Eleanor Roosevelt – My Day (Jan. 1941)



By Eleanor Roosevelt

January 1, 1941

Washington, Tuesday –
This is the end of the year and all of us, I suppose, turn our minds back over the past year and think of what has happened to the world and to ourselves.

The world outlook must make us grieve. Peoples with no desire, many of them, to make life miserable for each other, have found themselves, nevertheless, drawn into the mesh of war, until the misery spread throughout the world is constantly increasing.

Some things can perhaps be counted as gains. For instance, the rise in England of the sense of cooperation and fellowship between all groups of peoples who find themselves the victims of a common danger and are bound together by a common determination.

We, in this country, as a nation, have made certain gains. We have come, I think, to a greater knowledge of the need for knowing our own nation and for accepting responsibility for the conditions which exist in it. We recognize that we frame the policies which govern our attitude toward both world and domestic conditions, and that we support or reject them in the long run.

The greater awareness and sense of responsibility is something for which to be grateful in a democracy. Young and old people have worked on awakening this interest and participation, and I think it is bearing fruit in a more intelligent citizenry. Of course, the democratic methods of discussion must bring certain recriminations on the part of those who differ with each other as to method, or even as to fundamental theories, but these differences only serve to stimulate interest, and a greater sense of responsibility on the part of those who must defend and uphold their own beliefs.

I doubt if anyone will say a thoughtless “Happy New Year.” They will know that happiness is hard to achieve in a world where war and famine and poverty and injustice still hold sway. Most of us will wish each other a “Happier New Year,” vowing inwardly that whatever we can do to obtain peace with honor and justice for all, we will do in the future. In our own country and in our own lives, we will try to disassociate ourselves from our personal interests sufficiently to help bring about such things as seem to be of benefit to our whole people.

Justice for all, security in certain living standards, a recognition of the dignity and the right of the individual human being without regard to his race, creed, or color – these are things for which vast numbers of our citizens will willingly sacrifice themselves. Progress may be slow, but as more of us keep this determination in our minds and hearts, I feel sure we will be able to say, as we look back over each year:

This has been a Happier New Year.

January 2, 1941

Washington, Wednesday –
How marvelously arrogant we all are in our use of the name of the Lord. Each one of us, feeling sure that the Lord is with us, proclaims the righteousness of his cause. It is interesting to find this done even by a man who at one time was understood to be substituting German mythology for the Christian religion!

Here is the quotation from Hitler’s speech in one of our newspapers:

The Lord God thus far has given His support to our struggle. If we faithfully and bravely fulfill our duty, He will not in the future desert us.

He also states:

Because we are fighting for the happiness of the peoples, we believe we have first earned the blessings of Providence.

“Peoples,” of course, means the German people and the race approved by Hitler, because he also states:

It is no empty phrase but in bloody earnestness we give assurance that for every bomb (dropped on Germany) ten or, if necessary, one hundred will be dropped in return.

What “happiness” I wonder, does this warfare bring to all peoples? Hitler must believe in a God of war and vengeance, but let us pray that somewhere we may find a God of love and peace. To the God of love and peace, even in these days, we may pray for grace to see clearly, to act justly, and to do that which we deem necessary to bring us back to a more peaceful and better world. But to a God of war and vengeance, there seems little one could say that would help suffering peoples!

The two little girls who are visiting us have had a pleasant time. Children certainly are happier when they have other children with whom to play. I think Diana is enjoying showing the sights to a new friend. The children’s party on Tuesday covered a wide range of ages, but by dint of putting the younger girls together, I think they all had a good time.

We are gradually accumulating girls of every age in the house. Yesterday, my niece, Amy Roosevelt, arrived, but since she is fifteen, she went off on a real sightseeing tour yesterday morning, which the little girls would hardly have been able to enjoy. The only visiting gentleman in the younger group with us, being two years old, receives a great deal of attention, but I am not always sure that he appreciates it.

We had a most delightful hour last night with the Detroit WPA Spiritual Singers as our entertainers. The President and all of our guests enjoyed them as much as I hoped they would. Their leader, Mr. Lehman Hardison, and the whole chorus, sang with spirit and feeling.

New Year’s Day is being spent very quietly. This day all of us look with a good deal of solemnity on the coming of 1941. We can but hope that a better world will rise from the ashes of the present one, and that all the destruction of the beauty built by the past may be followed by a real renaissance of the arts and lift the spirit of mankind.

January 3, 1941

Washington, Thursday –
Last night, we saw some very remarkable colored moving pictures taken in China by Mr. Rey Scott, a newspaper reporter of many years standing. I think he said he had been there four times in the last three years and these very beautiful and remarkable pictures were the result of his visits.

One sees China at peace. He shows the various types of people in the different provinces, as varied as our Indian, Mexican or Negro populations are from some of the other groups in our own country. Then the war comes and we see them united in war endeavors. The refugees are shown, the various occupations of a nation at war, the heads of the nation and, finally, the bombing of the present capital.

To me, the remarkable thing is the calm with which the people seem to face bombing whenever it occurs. I remember pictures of long lines of Spanish people waiting for their food rations outside of some shop in Madrid, lined up along the wall for protection from the airplanes flying overhead which were dropping bombs in their midst. There seemed to be no confusion and no particular fear registered on the faces of those people.

As we look at the English faces in the pictures which have come to us from bombed cities over there, everyone seems to be going about his particular job with comparative calm.

