This magazine article explains what a unique force in presidential history Eleanor Roosevelt was. She defied convention in so many ways and to illustrate this point, this anonymous journalist went to some length listing fifteen "firsts" that this most tireless of all First Ladies had racked-up through the years.
Those councilors who advised FDR and the First Lady on all matters African-American were popularly known as "the Black Brain Trust"...
In this article, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt (1884 – 1962) attempted (very politically) to play both sides of the street, implying on the one hand that the creation of the Japanese-American internment camps seemed a reasonable measure in wartime; but the reader doesn't have to have a degree in psychology to recognize that she believed otherwise:
"'A Japanese is always a Japanese' is an easily accepted phrase and it has taken hold quite naturally on the West Coast because of some reasonable or unreasonable fear back of it, but it leads nowhere and solves nothing..."
Written not too long after she assumed the title "First Lady"; Eleanor Roosevelt (1906 – 1975) was causing a dust-up in Washington:
"With the Constitution making no provision whatever for the duties of President's wives, they have heretofore confined their activities largely to the social side of the white House."
"Mrs. Roosevelt's governmental activities are approved by those who see in them altruism, sympathy for the downtrodden, and a great desire to serve others. Her activities are opposed by those who feel that she is not properly a public servant because she is not responsible to the American electorate or directly accountable to it at election time."
"Besides teaching American history and English literature three days a week as vice principal in the Todhunter School in New York (having to commute from Albany), Mrs Roosevelt runs the Val Kill furniture factory where reproductions of early American furniture are made to give work to the unemployed on the environs of the big Roosevelt estate at Hyde Park, N.Y. She belongs to several women's clubs but never neglects her duties as mistress of a governor's mansion..."
"Half a dozen women who have known Eleanor Roosevelt in the past twenty years all agree that this is the first president's wife in not a few presidential terms who might have achieved election to something in her own right; who might give ear to the women of the country. And although just listening to other people's troubles isn't enough, it is conceivably something."
A column from a 1937 issue of PATHFINDER MAGAZINE included these two seemingly random tales from the life of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. The brief remembrance on the second page is a bitter-sweet story about young Eleanor and her mother's vision of her as a hopelessly plain-looking girl.
Read a 1951 profile of a future First Lady: the young Nancy Reagan.