Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962) was the longest-serving First Lady in United States history as well as the U.S. Delegate to the United Nations and Chair of the UN Commission on Human Rights. Due to her dedication to human rights, President Harry Truman called her the “First Lady of the World.”
Anna Eleanor Roosevelt was born in New York City, a niece of President Theodore Roosevelt. Despite being born into a wealthy family, several early tragedies, including the deaths of her parents and a brother, left her prone to bouts of depression. In 1902, she met her fifth cousin, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and the two were married in 1905. They had six children, although Eleanor later admitted to both disliking sex and being ill-suited to motherhood. In 1918, Eleanor discovered letters from her husband’s mistress, and the marriage became one of a political partnership.
Eleanor Roosevelt served as First Lady of New York when FDR was governor, and First Lady of the United States from 1933 to 1945. During her tenure in the White House, Eleanor became a leading public figure of her own, frequently traveling across the country and becoming a voice for civil rights.
After her husband’s death, Eleanor Roosevelt was appointed as a delegate to the UN and became the first chairperson of the UN Commission on Human Rights. She was instrumental in drafting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. She died in 1962 and memorial to her memory sits in Riverside Park in New York City.