"My Day" is the six-day-a-week newspaper column Eleanor Roosevelt wrote from December 30, 1935, until September 26, 1962. (In 1961, at Eleanor Roosevelt's request, the column appeared every other day until September 26, 1962, when she grew too ill to work.) Nationally syndicated, at its height the column appeared in 90 papers in all parts of the nation, providing ER with a reading audience of 4,034,552, ranking her immediately below Dorothy Thompson, the leading female columnist of the era, and above popular political columnists Raymond Clapper, David Lawrence, and Heywood Broun. By 1940, interest in "My Day" was so strong that United Features Syndicate offered her a five-year contract even though it had no expectation that the Roosevelts would remain in Washington for another term.
ER did not keep a diary. While she sometimes detailed how she spent her day in correspondence to confidante Lorena Hickok and daughter Anna Boettiger, ER focused more on responding to family crises, political jousts, and social crises than she did recording her own responses and reflections. "My Day," while by no means a complete record of ER's daily activities, is the only account we have of her actions from 1936-1962. The columns reveal whom she met, where she traveled, what she thought, why she reached that opinion, and how she handled the pressures of public life.
By 1954, "My Day" had become her political platform as well as her diary of her political activities. It was the major venue in which she challenged complacent Democrats, timid liberals, and apathetic Americans to accept the responsibilities of living in a democracy. By 1957, political commentary so dominated the column that the Scripps Howard syndicate dropped "My Day" for being "too political." By 1960, she waged a consistent battle with those political leaders who were more concerned with "profile than courage" and urged her readers to follow their consciences rather than their fears.
Source: Allida Black, Casting Her Own Shadow: Eleanor Roosevelt and the Shaping of Postwar Liberalism (New York: Columbia University Press, 1996), passim.
Recommended citation: Eleanor Roosevelt, John Kennedy, and the Election of 1960: A Project of The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers, ed. by Allida Black, June Hopkins, John Sears, Christopher Alhambra, Mary Jo Binker, Christopher Brick, John S. Emrich, Eugenia Gusev, Kristen E. Gwinn, and Bryan D. Peery (Columbia, S.C.: Model Editions Partnership, 2003). Electronic version based on unpublished letters. .
For more information, visit The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers home page at https://erpapers.columbian.gwu.edu/.
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