First Ladies and Eleanor Roosevelt -- Women's History Month Series

Disclosure: Penguin Random House Books gave me a copy of this book free of charge for this review. All opinions in my review are my own and I did not receive any other compensation.  As in all my reviews I am providing links for your ease, but receive no compensation.

This is my official post for Multicultural Kid Blogs' Women's History Month Series although I have already done two posts on women in history already this month (Bethany Ehlmann and Sophie Blanchard) and will be doing more the rest of the month. Today I am sharing a book about many wonderful women in history it is What's the Big Deal about First Ladies by Ruby Shamir and illustrated by Matt Faulkner and I am going to share a bit about one of my favorite first ladies in history, Eleanor Roosevelt. 

 First about this fun book that shares everything from who the first lady is and why we have to have one to little trivia facts about the various first ladies through history right up to Michelle Obama. The book was published in 2016 before President Trump became president. Now I often stay away from politicians and try not to mention politics here. I really don't like any of it and don't really trust any of them. However I love how this book focuses on the positives and the various political parties are not mentioned. The focus of this book is the first ladies and their accomplishments and duties. Did you know that there have been several first ladies who were not the president's wife? There have been first ladies who were aunts, nieces, daughters and daughter-in-laws of the president or the president's wife. The role of the first lady is always changing however the main importance is for the first lady to be a hostess for the social events at the White House. This is because at one point in history, women could not attend parties hosted by men without an official hostess to welcome and entertain them. The book talks about how each first lady has her own way of doing things and often adds to the job. This book goes into it all and is the perfect book for anyone doing a unit on the United States government or just to learn more about the first ladies of the United States. 

Now I remember doing a report or two on Eleanor Roosevelt in school. I guess I have always been drawn to this strong leading woman. She was the first lady during the Great Depression. She traveled all over the country to learn about the troubles of the people during this hard time. She also went through jungles to field hospitals to visit American soldiers fighting in World War II. She even piloted a plane once with Amelia Earhart. She also believed in treating all people fairly. When Marian Anderson was banned from performing in a concert hall due to being black, Eleanor Roosevelt arranged for her to sing at the Lincoln Memorial. And after President Franklin D. Roosevelt was no longer president, Eleanor was appointed by President Truman as the representative for the United States in the United Nations. She spent much of her life helping others and fighting for fair treatment for all. 

Eleanor Roosevelt, her father, Elliott, and her brothers, Elliott, Jr and Gracie Hall in New York 1892.jpg
Eleanor Roosevelt with her Father and Two Younger Brothers Public Domain, Link