It is a tribute to the way human beings adjust to whatever they have to meet. Apparently, it is not just a lack of sensitiveness, for women and children seem able to adjust as well as men to the necessities of the hour.

A book I was reading last night from England, called And Beacons Burn Again, gives one a sense of pride in the average human being. The writer, belonging to the landed gentry group of England, which for centuries has considered its scions the leaders of the nation, practically says:

It is not my group who will save England, but the miners and the workers and the people from the slums.

Here is something to make us swell with pride, for it proves that our American conception of equality, which believes in giving each human being equal opportunity to develop as far as he can, is putting faith in the place where it should be, namely, in the strength and capacity of the average human being.

I lunched today with the Junior Chamber of Commerce of the District of Columbia, and am taking my mother-in-law to the train. She will be back with us for the inauguration, but we have not been able to persuade her to stay over to hear the President’s message on the 6th of January.

The three youngsters have gone to play with some friends this morning and the two little girls seem to be kept busy for the entire day. There is no doubt about it, holidays are gay times, but even the young have to be strong to take their constant activities.

January 4, 1941

Washington, Friday –
Last night, Miss LeHand and I found ourselves at dinner surrounded by gentlemen. I couldn’t help remarking how really unimportant it is to have our tables so carefully balanced as to an even number of ladies and gentlemen. We were certainly not evenly divided last night and yet everybody seemed to have a perfectly good time. Conversation flowed easily around the table.

It looks as though the gentlemen could manage to talk to each other occasionally and have an interesting time. I’ve learned from experience that women can do this too, so we need not be so agitated when our tables do not come out exactly even.

The chairman of the Junior Chamber of Commerce luncheon yesterday made an amusing remark when he introduced me. He said that there was apparently some fundamental reason why women added something to the enjoyment of an occasion, but he wasn’t sure what that fundamental reason might be. I hope that we may someday discover that there is no real reason for being divided up in social gatherings, and that women add to an occasion because they are pleasant human beings to have about.

The French rarely separate after dinner so as to allow the men to talk alone. They have a theory, I think, that conversation carried on by both men and women is apt to be more interesting. It all boils down really to individuals that are gathered together. If the men and the women are dull, the party will be dull.

The exact number on either side doesn’t really matter. It is just the individuals who make an evening pleasant and interesting, or that send one home with a feeling of a wasted evening and a fervent wish that one had chosen a book as a companion instead of human beings.

I think I must tell you a secret. Someone who read my column in which I ruefully regretted that it would be another four years before I could have a little black dog to sit on my white fur rug before the fire in my Hyde Park cottage, sent me for Christmas a life-size black toy dog! He has a created a sensation.

Little Franklin III and everyone else, young or old, picks him up from the corner which he occupies beside the fireplace here. My husband’s real live little black Scottie hasn’t quite decided yet whether he is an enemy or a friend. He comes and looks at the toy dog and if anyone picks it up and starts to make it move, “Fala” runs away. I think of all my Christmas presents this has proved the most popular.

I expected to fly to New York City today, but the planes are cancelled and I am taking the train. Such are the uncertainties of winter weather and I am wondering if I shall be able to fly back tomorrow night. Operating an airplane in winter must have its difficulties. Someone remarked last night that running a government must be an irritating job at times. Well, perhaps it is complicated for much the same reason that running an airline is. Human beings are about as unpredictable as the weather!

January 6, 1941

Washington, Sunday –
I reached New York City Friday afternoon just in time to be faced by a battery of cameras while I had my last fittings for three new dresses. Then Mrs. George Backer and Mr. John Rothschild, of the “Open Road,” came to see me.

Mrs. Henry Morgenthau Jr. came in from the country so we could go together to Flight To The West, by Elmer Rice. The casting and acting of the play are really remarkable. You feel as though you had been on the Clipper yourself and met and talked with the group of people who took the flight.

As a play, it lacks something which keeps it from being really great, but as a group of characterizations, it is extremely interesting and I think that anyone will feel that he has spent an evening which is well worthwhile. The successful oil man from Texas would be rather amusing if he were not rather terrifying. I wonder how many people really think it is smart to do business with a man who stands for everything that is opposed to the original American conception of democracy and freedom.

It seems to me a little like the doctrine:

The Devil, himself is an amazing fellow so long as I can get the best of him.

Since, in business, some of us think we are abler than the rest of the world, we think it is safe to traffic even with those who represent all we hate and fear.

I read Mr. Archibald MacLeish’s article yesterday in the Survey Graphic, and I grow to believe every day with greater conviction the truth he sets forth. America is not a pile of goods, more luxury, more comforts, a better telephone system, a greater number of cars. America is a dream of greater justice and opportunity for the average man and, if we can not obtain it, all our other achievements amount to nothing.

Even to dream, one must have a basis of economic security, and the dream is worth little if it can not provide that. Devotion to democracy, devotion to liberty, what we call patriotism, depends upon the realization of such conditions in our country as really give us the opportunity and hope for future dreams.

I drove up to Hyde Park yesterday morning and the drive along the Parkway was like a fairyland. Once out of the city, the fields and trees were covered with snow. When I reached my own cottage, the countryside was really beautiful. I had only a few hours, but two friends were spending the weekend there, so we walked up to the top of the hill after an early lunch and came back to chat in the living room, which made me almost forget that I had to make a train. Providence was kind and I looked at the clock, just in time to get to the station with five minutes to spare.

