Blanche Wiesen Cook

So in 1924, Eleanor Roosevelt really gets a sense of what the limits of the battle and the contours of the battle are going to be. The men are contemptuous of the women, and the women really need to organize. She writes an article which becomes an article she writes in different ways over and over and over again: Women need to organize. They need to create their own bosses. They need to have support networks and gangs so that they are a force.

“So in 1924, Eleanor Roosevelt really gets a sense of what … Read More

It’s right around this time that her Grandmother Hall dies. And Eleanor Roosevelt is responsible for making all the funeral arrangements. And there are a couple of things that she really understands, as she contemplates her grandmother’s life and makes the funeral arrangements. One, she’s really talented, an organizational woman. She knows how to do things. She begins to compare her life to her grandmother’s life. And it’s very clear to her that being a devoted wife and a devoted mother is not enough.

“It’s right around this time that her Grandmother Hall dies. And … Read More

On international relations, Eleanor Roosevelt really takes a great shocking leadership position on the World Court. In fact, it amuses me. The very first entry in her FBI file begins in 1924, when Eleanor Roosevelt supports American’s entrance into the World Court. And the World Court comes up again and again – ’33, ’35. In 1935, Eleanor Roosevelt goes on the air; she writes columns; she broadcast three, four times to say the US must join the World Court.

“On international relations, Eleanor Roosevelt really takes a great shocking leadership … Read More

She really is a completely different First Lady. Eleanor Roosevelt was not going to suffer and withdraw in the White House. And I think he’s a very different President. He does not want his wife to suffer and withdraw in the White House. And they really are partners. They’re partners in a big house where there are two separate courts, and they both know they have two separate courts. But these are courts that are allied in purpose, united in vision.

“She really is a completely different First Lady. Eleanor Roosevelt was … Read More

Well, the reality of her father was that he was a very diseased alcoholic, who died at the age of 34. And one always has to pause to wonder how much you have to drink to die at 34. And he was a really tragic father. I mean, he was absolutely unreliable. He was absolutely involved with various people. He had outside families, outside children, outside wives. He made his wife’s life miserable. And she [Eleanor Roosevelt]ignored all of his faults and retained this sense of him as the perfect father.

“Well, the reality of her father was that he was a … Read More

Well, when Eleanor Roosevelt’s mother dies, she goes to live with her Grandmother Hall. And her Grandmother Hall is in mourning. She’s in widow’s weeds. She’s in her 50s, but appears very old. And she’s exhausted from raising rather out-of-control children. Her favorite daughter, Anna, has died (Eleanor’s mother), and she has living at home two other sons, Vallie and Eddie. And they are incredible sportsmen, incredible drinkers, out-of-control alcoholics.

“Well, when Eleanor Roosevelt’s mother dies, she goes to live with … Read More

It’s interesting to me that really one of the first things she [Eleanor Roosevelt]did as First Lady was to collect her father’s letters and publish a book called The Letters of My Father, essentially, hunting big game, The Letters of Elliott Roosevelt. And it really was an act of redemption, really one of her first acts of redemption as she entered the White House. She was going to redeem her father’s honor. And publishing his letters, reconnecting with her childhood really fortified her to go on into the difficult White House years.

“It’s interesting to me that really one of the first things … Read More

So in 1924, Eleanor Roosevelt really gets a sense of what the limits of the battle and the contours of the battle are going to be. The men are contemptuous of the women, and the women really need to organize. She writes an article which becomes an article she writes in different ways over and over and over again: Women need to organize. They need to create their own bosses. They need to have support networks and gangs so that they are a force.

“So in 1924, Eleanor Roosevelt really gets a sense of what … Read More

I mean, in the campaign of ’24 and in ’28 and ’32, you know, Eleanor Roosevelt insists that women have equal floor space. And this is a great victory over time. Then she wants women represented in equal numbers as men. And she wants the women to name the delegates. And the men want to name the delegates. Well, Eleanor is absolutely furious. And because they don’t want her to walk away in 1924, she wins. And this is a great political victory. She has floor space equal to the men, and she has the right to name the women.

“I mean, in the campaign of ’24 and in ’28 and … Read More