My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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WASHINGTON— I have often said that I thought the District of Columbia should not only stand out for the beauty of its public buildings, but that its public institutions should be models for the rest of the country. I would, however, be ashamed to have any one visit the District of Columbia Training School for Delinquent Girls.

Never have I seen an institution called a "school" which had so little claim to that name. Buildings are unfit for habitation—badly heated, rat infested, with inadequate sanitary facilities, without an educational program or a teacher, children walled in like prisoners in spite of ample grounds and beautiful views, no psychiatrist to examine and advise on the treatment of these unfortunate children who at such an early age have found the social conditions of the world too much to cope with—practically nothing but incarceration for a juvenile delinquent!

I am more ashamed than I can say that this is my first visit and I am grateful to the new superintendent, Dr. Smith, for drawing the attention of Congress and the Commissioners to the conditions existing in this institution. Congress has already granted an appropriation to remedy some of the worst features. It will, however, take more than mere appropriations to set this institution straight.

I hope many other people will learn from my lesson—how easy it is to ignore conditions near at hand! We should visit institutions in our own neighborhood.

Today has been another full one. The women members of the American Law Institute were received at four. At four-thirty I received Governor Green of Rhode Island and a little later I talked to six of the delegates from the Women's Trade Union League Conference. At five the Washington Committee for the Washington Cathedral came to tea. After dinner with a few friends here, I am going to the Spring Festival of the Americanization School in which my husband's uncle, Mr. Frederick Delano, is interested.

TMsd 7 May 1936, AERP, FDRL