I believe you should tell the story of injustices, of inequalities, of bad conditions, so that the people as a whole in this country really face the problems that people who are pushed to the point of striking know all about, but others know practically nothing about.

-Eleanor Roosevelt,
CIO Convention, 1943

Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home…the factory, farm or office where he works…unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere.

–Eleanor Roosevelt,
United Nations Remarks, 1953

One’s philosophy is not best expressed in words; it is expressed in the choices one makes. In stopping to think through the meaning of what I have learned, there is much that I believe intensely, much I am unsure of. In the long run, we shape our lives and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And, the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility.

–Eleanor Roosevelt,
Foreword, You Learn by Living

Courage is more exhilarating than fear and in the long run it is easier. We do not have to become heroes overnight. Just a step at a time, meeting each thing that comes up, seeing it is not as dreadful as it appeared, discovering we have the strength to stare it down.

–Eleanor Roosevelt,
You Learn by Living, p. 41

A respect for the rights of other people to determine their forms of government and their economy will not weaken our democracy. It will inevitably strengthen it. One of the first things we must get rid of is the idea that democracy is tantamount to capitalism.

–Eleanor Roosevelt,
Tomorrow Is Now , p. 45

We must show by our behavior that we believe in equality and justice and that our religion teaches faith and love and charity to our fellow men. Here is where each of us has a job to do that must be done at home, because we can lose the battle on the soil of the United States just as surely as we can lose it in any one of the countries of the world.

–Eleanor Roosevelt,
India and the Awakening East (1953), p. 228

Our trouble is that we do not demand enough of the people who represent us. We are responsible for their activities. . . . we must spur them to more imagination and enterprise in making a push into the unknown; we must make clear that we intend to have responsible and courageous leadership.

–Eleanor Roosevelt,
Tomorrow is Now, pp. 124-125

No, I have never wanted to be a man. I have often wanted to be more effective as a woman, but I have never felt that trousers would do the trick!

–Eleanor Roosevelt,
If You Ask Me,” Ladies Home Journal (October 1941)

I have waited a while before saying anything about the Un-American Activities Committee’s current investigation of the Hollywood film industry. I would not be very much surprised if some writers or actors or stagehands, or what not, were found to have Communist leanings, but I was surprised to find that, at the start of the inquiry, some of the big producers were so chicken-hearted about speaking up for the freedom of their industry.

–Eleanor Roosevelt,
Our Day, October 29, 1947

The reason that fiction is more interesting than any other form of literature, to those who really like to study people, is that in fiction the author can really tell the truth without humiliating himself.

–Eleanor Roosevelt

What counts, in the long run, is not what you read; it is what you sift through your own mind; it is the ideas and impressions that are aroused in you by your reading. It is the ideas stirred in your own mind, the ideas which are a reflection of your own thinking, which make you an interesting person.

–Eleanor Roosevelt,
You Learn by Living: Eleven
Keys for a More Fulfilling Life

About Eleanor Roosevelt

On October 11, 1884 Eleanor Roosevelt was born into a family of wealth and sadness. She was the first born child of Anna Hall Roosevelt and Elliott Roosevelt. Her father, mourning the death of his mother and suffering with his own health problems turned to alcohol and was often absent from home. Her mother struggled with her responsibilities toward Eleanor and her younger brother, Hall.

Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt with their children in 1919

Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt with their children in 1919

Her mother, one of New York’s most stunning beauties, made Eleanor profoundly self-conscious about her demeanor and appearance, even going so far as to nickname her “Granny” for her “very plain,” “old fashioned,” and serious deportment. Remembering her childhood, Eleanor later wrote, “I was a solemn child without beauty. I seemed like a little old woman entirely lacking in the spontaneous joy and mirth of youth.”

Anna Eleanor Roosevelt married Franklin Delano Roosevelt on March 17, 1905. President Theodore Roosevelt, who was in town for the St. Patrick’s Day parade, gave the bride, his niece, away.

It was Eleanor who persuaded Franklin to stay in politics following his partial paralysis from polio, and began to give speeches and campaign in his place. After Franklin’s election as Governor of New York, Eleanor regularly made public appearances on his behalf.

Later she shaped the role of First Lady during her tenure and for the Presidential wives who came after.