the Henry St. Settlement,

Florence Kelly of the Consumers Union,

d.       She is resolved to maintain her independence.


VI.                 The crash of 1929- the start of the depression (1929-39)

VII.               FDR runs for re-election in 1930

a.        Wins in the greatest numerical landslide in history, 725,000 votes

b.       Starts relief programs, considers bid for the White house

Back to Washington 1933-39

I.                     Dealing with the immense problems that have emerged from the crash

and the economic collapse, the establishment of the New Deal

a.        ER sees equality of opportunity is more important than “honest

Broker” government

1.        aid to underprivileged groups

2.        social system of individual rights

3.        government role in furthering justice

b.       ER sees herself in a unique role as an intermediary between the

average person and government

c.        Has press conferences, makes speeches, writes columns,

My Day.  (started  1936)

d.       Brings reformers to the White House


II..                Establishes with Harry Hopkins a White House Conference on the

                Emergency needs of women

a.        By December 1933, the Civil Works Administration

is employing 100,000 women

b.       Hopkins promises to hire 300,000 more in the next year


III.           Founds the National Youth Administration

a.        Provides work opportunities to youth while in school

b.       Concerned that a whole generation of youth could turn

from Democracy to fascism or communism

c.        Makes sure the homeless, transients and black youth are

also helped.



IV.                 Forms alliances with American Youth Congress and American Students

Unions, and Civil Rights groups: 1936-40

a.        Groups advocating extensive social welfare

b.       Establishes uncompromising position on civil rights

c.        Tries to open New Deal to blacks, housing, jobs, education

d.       Worked with Walter White, of the NAACP to sponsor

anti-lynching legislation

e.        Strong advocate against Congressional efforts to cut funds from the WPA

f.         Works to protect school lunch programs, reform or welfare



World War II 1941-1945


I.                     Took on only official job during FDR’s presidency; Deputy Director

of  Civilian Defense.  After 6 months she resigned.

II.            Did extensive traveling around the USA from 1941-2

III.           Started overseas hospitals to visit the wounded

IV.                 Wrote and sent, with her staff 25,000 letters to the homes of the


V.                   Traveled extensively to war zone hospitals against the objections of the

the military command. Later, after her work with the wounded, her effort

is universally applauded.


Life after FDR and the Post War World 1945-1952


I.                     ER’s post-war work was a reform agenda consistent with her philosophy

of the 1930’s


II.                   ER saw the need for a more radical approach to domestic problems

a.        Advocated and demanded desegregation in housing

education, and other public facilities

b.       Demanded social justice for minorities

c.        Began to lobby President Truman about injustice at home

and abroad.

III.                 Truman appoints  ER a delegate to the UN

a.        Lobbies for and writes Universal Declaration of Human Rights

b.       Becomes vocal advocate of Israeli statehood

c.        Works to contain the proliferation of nuclear arms

d.       Supports the US containment approach to the growing

Soviet menace


Later Years 1953-62


I.                     Stays active in politic life: supports Adlai Stevenson campaigns

II.                   Writes column and makes hundreds of speeches

a.        Insists on Universal Human Rights

b.       Fights for Civil Rights in America

c.        Speaks out against McCarthyism

d.       Fights for social justice

III.                 Appointed by JFK to head Presidents Commission on the Status of Women


Beyond her direct and indirect influence, Eleanor Roosevelt has survived as a symbol in the realm of American and international politics and reform. Her

Achievements remain as an inspiration to fighters for equality, social justice, civil rights, and civil liberties in the United States and abroad.


Books by Eleanor Roosevelt:

My Day

This is My Story

This I Remember

On My Own

It’s Up to The Women

Ladies of Courage

Tomorrow Is Now

The Moral Basis Of Democracy

This Troubled World







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