The weather had cleared and the moon shone, so I knew that I could make the 10:30 plane back to Washington. I spent the evening with a friend in New York City, and had the joy of listening to some inspiring and beautiful song records. The “Ballad For Americans,” which belongs so typically to our own country, I think should become familiar to every schoolchild.

January 7, 1941

Washington, Monday –
We have just come back from the Capitol, where we listened to the President deliver his message to Congress. Of necessity, a message to Congress is in fairly general terms. It cannot specify all the ways and means by which certain objectives are to be accomplished. I felt, however, that in this message, our national objectives were fairly clearly stated, and some of the details which will have to be later put into legislative form by Congress, were at least plainly indicated.

It did not seem to me anything in this message was of more interest to the Democrats than to the Republicans. On the whole, while there might later be some difference of opinion as to the methods of carrying out the objectives, there seemed to be nothing that members of Congress of all parties could not accept as representing their stand in relation to the interests of their country.

Therefore, I was not only astonished but saddened, to notice that the applause came almost entirely from the Democrats and only a few noticeable exceptions on the Republican side raised a hand in approval at any point. It looked to me as though these members of Congress were saying to the country as a whole:

We are Republicans first. We represent you here in Congress, not as citizens of the United States in a period of great crisis, but as members of a political party which seeks primarily to promote its own partisan interests.

This is to me shocking and terrifying. There was running through my mind as I watched them, in what would have been an act of childish spite if it had not been such a serious moment in history, the lines of a song which was popular when I was young:

I don’t want to play in your yard. I don’t love you anymore.

Sometimes I wonder if it will take the suffering of the peoples in conquered countries and those who are still fighting for their freedom today, to make us realize that there are times when it matters little whether you are a Republican or a Democrat. The wings of the eagle cannot be clipped, either because you have economic interests or political differences.

Our eagle has always soared high in the skies. He represents the spirit and heart of a people who care for nothing as much as liberty and justice, and I think he will represent such a people to the end. Few of our citizens, no matter what their political affiliations, will applaud their representatives in a partisan attitude on questions which can have no partisan taint.

Surely all of us can be united in a foreign policy which seeks to aid those people who fight for freedom and, thereby, gives us the hope of present peace for ourselves and a future peace for the world founded on the four great principles enunciated today. As to the determination to continue to make it possible for our people to feel that we are ever moving forward to a civilization which will make life more worth living for them, that also seems to me an objective which we can ill afford to have any partisan difference becloud, no matter how we may differ on the details of achievement.

January 8, 1941

Washington –
Mrs. Lawrence Townsend’s first musicale of the year, yesterday morning, was really a treat to us all. Madame Jarmila Novotná, a Czech artist, not only sang delightfully, but looked a charming picture in her floor-length, red dress. Mr. Richard Crooks was unable to come, but Mr. Kullman, who took his place, sang beautifully.

Mrs. Townsend in introducing him, told us an amusing story about his debut at the Metropolitan. He apparently came down from Yale to sing and some of his fellow students almost broke up the solemnity of the occasion by punctuating every difficult passage with cries of “Atta boy.”

Yesterday afternoon, I attended a tea given by the Reverend Howard S. Wilkinson, Rector of St. Thomas’ Church, and Mrs. Wilkinson. Today is a most beautiful day and I am looking forward to a luncheon with two or three old friends and a fairly quiet afternoon.

I was interested yesterday to receive a letter from the editor of a Mexican paper who came to speak to me for a few minutes when I visited Laredo, Texas, and crossed into Mexico there. Some of the officials of the Mexican Government are cooperating with him to further the Good Neighbor Policy.

From this country he gives a radio program for the benefit of the South American people. He also writes articles which will serve the purpose of acquiring his people with his own experiences and feelings about the people of our country. I think it is interesting that people in Mexico should make this effort for increasing friendship between us and I hope Mr. Bonifacio Fernandez Aldana will be successful in the work he is trying to do.

One of the things he is attempting is to take back records of short messages or speeches from well-known personalities to use on the radio in Mexico. He has many records of people in his own country, and I think he is right that such programs would bring about a greater familiarity with personalities in the United States.

Mrs. Ernest Schelling is planning to bring to our attention in the near future, a nationwide movement which she is proposing, to pay a tribute to Mr. Paderewski during a week in February. He has given so much to the people of our country that I am sure this series of concerts, which is to be given throughout the nation in his honor, will bring forth a great outpouring of affection for Mr. Paderewski. They will show with what warmth of feeling we all desire to help him to help the unfortunates of his own nation.

I think, perhaps, Mr. Paderewski has helped as much as any one to awaken in this nation a feeling of great interest in music. In New York City there is another musician who has carried on a valiant program along the same lines. Mr. David Mannes, who founded the Mannes Music School, started off his 24th season of free concerts at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City on the evening of January 4. Attending these concerts is really an extraordinary experience. Mr. Mannes says he gets the greatest thrill in watching the faces of his audience and anyone in the audience can feel the deep appreciation and satisfaction registered by the great crowd in attendance.

January 9, 1941

Washington, Wednesday –
There are many people today who must have read in the morning papers, with great relief, that a limited amount of food will be allowed to pass into Spain and unoccupied France. This will aid many of the helpless victims of war.

Last night we held our second big reception. All the departments except the Army and Navy are represented at this reception and it seems to me that it is on the whole a very friendly party. People know each other and there is an informal, pleasant felling. The crowd stayed to talk and to dance, and I thought the atmosphere was gay.

