My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

Text Size: Small Text Normal Text Large Text Larger Text

WASHINGTON, Sunday—I promised you that I would tell you about the impressions made upon us on our trip. Westmoreland is a homestead I had never visited before, but it is in a mining region so that the conditions and the people seemed fairly familiar to me. It seemed to me that in view of the difficulties under which they had labored, inadequate school facilities, and the usual necessary but nevertheless irritating delays in obtaining decisions and appropriations for any government work, the people in charge had really accomplished a very remarkable piece of work.

Tygart Valley in West Virginia, has an entirely different kind of population and they are farming on a more extensive basis. It looks as though their cooperative farming enterprise could be made to pay, but in every homestead of this type that you visit, there is the need for an industry to employ a certain percentage of the population.

I was particularly interested of course, in the impressions which were made on the ten women with me who were not familiar as I was, with this type of government work.

Two of them had just finished a survey of New York City private schools for the Junior League, and I was very much gratified by their enthusiasm for the school at Arthurdale. Their impressions were most favorable of Arthurdale and they felt what I have always felt—that the school being the center of the community has had a very great effect on the development of the community spirit among the people as a whole.

We drove back last night through two violent storms but nobody's ardor was dampened. This morning the entire group with a few additions of people who are here in Washington, visited Greenbelt which is just across the District line in Maryland. At present they have come in for a good deal of criticism. I think as in so many cases, the people who criticize, do so without a complete knowledge of the facts. Of course, it is possible that some people do not believe that the government has a duty to point the way for better housing for low income groups, but if anybody believes that an effort should be made along these lines, I think they could hardly object to what has been done in Greenbelt. It is entirely different from the other homesteads in that it has been designed for people whose incomes range from two thousand dollars a year down and it is not designed to take in a stranded industrial or agricultural group. Here again the idea is to make the school useful to the community as a whole. It will be in use during the day for the children, but from the moment they are out of the building their elders may use it until they go to bed at night. It is to function as a community center—very much the same idea that has been fostered at Arthurdale.

TMsd 23 May 1937, AERP, FDRL