If You Ask Me by Eleanor Roosevelt

If You Ask Me
by Eleanor Roosevelt

May 1950


1. Did the Congress of the United States vote you a pension of $5,000 a year? Did you accept it?

No, the Congress of the United States has never voted me a pension of any amount. Since it was never voted, naturally I was never called upon to accept or refuse it.


All Presidents’ widows have been voted a pension and have accepted it, so I suppose if Congress had voted to give me one I would have accepted it as a token of recognition of my husband’s services. I do not, however, need it, and so there was no obligation on the part of Congress to offer it.


2. If you had been a man what career would you have chosen to pursue?

I haven’t the remotest idea. I cannot imagine what it would be like to be a man, nor to have the choice of a career. Therefore I have never had the slightest desire to think about what I would have done.


3. If a mother is married to a United States citizen and is a naturalized U.S. citizen, would her children by her previous marriage (who are under eighteen years of age) automatically become citizens too?

I am told that children under eighteen years of age who are in the legal custody of their naturalized mother—whether she was separated from her husband by divorce or death—are legal citizens as long as their mother became a citizen while they were under eighteen years of age.


4. Could you tell me how one goes about getting a job with an American embassy in any country abroad? What kinds of jobs are usually available? What is the age limit, and how much education and experience is required?

One has to apply to the United States Civil Service for an application to take the kind of examination which covers the work desired, and one has to pass an examination before one is eligible to work in an embassy abroad.

If one wants to go into the Diplomatic Service one must attend one of the recognized schools and take the examination at the end of the course. Information about this can be obtained from the State Department in Washington. There are also clerical positions of different kinds available in foreign countries.


5. My women’s club would like to know what you consider the best method of raising money for charitable work?

I think the best way to raise money for charitable purposes depends very largely upon the type of community you live in. You have to study your community and find out how the people can become interested. Sometimes it is better to write letters telling about a charity and asking for interest. Sometimes it is better to invite people to come to see what is being done. Sometimes people prefer to go to a dinner or to a benefit, because they get some kind of social interest besides feeling that they are contributing to something worth while. There are so many ways of raising money for charity, however, that the way must be chosen by the women’s club in the community, which knows its constituency and the way to reach the desired ends.


6. What is your favorite song?

I am sorry to say I have none. I never had any ability for singing, and while I like very much to listen to other people sing I haven’t developed an interest in any particular favorite songs.


7. What can a conference between Russia, the United States and Great Britain accomplish that the United Nations can not?

A conference between Russia, the United States and Great Britain, from my point of view, can accomplish nothing which cannot be accomplished by the United Nations. In fact, I think our only real hope of accomplishing anything is through the United Nations, because I believe we have reached a point at present where we need the impact of the opinion of the world on this whole question of the control of armaments and the complete wiping out of the fear of world destruction.


8. Will you please describe the ring President Roosevelt always wore on his little finger. Was it a family heirloom? Is it now in the Roosevelt Memorial Library?

In his younger days my husband wore a seal ring with the Roosevelt crest on it. It was a blue lapis lazuli in a plain gold setting. Later he wore a ring that had belonged to his father. This was a much heavier ring, and it too had a crest engraved on it. The first ring had been given him by his father; the second one belonged to his father, but whether it belonged to one or more generations back I do not know. My eldest son inherited it.


9. When a baby is given the entire name of his father’s brother isn’t it correct to add II to his name even though the brother has passed away?

I know that a nephew who is named after an uncle who is alive always is called II, but I doubt that once the uncle is dead his nephew is II, since no one else by that name would be living. It might, however, be carried on as a courtesy for a certain length of time, just as boys named after their fathers often keep the “Junior” for some time after the father’s death.


10. A friend of ours in England writes of an orphanage which cares for children of our American soldiers. Is it possible for us to adopt one or two of these children through some organization?

I do not know, but I would suggest writing to the Women’s Voluntary Services, London, asking them to find out for you.

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About this document

If You Ask Me, May 1950

Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962
[ ERPP bio | VIAF | WorldCat | DPLA | SNAC ]

McCall's, volume 77, May 1950

Digital edition created by The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project

Digital edition published 2014, 2016 by
The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project
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