This is another beautiful day. I started it early this morning by inviting two guests for breakfast, in addition to my two old friends, Mrs. Grenville Emmet and Mrs. Frederick Stuart Greene, who were staying in the house. I had determined that I would only spend an hour with my guests, but I found that two hours had passed and I was still sitting at the table talking. I had to say a rather hurried farewell and felt apologetic to others for having started the business of the day so late.

Today, I was asked to attend a very interesting luncheon in New York City, at which a plan for sending vitamins, condensed in tablet form, for the use of children in Great Britain will be discussed. Six American doctors have been working on a formula in consultation with the British Ministry of Health and the British Ministry of Food. It has been found that 156 rolls of “vitamin sweets,” which are sufficient for one child for one year, may be purchased for $8.55, for shipment to a child in Great Britain. The British-American Ambulance Corps will receive donations for this purpose.

The conditions under which both children and other people are living in England, require more attention to creating as much resistance as possible. The taking of vitamins has been proved to be a good defense against any of the ailments which are sure to follow present war conditions.

I have a letter from the council of the feather industry of America, who feel that in making my plea for the preservation of wild bird life, I should have made it clear that where firms have acquired a stock of feathers in the past, they should be allowed to use them, for not being able to do so constitutes a serious loss.

I can see that this is so, but I realize that it will be difficult to know when these stocks are exhausted and to prevent their replenishment. I hope that this can be done and I am happy to learn that, in general, the millinery business is using the feathers of the ordinary barnyard fowl!

January 10, 1941

Washington, Thursday –
I attended the Girl Scout luncheon yesterday and enjoyed very much seeing the youngsters sit on the stage in the big dining room, around a make-believe campfire, and hearing them sing some of their camp songs. At the end, they played taps, as they do every evening in their encampment.

Since I knew of Lord Baden-Powell’s death, I thought it was appropriate that we should close a meeting of the Girl Scouts in this manner. They are so closely allied in their aims and in their programs with the Boy Scouts, that on this day when the leader of the Boy Scouts throughout the world, had passed away, playing taps seemed a fitting gesture of respect and sympathy.

It seems to me that the Girl Scouts have a great opportunity for beginning their education in citizenship at an age when young people are most impressionable and are setting their standards of values for the future.

On my return to the White House, I was happy to meet with a group from the Department of Agriculture, headed by Dr. Gertrude Warren of the Federal Extension Service. She brought two young 4-H Club people who have won scholarships to spend the winter in Washington, and several other people who work in the Department on 4-H Club programs.

I was impressed by their seven point defense program. It is important, I think, for us all to realize that we cannot all be doing spectacular emergency work and that for many of us, our best defense work is to do the jobs that we have been doing better than we have ever done them before. The health program carried on by the 4-H Clubs interests me particularly, and I think can be developed to meet any of the needs which are uncovered by the Army and Navy doctors in their examinations of our boys.

At 4:00, we had a musicale which I enjoyed very much. A young violinist, Miss Viola Wasterlain, played delightfully and a group of dancers from the Arthur Murray Studios demonstrated to us that old and new dances are equally charming, if you know how to dance them well!

I spent only a few minutes at tea after the musicale and then went upstairs and talked for a little while with Lady Abingdon, who is succeeding in raising money here to help Great Britain care for the refugees from every invaded country who are even now arriving daily on that small island.

Mr. and Mrs. Archibald MacLeish and Mr. Adrian Dornbush joined us for dinner. When the President went to work, we attended the National Symphony Orchestra concert, which gave us all a most delightful program with Igor Stravinsky as guest conductor.

This morning I attended the opening session of the public speaking class conducted by Mrs. Hugh Butler for some of the Congressional ladies. I then spent a little over an hour at the first meeting which I have attended since being elected to the board of the Southern Education Foundation.

January 11, 1941

Washington, Friday –
Yesterday I gave the luncheon which is given every year in honor of the wives of the members of the Supreme Court. Mrs. William Howard Taft, as usual, was my co-hostess across the table, and Mrs. Stone and Mrs. Roberts sat on either side of me.

Mrs. Roberts and I discovered that we had an equal enthusiasm for farming and country life. It is curious what a bond a farm can be. Though I have nothing to do with the management of my mother-in-law’s farm at Hyde Park, I have learned much from her. Cows, particularly if you have the same brand, seem to provide an endless subject of conversation.

Dogs and horses draw people together in exactly the same way. I have always felt that anyone who was really liked by dogs could be counted on to have certain decent qualities in human relationships.

The President’s little dog notices that the bags are out and we are planning to go somewhere today. He is just as excited as a child. Someone remarked this morning that he was the “waggingest” puppy they had ever seen, which describes him quite well because he seems to wag his whole body as well as his tail when he is excited.

The “Quiz-Kids” of radio fame, called on me yesterday afternoon. Though I always supposed they must be very learned children, they really looked quite normal and natural. I told them one or two things which I thought might add to the interest of their tour around the White House and wished that I could have spent more time with them.

I had planned yesterday afternoon to go to an exhibition of paintings by Miss Elisabeth Searcy. She painted two water colors of the back of the White House last summer for me to give to the President as a Christmas gift. I wanted to see how the one I had lent her for the exhibition looked, but my afternoon filled up so rapidly that I never managed to get there. I only hope that a great many people were not as busy as I was.

