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born 1884

Eleanor Roosevelt was a New York society girl. A shy kid. An orphan. But, curiosity propelled her out of a sheltered childhood into global recognition as a leading lady of 20th century. 

As the wife of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Eleanor redefined the role of first lady from polite, fashionable hostess to vocal advocate for social issues. She served in the White House during some of the most pivotal moments in US history ~ The Great Depression and WWII ~ using her post as a platform to champion women's, workers' and civil rights. 

Upon leaving the White House, she was appointed as a delegate to the newly formed United Nations where she chaired the commission that penned its foundational Declaration of Human Rights. One of the most quoted women of all time, this influential leader + prolific writer never retired from her good work. For her tireless efforts to create peace and understanding among all peoples, Eleanor was affectionately dubbed, "First Lady to the World."

bio bits

her quotes

all quotes by Eleanor Roosevelt (28)

"As I grow older I realize that the only pleasure I have in anything is to share it with someone else."

What I Hope to Leave Behind | april 1933

"Memorial Day should never be given up, but as the years go by we hope that people will be honored for their lives and not for their deaths."

My Day | may 1938

"I wish that we could use Decoration Day {Memorial Day} throughout this country, not only as a patriotic celebration to honor the deeds of the past, but as a day on which we remind our young people of their obligation to the future. On them lies the necessity to change the thinking of the future so that we will prevent graves all over the world."

My Day | may 1938

"You who are going to build a new world must go forward with courage."

Mrs. Roosevelt's talk at Camp Andrea | august 1940

"No one can make you feel inferior without your consent."

The Reader's Digest | september 1940

"On this Thanksgiving Day, my wish for all of you...is that life may give you a chance to be grateful for what you receive because you love the giver, and that you may have the joy of giving of yourself to those whom you may love."

My Day | november 1940

"I can easily forgive my enemies for I so greatly value my friends."

My Day | november 1940

"I am grateful for health and strength, the love of family and friends, for the power to enjoy so many things."

My Day | november 1940

"I know that we will be the sufferers if we let great wrongs occur without exerting ourselves to correct them."

My Day | august 1943

"The important thing is neither your nationality nor the religion you professed, but how your faith translated itself in your life."

My Day | september 1943

"Memorial Day . . . should be a day of consecration to the fulfillment of those things for which our men died."

My Day | may 1944

"Remembrance of our boys is not the really great significance of Memorial Day. If the great sacrifices of youth are to bear fruit, this day must remind us primarily of our duty to the living. It should be a day of consecration to the fulfillment of those things for which our men died."

My Day | may 1944

"A woman will always have to be better than a man in any job she undertakes."

My Day | november 1945

"When will our consciences grow so tender that we will act to prevent human misery rather than avenge it?"

My Day | february 1946

"In numbers there is strength, and we in America must help the women of the world."

My Day | october 1946

"I cannot believe that war is the best solution. No one won the last war, and no one will win the next war."

march 1948

"Whatever else Memorial Day may be, it is a day for thought, for remembering those who have loved their country and loved its people. What they loved was the life that they lived, and perhaps we can remember them best in promoting and preserving life and the standards which they held and craved for all future citizens."

My Day | may 1948

"It isn't enough to talk of peace. One must believe it. And it isn't enough to believe in it. One must work at it."

Voice of America | november 1951

"The sooner we begin to understand that nowhere in the world can we escape the results of conditions anywhere else in the world—the sooner will we be bringing about a time when Thanksgiving Day will be a day of world celebration."

My Day | november 1951

"It is good, I think, to have one day on which to count our blessings and to rejoice in the good things that have come to our land and to us as citizens of this land."

My Day | november 1955

"It is the living that we do that still matters and will matter in what we make of our country."

My Day | july 1957

"You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face."

You Learn by Living | january 1960

"You must do the thing you think you cannot do."

You Learn By Living | january 1960

"When you cease to make a contribution you begin to die."

to Mr. Horne | february 1960

"You will feel that you are no longer clothing yourself, you are dressing a public monument."

Redbook | november 1960

"Life was meant to be lived, and curiosity must be kept alive. One must never, for whatever reason, turn his back on life."

january 1961

"We make our own history. The course of history is directed by the choices we make and our choices grow out of the ideas, the beliefs, the values, the dreams of the people."

You Learn By Living | january 1963

"I think, at a child's birth, if a mother could ask a fairy godmother to endow it with the most useful gift, that gift would be curiosity."

Today's Health | october 1966
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curated with care by Pauline Weger