The amazing thing is when you look at the life of Eleanor Roosevelt and all she accomplished she came a very long way from the shy and awkward girl she was. She was born Anna Eleanor Roosevelt. Her parents were Anna Roosevelt and Elliott Roosevelt. Elliot was President Theodore Roosevelt's younger brother.  She never felt like she fit in even though she came from a wealthy family. She had buckteeth and many fears. Her mother was known to call her "Granny". She always felt like she could not please her mother. Her father however showed Eleanor much love. Unfortunately he was an alcoholic and this caused much tension in the family. When Eleanor was eight her mother died. She and her younger brothers went to live with their grandmother. Soon after the boys both got scarlet fever and only one survived. Then her father died in 1894. Her grandmother was strict and not very loving. She also tended to dress Eleanor like she was a young child even as she grew up. She met Franklin Delano Roosevelt at a party at her aunt's house. They were fifth cousins. 
Franklin D. Roosevelt and Eleanor Roosevelt, informal shot in Newburgh, New York 05-07-1905
Informal Photograph of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt in 1905 See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
At the age of fifteen Eleanor was sent by her grandmother to an all girls school in England.  The headmistress took a special interest in Eleanor and took her on trips to France and Italy. She called Eleanor a born leader and for the first time Eleanor had self confidence. In 1902 her grandmother had Eleanor return home so she could have her "coming out". After the social season ended Eleanor joined Junior League and taught dance to poor children in New York City and worked to improve working conditions for women and girls. In 1903 Franklin asked Eleanor to marry him, but they kept their engagement a secret. Eleanor's uncle was elected president (after serving as president after President McKinley was killed) and Eleanor and Franklin attended his inauguration. They were married in 1905 on St. Patrick's Day and President Teddy Roosevelt gave Eleanor away at her wedding. Wedding guests were so eager to see the president they left Franklin and Eleanor standing alone at their wedding party. 
Franklin D. Roosevelt and Eleanor Roosevelt with Anna and baby James, formal portrait in Hyde Park, New York 1908.jpg
Formal Family Portrait in 1908 By not listed - Franklin D. Roosevelt Library Public Domain Photographs, Public Domain, Link
Eleanor and Franklin settled in New York City near Franklin's boyhood home. Franklin's mother, Sara, would often tell Eleanor what to do and did not let her make many decisions on her own. They had three children between 1906 and 1909: Anna, James and Franklin, Jr. Franklin, Jr. died from the flu shortly after his birth. Eleanor blamed herself for his death, but there was nothing she could have done. They had three more children later: Elliot, Franklin Jr. and John. They lived in Albany while Franklin served in the New York State Senate and moved to Washington, D.C. when Franklin became Assistant Secretary to the Navy. In 1920 Franklin was chosen to run for vice president with Democratic candidate James Cox. This was the first time women were allowed to vote and Eleanor was proud to vote for her husband, but the Democrats lost. The following year Franklin came down with polio that left him paralyzed from the waist down and in a wheelchair. Eleanor took care of him and then she became his eyes and ears across the United States since it was much harder for him to get around in the wheelchair. Her roll was to keep Franklin and his ideas in the spotlight. Franklin was elected governor of New York in 1928. In 1932 Franklin became President. Eleanor was not looking forward to the spotlight that being First Lady would bring her. 
FranklinD and Eleanor Roosevelt with children 1919.jpg
Franklin D. and Eleanor Roosevelt with their Children 1918 Public Domain, Link

Two days before Franklin was sworn in Eleanor held her own press conference. She invited only female reporters. This forced some newspapers to hire female journalists for the first time. She held more than three hundred press conferences while in the White House which is a record for a First Lady. Eleanor traveled the country to see the effects of the Great Depression. With government funds and her own money she started a town called Arthurdale in West Virginia to help miners and their families get the food and sanitation they needed. She pushed for more women's rights and pushed Franklin to appoint more women to government jobs. In 1940 Franklin became the first president to be elected to a third term (the only one) and in 1944 his fourth term. This gives Eleanor the status of having served as First Lady the longest time as well. 

Eleanor also served as assistant director for the Office of Civilian Defense. SHe was the first First Lady to hold an official office in the United States government.  She quit her position in 1942 and began to visit the soldiers to try to raise spirits during the war. President Franklin D. Roosevelt died on April 12, 1945 in his cottage in Georgia. Vice President Harry Truman now became president. A few months later President Truman asked Eleanor to represent the United States in the newly formed United Nations. She was the only American female representative and did not always feel welcome, but she worked hard and devoted her time and energy to improving people's lives and protecting their basic rights. Eleanor Roosevelt was given many awards and she even hosted two radio shows and her own television show. She interviewed many world leaders including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and President John F. Kennedy. At the age of 78, Eleanor died in peacefully in her New York City apartment.  

To teach Hazel about this amazing woman and to write this post, I took these books out of the library. With What's the Big Deal About First Ladies and Wikipedia these book are my sources of information in this post.  

Do you have a favorite First Lady?

Women's History Month Series on Multicultural Kid Blogs
 Join us for our annual Women's History Month series, celebrating the contributions and accomplishments of women around the world. Follow along all month plus link up your own posts below! Don't miss our series from 2016 and 2015, and find even more posts on our Women's History board on Pinterest: Follow Multicultural Kid Blogs's board Women's History on Pinterest.
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