I had fifteen minute appointments from 4:00 to 5:00. Then two or three friends came in for tea, so I was not really free a single moment during the afternoon.

Last night, Miss Thompson and I had dinner together and I think it was the first time we really had an opportunity for conversation in weeks. It may sound ridiculous, but the usual day is such that our communications are limited strictly to business.

January 13, 1941

Hyde Park, Sunday –
The nearer I drew to Hyde Park on Friday evening, the more excited I became, for our children from Seattle, Wash., were arriving in the late afternoon and were to be at the station to meet us.

With my daughter I feel the bond that exists with any child, but, in addition, there has grown between us the deep understanding such as exists with an intimate friend. John is not just my son-in-law, but one of my dearest friends. I can be serious or I can be gay with Anna and John without any thought of age or generation to divide us.

Yesterday, I put in a little time trying to rearrange my books at the cottage, particularly the shelves of my poetry books. I came across one volume by my aunt, Mrs. Douglas Robinson, and I find that I am lacking another one which I must get, for it contains many of her poems which I like.

That set me to thinking about my two aunts, Mrs. Douglas Robinson and Mrs. William Sheffield Cowles. So different in many ways, and yet with one thing in common – their love of people. Just as the two brothers, President Theodore Roosevelt and my father, Elliott Roosevelt, were so entirely different and yet had certain family traits in common, so the two sisters drew people to them in the same way, but for entirely different reasons.

Mrs. Cowles had remarkable judgment. She was interested in public affairs and in history. I used to think she might have governed an empire, either in her own right, or through her influence over a king or an emperor. She was subtle, interesting, tactful, and had the great gift of being able to listen to others, as well as to talk delightfully herself.

I am sure that all my generation would have taken any amount of trouble to spend an hour with Mrs. Cowles, even in the days when she could no longer move from her wheelchair and her body was wracked with pain. Only a little black box on the table made it possible for her to hear us, and yet her spirit rose above all physical trials and shone out of the most beautiful eyes I have ever seen.

Mrs. Robinson was entirely different. Greater charm perhaps, greater gentleness, a more easily loveable quality and feeling for the arts. She had a gift for writing poetry, but her appreciation of others’ talents illuminated their work for those of us with duller perception.

Again, she could join with youth in joy or sorrow as though she was of their generation. Time with her was a precious gift granted to all of us – not only appreciated by my generation, but by those even younger. Mrs. Robinson is remembered with a tender gaiety and all of us are grateful for the windows of her soul which she opened to us.

To me they were “Auntie Bye” and “Auntie Corinne.” Two women never to be forgotten, whose influence will live as long as any of us who knew them can transmit to later generations a quality which we hope will long be preserved in our family.

January 14, 1941

Washington, Monday –
I wrote so much about my two aunts yesterday that I said little about the rest of our weekend. My mother-in-law was in Hyde Park to prepare for the family reunion, and on Saturday Franklin Jr. and Ethel appeared. We were disappointed, for we expected Elliott and Major Early to fly to West Point and hoped that they would also spend the night with us, but the weather grounded them in Cleveland.

It was wonderful to have two full days in the country. We walked and talked, ate too much, and slept too little; which is always the way of family reunions, for once conversation starts, time slips by unnoticed! We drove down to New York City yesterday afternoon, and I had a supper party for eight people in our small apartment. I have never gathered quite so many together there before, but everyone seemed to find some place to sit and the “arduous” labor of scrambling eggs in a chafing dish, brought me help from at least two of my children – one of them actually broke the eggs into the dish, another one sat back and talked to me while I stirred them.

I made the midnight train back to Washington and was delighted this morning to find our guests, Dr. and Mrs. Thomas Mann, and their daughter, at breakfast.

At my press conference, Mrs. Marie Dresden Lane, director of the girls and professional projects for the National Youth Administration, came over to tell us something of the health program which the NYA is expanding. They expect to establish two experimental camps near medical centers, where some of the boys rejected by the draft board, will be taken in to find out whether their difficulties can be remedied, so that they can enter the service.

It seems to me that the medical records which will be available as a result of the physical examinations which are being given the boys, should be of great value in guiding our policy for the health programs in our communities.

I was a little late for Mrs. Lawrence Townsend’s concert this morning and had to leave before the last number, but I enjoyed every minute while I was there. Mr. Artur Rubinstein and Mr. Zlatko Balokovic gave us an hour and a half of excellent music.

At luncheon in the White House, I was very glad to assemble a number of people interested in the development of our relationships with our sister republics in this hemisphere. Mr. Frank Gilmore came down to tell us how keenly interested he is in making the theatre one of the avenues for developing goodwill. I think every one present was interested in his idea.

January 15, 1941

Washington, Tuesday –
Yesterday afternoon, we had a charming musicale at the White House. Mr. Eugene List, the young pianist, made me feel that I would selfishly like to drop in some time when he was playing for his own pleasure, and ask him to run over many of the things which I like best and which I remember having had played to me when I was a child. Both of our artists yesterday were young, Mr. William Horne has a lovely voice and his program was delightfully chosen. Everyone to whom I spoke afterwards, told me that they enjoyed the afternoon.

Mr. Maurice Davidson came in late for tea to tell me something more of the trip to Mexico with Vice President-elect and Mrs. Wallace. I gather they all had a most successful time. Mr. Davidson is the President of the Society of American Friends of Mexico and has a special interest in the development of friendly relations between us and the Mexican Government and people.

