Eleanor Roosevelt – My Day (Feb. 1940)



By Eleanor Roosevelt

February 1, 1940

Washington, Wednesday –
Every year, I think the group of young movie stars who come to the Birthday Ball parties are the nicest group that we ever had. I think back, however, and decide that all our guests have been equally as attractive, and I wish we could see them all again. We had a nice luncheon party yesterday and toured the White House. In the evening, I met these young people again as I made my rounds of the different balls. The crowds were greater at every one of the parties last night and I wish the President could feel the spirit of these crowds. His speech conveyed, I hope, to everyone his great appreciation of what this great peacetime army accomplishes each year.

I visited two more District of Columbia institutions this morning. I think I will begin by telling you something of the second one which I saw. It is the Industrial Home School for White Children. Here the Board of Public Welfare cares for young white boys and girls under eighteen years of age. It is not a model institution. The buildings are old, the personnel is not entirely adequate, but it is of higher calibre and the management is better than in many other institutions.

I happened to be there at dinner time. They are served cafeteria style, so that the food is warm and palatable. My only criticism is that the servings did not seem to me very plentiful for growing children, but they do put a good deal of their food money into milk, and there is supervision and extra food for undernourished people. Because of the fact that they have a better personnel, there is a planned program of recreation and there is a public school on the premises. All of which, together with the work they have to do, makes this a much better life for young people. There should be, however, a new cottage type of institution on the outskirts of the city where a farm can be part of the educational program.

The other institution which I visited, is the Receiving Home For Children, where both white and colored are sent. The dormitories are crowded and inadequate, recreation space allows for no segregation, so that a little 6-year-old boy spends his day with boys of eighteen, who may have committed some really serious offenses. Medical examination is delayed and there is no program of recreation or education and no space for it. Of course, children are supposed to stay only a short time, but they may be here for three or four weeks.

Three small boys of six, eight and nine were there today as lodgers, because their mother had to go to a hospital and they were left without any care. They were attractive looking youngsters you would have been glad to take to your own home and look after. I don’t know why it should be so, but the attendants told me that it is rare that colored children are left uncared for, for someone in the neighborhood nearly always takes them in.

Both of these institutions should be doing a real job of rehabilitation. As far as the receiving home goes, it would be impossible to do anything of that kind and I think if you visit it you will come away with a heartache. There is just one cheerful note, and that is the decoration done by WPA artists. In both institutions they give a note of color and cheer.

February 2, 1940

Washington, Thursday –
I had a picturesque visitor yesterday afternoon in Chief Kiutus Tecumseh, of Cashmere, Washington, bearing a box of Wenatchee Valley apples. The apples look and taste extremely good. I thought he looked a trifle worn and sad in spite of a very colorful costume with much beadwork on it. He told me he was a singer and loved to tell the story and history of the Indians, but found that there was remarkably little interest in his people and audiences were scarce. This seems strange to me, for the Indians have skills and arts developed over hundreds of years and there is much to be learned by us from these people who have suffered so much at our hands.

Later, the members of the Salmon Fisheries Commission came to tea. I was interested to find that they knew something of my Maine Coast as well as of their Pacific Coast. Some of them come from Seattle and know my daughter and son-in-law, which is always a bond.

At 7:30, I went to the dinner given by the American Planning and Civic Association, presided over by Mr. Frederic A. Delano. It was a very pleasant dinner because they could point to plans made and things accomplished and look forward with confidence to steady progress in the future. To Mr. Delano it must have been a satisfaction to see how deeply people appreciated the service which he had rendered. Here is a man who retired from business fairly young and then proceeded to give his services and to work just as hard at the business of being a good citizen, as he had worked for years at the business of providing for his family. Over and over again the phrase was repeated: “We thank you for the service you have rendered.”

After the dinner, I went to the Birthday Ball given by the colored employees of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing.

Today, I lunched with Miss Frances Perkins and a small and very pleasant group of women. The President never calls a Cabinet meeting on a Thursday, so she thought this was a safe day to do her duty in giving me a luncheon, but at about noon, she received word that there would be a Cabinet meeting at 3:00. It has really become quite a joke with us, for, if by chance, she is lunching with me, we can be quite sure that, that will be the day the President sends for her at the lunch hour. This unexpected summons hurried our luncheon today somewhat, but I was able to walk part of the way home and discovered that we suddenly had made a rapid advance toward spring. The air is soft and pleasant and everything is melting under foot.

This afternoon I am going to a reception given by Mrs. Hull, wife of the Secretary of State, and tonight we have our last formal dinner and state reception. This one, given to the Army and Navy, always comes at the end of the season and is almost as colorful as the diplomatic reception. There are usually more people attending this reception than any other, but they are so well disciplined that they take less time to pass by and shake hands. The President is taking the train after the reception for Hyde Park and I am going to New York City on the night train and will join him in the country on Saturday.

February 3, 1940

New York, Friday –
Both the President and I left Washington last night, but both of us went to our trains later than we expected. The reception was the largest one we have held this year and after it was over, a few of the people who were staying in the house, went up to the President’s study to talk for a few minutes. It seemed a little odd to go off and leave our guests, but my aunt, Mrs. David Gray, who is staying with us, was asked to be hostess and to watch over their comfort.

Mlle. Eve Curie arrived yesterday afternoon for dinner and the night, and the President was very glad to see her again. She tells me that she must return to France in two and a half months when her contracts have been fulfilled, for she is mobilized for work there. I looked at this slender, dark, very chic and charming woman, who does not look as though she were made for hard work, and yet can come over to this country and spend two months on the road.

