When her husband came out for women’s suffrage in 1911, Eleanor Roosevelt proclaimed herself “somewhat shocked as I had never given the question serious thought.” She was never a member of the Woman Suffrage Party, yet she was an avid supporter of the Women’s Trade Union League and the League of Women Voters. In the 1920s she opposed the Equal Rights Amendment, led by Alice Paul and Crystal Eastman. In her first book, Its Up to the Women, published in 1933 as her husband assumed the presidency, Roosevelt wrote that she was not interested in the abstract idea of equality with men. It did not really improve women’s ability to change society. So, was Eleanor Roosevelt a feminist? Or something else?
About the speaker: CYNTHIA M. KOCH is Historian in Residence and Director of History Programing for the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Foundation at Adams House, Harvard University. She was Director of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum in Hyde Park, New York (1999-2011) and subsequently Senior Adviser to the Office of Presidential Libraries, National Archives, Washington, D.C. From 2013-16 she was Public Historian in Residence at Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY where she taught courses in public history and Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt. Her most recent publications are “They Hated Eleanor, Too,” “Hillary R[oosevelt] Clinton,” “Demagogues and Democracy,” and “Democracy and the Election” are published online by the FDR Foundation http://fdrfoundation.org/.
Previously Dr. Koch was Associate Director of the Penn National Commission on Society, Culture and Community, a national public policy research group at the University of Pennsylvania. She served as Executive Director (1993-1997) of the New Jersey Council for the Humanities, a state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, and was Director (1979-1993) of the National Historic Landmark Old Barracks Museum in Trenton, New Jersey.