These days before the inauguration are particularly trying for Mrs. Helm and Miss Thompson, who keep getting requests for seats, or for invitations to lunch or tea. We know quite well that seats cannot be expanded indefinitely and that, wonderful as the staff of the White House is, there comes a point where even the simplest lunch or tea cannot be served to any more people.

Rather sadly, Mrs. Helm said to me this morning:

Don’t you think we can say to anyone who hasn’t answered yet that the lists are closed?

I think she was rather discouraged when I explained that there would continue to be requests up to the last minute, some of which we would undoubtedly have to consider.

The weather is perfectly beautiful and we are all praying it will hold over Inauguration Day.

Yesterday, former Governor O. Max Gardner, who is Chairman of the Governor’s Reception Committee, came to see me to invite the entire family to the reception which is being given for the Governors by the Inaugural Committee at the residence of Ambassador and Mrs. Joseph E. Davies. This should be a pleasant party, for it will not be too large. It is being kept entirely official in order that the Governors may carry out their desire to talk to Government officials on defense problems which have arisen in their respective states.

Many of us hope that attending the Inauguration will be pleasanter this year for the Governors of the states than it has ever been before. Mrs. Edwin M. Watson, who is Chairman of the Committee on Music, has arranged a very interesting performance at Constitution Hall on Sunday night, where a very brilliant audience, including the Governors and their wives, will be assembled.

January 16, 1941

Washington, Wednesday –
Yesterday afternoon, the first party opening the infantile paralysis drive was held here at the White House. Decorations designed by Mr. Lester Gaba were used for the table. These decorations can be carried out for any small party which any woman may be able to give in her own home for a small group of friends. I hope that many women will feel an interest in having parties for the purpose of helping the children who have suffered from infantile paralysis in the past, or who may suffer in the future.

Mrs. Claude Wickard, wife of the Secretary of Agriculture, and Miss Grace Moore took part in the broadcast before we had tea. I think the most appealing and effective person in the room and on the air was Dolores Francis, about eight years old, who was a victim at the age of four months. She showed what care and gallantry of spirit will do in the way of rehabilitation, and spoke clearly and simply.

Immediately after tea, I went over to the place outside of the National Broadcasting Company Building, where the “Mile of Dimes” was started and spoke a few words over the radio. They tell me that there are thirty other cities in which “Mile of Dimes” programs are being arranged this year.

This morning, I went to the Children’s Hospital for the photographs and movies of the work which is being done there. These are used in the infantile paralysis drive.

There are two appointments before lunch and then I shall have the pleasure of lunching with Mrs. Frank Knox, wife of the Secretary of the Navy. This lunch was postponed because I wanted to go to meet my children on their arrival at Hyde Park last weekend. I am still grateful for Mrs. Knox’s understanding of my desire to be in the country for two days with the children when they arrived in the East.

Yesterday I had a delightful time with Mrs. Robert Jackson, wife of the Attorney General. This seems to be a week of lunches with the Cabinet ladies.

The National Conference of Christians and Jews has just notified me that the week of February 22-28, 1941, will be designated as the Eighth Annual Brotherhood Week; when Protestants, Catholics and Jews in over 2,000 communities will join together to consider how best to maintain this country:

…one nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

Let us hope that the spirit which has built this country will remain with us always and that we shall never forget that people of all races and religions have made our nation strong and that only by remaining united can we remain so.

January 17, 1941

Washington, Thursday –
These columns seemed to be so filled with activities these days, that I have difficulty in mentioning some of the things that I am enjoying most. I must mention that on Tuesday evening the Philadelphia Orchestra, with Miss Helen Jepson as guest artist, gave us a most enchanting evening.

I had to arrive a little late, which I consider a crime at a concert. But the gentlemen were talking during dinner with the President and I could not very well tear them away. From the moment we did arrive until the end of the evening, all of us forgot the cares of this world in the joys of music.

At the end of the concert, I went to the Infantile Paralysis Dinner, and heard some interesting speeches.

To return to more recent happenings, I can tell you of a visit yesterday from a committee representing the United Artists. They feel that it is most important that the gains which have been made through the government’s recognition of the artists should not be lost because of the national defense program.

Therefore, they are going to take up with various people, the possibility of useful service to the whole defense effort. I think this is a very good approach to find new outlets for both artists and craftsmen and I hope it will mean a greater realization that art is something which has a place in every phase of American life. I am still anxious that Art Week should be continued as a yearly thing, until all of us learn to buy, as well as to admire at a distance in museums, the creations of our artists.

Yesterday afternoon, the general board of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs came to tea with me. Later, Mr. S. E. Henig came with Mr. Goris to tell me that the Belgian Pavilion at the World’s Fair is being given by the Belgian Government to the United States as an addition to Virginia Union University for Negroes.

Money will have to be raised to take the building down, transport it and erect it, but this gesture of friendship has significance in a world at war. It is not only a gesture of international goodwill, but a gesture of interracial goodwill, because it is to be erected on the campus of a college devoted to the higher education of Negroes.

Last evening, some of us went to see The Cream In the Well, by Lynn Riggs. This is a most interesting play, well written and well acted. At moments I think it is a little too tragic, and I wish there had been a few light touches here and there. We spent an interesting evening, but don’t go if you are just on pleasure bent.