She looks her best on all occasions, meets people, I am sure, with the thought in her mind that she is not only making friends for herself, but for her country and that, therefore, she must try to meet as many people as possible to draw out their questions and their points of view and, if possible, leave them with a friendlier feeling toward her nation than they had before.

The press came to see her and, I imagine, gave her a very uncomfortable hour, for it was their job to try to get something startling in the way of news, regardless of whether it made life more difficult for her. The result must be that an interview with the press anywhere is more or less a battle of wits in which she must be careful to say nothing which might seem to suggest that she is trying to influence or criticize anything in this country while we are offering her our hospitality. With the best intentions in the world, it is hard always to foresee in what way the simplest phrase may be interpreted.

I wonder sometimes that our visitors from other lands do not fall into the pitfalls spread for them more often than they do. In any case, I think France is fortunate in sending over Mlle. Curie, for she wins the hearts of those who come in contact with her and her mother’s great achievements as a scientist have already laid the foundation for friendlier feeling where the women of this country are concerned.

I have spent a frivolous morning here trying on two Easter dresses and ordering a new knit fabric dress which my friend, Mrs. June Hamilton Rhodes, recommended because she said I could travel a long time in it, roll it into a ball if necessary and have it come out un-creased. She showed me one she had worn on her trip to the West Coast and back, but the proof of any pudding is always in the eating and I can tell you more about this dress later on in the spring.

February 5, 1940

Hyde Park, Sunday –
Here it is Sunday and I have had a little over 24 hours in the country. Frankly, I feel a trifle guilty about it, for on Thursday, just before I left Washington, I received a letter inviting me to testify on Saturday evening before the Congressional Committee which is investigating the District of Columbia institutions.

I thought that I should return to Washington and give up coming here, but the President felt that the committee could do quite well without my testimony. Of course, I think one of the really useful tasks performed by husbands is to remind their wives occasionally that they are not really as important as they think they are. However, I am so interested in this Congressional investigation, that I hope the committee will give me another opportunity to talk to them about some of the problems of the institutions I have seen these past two weeks.

In the meantime, on Friday afternoon, I went to the Gallery St. Etienne on West 57th St., New York City, where some really beautiful photographs taken by Dr. Hannau, an Austrian, were being shown. Some of the scenes, to be on sale later as postcards, are startlingly lovely. Later, Mrs. Heywood Broun, Miss Kay Thorne, who with a group of other young people is producing a play on her own, and Mrs. June Hamilton Rhodes, came to tea with us. Mrs. Henry Morgenthau Jr. arrived from the country and Miss Thompson and I went to a play with her before attending the Front Page Ball of the New York Newspaper Women’s Club, at which I again gave the prize awards for the year.

I always do this with considerable trepidation, but I cannot help being pleased by the fact that they asked me to present them. The fact that Miss Kathleen McLaughlin is president of the club this year was an added pleasure, for she is my son-in-law and daughter’s friend. Miss Ruth Millett, Miss Virginia Pope and Miss Helen Worden were all present to receive their awards, and there was real sense of thrill when the fourth winner, Miss Sonia Tomara of the New York Herald Tribune, whose award I handed to Mrs. Ogden Reid, spoke to us from Belgrade, Yugoslavia, where she is at present.

We also heard the voice of Mrs. Anne O’Hare McCormick of the New York Times, who had just joined Miss Tomara in this city so far away from home.

Some of the most eminent gentlemen guests participated in the floor show. A remarkable magician took away their belongings while their attention was fixed on something else. He did a wonderful card trick and ended with a ring trick which no one could attempt to explain. Then we were delighted to see a young dancer, Hal Le Roy, who had fascinated us earlier in the evening in the play Too Many Girls. This play is one of the best musical comedies we have seen this year and we enjoyed every minute of it.

Since I can probably never thank all the girls in the cast individually for their charming gift of flowers, which was brought to me in an entr’acte, I want to do it here and, at the same time, tell the entire cast that we grieved at having to leave before the end of the play in order to be at the ball in time to go on the air.

February 6, 1940

Washington, Monday –
When I arrived at the station in Poughkeepsie yesterday afternoon, I found that the trains were running late. Luckily, I made a train ahead of the one I had intended to take, but even at that I only reached New York City at 6:13 p.m. It being a Sunday, I went straight through the station to the 42nd Street side, stepped into a taxi at 6:20, and was in the Pennsylvania Station at 6:25. There I was greeted by Mrs. Morgenthau, who waved my tickets at me, and with a look of great relief said:

If you had been one minute later, I would have asked to have the train held for you.

That would have been really humiliating, for in spite of the fact that I am granted special favors on all occasions, I still have an inherent dislike to ask for them.

However, we made the train easily and I was handed a large envelope which Miss Thompson had sent me in care of the station master, just to give me something to do on my trip to Washington. She was quite successful, and with the exception of a short time out for dinner, Mrs. Morgenthau worked on the contents of her briefcase and I did what I could with the envelope of mail, but it was far from finished when we pulled into the Washington station.

All my guests were already here, and Mrs. Gray met me at the station to tell me of their safe arrival. They had all gone to bed, so our first meeting was at breakfast this morning. After breakfast, we separated to go our various ways, but Mrs. Joseph Patterson, who is staying with me, is a member of the NYA conference which opened here this morning, so she and I had only to go down to the East Room to start our day’s work.

