By Ellie Madalon
Female Friday is a series of articles written about women who are inspiring to both Assumption students and other women around the world.
Eleanor Roosevelt was an advocate and volunteer for many different organizations. She was born in 1884 in New York City into a wealthy family, but her parents had a rough marriage. Both of them were dead by 1894 so her and her two younger brothers moved in with their grandmother in Manhattan. She had tutors until the age of 15 when she was sent to Allenswood Academy in England and excelled in her studies. At 18, she returned to New York, and became very involved in social reform work. She frequently volunteered as a teacher for immigrant children, and she volunteered at the National Consumers’ League to stop unsafe working conditions.
In 1905, she married Franklin Roosevelt, and they had six children together. While her husband was starting his political career, Eleanor was volunteering at the Red Cross and in different Navy hospitals during World War I. During the 1920s, she became active in the Democratic Party and was an activist for organizations such as Women’s Union Trade League and the League of Women Voters. She taught United States history and literature at a private Manhattan girls’ school. After her husband was diagnosed with Polio, Eleanor helped him return to politics. A few years later he was elected as president.
Eleanor transformed the First Lady position from a social icon to an active participant in politics. She was an advocate for African American civil rights, women’s rights, American workers, the poor, and the younger generation. Eleanor pushed her husband to hire more women for federal positions, and she held press conferences solely for female reporters who were typically excluded from the White House. She also wrote a column in a newspaper about different social and political issues.
During World War II, she advocated for European refugees who wanted to come to the United States, and she worked to support the troops and women who were being employed in the defense industries. She was very active in different New Deal programs and was even able to get some of them to remain active after her husband’s advisors pushed for them to be cancelled. During her husband’s career as president, Eleanor was an advocate for many different social issues, even after his death. She remained involved in the Democratic Party and would later join the United Nations who oversaw the passage of the Universal Human Declaration of Rights.
Eleanor Roosevelt was an advocate for women during the most important part of her life. She was continuously involved in volunteer work, and she had a huge influence over her husband’s administration. Eleanor pushed for women to be more involved in White House activities. She worked towards equality through her work as an African American’s rights advocate and through her social reforms for factory workers.