January 18, 1941

Washington, Friday –
I left Washington yesterday noon, and so poor Mrs. Helm, with her numberless questions on Inauguration Day procedures, was left with no one to turn to. I felt very guilty but, on the other hand, what is not arranged by now, will probably not be arranged. I can only hope that somehow or other, all will be in the places they want to be, and that they will see the people they want to see on Monday next.

During the morning, before I left, I was very happy to see an old friend, Mrs. William Phillips, for a few minutes. She will leave next month to join her husband in Italy and was in Washington to be with her daughter, who was given the Croix de Guerre by the French Ambassador for the work which she did in France under Miss Anne Morgan.

Someone told me last night that they did not think we could face the conditions which the French and the English are meeting with similar calm. All I could think of was some of my young acquaintances, who have been serving in France and in England with as great an apparent calm and devotion as any of the French or English people.

Yesterday morning, two members of the Field Foundation of Oklahoma came to tell me a little about their work. They are helping to rehabilitate prisoners and start them out with a better chance in the world. I hope this foundation will point the way to much better work than has ever been done in this field before.

The Junior League of Baltimore, Md., is carrying on another piece of rehabilitation work, which I think should be watched in all parts of the country. In connection with Johns Hopkins and the University Hospital, they operate two curative workshops. Rehabilitation work is done for orthopaedic cases and there is an opportunity today for their teachers and trained workers to go to England and to help out with the work there for civilian as well as military casualties. There are many people over there who will have to learn again how to handle themselves with a physical handicap which will be with them for the rest of their lives.

Last night, I attended the dinner given for Mr. Adolph Berle and myself by a group of architects who are interested in housing, and who gave this dinner in the interests of a magazine called Common Sense. This magazine, published by Mr. Alfred Bingham and Mr. Selden Rodman, is trying to strengthen and uphold the social objectives gained during the past few years. While they keep their pages open to many shades of opinion, they intend to bring as much weight as possible to bear on the side of liberal thinking and constructive criticism.

January 20, 1941

Washington, Sunday –
There is no doubt about it that a time like this brings one a great variety of ideas. Friday morning a young woman came to see me with a plan which I think very good. She wants to offer her knowledge and experience to commercial and government agencies in the hope that women may be trained for ground aviation work as well as men. She thinks they should also learn to handle the insides of trucks and automobiles.

Many women are as mechanically-minded as men, and sometimes their hands are even easier to train. While it may not seem necessary at the moment to use them in these fields, it may become so and there is no reason why we should not be prepared.

In the afternoon, I attended a very interesting exhibition of El Greco paintings at the Knoedler Galleries. Some of these canvases have never been shown in this country before, and are now lent for the benefit of the Greek War Relief Association. I was enormously grateful to the gentleman who prepared the very beautiful catalogue and who accompanied me from picture to picture, explaining their meanings and the changes in the artist’s technique.

One thing he says is very interesting, namely, that the hands in these paintings were carefully done to express certain ideas and feelings. This was so because, while expressions of the face may be controlled, the hands never lie. I have always liked to watch people’s hands and have always thought them expressive of character. This corroboration of my feeling by a great artist was interesting.

In the late afternoon, I heard the stories of some young men who are anxious to obtain mechanical training. All of them have been through our high schools in New York City. One of them remarked that, while he had expressed an interest in mechanics, his teachers had discouraged him. So, finally, he took an academic course with the idea that he might go to college, though he never had any real plan for the accomplishment of this hope.

He is now obliged to support himself and to obtain training at the same time, a situation which I fear faces many of our 18-year-old boys and girls. I sometimes wonder if the people who frame our educational policies might not profit by some frank and free interchange of thought with the younger generation a few months out of school.

I dined that night with Mr. and Mrs. Dave Hennen Morris and learned a great deal on the subject of a universal language. At 10:45, I joined my daughter and son-in-law at the Plaza Hotel for a very pleasant hour.

Saturday afternoon, I attended a tea given for the patrons and patronesses of the Committee for the Preservation of Austrian Art and Culture in the United States. They gave us a short musical program, which was a delightful forecast of what their concert on February 12 will be.

January 21, 1941

Washington, Monday –
I flew down to Washington Sunday morning after celebrating my daughter and son-in-law’s wedding anniversary in New York City with them on Saturday evening. We dined together as we used to do when they lived in this part of the country. Then we went to see Louisiana Purchase, a musical comedy, and ended up at the Plaza Hotel, where they were fascinated by the dancing.

Once in Washington, our day was full. First a lunch given for the Chairman of the Democratic National Committee, Mr. Edward J. Flynn, and his campaign workers. This was a buffet party at little tables, so everybody could choose their own partners. I think it was a gay and happy gathering.

Then, in the afternoon, the children and I tried to do more tea parties than can usually be accomplished in two or three hours! First we went to Ambassador and Mrs. Joseph Davies’ party for the Governors of the various states and the Inaugural Committee. Then I went to the Women’s National Democratic Club, later I went on to Mr. Oscar Ewing’s party for the Chairman of the National Democratic Committee and Mrs. Flynn, and, finally, some of us went to a private party, rather to the surprise of our host, I think!

After dinner we went to the concert in Constitution Hall, which Mrs. Edwin Watson had arranged. Mr. Robert Sherwood was master of ceremonies and I am sure that everyone enjoyed every minute of the evening.

I, for one, flew to the window on awakening this morning, remembering how wet it was four years ago driving down from the Capitol in an open car. It is a most beautiful day, a little on the cold side, but we are grateful that it is not raining.