This first session was given up to speeches which attempted to set the problems of the NYA girls before the groups. The National Youth Administration feels that it wants to do the best possible job, both for the young people who are still in school or college and who receive some cash payments for which they do specified work in connection with the school or college, and also for those young people on the Work Projects. These are set up to meet the demands of the out-of-school, out-of-work young women under 25 years of age, and are planned with the hope of training them for jobs.

Mrs. Dorothy Canfield Fisher gave a most stimulating address in which she stressed the point that women had simply followed their jobs out of the home into the world and were continuing their usual occupations, which now existed outside the home. The modern home no longer requires the work of women and, therefore, they search for an outlet and find it almost entirely in the same type of service which they rendered at one time within the four walls of their homes.

Some of the statements by young people at the close of the morning were very interesting and from now on the sessions will be discussion meetings. I hope we will face the problems before us and receive some good suggestions on how to do a better job than we are doing today.

February 7, 1940

Washington, Tuesday –
Yesterday afternoon we had a most delightful musicale here. Miss Germaine Leroux, pianist, played with great power and it was hard to believe that such a slight, young thing could have such strength of execution. Mr. Sydney Rayner sang delightfully and his encore from Pagliacci brought down the house. In fact, one woman told me she had never heard anyone except Caruso sing it better.

Today I held the last big formal luncheon of the season, and that is all I have to tell you about purely social functions!

At 7:00 last night, I saw the opening of an exhibition at the new National Museum, which I hope every citizen in the District of Columbia will visit. Many visitors from out of town should also see it, so they will be inspired to go home and demand a similar one in their own localities. The exhibit is entitled “Tomorrow’s Citizen.” 14 social, civic and educational groups in the District of Columbia collaborated. They have a mechanical man who tells the purpose of the exhibit and starts you on your tour. The dioramas, pictures and graphic charts tell the story. In one booth, designed to help people to do better buying, they showed actual exhibits of products sold at varying prices.

For instance, there is one product which can be bought in the same quantity at three different price levels. I only had half an hour to spend, but it was certainly worth going without dinner to see this exhibit. I kept thinking how useful it could be in acquainting rural counties, villages and cities with conditions in their own neighborhoods.

From there I went to the Professional Writers Club, where they had just about finished dinner. A most interesting program of music was played and I gave a short talk, leaving there at 8:30, and returning to the White House to meet a group of Representatives and Senators who had come to talk over the Citizenship Institute with three young leaders of the American Youth Congress. It opens this coming Friday evening, the 9th of February, and the American Youth Congress is sponsoring it here. I felt deeply grateful to those busy men who spent several hours after their day’s work talking over the problems of youth. It is so encouraging to find that they realize the needs of those young people and that they want to understand them and help them.

We talked until after 11:00 and I found it an interesting evening. One of the Representatives stayed after the others had left. I found that he was under the impression that the American Youth Congress was going before Congress with a youth act that would ask for money to be appropriated to the Youth Congress. We, who are familiar with the Youth Act, take it for granted that everybody knows that these youth groups are asking for the recognition of the fact that the National Youth Administration must be a permanent and not an emergency agency, and that the appropriation they ask for is a greatly enlarged NYA program. So it was rather a shock to discover that anyone did not understand this fact.

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February 8, 1940

Washington, Wednesday –
Yesterday morning and afternoon, I presided at two closing sessions of the National Youth Administration conference. Some of the young NYA girls told their stories, typical of so many more. What has remained with me most vividly is the horrible feeling that such a vast army of young women are untouched by this program and that this is equally true for the young men.

Of course, the organized youth corps, who are in constant touch with these young people, feel their plight passionately. Many of the leaders of the youth corps are young people who could easily obtain jobs which would pay them far more than any youth organization could possibly pay them. Because of what they have seen, however, and because of the idealism of youth, which is always fired by an opportunity for service, they stick where they think they can help their own generation. The older people, sympathetic as they are, still do not feel the problem the way the young people do. I think they do not quite understand the intensity of feeling shown by the youth leaders and are rather frightened by it.

These young people, by their very passionate desire to stir people to action, show they are somewhat frightened by the fact that they cannot find answers to their problems and are in need of reassurance. I wonder if the older groups will be able to meet this challenge to their understanding and imagination.

A continuing committee is to be appointed to carry out the findings agreed upon during these two days of conference. I hope it will lead to work in many communities that has never been done before.

In the evening, I attended the National Democratic Forum on peace, unity and cooperation, conducted under the auspices of the Women’s National Democratic Club and presided over by Mr. Denny of the New York City Forum of the Air. It seemed to me a very successful meeting and Senator Walsh, Mr. Ernest Lindley and I remained to be questioned, even though the Postmaster General, Mr. Farley, had to leave after his speech. The Senator from Massachusetts gave the right note of importance and knowledge to the meeting. Mr. Lindley, in his capacity as columnist and writer, spoke on the subject from the point of view of the average citizen, and gave the note of humor which was needed to lighten the evening. I feel sure that everybody was grateful to him for a very delightful speech.

I left the club at about 10:30 and went down to the Navy Relief Ball, held in the sail-loft in the Navy Yard. Here they had transformed the entrance so that you seemed to be entering the old Charleston Navy Yard. The young men and girls were dressed in the costumes of the Sixties. The dancehall was decorated with flags and lights, so that you could hardly believe that it was ordinarily just a bare sail-loft. The Navy Relief Society is very proud of the fact that, through this organization, the families, widows and children of those in need who are in anyway connected with the Navy, have been kept off the public relief rolls.

