Eleanor Roosevelt Research Paper

This sample Eleanor Roosevelt Research Paper is published for educational and informational purposes only. Free research papers are not written by our writers, they are contributed by users, so we are not responsible for the content of this free sample paper. If you want to buy a high quality research paper on history topics at affordable price please use custom research paper writing services.

The unprecedented range of Eleanor Roosevelt’s activities, both during her troubled marriage to President Franklin D. Roosevelt and after his death in 1945, made her nearly as controversial a figure as her husband. She was a long-time advocate of liberal causes such as child welfare, housing reform, and equal rights for women and racial minorities.

Anna Eleanor Roosevelt, one of the world’s most widely admired and powerful women in her time, was the daughter of Elliott Roosevelt and Anna Hall Roosevelt and the niece of Theodore Roosevelt, the twenty-sixth president of the United States. She grew up in a wealthy family that attached great value to community service. It was, however, a family touched by tragedy. One brother died when Eleanor was nine, and both her parents died before she was ten. Relatives raised her and her surviving brother.

When she was fifteen, her family enrolled her at Allenswood, a girls’ boarding school outside London. The headmistress’s intellectual curiosity and taste for travel and excellence awakened similar interests in Eleanor. After three years, Eleanor reluctantly returned to New York in the summer of 1902 to prepare for her debut into society that winter. Following family tradition, she devoted time to community service, including teaching in a settlement house on Manhattan’s Lower East Side.

Soon after Eleanor returned to New York, Franklin Roosevelt, her distant cousin, began to court her, and they were married on 17 March 1905 in New York City. Between 1906 and 1916, Eleanor gave birth to six children, one of whom died in infancy. Franklin’s carefree ways and constant pursuit of fun contrasted with her serious demeanor, making theirs an odd but fascinating pairing. It also spelled doom for their marriage.

Franklin’s decision to enter politics forced Eleanor to take on the job of political wife, first in Albany, New York, and then after 1913, in Washington, D.C. She largely found the seemingly endless social obligations tiresome. America’s entry into World War I in 1917 enabled her to resume her volunteer work. She worked for the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society and the Red Cross. This work revitalized her and increased her sense of self-worth when it was suffering most. Eleanor had discovered that Franklin had been having an affair with her social secretary, Lucy Mercer. Devastated, she offered Franklin a divorce. Knowing it would destroy his political career and possibly cost him his mother’s financial support, Franklin refused and agreed to stop seeing Mercer.

The marriage became one of convenience and friendship as it settled into a routine in which both spouses kept separate agendas while remaining respectful of and affectionate toward each other. Their relationship, however, had ceased to be an intimate one. Franklin continued seeing Mercer and others, and, in fact, died in Mercer’s company at Warm Springs, Georgia, in April of 1945.

Franklin’s determination to remain active in politics after contracting poliomyelitis in 1921 depended upon Eleanor’s willingness to help keep his name in front of the public. The work dovetailed well with her desire to work for important causes. She joined the Women’s Trade Union League and became active in the New York state Democratic Party. She began studying the Congressional Record and learned to evaluate voting records and debates as a member of the Legislative Affairs Committee of the League of Women Voters.

When Franklin became governor of New York in 1929, Eleanor found an opportunity to combine the responsibilities of a political hostess with her own interests in social causes. The couple’s time together in the governor’s mansion left her well prepared for her new role after Franklin’s election as president of the United States in 1932. Her twelve years as first lady challenged the prevailing attitudes of the day about a woman’s role in a marriage and her place in the political process. Serving as Franklin’s “eyes and ears,” she traveled throughout the nation giving speeches and providing feedback to the president on the public’s opinion on programs and social conditions.

The unprecedented range of Eleanor’s activities and her advocacy of liberal causes, such as child welfare, housing reform, and equal rights for women and racial minorities, made her nearly as controversial a figure as her husband. In 1939, when the Daughters of the American Revolution refused to let Marian Anderson, an African-American opera singer, perform in Washington’s Constitution Hall, Eleanor resigned her membership in the organization and arranged to hold the concert at the nearby Lincoln Memorial. The event turned into a massive outdoor celebration attended by seventy-five thousand people. Her defense of the rights of African Americans, youth, and the poor helped to bring groups that had formerly been alienated from the political process into the government and the Democratic Party.

Eleanor instituted regular White House press conferences for women correspondents. Wire services that had not formerly employed women had to do so in order to have a representative present to cover the newsworthy First Lady. Beginning in 1936, she wrote a daily syndicated newspaper column, “My Day,” and continued it until just a few weeks before her death in 1962 from a rare form of tuberculosis. After Franklin’s death in 1945, President Harry S. Truman appointed her a delegate to the United Nations, where she served as chairman of the Commission on Human Rights (1946–1951) and played a major role in the drafting and adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. She remained active in the Democratic Party, working for the election of Democratic presidential nominee Adlai Stevenson in 1952 and 1956.

In 1961, President John F. Kennedy appointed her chair of his Commission on the Status of Women, a position she held until shortly before her death. She had not initially favored the Equal Rights Amendment, saying it would actually do more harm than good for women, but she gradually embraced it. While working for the United Nations and for President Kennedy, Eleanor circled the globe several times, meeting with most of the world’s leaders. All the while, she continued to write books and articles. Her work during her White House years and after set a standard by which her successors would be judged.


  1. Black, A. (1996). Casting her own shadow: Eleanor Roosevelt and the shaping of postwar liberalism. New York: Columbia University Press.
  2. Black, A. (1999). Courage in a dangerous world: The political writings of Eleanor Roosevelt. New York: Columbia University Press.
  3. Burns, J. M. (2001). The three Roosevelts: Patrician leaders who transformed America. New York: Atlantic Monthly Press.
  4. Cook, B. W. (1992). Eleanor Roosevelt, Vol. 1: 1884–1933. New York: Viking.
  5. Cook, B. W. (1999) Eleanor Roosevelt, The Defining Years, Vol. 2: 1933–1938. New York: Penguin.
  6. Freedman, R. (1997). Eleanor Roosevelt: A life of discovery. New York: Houghton Mifflin.
  7. Goodwin, D. K. (1994). No ordinary time: Franklin and Eleanor: The home front in World War II. New York: Simon and Schuster.
  8. Roosevelt, E. (1961). The autobiography of Eleanor Roosevelt. New York: Harper & Bros.

See also:

Free research papers are not written to satisfy your specific instructions. You can use our professional writing services to order a custom research paper on political science and get your high quality paper at affordable price.


Always on-time


100% Confidentiality
Special offer! Get discount 10% for the first order. Promo code: cd1a428655