My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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WASHINGTON, Sunday—Yesterday morning I saw the model for the American Indian section of the federal exhibit for the San Francisco Fair, and found it most interesting.

I am sure everyone who can plan to visit the San Francisco Fair in the summer of 1939, and then see the New York Fair, will have a stimulating experience. The first deals with the background of our country, the second deals with today and tomorrow.

The idea of showing the Indian crafts and arts in modern surroundings is to prove that primitive things are still closely allied with all that is fundamentally good in art today. Some Indian work for the exhibits has already been collected. I was surprised at the beauty and the quality, not only of the basket work, but of the silver, leather, silk applique and bead work.

Some of the legends which go with Indian possessions are interesting. For instance, the bangles always come in pairs because they are made to carry out a vow. When the thing for which the vow was made is an accomplished fact, the two people involved each retain one of the bangles.

One rather startling thing for the white man to realize, is that the really good and expensive things made by Indians are usually sold to Indians. Originally, certain tribes bought the materials for their blankets from some English traders. It was very fine cloth costing as much as $25 a yard. Those tribes still buy from the same firms in England. They beautify the blankets and a blanket will go down in a family as an heirloom. We would probably never dream of paying the price for the original material which they pay.

I think the exhibition of this Indian work is going to open the eyes of many of us to what they are capable of doing as artists and craftsmen.

This being the Sunday before Lent, it happened that two of my favorite passages in the Bible were read at the service. They were the 121st Psalm, the first verse, which I think we always remember when we first see the hills: "I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help," and from the 13th Chapter of Corinthians came these verses which I like best,: "Charity suffereth long and is kind, charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up ... beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never faileth."

In the sermon, the question was asked: "What is charity and how many of us have it today?" Christ, Himself, is the exemplification of the charity which is love. Of course, it could not be defined as it is in these verses, if it meant the narrow thing we so often call charity, but the charity which is love is the one great gift for which every one of us must strive.


(Copyright, 1938, by United Feature Syndicate, Inc.)

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About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, February 28, 1938

Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962
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Digital edition created by The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project The George Washington University 312 Academic Building 2100 Foxhall Road, NW Washington, DC 20007

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Digital edition published 2008, 2017 by
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Transcription created from a photocopy of a UFS wire copy of a My Day column instance archived at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library.