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February 9, 1940

Boston, Thursday –
The members of the Democratic National Committee who were meeting in Washington, came to tea with me on Tuesday afternoon and I thought the ladies seemed particularly elated by the passage of a resolution which is a new milestone in the participation of women in party politics.

Steps of this kind are not of interest only to the women in one political party, they are of interest to all women, because what is done by one party is soon done also by the others. Those of us who believe that women’s advice and influence are of importance in public affairs, look back with considerable interest at the record of our own particular party. In both major parties, the record shows the growing importance of women. I belong to the Democratic party, and so I give you my party’s record here.

In 1919, the Executive Committee of the National Democratic Committee, anticipating the ratification of the constitutional amendment permitting women to vote, decided on September 27 to admit women to membership. In 1920, Miss Charl Ormond Williams was elected vice chairman of the National Democratic Committee. In 1936, at the Democratic National Convention held in Philadelphia, women were named as alternates to the platform committee for the first time, with the privilege of voting when regular members were not present and now, on February 5, 1940, the Democratic National Committee meeting in Washington, has passed the following resolution:

Whereas, it is the sense of this committee that women be given an equal voice in the affairs of the Democratic Party,

Now, therefore, be it resolved, that this committee recommend to the next Democratic National Convention a consideration of a resolution there to be introduced, providing that each State, District and Territory shall name two members to serve on the committee on platform and resolutions, and that the members so designated by each State, District and Territory shall be of the opposite sex.

In addition, resolutions passed provided that four delegates-at-large be chosen from each state for each Senator in Congress and it was recommended to the states that one-half of these delegates be women.

At present, in the Democratic Party, women have 50–50 representation on the state committees in 38 states. Only 9 states in the Union do not give women equal representation on some of the political committees, either by party regulations or by law.

Even more important than these gains, however, is the caliber of women chosen for political offices. I hope that every woman is going to feel a great responsibility, not only in holding party offices, but in choosing those who are to hold those offices and who will, therefore, represent the women of their communities.

I left Washington yesterday by the evening train for Boston. Space will not permit me today to tell you what I have done here and of one thing which occurred on Wednesday in Washington which meant a great deal to me, but fortunately there is another day coming.

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February 10, 1940

Washington, DC –
Yesterday was a most interesting day, but my first pleasant surprise was to be met in Boston at 7:30 a.m. by our son, John, who had driven in from Nahant. It even made up for the cameras and the two poor newspapermen who tried to ask me questions. I am never very chatty when I get off a night train, but Johnny and I went over to the hotel and had breakfast, which gave us a chance for a good talk before he went to work and I went out to Dr. and Mrs. Conant’s house in Cambridge.

The executive committee of the Harvard Dames had a small luncheon for me at the Faculty Club, and then we went over to their meeting in Phillips-Brooks House. I thought that the Harvard Dames must be the wives of faculty members, so I was somewhat surprised to find that they are the wives of graduate students who have returned to do some special piece of work. Many of these women hold jobs while their husbands take this extra bit of education. Others profit by this year at Harvard in many different ways. Mrs. Conant said that their ability to do a great deal, both educational and social, on limited funds was a lesson to everyone with whom they came in contact.

Their guests for the afternoon were the Dames of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. After a program of music, which was beautifully rendered by a young Mrs. Flanders, I gave a short talk which was followed by questions. Later we stood and received the group as they went down for tea.

Johnny and Anne arrived at Mrs. Conant’s a little before 7:00 and were at dinner with the journalists who held the Nieman Fellowships. A sum of money was left to Harvard with rather broad instructions, the wording used was:

The income to be used to elevate the standards of journalism.

Dr. Conant decided that these instructions could best be carried out by fellowships to men already in the newspaper profession, who would be specially chosen by the committee and then be allowed to educate themselves in their chosen fields in any way that seemed to them advantageous. At their dinners they have a variety of guests, newspaper editors, columnists, writers, everyone is grist to their mill. I felt that there was little I could contribute, but it proved of great interest to me and I hope I learned something.

One amusing little incident was the fact that at the opening of the dinner the United Feature Syndicate called up from New York City to tell me my column had not been received. It was finally discovered in the wrong basket at the Cambridge telegraph office and apologies seemed to be in order to Dr. Conant’s secretary, who had filed it for me at about one o’clock. The newspaper men appreciated my dilemma greatly.

Just as dinner ended, six freshmen came to the door and bore a valentine which proved to be a heart-shaped box of candy. I asked them what difference their political party labels made to them, and the prompt reply was:


I returned to New York City on the midnight train and flew to Washington this morning.

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February 12, 1940

Washington, Sunday –
I told you the other day that something had happened on Wednesday which I had found very thrilling, and I must go back to tell you about it. I have always greatly admired Edna Ferber, but never had the opportunity to meet her. A mutual friend suggested bringing her to me, so I invited them to lunch. I confess I was a little nervous, for so often people you admire at a distance do not mean so much to you after you meet them. In this case, however, when Miss Ferber left, I felt that I had had the privilege of meeting a grand person and I shall look forward to every new thing from her pen with added interest and anticipation.

I am very much impressed to find myself occupying half a page in the 75th anniversary edition of the Nation. I have always had a great respect for anyone who was good enough to write for the Nation, so perhaps I may be forgiven if I feel a little puffed up at being permitted to be a contributor to this important number. I enjoyed particularly some of the notes on volume No. 1 of the Nation published July 6, 1865. One of the articles on “Critics and Criticism” by Charles Astor Bristed is quite delightful. One little item I took to heart:

We believe that our authors themselves would not be sorry for a little less butter and a little more pepper; we are certain it would do them good, whether they liked it or not.

