Not long ago Jaume posted an Eleanor Roosevelt quote on this group, and though I am somewhat familiar with her, I didn’t know much about her as a person. To learn more I decided to watch all the documentaries about her that were available at my library. They had three:

The Eleanor Roosevelt Story
Biography | Eleanor Roosevelt: A Restless Spirit
American Experience | Eleanor Roosevelt

All of these were interesting, but the best was definitely the American Experience version. The Eleanor Roosevelt Story was done in 1965, so it was neat to watch a biographical documentary from that time period, too. The Biography version was the least comprehensive. If you watch only one, watch the American Experience version.

I am very impressed with her strength and goodness. She was a very remarkable woman who lived a life of privilege, but also one of many hardships and disappointments. Like a lot of us, she was far from perfect. She made many mistakes and was often deeply hurt by the people she loved most. She also suffered from bouts of depression. Here are just a few notes I took from the DVDs:

- She had a fairly unhappy childhood. Her father was an alcoholic and her mother was very disappointed in her appearance, and never hesitated to tell her daughter so.

- Both of her parents died when she was young, and she was later raised by her grandmother.

- She was the niece of President Teddy Roosevelt, and married her cousin Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who was elected President three times.

- After her husband Franklin cheated on her with her social secretary, she was incredibly devastated, and their marriage was never the same again. However, later in life Eleanor likely had many affairs, too, with both men and women.

- The FBI had her followed and considered her a danger to the US (that crazy Herbert Hoover).

- Many people of her “class” considered her a class traitor because she was a strong advocate for the poor and for equal rights for all Americans. She often befriended African-Americans, and left the Daughters of the American Revolution because of their racist attitudes.

- She was the first “activist” First Lady—the first to take an active role on social issues.

- She was appointed the US Representative to the first United Nations meetings, and helped draft the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

- She is referred to as “The First Lady of the World.”


Here are some of her quotes:

In the long run, we shape our lives, and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility.

Great minds discuss ideas; Average minds discuss events; Small minds discuss people.

We are afraid to care too much, for fear that the other person does not care at all.

The purpose of life, after all, is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experiences.

No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.

You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience by which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, 'I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.

It is not fair to ask of others what you are unwilling to do yourself.

Tags: american history, democrat, eleanor roosevelt, fdr, first lady, human rights, president roosevelt, united nations

Views: 158

Replies to This Discussion

More trivia:

- She wrote the preface to the first US edition of Anne Frank's Diaries.

Great minds discuss ideas; Average minds discuss events; Small minds discuss people.

That's the quote I attributed to her a few days back, but actually, I suspect her to have borrowed it from a French author:

Les esprits d'élite discutent des idées, les esprits moyens discutent des événements, les esprits médiocres discutent des personnes. -- Jules Romains

Since I have no absolute certainty about who said it first (they're almost exact contemporaries), I give credit to either depending on which language I use ;-)
Thanks Dallas,

I just thought of a great birthday gift idea for my 23 year old daughter today.
Great. Glad to be of service. :)
Never read any of them. Try checking out the ratings on Amazon.com.

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