Women’s History Month Spotlight: Eleanor Roosevelt

Womens History Month Spotlight: Eleanor Roosevelt

By: Brooke Ehmann – Jones

March 26, 2021


In honor of Women’s History Month, Glasgow students celebrate women who have impacted the world in which we live. Spotlight #8 is Eleanor Roosevelt.

Anna Eleanor Roosevelt was born on October 11, 1884, in New York City. She is most known for her time as First Lady; her major work in humanitarianism and activism in civil rights for workers, African Americans, and women. 

Eleanor Roosevelt was not always the strong willed, confident leader we all remember her to be today. When she was young, she was privileged because her family was of a high status and prominence politically and socially; but when her parents died at a young age, it was the cause of some trauma for her, and she had to live with her strict grandparents with her brother. Being raised by a critical and censorious grandmother damaged Eleanor’s self-esteem, making her shy and awkward as a child. However, in 1899, she studied at London’s Allenswood Academy, when under the influence of her teacher, Mademoiselle Marie Souvestre, became more confident, and educated on social issues and politics.  

This was just the beginning. Eleanor Roosevelt soon married Franklin Delano Roosevelt, a distant cousin, and became his political adviser, and helped him with his campaigns. She was becoming increasingly politically active, and when World War 1 started she volunteered with various relief agencies, helping those in need, and becoming more well known throughout the country. Eleanor Roosevelt encouraged women’s political engagement throughout the US, and was part of many civil rights organizations, such as: The League of Women Voters, the Women’s Trade Union, and the Women’s Division of the Democratic National Committee. When her husband ran for president and won, her popularity with the media, and public recognition helped her advance her goals and dreams for the country. Although she was apprehensive of stepping into the role of First Lady at first, because it would restrict the amount of public service and organizations she could be a part of, she accepted the position and made the role of first lady more active in the presidential administration.

Since she and her husband entered office during the Great Depression, Eleanor Roosevelt traveled around the country after the New Deal was put in place, to understand the needs of workers and citizens throughout the country and reported back to her husband on her findings. This led to her becoming more of an advocate for African Americans, American workers, and women, becoming a leader and symbol of progression through many American eyes. She also encouraged her husband to appoint more women to federal and government positions, and during World War 2, she encouraged volunteerism for the war effort, and boosting soldiers’ morale; along with the acceptance of European refugees into our borders. 

Not only was she constantly working to improve the welfare of the US during her time as first lady, but she was also an author and writer of books, articles, and a column in a newspaper called “My Day”, communicating her stance on many public and political issues, giving speeches and press conferences around the country, hearing the voices, questions, and hardships of the citizens. One more important impact Eleanor Roosevelt had on the world was her work with human rights with the United Nations. After World War 2, she was appointed as part of the first US delegation to the UN; and supported the passing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by giving a speech, which was then adopted soon after, serving as a guide to how people and nations should treat each other.

Eleanor Roosevelt died on November 7, 1962. Her inspiring work in society, through her many organizations and leadership roles, had a great impact on people and students around the country, including the Glasgow community. She has shown us what it means to persist, and have determination to achieve your goals, like she did countless times during her time as First Lady, working for the United Nations, and life before the white house. She has shown us that fighting for what’s right, and voicing the issues that arise, even if your peers are against it, is the right path to take. Including everyone, and making sure everyone has a fair chance is the humane and kind thing to do; as Eleanor Roosevelt did many times when advocating for the civil rights of all citizens, no matter what the race, gender, religion, etc. Her influence on society has shone a light on the path for all leaders at Glasgow and encourages others to step up to a leadership role as well, ensuring our community is open minded and accepting to all.