Eleanor Roosevelt

Eleanor Roosevelt speaking from Powell Hall balconyEleanor Roosevelt comes to visit.
GSWC President Frank R. Reade Chancellor S. V. Sanford First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt March 27, 1941

1941 opened peacefully for GSWC. The last and most impressive WPA project, the Library, was dedicated in Spring of 1941. Eleanor Roosevelt, first lady and a family friend of the Reade’s, came down to dedicate the library, later named Powell Hall. Mrs. Roosevelt foreshadowed the approaching war when she warned in her dedication: “Your day offers the problem of whether a rule of force shall dominate the world or shall a rule of reason. . .prevail.” (Campus Canopy, 3/29/41).

(Left: GSWC President Frank R. Reade, Chancellor S.V. Sanford, First Lady Eleanor. March 27, 1941)

Transcription of the Introduction and Speech of Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt Dedication of the New Library, Georgia State Womans College. March 27, 1941

Audio Transfer and transcription by Michael M. Black.

President Frank Reade: The president of our Student Government Association from Warm Springs, Georgia, Miss Parham.

Roosevelt and GSWC FacultyMiss Ann Parham: In the past, students of the Womans College have known our speaker today as an author of such works as My Day, a syndicated column created for everyone, This Is My Story, an autobiography, and several books published during the last ten years. Besides these writing activities, she has achieved fame as a lecturer, a traveler, a philanthropist, and as a most gracious hostess in the White House. Now that the students here at the Georgia State Womans College have had the privilege of personally meeting and talking with our guest speaker, all have been impressed and delighted by her charm, her graciousness, and her democratic spirit. It was indeed a pleasure to discover that one of her chief interests and delights lay in knowing people, and by that I mean all types of people and students in particular. It gave us students quite a thrill to have the first lady with us last evening as a member of our own student group for a few brief hours during dinner. It is the greatest honor to be able to present to you now our First Lady Mrs. Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Mrs. Roosevelt.

First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt: Miss Parham, Dr. Reade, and members of the Regents Board, ladies and gentlemen, I am very happy to be here today. It’s been a delightful trip. I drove over yesterday from Charleston and enjoyed every minute through this interesting country. I never before had been to this part of Georgia. I know Warm Springs and Atlanta, but I never have been through this part of the state before. It’s a very beautiful state, and you have one advantage over many other places that I know. I don’t believe many people break your driving rules because if they did they would run into either a cow or a pig on the road. But quite seriously, it is very interesting for me to come through Savannah which I have a particular sentimental interest in because my grandmother Roosevelt came from Savannah. Her family came from there, and though they had a summer home at Roswell not very far from Atlanta, I always have a feeling that I should know Savannah very well because when I was a little girl, my aunt Mrs. Gracie, who also came from there who was my grandmother Roosevelt’s sister, used to tell us long stories about the life on the plantation and all the things that she remembered as a young girl. So that I really feel that I have a sentimental tie with this part of Georgia. I also am very much interested in seeing this College, beautifully situated that offers so many advantages, that I think that the girls themselves who I had the pleasure of dining with last night are a very delightful group of girls. They asked a few questions after I had talked, and I wish that we could have spent a great deal longer, having a real interchange of thought because in these days it really matters a great deal what the younger generation is thinking...[disk reversed here]...and their reading ability. But one of the rather sad things that has come to light is the fact that a great many of our young people do not either enjoy or really know how to read. And perhaps the movies are to blame. Perhaps the radio is to blame. I don’t know, but the fact remains that unless our young people enjoy books and learn to use them while they are still in school and college, they are losing one of the great joys of life. And also they are losing an opportunity to prepare themselves for many of the questions which are going to come before them for decisions as they take their place in the world.

Mrs. Roosevelt and student Sara Catherine Martin at a dinner held during the Dedication. A woman today has just as great a responsibility to carry as the men have. She shares the responsibility of citizenship. It is quite true that in some ways, her responsibility is greater because in the home, she really has the greatest influence over the early years of the life of her children. And to know that many great educators feel that it is the early years that count the most, and therefore the woman’s responsibility intellectually, morally, spiritually, and physically for the young people of the nation. It is a very great responsibility, and I think that colleges, such as this one, give something to our young people which will mean much in the way the future generations shape the life of this nation, and it is the young people who are going to decide what is going to happen to our country and perhaps to the world in the future. So, it is important what young girls and young men think and do today. And above everything else, I think it is important that we older people should give them the help to actually prepare for the responsibility of being citizens in one of the most critical periods of history. Probably never since our earliest days have we faced as critical a period in the world as we are facing today. The question before us seems to be, Shall a rule of force dominate the world or shall a rule of reason as represented by the democracy dominate in the future? And that our young people probably will have to decide. They will have to care enough about democracy. They will have to know what they mean by democracy. They will have to really make democracy succeed, and that’s no small task that lies before them.


"My Day: Visit to Georgia Woman's College," by Eleanor Roosevelt (PDF)