My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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England—Friday and Saturday I have spent in part, at least, seeing industries of various kinds. One airplane factory employs about 23 percent of women workers and seemed to me in many ways very like our factories at home where the women are gradually taking over in a great variety of departments. I also have seen a complete factory underground which is gradually employing more and more women. One other factory connected with war industries employs eighty percent women. Connected with that they showed me a hostel for women workers which is the first I have seen.

The hostels seem to me very well planned for purely functional purposes. At present they satisfy the needs of the single woman worker, or man worker for the matter of that where they are used for both sexes. One woman answered my question as to why she had gone to work, as follows: "We have to get on with the war and get it over with quickly. "I imagine there are a tremendous number of women, especially those whose husbands are in the Services who have just that feeling. They need the money they are making to give a little better chance to the child or children they may have at home, but the main purpose in going to work is to get on with the war.

I saw one young girl who had had an accident to her wrist, but who had insisted as soon as it was dressed on going back to work because she too wanted to "get on with the war." Practically every factory in England runs a canteen for its workers where a hot noon-day meal is obtainable as well as food for the night shifts when one is working. The cost is somewhere around one and three pence which in our money is about equivalent to 27 cents and it is a good meal.

The good news from Africa of the battle which seems to be becoming a very rapid retreat on the part of the Germans and in which our air force has already taken part, according to news reports, has given the British people a tremendous lift. For months they have met disappointment and disaster with a grim determination to do their best until the change came. Now the change is here and we feel the exhilaration and the intensifying of their willingness to work to push on with this success.

In the past two days we have visited two industrial cities and in each case the Lord Mayor and the Lady Mayoress and the other officials have greeted us with the greatest of warmth and told us how much the help received when it was needed from the United States, helped them during enemy air attacks. The destruction in many cases is pitiful for it strikes the homes of people, not always even the workers in factories. I talked to a great many of the civilian defense workers, and to a great many people who had been bombed out and rehoused again. Even in the cases of people who had been injured, the spirit of cheerfulness is extraordinary.

I was also given a most wonderful demonstration of the work of the land army. The place chosen was a farm where six girl workers are employed regularly but for the purpose of demonstration, a number had been lent also from neighboring farms. Many of them have been hairdressers or typists or housewives once upon a time, but they love their new work. They have become experts at plowing with tractors, at thatching, digging ditches, hedging and, of course, caring for cows. In fact there is very little work on a farm which they cannot do. The owner of this 500 acre farm, 320 acres of which or under cultivation, had 21 head of cattle. He showed us his old house with a moat around it and a room dating back to the 13th century.

We spent a night in what was once a very large and pleasant country house, run with a large staff for pleasure only. Now it houses one of the country nurseries with 35 children under five years of age. The lady of the house works hard in helping to run the nursery as well as the small part of the house she and her family live in.


Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • England (United Kingdom) [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, November 9, 1942

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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Transcription created from a photocopy of a draft version of a My Day column instance archived at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library. My Day column draft dated November 8, 1942, FDR Library, Hyde Park, NY
TMsd, 8 November 1942, AERP, FDRL