The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers, Volume 2

The Human Rights Years, 1949-1952

The 311 documents in this second volume of Eleanor Roosevelt's papers trace her transformation into one of her era's most prominent spokespersons for democracy, reveal her ongoing maturation as a political force in her own right, and detail the broader impact she had on American politics, the United Nations, and global affairs. Readers will find a fascinating view on the inner workings of President Truman's second administration, the UN at the height of the early Cold War, and the many social and political movements that competed for influence over both. Ranging widely in substance and content, Roosevelt's writings demonstrate a grasp of the intimate connection between domestic and international affairs that led the former first lady to support the Korean War, champion the newly founded state of Israel, demand respect for the civil rights of African Americans, and bolster the political ambitions of people like Adlai Stevenson, Helen Gahagan Douglas, and John F. Kennedy. 

Using a wide variety of material-- letters, speeches, columns, debates, committee transcripts, telegrams, and diary entries-- this second of five volumes presents a representative selection of the actions Eleanor Roosevelt took to define, implement, and promote human rights and the impact her work had at home and abroad. Readers may disagree over various decisions she made, language that she used, or the priorities she established. Yet her influence is unquestioned.

See the Table of Contents:  1949  1950  1951  1952

     From the foreword by Boutros Boutros-Ghali:

"Eleanor Roosevelt matured not only into a thoughtful critic of Soviet policy during her time at the UN but also into one of the most articulate dissenters against the social disparities that continued to divide American society along lines of race, class, and gender. In powerful, often moving samples of her political writing and correspondence, this volume reconstructs how Roosevelt’s instincts toward social reform took on new urgency as a consequence of the Cold War, which she regarded less as a diplomatic or military enterprise for global preeminence than a challenge to demonstrate that democracy offered a sounder basis for human rights than communism. Acquitting that ideal, she felt, would require Americans to show that their own republic – one they often touted as the world’s finest—had within it the capacity to dismantle its own systems of oppression, and to cast off the lingering barriers to social justice that upheld them. It was perhaps unsurprising, therefore, that as the Cold War deepened, so too did the intensity of her calls for change that would enable all Americans to participate fully in their nation’s civic, economic, and cultural life."


Volume 2

Publisher: University of Virginia Press
Date: 2012
ISBN: 978-0-8139-3141-8