Eleanor Roosevelt: Timeline and Major Facts
Born in New York City on October 11, 1884, Eleanor Roosevelt was the wife of the 32nd president of the United States Franklin D. Roosevelt. During her time as the first lady of the United States, she was involved in numerous causes that promoted human and civil rights. At a time when white supremacists’ organizations were rife in the country, Eleanor Roosevelt showed her unwavering support for desegregation by siting between whites and blacks at a human rights conference organized by the Southern Conference for Human Welfare in 1939. She famously holds the record of being the first wife of a U.S. president to organize an all-female conference.
The article below presents the complete timeline of major events in the life of Eleanor Roosevelt:
October 11, 1884: Eleanor is born in Manhattan, New York City to parents – Elliott Bulloch Roosevelt and Anna Rebecca Hall.
May 19, 1887: She and her parents survive the SS Britannic collision with the liner SS Celtic.
December 7, 1892: Mother dies of diphtheria.
May, 1893: Brother Elliot Jr. passes away of diphtheria.
August 14, 1894: Her father, Elliott Roosevelt, who was on admission at a mental asylum, tragically dies from the injuries and seizure he suffered after jumping out of his window during a mental breakdown.
1899: Enrolls at Allenswood School in England.
1902: Heads back to the U.S. to make her debut at a social event at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel on December 14.
August 13, 1894: Elliot Roosevelt passes away after losing the battle to alcoholism.
1903: Eleanor and Franklin Delano Roosevelt get engaged.
Did you know: Eleanor Roosevelt’s fifth cousin once removed was FDR?
1903: Works as a calisthenics and dancing teacher at the Junior League of New York; as a member of the Consumers’ League, she also investigates working conditions in the garment industry.
1905: Marries Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR) at a ceremony in New York.
1906: Welcomes her first child named Anna.
1907: Welcomes her second child called James.
1909: Gives birth to her third child, Franklin Jr.
1910: Gives birth to her fourth child, Elliott.
1912: Goes for her first Democratic Party Convention.
1913: Her husband is appointed Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Navy.
1914: Welcomes her fifth child, Franklin Jr.
1916: Welcomes her sixth and last child, John Aspinwall.
1917: Under the leadership of Woodrow Wilson, the U.S. gets involved in World War I.
1919: Volunteers to visit WWI veterans at St. Elizabeth Hospital.
1920: Campaigns with her husband as he vies for vice president, the running mate of James M. Cox.
1920: Congress passes the Nineteenth Amendment, granting women the right to vote.
1921: FDR is left paralyzed from polio.
1922: Joins the Women’s Trade Union League; she also partakes in the Women’s Division of the Democratic State Committee.
1924: Going against her first cousin, Republican Theodore Roosevelt Jr., she gives her support to Democrat Alfred E. Smith re-election as governor of New York State.
Theodore Roosevelt Jr. was the Assistant Secretary of the Navy in Warren G. Harding’s scandal-plagued administration.
1927: Collaborates with Mary McLeod Bethune – President of Bethune-Cookman College – to buy the Todhunter School for Girls
1928: The Democratic National Committee appoints her Director of Bureau of Women’s Activities.
1928: Her husband, Franklin, is elected governor of New York State.
1929: The New York Stock Exchange crashes.
1932: Veterans’ march to the White House.
1932: FDR elected president of the United States.
March 4, 1933: Becomes the First Lady of the United States following her husband’s swearing in as president of the United States.
1933: Interacts with the “Bonus Army”, an association of World War I veterans, in order to calm tensions over unpaid veteran bonus.
1933: Holds all-female press conferences, becoming the first wife of a U.S. president to do so.
1933: FDR’s New Deal is rolled out
November, 1934: Gives a radio broadcast on the CBS Radio Network about youth education
1935: Her involvement with members of the American Youth Congress spurs on the formation of the National Youth Administration to promote the implementation of the New Deal.
1935: Meeting with FDR, James Farley, Molly Dewson (head of the Women’s Division of the DNC) – Women’s role in politics
1936: FDR gets re-elected.
1936: Begins her newspaper column, “My Day”. The newspaper column was released three days a week from 1936 to 1962.
1937: Begins writing her autobiography – The Autobiography of Eleanor Roosevelt, which was published in 1961
1939: Resigns from the Daughters of the American Revolution to show her opposition to the group’s refusal to allow Marian Anderson use the Washington’s Constitution Hall.
1939: Sit between whites and blacks at the Southern Conference for Human Welfare in Birmingham, Alabama.
1939: Hitler invades Poland triggering the breakout of World War II.
