I’m sitting here at Whistlewood Farm in Rhinebeck, New York, on the banks of the Hudson River, having just learned about the first blogger — Eleanor Roosevelt. That’s right, Eleanor Roosevelt! During my tour of the famous First Lady of the World’s house, Val-Kill in Hyde Park, New York, I learned that from 1935-1962, beginning during Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s presidency, Eleanor Roosevelt wrote a syndicated column called “My Day,” which she continued for an amazing twenty-seven years. As a journalist, prior to being a First Lady, Eleanor had a passion for writing. According to our tour guide, this column she wrote was much like a blog. She might begin writing on one topic, and write one paragraph about what was on her mind and then come back to her piece later and add something else, sometimes on a completely different subject. Hmmm. This sounds familiar. You can browse these posts, just like any blog. The first post, December 31, 1935 begins like this:
I wonder if any one else glories in cold and snow without, an open fire within, and the luxury of a tray of food all by one’s self in one’s own room? I realize it sounds extremely selfish and a little odd to look upon this as a festive occasion. Nevertheless, last night was a festive occasion for I spent it in this way!
And you can search for any date you like and find out what was on Eleanor Roosevelt’s mind! Find them here online: http://www.gwu.edu/~erpapers/myday/
It’s impossible to tour these historic sites (we also toured Springwood, the Roosevelt’s family home and property) without leaving a little in awe of these two passionate individuals who brought the country out of the Great Depression and led it during World War Two. The long list of social programs championed by Franklin Roosevelt, and Eleanor in her own right, seem especially extraordinary today. We too have had record unemployment in this past decade but no WPA to put people back to work. We, too, have had an economic crash, but only a government hand-out to banks and the financial industry to help get the economy back on track. No one now is reaching out to every man quite like Roosevelt did in the 1930s. Franklin looked to Eleanor to go out and tour the country during the depression just as she toured Europe at the end of the war. She was, he said, his conscience.
But, I digress, because this is a blog post and I started out telling you about Eleanor Roosevelt but got caught up in the moment of my own experience in touring these moving National Historical Sites. Okay, back to Eleanor. She was Franklin’s fifth cousin, once removed. Both of them came from privileged families but both of them were committed to the idea of human equality. Eleanor Roosevelt, after Franklin’s death in 1945, three weeks before Germany’s surrender in World War II, was appointed by President Truman as the First Delegate to the United Nations where she headed the International Committee on Human Rights and wrote the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which she later described as the most significant achievement of her life. Look here for the full text of that historic document: https://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/
I really wanted to purchase Eleanor Roosevelt’s autobiography,http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/78510.The_Autobiography_of_Eleanor_Roosevelt
which was on sale in the visitor’s center, but I have no room in my suitcase and didn’t bring my Kindle. So, as with all good road trips, I have something to look forward to when I get back to Seattle — I can further my reading and understanding of one of the most inspiring women of my lifetime by picking up this book. And, too, back when I have internet access, I’m looking forward to spending hours reading the earliest blog posts written by an amazing woman.