I have been hearing from another field of activity where critics are numerous, in the past few days, and there is plenty of “pepper” in what they say. However, I am enjoying it very much.

Since Friday evening, I have spent considerable time observing the Citizenship Institute of the American Youth Congress. Instead of the 3,000 young people they had expected, some 4,600 have registered. They are a thoughtful and interested group drawn from schools, colleges, churches, farms and organizations of every kind which touch the interests of youth.

Some of the young people come with ease, but most of them have come at great personal sacrifice. A friend of mine said that this must seem to them a very happy adventure, but I think that it is not so, for a great number of them must have had difficulty persuading their families to allow them to leave crowded homes for the first time. Strange though it may seem, the poor homes with little to eat and little to offer in the way of shelter, gain their sense of security largely by being bound together as a family group. Any member of the group, who goes away, even for a few days, creates a matter of deep consideration and considerable trepidation.

I went to their interfaith service this morning and felt that it was a beautiful thing, which I enjoyed being able to attend.

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February 13, 1940

Washington, Monday –
I spent yesterday afternoon listening to the American Youth Congress. One after the other, young people rose and told of the difficult position in which they found themselves. That is the thing, above all others, which will remain with me as a result of listening to these sessions. Many, many young people are facing desperate situations. They are trained to express themselves better than they were in my generation, so they are able to tell you much that is on their minds. I think that is very fortunate for them and us.

Whether you agree with everything that is said, whether you can see eye to eye with this group or that group, is immaterial. The point is, that it is good for people to state openly what they have on their minds and in their hearts.

The great majority of the young people have gone home this morning, and the small group which constitutes the assembly is getting down to business to formulate a program to make people conscious of their need for jobs, to cover the fields which may help individuals, and to fit themselves better for any jobs they can undertake. Finally, the other thing which remains with me from the past few days, is the determination of youths that, so far as they are able to influence the nation, that they do not want to have the present problems settled by going to war. War seems to them not only a method of ending their lives, but a method by which we put off facing the fact that the economic questions of today have to be answered.

Labor’s Non-Partisan League has suggested that, from the political angle, they work with that organization. I think this would probably be a very valuable experience. I worked for years with the League of Women Voters before I took any active part in any political party and I feel it was very beneficial. But, in the end, if one wishes to exert the maximum influence through suffrage, one must join a political party, work in the organization and have something to do with the nominations.

When all is said and done, the greatest influence any individual can have is by working in cooperation with other individuals. In nonpartisan organizations, one can exert influence by, in specific cases, throwing the organization this way or that, but one has very little influence on the actual conditions of the major political parties or the nominations which are made for the various offices.

Yesterday evening, I stopped in at the dinner held by the National Jewish Congress for a few minutes, and I was very glad to have an opportunity to speak with them.

I am now going with the President to the ceremonies at the Lincoln Memorial, and later to the Congressional Club breakfast.

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February 14, 1940

Washington, Tuesday –
Yesterday afternoon was a fairly busy one. First of all, the Society of Sponsors, who are holding their annual meeting here, came to tea. Then, at about 5:30, the members of the American Youth Congress Assembly, who had been holding their final meetings all day, came to tea. I have never seen a more appreciative group and was impressed by their interest in the White House and their admiration of the new Lincoln portrait hanging in the State Dining Room. So many people pay no attention to their surroundings, and it was interesting to note how wide awake and appreciative these youngsters were.

I feel that their program for work is good. It calls for councils to survey for jobs in different localities and to open up as many new opportunities as possible, as well as for a method of keeping before communities the situation in which great numbers of young people find themselves. This is a constructive program. Of course, this method is the way by which they hope to show people that, until jobs are available to young people who are ready and willing to work, the American Youth Act must fill the gap. The act provides, among other things, for a permanent National Youth Administration with a much larger grant of money, $500,000,000 in fact, to give both vocational guidance and training and work at prevailing wages on public projects to all unemployed young people.

In the evening, I went to speak to the Monday Evening Club, a group of people in Washington who are concerned with civic betterment, and who have worked a long time on improving conditions from various angles.

This morning, I had a swim before a rather late breakfast. I feel, because I have no more official engagements in Washington until March, that I have already begun a holiday, even though there will be two days at the end of this week when I shall be working very hard – one in Tallahassee and one in Daytona Beach, Florida. I don’t suppose that tomorrow and Thursday in Ithaca, NY, will be, on the whole, a period of rest and inactivity. I shall tell you more about that as we go along.

I want to remind people who are interested in the progress that women have made, that February 15 will be Susan B. Anthony’s birthday. It seems to me that, in the words of Rheta Childe Dorr:

…every woman who holds a job, who goes to college, who is a lawyer, doctor, scientist, teacher, as well as every mother who has the power to protect her children, and above all, every woman who votes or holds office, owes to Susan B. Anthony a debt of gratitude that can never be paid.

Sometimes we forget how rapidly changes have come about for women and how much progress has been made toward their participation as persons in the life of our nation.

