National Park Service
Eleanor Roosevelt: American Visionary
Exhibit of Museum Collections at Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site
Eleanor Roosevelt, 1950
Eleanor Roosevelt, 1950
FDR Library 09-2466
Water Pitcher <click to enlarge>
Water Pitcher
Monogrammed 'AER' (Anna Eleanor Roosevelt)
Silver. H 22.2 cm.
Loan, Franklin D. Roosevelt Library and Museum, ELRO 1639

Far from basking in reflected glory, she remains today probably the most dynamic, broadly effective, and controversial First Lady in American history. She was the first First Lady to hold regular press conferences and to routinely travel the nation.

Anna Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962) was the niece of President Theodore Roosevelt and the wife of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Born into a privileged class, she became a successful social activist, party leader, teacher and journalist. By the time she entered the White House, these experiences and the networks she established helped her to transform the role of First Lady. Champion of domestic social reform, economic justice, and human rights, Eleanor believed citizenship demanded participation, saying "We will be the sufferers if we let great wrongs occur without exerting ourselves to correct them."

ER at the International Assembly of Women meeting in Kartwright, NY, 1946
Eleanor Roosevelt at the International Assembly of Women meeting in Kartwright, NY, 1946
FDR Library 09-2436
Take a virtual reality tour of the living room Take a virtual reality tour of her home office

A person of immense energy, Eleanor Roosevelt raised five children, developed a partnership with FDR of unprecedented productivity, and was a prolific writer and public speaker. She represented the administration through economic crisis and world war, and her country, democracy and human rights around the world.

Her life after FDR's death was equally productive. At home, she was a civil rights activist ahead of her time. As a member of the first American delegation to the United Nations, she played the essential role in the drafting and adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Her commitment to justice often placed her at risk and made her an easy target for zealous critics. In 1961, President John Kennedy appointed her chair of the first Presidential Commission on the Status of Women.

Stages of Eleanor's life slide show <click to view>
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ER and FDR, shaking the hands of the public
Eleanor Roosevelt and Fala at Val-Kill, Hyde Park, NY, 1948
FDR Library 51115261
Eleanor Roosevelt: Teaching with Museum Collections lesson plans
Eleanor Roosevelt: Teaching with Historic Places lesson plans
Franklin Roosevelt: Teaching with Historic Places lesson plans

Discover Our Shared Heritage Travel Itinerary on the American Presidents

Image Gallery
Franklin D. Roosevelt Library & Digital Archives
Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site <click to view>
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The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers
Museum Exhibits
Site Credits

Eleanor Roosevelt: American Visionary
Museum Management Program
"Links to the Past"
Last Modified: 12/5/2006