Eleanor Roosevelt

What was Eleanor Roosevelt's maiden name, or the surname she was born with?

And the answer: Roosevelt.    

Photo credit: CNN. 

Eleanor Roosevelt's father was the younger brother of President Theodore Roosevelt. Through her marriage with distant cousin Franklin Delano Roosevelt, she served as First Lady of the United States for 12 years, and was the first Chair of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights.

Eleanor Roosevelt was one of the most admired American women of the 20th century, known for her efforts to provide worldwide humanitarian efforts and encourage world peace.

Roosevelt was born into a wealthy family in 1886. After a shy childhood known as the "ugly" child (her mother going so far as to make fun of her appearance with the nickname "granny"), Roosevelt suffered further loss with the death of her mother and father. As young Eleanor struggled, her enduring sense of empathy for those less fortunate grew. In her early adulthood, Roosevelt was introduced to the conditions of sweatshops and the children working therein. Fueled by curiosity and care, Roosevelt embarked on a lifelong journey of learning and helping where she could.

In 1905, Eleanor married Franklin Roosevelt, her fifth cousin once removed. By the 1920s, Roosevelt had raised five children, was involved in Democratic Party politics, and participated in numerous social reform organizations. While her husband ran for office, Eleanor volunteered with the American Red Cross and in Navy hospitals during World War I.

Eleanor remains one of the most active First Ladies in American history. It was she who began to transform the role of the First Lady, bringing her political consciousness and activity with her into the White House. It was she who travelled around the United States gathering information about the rollout and effects of her husband's New Deal during the Great Depression. While her early life and marriage were tumultuous, it was she who contributed great work to the betterment of early- to mid-20th century American life.

Learn more about her life and legacy below.

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