1940: Becomes the first First Lady of the United States to speak at a Democratic National Party Convention (DNC)
1940: FDR wins a third term.
August 1940: Comes to the aid of 83 refugees of Jewish background on the S.S. Quanza.
1941: Begins writing “If You Ask Me” – an advice column, which run until her death in 1962.
1941: Imperial Japan bombs Pearl Harbor.
December 1941: Resigns from the Office of Civilian Defense (OCD).
1941: Becomes an honorary member of Phi Beta Kappa.
1941: Warns of the dangers of unduly targeting Japanese-Americans for the Pearl Harbor attack. She even goes to the extent of privately criticizing her husband’s internment camps for Japanese-Americans.
1942: Encourages young women to develop skill sets in order to contribute their part to the nation.
1942: Appeals to get Odell Waller’s death sentence commuted to life imprisonment. Odell Waller was a sharecropper who killed a white farmer during a brawl.
October 1942: Visits American troops in England.
1943: Embarks on a South Pacific tour in a bid to boost soldiers’ morale.
1943: Detroit Race Riot begins.
1945: Encourages the Army Nurse Corps to open its door to black women.
1945: Becomes a member of the board of directors at the NAACP.
April 12, 1945: FDR dies from a cerebral hemorrhage in Warm Springs, Georgia.
September 2, 1945: Japan surrenders.
April 12, 1946: The Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum opens.
April, 1946: Appointed the chief of the United Nations Human Rights Commission.
1947: Participates in the National Conference on the German Problem held in New York.
1948: Delivers a speech at the Sarbonne during a meeting of the UN General Assembly in Paris.
December 10, 1948: Her draft Declaration of Human Rights gets adopted by the General Assembly in a unanimous vote.
July 1949: Gets into public disagreement with the Archbishop of New York, Cardinal Francis Spellman. The debate had to do with federal support for parochial schools.
1949: Becomes an honorary member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha.
1952: Resigns from the United Nations.
1953: The Women’s Division of the Democratic National Committee gets abolished.
1954: Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court ruling on segregation in public schools.
1957: Visits the Soviet Union and meets Nikita Khrushchev.
1957: The Civil rights Act passed by Congress.
1958: Participates in a civil rights workshop in Highlander Folk School in Tennessee.
1960: Eleanor backs John F. Kennedy for president.
1961: President Kennedy appoints Eleanor to the United Nations.
1961: Chair of the President’s Commission on the Status of Women.
1962: An ad hoc Commission of Inquiry into the Administration of Justice in the Freedom Struggle is established.
November 7, 1962: Dies at the age of 78 from complications with tuberculosis; she died at 55 East 74th Street on the Upper East Side, New York.
November 10, 1962: Interred beside her husband at Springwood home.
Interesting Facts about U.S. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt
- After the deaths of her parents, she was raised by her maternal grandmother, Mary Livingston Ludlow. The Livingston family were very influential in Tivoli, New York.
- Her childhood education came from private tutors; and at 15, she enrolled at Allenswood Academy. The school she attended between 1899 and 1902 was a private school just outside of London, England. Greatly influenced by the school’s headmistress Marie Souvestre, she blossomed into a very bright, young woman. She even mastered French and could speak it fluently.
- Eleanor and her parents were on board the SS Britannic when it collided with the SS Celtic on May 19, 1887. She and her parents were able to make it to safety using a lifeboat before making their way back to New York. This event left a scare in her mind, making her very apprehensive about ships and the sea in general.
- Throughout her life, she was faithful to the Episcopalian faith.
- Prior to her marriage to FDR, Sara Ann Delano – Franklin’s mother – is believed to have strongly expressed her rejection of the relationship.
- President Theodore Roosevelt, Eleanor’s uncle, was the one who gave Eleanor away during the wedding ceremony. Franklin’s headmaster at Groton School, Endicott Peabody, officiated the wedding.
- Her son Elliott wrote a number of fictional books. In one of his detective stories, he named a character after his mother.
- Eleanor and renowned aviator Amelia Earhart were best buddies starting in the 1930s. She also had a very tight-knit relationship with Lorena Hickok, an Associated Press reporter. She even wore the sapphire ring Hickok gave to her as a gift to FDR’s inauguration in 1933.
- She was strongly opposed to legendary FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover’s unethical surveillance schemes. Hoover in turn kept an awful amount of intelligence on Eleanor, suspecting her of being affiliated to subversive causes.
- She supported the creation of the state of Israel post World War II. Initially, she was a bit apprehensive about rich Jews because she considered them “very unlike ourselves” as they had not yet assimilated the American culture properly.