If You Ask Me by Eleanor Roosevelt

If You Ask Me
by Eleanor Roosevelt

September 1959


What is your opinion of the strike of workers in New York hospitals? Many people say they had as much right to use the weapon of collective bargaining as anybody. But don't you think there's something wrong when people who tend the sick refuse to work?

I think this strike need never have occurred. Had the hospital managements been willing to meet with their workers, hear their complaints, and try to remedy these wrongs, no strike would have been necessary. Personally, I believe that, in the case of hospital employees, policemen, firemen, and a few other categories of workers, it is probably wiser not to have unionization. But this means that great care must be taken to safeguard the workers by giving them legal protections and making sure they can always be heard and that the public can be kept informed in case there are real difficulties between employees and employers. In the case of the hospital strike, it seems to me management should have been more concerned about the employees' well-being, both in conditions of work and in wages.


If you suddenly found yourself too ill to work and completely without funds, what would you do?

I would go to the welfare organization in my community.


Are any of your grandsons in the armed services? If so, are they enlisted men or officers?

At present, one grandson is in the armed services. All my grandsons who are old enough have been through their service training—some as enlisted men; some, who have had training during their college years, as officers.


How many letters do you get in a month, and how do you manage to handle them?

We receive, on an average, about a hundred and fifty letters a day from all sources. They are handled in several different ways. I have a secretary in my office at home, and she has a part-time assistant. At the American Association for the UN, where I am a volunteer worker, I have another secretary, who takes care of such things as come up in my work; and I have someone who does a little filing at Hyde Park. I spend on mail at least two hours every night and such odd moments as I can find during the day. Most of the letters are answered directly, though some are answered in my daily column and some in McCall's.


I notice you refer frequently to the United States as a Christian nation. Do you think this is fair to all the Jews and Orientals who are also Americans?

When I say this country is a Christian nation, I mean that the majority of the people happen to be Christians. That doesn't mean that I don't respect the people who belong to other religions. I am simply stating as a fact that there are more Christians than Jews, Moslems, Hindus, or people of any other religion.


Is there anything a private citizen can do if the government decides to set up a missile station in his neighborhood?

He can always get up a petition if he has a really valid reason. However, the petition would not be likely to be effective if there were a division of opinion among the people of the neighborhood as to whether they wanted a missile station or not.


Do you ever attend sports events like the World Series?

I rarely attend sports events now; but in years past, I have been to every type of event both here and abroad.

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About this document

If You Ask Me, September 1959

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

McCall's, volume 86, September 1959

Digital edition created by The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project

Digital edition published 2014, 2016 by
The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project
The George Washington University
Old Main Building, Suite 406
1951 F Street, NW
Washington, DC