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February 15, 1940

Syracuse, NY, Wednesday –
I left Washington on the 1:00 plane yesterday and, on arrival in New York, I went directly to the Hotel Astor to receive a book made for me by the children of Meir Shfeya, a self-governing juvenile village in Palestine. It was a very sweet thought and I deeply appreciate it. Then I went and did a little shopping and then back to my apartment to meet Mrs. Henry Morgenthau Jr. She went to Chicago to see one of her sons last week and returned with no voice whatsoever, but in spite of that we went out last night. We dined together and went to a play. I shall have to tell you about it tomorrow, for I have several things I want to mention in this column today.

One of them is the fact that from February 18-25, which is the week during which Washington’s birthday occurs, there will be the 7th annual observance of Brotherhood Week. This celebration will be participated in by Protestants, Catholics and Jews in over a thousand communities throughout the nation. It is so easy for hatreds and intolerances to arise when the world is in a turmoil as it is today. Those of us who are fortunate enough to be at peace, should make every effort to keep constantly before us principles which will help us to be of service when peace comes again to the whole world.

The ten goodwill resolutions which are published for use during this week, should, I think, be kept in a place where all of us can look at them day by day, and so I am quoting them here:

We left New York City this morning on a 9:00 train for Syracuse, New York. There my friend, Mr. Leo Casey, is meeting us and taking us to see a housing project before he drives us to Ithaca.

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February 16, 1940

Ithaca, NY, Thursday –
I must go back and tell you about a delightful play which I saw in New York on Tuesday evening. Two On An Island by Elmer Rice is like so many other plays this winter, a series of episodes, but they are charming and clever. I was interested to find that several of the young actors and actresses, who did their parts extremely well, were theatre children, so to speak, the sons and daughters of people I have known and enjoyed upon the stage.

Now to go back to more recent happenings. We visited the housing project in Syracuse in a near blizzard yesterday afternoon, but the two houses I was able to inspect looked very attractive and I can vouch for the fact that the heating in this project is good. They seem to have built with great consideration for sun, air and play space in the center of the block. The plans are simple but sensible and adequate. The rents, which include all utilities such as gas, electric light, heat and water seem to me reasonable. The best gauge of the success of any project is the fact that the tenants who have been living there are contented. The manager told me that many things had been said to discourage people from moving in, but that those who were now there were bringing others, so that the applications are increasing daily. I talked to one woman, who had no idea who this visitor out of the storm could possibly be, but who answered my questions very cheerfully. She said she had never been so happy in her life.

After this stop, we started on our drive to Ithaca. The snow came down steadily and was already thick on the ground. Some newspaper men followed us and we made pretty good time until something happened to a coil in the engine. It was a most considerate coil, for it burned out (is that what coils do?) just outside a garage, so the car behind us pushed us in. We sat around and talked for an hour while we waited for another coil to be obtained and put in.

We proceeded on our way and reached Miss Rose’s, at Cornell University, at about 7:00, but our newspapermen were lost on the way. I thought Miss Rose would probably expect us to start out to attend several meetings, and Mrs. Morgenthau murmured gently in my ear that all she wanted was some food and a nice warm fire. When we arrived, we found that Miss Rose had provided just that for us, besides the company of several pleasant people. We spent a quiet happy evening. I was glad at about 11:00 to receive a phone message saying that the two boys who had driven us down had returned safely to Syracuse. I can vouch that our driver was one of the best I have ever seen and I really enjoyed the snow in spite of the delay.

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February 17, 1940

Washington, Friday –
The day at Cornell University yesterday was much the same as it always is. We spent the morning discussing the various new developments in the College of Home Economics. Miss Rose made a statement which was interesting and very true. She says that her girls have a sense of security brought about by the fact that they learn how to handle their own lives and know they have acquired real knowledge in some special field of home economics work, which will enable them to earn a living.

The one thing that stands out in these girls is that they look strong and healthy, as though they have learned something in the course of their study about the basic rules of health and have applied it to their own lives. It seems to me that much beauty is dependent on health. If a girl has to surmount some physical handicap or ill health, it requires even greater effort and control of the mind and spirit.

Some of the girls inquired of me how I felt they could supplement their course in home economics to make it prepare them better to appreciate a greater variety of subjects. This shows a realization that we all need many windows in order to obtain satisfactions from as many points as possible. Difficult as it is for a girl to concentrate on one course and still take others on the side, I think that whatever speciality she works on, she should try to broaden her viewpoint so as to obtain more and more enjoyment out of the world in which she lives.

They had quite a remarkable book fair here this year and I was sorry I did not see it. They told me of one book which traced the development of the language in Dutchess County, New York, and gave many of the old Dutch words. These words have always intrigued me and I have always wanted to know their meanings, so I must find this book and devote some leisure time to it in the summer.

Before going to the Master Farmers’ Dinner, we stopped at the university radio station, and Miss Rose and I were interviewed by some of the students taking the radio course. They were well prepared and the whole time was filled in a perfectly natural and informal manner, which I am sure carried interest for their listeners, both on and off the campus.

The Master Farmers’ Dinner was a little less crowded than usual because of the condition of the roads, but it was a surprise to me to find how many guests were there. There was a table filled by master farmers and one filled by young people, who were also to receive awards. Unfortunately, in order to make our train from Elmira, Mrs. Morgenthau, Dr. Louise Stanley and I had to leave at 9:00. We did have the pleasure of seeing Governor Lehman come in and speaking to him for a minute, and we also had a word with his secretary, Mr. Walter Brown. We missed hearing the glee club sing, which Mrs. Morgenthau and I always particularly enjoyed. Above all, we missed hearing the citations read and this is always the high spot of the evening for me, so we left with real regret. However, it was lucky that we took no later train, for the one we were on was due at 7:50 a.m. in Washington morning, and it arrived at 10:30.

