U.S. #2105 – Eleanor was initially depressed by the prospect of becoming First Lady, as the role largely revolved around hosting guests. She resolved to do much more.

Birth of Eleanor Roosevelt

On October 11, 1884, America’s longest-serving First Lady was born.

Anna Eleanor Roosevelt chose at an early age to be addressed by her middle name. Though born into a very wealthy family, she lost both her parents when she was young. Eleanor was popular, a good student, fluent in French, and taught dance and calisthenics. Eleanor married Franklin Roosevelt on March 17, 1905, with her uncle, President Theodore Roosevelt, giving her away.

When Franklin was stricken with polio in 1921, Eleanor convinced him to remain in politics. She made public appearances on his behalf and used her contacts to further his career. At the same time, she joined the Women’s Trade Union League and helped raise funds for their goals, which included a 48-hour work week, minimum wage, and abolishment of child labor.

U.S. #3185d – Part of the Celebrate the Century series, this stamp honors Eleanor’s commitment to the rights of women, children, minorities, and the disadvantaged.

When Franklin was elected President in 1932, Eleanor made it her mission to redefine the role of First Lady. Eleanor continued her busy speaking schedule and was the first First Lady to hold a press conference. She would hold 348 while in the White House and banned male reporters, forcing newspapers to hire female reporters.

One of the projects most dear to Eleanor was Arthurdale, a community in West Virginia. In 1933, she visited homeless miners in Morgantown, West Virginia. She proposed building a new community where they could make their living with subsistence farming, handicrafts, and a manufacturing plant. Eleanor saw the town as a model for “a new kind of community” where workers could live better. While the project was largely considered a failure, Eleanor believed it was a success since the residents had become self-sufficient.

Another issue of great importance to Eleanor was civil rights. She frequently spoke out for the rights of African Americans, even challenging her husband’s New Deal policies because they did not equally benefit all races.

U.S. #1236 – At Eleanor’s memorial service, Adlai Stevenson asked, “What other single human being has touched and transformed the existence of so many?”

When World War II broke out, Eleanor encouraged her husband to allow European refugee children to immigrate to America. She hoped he would allow more immigration for those persecuted by the Nazis, but Franklin did the opposite. According to her son, Eleanor’s deepest regret was that she was not able to get Franklin to accept more refugees during the war. Eleanor co-chaired the Office of Civilian Defense (OCD), which gave volunteers more responsibility in war preparation. She also pushed for women and African Americans to take a larger role in the war effort.

After Franklin died in April 1945, Eleanor was appointed a delegate to the United Nations General Assembly. The following year she became the first chairperson of the U.N. Commission on Human Rights and later helped draft its Universal Declaration of Human Rights. She averaged 150 national and international speaking tours per year and received 35 honorary degrees. Eleanor died on November 7, 1962.

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  1. I think that this great lady should be pictured on a new twenty dollar bill. Not the ten, but the twenty.

  2. Thanks for giving me a new understanding of how important Eleanor Roosevelt was–I had no idea! (so much to learn, so little time!)

  3. Your site is WONDERFUL!!!!! I love learning how my stamps came about, I am learning so much from your day in history. Please continue with this wonderful site.
    Thank. You.


  4. Thanks for the Eleanor Roosevelt Bio. Sounds like she may be a good choice to be the first woman on the new $10 or $20. Dollar Bill. I also think Betsy Ross would would be good. A well known name with no real Political Party ties to fight about.

  5. Our first socialist/feminist first lady! My Dad fought in WWII and disliked Roosevelt and voted against him. The New Deal was supposed to go away but never did and now we have runaway welfare.

  6. Thank you for the information about Eleanor Roosevelt. I am presently reading her autobiography and enjoying it very much.

  7. Stamp Collecting and US History: Always an interesting story behind every stamp. Thank you, Mystic for these history lessons.

  8. I have admired Eleanor for years, especially after I learned about her personal struggles.Other fine women have become First Ladies, but not one can match her. Thanks for publishing this.

  9. I have always admired Eleanor Roosevelt, especially after learning about her personal struggles. We have had many new First Ladies since 1944, but not one of them did as many good things.

  10. Thanks for this stirring history of Eleanor Roosevelt. She was awesome and is a great example for all women and humanity in general. Great work, Mystic!

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