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Elizabeth A.Sackler Center for Feminist Art

Eleanor Roosevelt

b. 1884, New York; d. 1962, New York

Perhaps the most admired woman in American history, Eleanor Roosevelt’s journey from shy, insecure woman living in the shadow of a gregarious husband to world-renowned crusader for social justice has inspired millions. She began to find her own voice after thirteen years of marriage and the discovery of her husband’s infidelity. Thereafter, she and Franklin brokered a unique partnership based on profound respect and a mutual need for each others’ talents in realizing their political agendas. As First Lady of the United States from 1933 to 1945, Eleanor was, in effect, an envoy for the administration’s Depression-era policies, traveling the country on fact-finding missions, in the process shaping the form and content of New Deal programs and skewing them decidedly to the left. She pursued her own agendas, focused on workers, the poor, African Americans, and women. In 1945, after Franklin’s death, she was appointed the U.S. delegate to the United Nations and became the driving force behind the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which she considered her greatest achievement.