“One thing life has taught me: if you are interested, you never have to look for new interests. They come to you. All you need to do is to be curious, receptive, eager for experience. And there’s one strange thing: when you are genuinely interested in one thing, it will always lead to something else.”
Eleanor Roosevelt, from You Learn by Living (1960)
Anna Eleanor Roosevelt (October 11, 1884 – November 7, 1962), commonly known as Eleanor Roosevelt, was an American political figure, diplomat, and activist. She served as the First Lady of the United States from March 1933 to April 1945 during her husband President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s four terms in office, making her the longest serving First Lady of the United States. Eleanor was born in Manhattan, New York City to a socialite, high society family. Her mother died of diphtheria in 1892, and her father two years later, leaving Roosevelt orphaned at the age of 11. Roosevelt significantly reshaped and redefined the role of First Lady; she was the first presidential spouse to hold regular press conferences, write a daily newspaper column, write a monthly magazine column, host a weekly radio show, and speak at a national party convention. On a few occasions, she publicly disagreed with her husband’s policies. This made her a controversial figure. She was very vocal in favor of the civil rights movement, breaking with tradition by inviting hundreds of African-American guests to the White House. Following her husband’s death in 1945, Roosevelt remained active in politics for the remaining 17 years of her life. She pressed the United States to join and support the United Nations and became its first delegate. She served as the first chair of the UN Commission on Human Rights and oversaw the drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. By the time of her death, Roosevelt was regarded as “one of the most esteemed women in the world”; she is now regarded as one of the most esteemed women in all of history.