Because of that fact that this is the first time a President has been inaugurated for a third term, I think everyone has felt there is a special history interest in this occasion. Every detail of the day will be carried over the radio and in the press, so there is little need for me to tell you about it. I looked at my children, at the President’s mother, and then at the President himself, and wondered what each one was feeling down in his heart of hearts. I feel that any citizen should be willing to give all that he has to give to his country in work or sacrifice in times of crisis.

It must be given willingly and joyously. This I am sure the President knows today. But in spite of the will to give, there must be a sense of grave responsibility and deep humility in the face of such tremendous problems.

I have felt great gratitude for Mr. Wendell Willkie’s forthright support of the administration’s foreign policy in the last few days and am sure that is the feeling of many people throughout the nation as they face the solemnity of January 20, 1941.

January 22, 1941

Washington, Tuesday –
In thinking over yesterday, the only thing I wish I knew is whether our guests finally succeeded in getting any lunch or tea! That is the one difficult thing about trying to invite all the people whom we would like to see on a day of this kind.

Even as it was, I heard of one or two cases of husbands invited without their wives, and of wives invited without their husbands. They came to the door together, only to find the regulations about each person having their own admittance card had to be enforced. Had there been anyone who could have identified people from all over the country, these mistakes could have been avoided. But that, of course, was impossible.

I was able to go in for a few minutes last night to the dinner which Mr. Edward J. Flynn, Chairman of the Democratic National Committee gave for its members and for the Democratic state chairman and vice chairman, who were here. It was a great pleasure to have a glimpse of them all.

Then I went over to hear the last part of the program presented by the Inaugural Committee and the Committee on Special Entertainment, at a musical by Negro artists in the Departmental Auditorium. It was a beautiful concert and I was happy to be there for even half of the program.

The children gradually are leaving again. Franklin Jr. went last night so as to be at work this morning. Johnny and Anne have gone back to Boston, Elliott has started for Wright Field, Ohio, but we are to keep his two children for a little while at least. Jimmy’s two children started back today and he will leave tonight.

One of the things that appeals to us all is the training of handicapped children. We are gradually learning that children who are deaf, dumb or handicapped in some other way, can be enormously helped by proper training. Blind children have been given this training for a good many years.

I think, perhaps, we have progressed further in our knowledge of how to help them, than we have in the care of some of our other handicapped groups. This type of education is always expensive and all the institutions serving this group need material help from every person in the community.

On Saturday evening, January 25, at Town Hall in New York City, the school chorus of the New York Institute for the Education of the Blind will give its second annual concert to raise money for the additions to the school’s Braille library. This chorus of 32 voices will be joined by Lauritz Melchior, tenor of the Metropolitan Opera Company, whose devotion to this work is enhanced because his sister, who is blind, is a teacher in an institution for the sightless in Copenhagen, Denmark.

There was one mistake in my column yesterday about the concert in Constitution Hall, which I should have corrected. Mr. Robert Sherwood was taken ill at the last minute and his place was ably filled by Mr. Douglas Fairbanks Jr., who acted as master of ceremonies on a few minutes notice. Everybody’s thanks go to him for pinch-hitting in such a wonderful way.

January 23, 1941

Washington, Wednesday –
Yesterday was a day of leave taking. Never has this house been as filled with young people as it was for this inauguration. Cots and cribs seemed to be in every room and the five youngest members of the household were really the ones who spread gaiety and life throughout the old house.

On the whole, yesterday was fairly quiet. I received Mrs. B. J. Thill of La Crosse, Wisconsin, in the afternoon. She is “Mrs. National Consumer” for 1941, and I never saw anyone who enjoyed and profited more from a holiday.

She told me of her two boys and I could see that she wished they had been with her to enjoy the many new experiences. I imagine this is a natural feeling, for it is always so much pleasanter when you can share whatever you are doing with people you love.

Earlier in the afternoon, I spent a short time with the superintendents of public schools and superintendents of public recreation of various cities who were invited to participate in a WPA education-recreation conference.

At 4:00, I went to the ceremonies attending the dedication of the new annex for tuberculosis patients at Freedmen’s Hospital. The Secretary of the Interior, Mr. Ickes, turned the building over to Administrator Paul McNutt, who accepted it and promised to do his best to support the work of the hospital. Freedmen’s Hospital will need all the support which can be given it, for it is Howard University’s training school for doctors. There is also a training school for nurses in connection with it.

I am very anxious to see this hospital made valuable, not only because of the need it fills in serving the Negro population in the District of Columbia, but because of the great need for good doctors and nurses throughout the country to render service to our Negro population. Tuberculosis has long been a scourge to the colored people. There is need for preventive education among them, as well as for the early detection of the disease in any member of the family to safeguard the rest of it.

The Dallas Aviation School in Texas has an energetic advertising director. Like her brother, Mr. C. R. Smith, of American Airlines, Miss Flo Smith is full of ideas and is energetic about carrying them out.

She writes me that she has started a movement in connection with the local British war relief chapter. She collects tinfoil from all the children in the schools, and though little money is realized from the sale of it, so many of the youngsters are interested that they are spreading the word rapidly that Great Britain needs aid.

She thinks it has stimulated a great deal of activity along other lines as well. Miss Smith suggests that this is one way that even the youngest child in our nation can take part in the aid being sent to England by the United States.