I am spending the day trying to catch up on lost time.

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February 19, 1940

Daytona Beach, Fla., Sunday –
I left Washington yesterday morning by air at 11:00 a.m. Senator and Mrs. Pepper came to see me off. I think they wanted to be quite sure that I actually started on my trip to Tallahassee. We took off under blue skies, but before long, clouds appeared on the horizon and I began to worry as to whether we would have bad weather before we reached Jacksonville. Fortunately, the wind and rain did not bring us a very low ceiling and I was able to change in Jacksonville to a smaller plane. The weather grew worse and the clouds seemed to close in ahead of us. We were flying very low and every now and then the ground would disappear under the scudding clouds. We landed in Tallahassee in a downpour of rain, and I was worried about a group of girls who evidently came to see the plane come in and stood in the mud with little rivers running all around them.

We drove at once to Mrs. Moor’s house, in front of which are some of the most beautiful oak trees, none of them less than a hundred years old. There is no doubt about it, trees like this make any park space really beautiful.

We reached the Florida State College almost an hour late. They have a fine campus with many new buildings which have been added under PWA or WPA. The Federal Government seemed to have contributed something of real value here under its emergency works program. We paused in the gymnasium to greet a big group of girls who could not get into the auditorium, and drove directly to the auditorium for the exercises. On our return to Mrs. Moor’s house, the children fell upon me with requests for autographs in books and on sheets of paper for themselves and their friends.

I didn’t mean to stay for dinner, but since my hosts were to drive me over to Jacksonville, and they were kind enough to assure me that the meal would be short, I stayed and dined very sumptuously before leaving. Piloted by the state highway patrol, they drove me into Jacksonville through heavy rain and we arrived safely at about 12:30. This morning the same patrol drove me to Daytona, for the section of the train on which my secretary, Miss Thompson, was traveling, was three hours late.

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February 20, 1940

Golden Beach, Fla., Monday –
Here I am installed in a very comfortable house on Golden Beach, in Florida, and our holiday has already begun. The one engagement I had before arrival was with the press, and they were all here when I arrived. So, almost before I had really looked over the house, the photographers had their field day, and the reporters asked all their questions. Now they are gone, and from now on nothing has to be done. I should qualify that a bit, for this column must be written, but if I didn’t write it, I’d feel something was missing. Also, the mail must be attended to every day. So far as social engagements are concerned, or duties of any kind, they are wiped off my books during my stay here.

Spending a holiday is really a very nice feeling, but not having experienced it very often in my life, it makes me feel a bit guilty and I wonder if something won’t happen which will necessitate my return to the more normal existence of doing things which have to be done. In any case, I am going to enjoy every day as we live it.

Yesterday afternoon, the exercises at the Bethune-Cookman College were a little disturbed by a heavy shower of rain and a great many people left their seats outside and stood inside the auditorium. It was surprising to me how many representatives there were from other schools and colleges to bring Mrs. Bethune congratulations on her work and good wishes for the future.

Until I went over the plant, I never realized what a really dramatic achievement this junior college is. It ministers to the needs of 100,000 Negroes from Daytona south, and it takes 250 students. The object is to train leaders who will return to their communities and serve their people in whatever line of activity they have chosen as a life work. 35 years ago, Mrs. Bethune began with five little girls. The first land was bought with the first five dollars earned. This land up to that time had been part of the city dump in a portion of the city known as “Hell’s Hole.”

Like all other colleges, they still need a great deal – a library building, for instance, and many more books. From this small library in Bethune-Cookman College, books are sent travelling around into the various rural districts of the vicinity. They need a substantial endowment fund, a building where better shop work can be done, for at present the quarters are too small. Somehow, I have a feeling that this work is going to grow and that Mrs. Bethune’s dream is going to carry her people far along the way to better education and better standards of living.

Mr. Aubrey Williams was with us for the day, and Mr. Clarence Pickett came to see me for a little while in the late afternoon. Both of them took the train north in the evening, and I confess that a quiet evening was very agreeable to me. We left Daytona about 9:30 this morning and motored down here, stopped to drink some delicious orange juice on the way and bought a swing made of cypress to send back to put beside the swimming pool at Hyde Park. I hope it will stand our weather and prove to be an addition to our outdoor furniture.

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February 21, 1940

Golden Beach, Fla., Tuesday –
My husband likes the ocean from the deck of a ship, even when the vessel rolls and pitches so much that most people retire to bed. My own appreciation of the ocean is always enhanced by being on dry land. I have a thrill when I drive up the coast of Maine and the road runs close to the beach, or high above it, with a view of the bays and tree covered lands, or limitless stretches of water.

When I first stepped out to the lawn of this house and looked across the water, two freighters were steaming by. The surf was pounding gently on the beach and it was lovely to see and hear it. The fascinating thing about the ocean is its change of color. One spot was emerald green and merged into very dark green and then gradually changed to blue. This morning there is a haze and the water is blue as far as I can see. Our house has windows on the ocean side that frame the view. There is a painting on the wall which looks like the bottom of the Marine Studio, for fish of every color are swimming around just as I saw them swim around the houseboat in which the President and I used to cruise among the Keys many years ago.

