By Robert Cohen
Impoverished younger americans had no better champion throughout the melancholy than Eleanor Roosevelt. As First girl, Mrs. Roosevelt used her newspaper columns and radio announces to campaign for increased federal reduction to negative little ones and youths. She was once the main seen spokesperson for the nationwide formative years management, the recent Deal's imperative organization for helping the needy younger, and she or he used to be adamant in insisting that federal reduction to teens be administered with no discrimination in order that it reached blacks in addition to whites, ladies in addition to boys. This activism made Mrs. Roosevelt a loved determine between negative children and youngsters, who among 1933 and 1941 wrote her hundreds of thousands of letters describing their difficulties and asking for her support. expensive Mrs. Roosevelt offers approximately 2 hundred of those striking records to open a window into the lives of the Depression's youngest sufferers. of their personal phrases, the letter writers confide what it used to be prefer to be needy and younger in the course of the worst monetary problem in American background. Revealing either the strengths and the constraints of recent Deal liberalism, this publication depicts an management involved and worrying adequate to elicit such relocating appeals for aid but not able to reply within the very own methods the letter writers was hoping.
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Additional info for Dear Mrs. Roosevelt: Letters from Children of the Great Depression
There was an almost adult sensibility to the letters, in that most youths felt that they had to ask Mrs. Roosevelt for necessities rather than more frivolous items (as if play were decadent or inappropriate at a time of crisis). Even when requesting items that we might think of as recreational, the pressure of poverty often prompted the writers to describe them in adult terms. Thus requests for bicycles were repeatedly made in terms of their use for basic transportation and work rather than as playthings.
When they looked at Mrs. Roosevelt’s pictures in the press at least some poor teenage girls during the Depression looked the First Lady over for her clothing size. [ 38 ] i l l - c l o t h e d When photographs of an elegantly attired Eleanor Roosevelt—shown here in the Monroe room of the White House in 1933—appeared in the press, they prompted letters from needy girls who guessed the First Lady’s dress size and asked for her old clothes. ) Thus one Massachusetts teen who asked Mrs. ’’ 12 .........................................
Among the images that evoke the Depression experience none do so more powerfully than those dealing with hunger. The photographs of long queues of desperate men waiting on breadlines have become an emblem of Depression America’s poverty. This is why in the recently opened fdr memorial in Washington, the sculptor George Segal chose a breadline as the subject for his depiction of Depression-era urban indigence. Hunger was also the specter behind the most haunting Depression image of rural poverty: Dorothea Lange’s photograph in 1936 of a migrant mother and her two children at a pea picker’s camp in Nipomo, California.