Document of the Month: October
Eleanor Roosevelt Writes About Her Birthday
Eleanor Roosevelt was born in New York City on October 11, 1884. On March 4th 1933, her husband Franklin Roosevelt became the 32nd President of the United States and Eleanor became the most publicly active First Lady in American history.
From December 1935 until her death in 1962 Eleanor Roosevelt chronicled her activities in a syndicated column called My Day. The column was her public diary in which she wrote about the things she was experiencing each day. The focus of her columns could be as mundane as recounting a trip to the local vegetable market or as exciting as meeting a foreign head of state. She used her columns as a pedagogical device, a political tool, and a medium for communicating the liberal ethic to her readers.
The following is a draft of the March 27, 1942 My Day column in which Eleanor Roosevelt talks about her 15th birthday. This draft includes Mrs. Roosevelt's handwritten annotations. Click on the document links below to enlarge.
Here are some things to consider while reviewing Mrs. Roosevelt’s column:
- Mrs. Roosevelt explains that her time abroad was a time in which she “learned and matured” and developed a great deal of independence. Describe an experience from your own life that helped you learn and mature. How did the experience make you more independent?
- The Roosevelt women had a tradition of passing a ring from one generation to the next. It lasted through five generations. What are some traditions that your family honors or observers?
- Mrs. Roosevelt enjoyed reading and talking with people. What types of books do you enjoy reading? What sorts of things do you find interesting when you talk to other people?
- In the final paragraph of her column Mrs. Roosevelt writes about her feelings of sadness upon reading the news of losses during the World War II. What are some similarities and differences in the way reports of that war and the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan reach us? Compare and contrast other elements of World War II and the current conflicts.
- Some might say that Mrs. Roosevelt’s My Day column was a fore runner to today’s blogs and Facebook accounts. What types of things do you write about in your “public diary?”
Visit the My Day Project online to read the transcribed full text of this article as it was published in March of 1942. The My Day Project is a comprehensive electronic edition of Eleanor Roosevelt's My Day columns, and is hosted online by the Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project of The George Washington University.
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