So far, it does not seem to me particularly warm here, but I hope that the climate will vindicate itself and give us plenty of sun. Perhaps it is being particularly considerate and not giving us too much at the start, so that we shall be spared a real sunburn. The house is filled with flowers which people have very kindly sent us. In addition, we were sent two large cakes. Both cakes are delicious. One is a coconut cake, which I feel sure is a speciality in these parts. I think we shall have to get some children to help us eat them.

Since our two days, conference in Washington, called by the National Youth Administration to consider occupations open to women, and the improvement of projects to help girls prepare themselves for some of these newer professions, I have had several interesting suggestions sent me. I happened to mention in this column that occupational therapy seems to be a field open to women and that there is still a great demand for them. I promptly received the most interesting letter from Miss Frances Holbrook, which told me about her Boston, Mass., school for occupational therapy – the only one in New England, she says, approved by the American Medical Association. She tells me they are trying to enlarge their plant and then will be able to train and place more girls. I am passing this information along to the National Youth Administration officials in the hope that they can work out something which will be of value to our girls in this field.

However, I received a rather sad letter from an older woman of 50 who finds it very hard to carry on in this profession because so many doctors prefer young women. She assures me that she is able to do the work well and expertly, and I wonder if 50 is not too young an age to lay a woman on the shelf in a profession which is admittedly in need of trained workers.

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February 22, 1940

Golden Beach, Fla., Wednesday –
Two very interesting things have come my way lately, both of which seem worth studying. Perhaps, various communities may find them adaptable to their own particular needs. The first plan is one tried out in Williamsport, Pa., and is called “A Plan of Jobs for Relief Clients.” The cardinal principle laid down is that it is the obligation of every community to reduce its relief load. It must seek to do this by methods which will improve the condition of those in need of assistance, for the only way to arrive at a permanent solution of the relief load is to procure every employable client a job on a private payroll.

In Williamsport, they claim to have found that 70% of those classified as able and willing to work, are actually unskilled or possess obsolete skills. About 85% of these unskilled clients possess sufficient background, education and inherent ability to do skilled or semi-skilled work, so Williamsport established a re-training school.

A visitor goes to each family on relief, and the member of that family who seems most likely to profit by training is picked out, even though it might be a younger member of the family instead of the head. They try to do a good job of studying individual capacities before anyone is assigned to training in the school. The school trains for a score or more occupations, so there is leeway for change. If the first occupation is not suitable, the school permits a change. Once a person is trained, it does its best to find a job for him and then follows up his work on that job. This plan has been undertaken by the various community and welfare agencies, who cooperate in it with the public schools in their adult education program. The training usually works out at a cost of about $100 per client.

I wonder if you are as impressed as I am by this program and whether it will be tried out in any other other community?

The second thing of interest is my recent discovery of the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History. This organization has just celebrated its annual week with a program sponsored by the Association and carried out in its schools, churches, organizations and institutions of all kinds interested in a knowledge of the Negro race and its history.

There is nothing which gives one so much pride as to be familiar with the achievements of one’s own race. There is so much today in literature and art which can give the Negro people a sense of the genius and achievement of their race, but too often their history is forgotten. I think this association will promote goodwill and respect between neighbors of different races in our own country

For the benefit of some of my friends who warned me that I could not spend any quiet days in Florida, I should record that during the past 24 hours I have spent many of them lying in the sun and find it very pleasant.

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February 23, 1940

Golden Beach, Fla., Thursday –
Yesterday evening we went to see the picture The Grapes of Wrath. I think it is well done, but I wonder if it will convey to many people the reality of what they are seeing. People laughed near us at some of the broad remarks in the dialogue. I did not feel the tragedy gripped the audience. They did not seem really to know what this story actually meant.

There are some lines that are very well brought out, as for instance, when Mrs. Joad first sees “Tommy” again, after he is back from prison and asks him if he has been hurt so much that he is just “mean-mad.” I have felt people were “mean-mad” at times and wondered if life were not treating them so harshly that they were unable to retain any of the qualities which make people lovable and that make life worth living. At the end of the picture, the thing which struck me especially was Ma Joad’s remark:

Rich people die and their children are no good, but nothing downs us. We are just hardened by misfortune and so we go on. We, the people, live.

This is not an exact quotation, but those of you who have seen the picture will remember the idea.

I shall not forget it, for there is something in that beating down of fate which does harden the fibre of a human being. When life is too easy for us, we must be beware or we may not be ready to meet the blows which sooner or later come to everyone, rich or poor.

In the midst of a world which seems to provide one at every turn with new tales of horror and suffering, a story has come to me which has nothing to do with war, for the suffering of the people of Korea has been brought about apparently by the mercilessness of nature. Last summer there was no rain and most of her people are agricultural and depend largely on what they grow for their livelihood. Everything was burned under the broiling sun. The people tried dry farming, but were unsuccessful. Their chief food in winter is kimchi, a kind of pickled cabbage and turnip, but this crop was also extremely meagre and this is what they add to their constant diet of rice. Fuel for the poor in Korea is usually brush and twigs, but they are short of that this winter. The cotton crop failed and they cannot make themselves their cotton padded garments for winter, so they are starving, freezing and dying. Perhaps it would be more merciful to be in a war zone, for at least bombs leave you little time for slow-suffering.

I tell you all this because, while Korea is far away, perhaps you will send an occasional check to the American Red Cross, marked for these people who are just one more addition to the world’s suffering people. It seems hard to sleep at night these times because the stress of homeless, hopeless people haunt one’s dreams. The Red Cross has announced that any of us may earmark our checks for whatever particular country we wish to benefit.

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