My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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CANBERRA , Australia—Delayed—Saturday morning we left Government House at 9:45 a.m. and I had the pleasure of driving first with our Minister, Mr. Nelson Johnson, to see the new legation which we are building here. It is made of the same kind of brick used in Williamsburg, Va., in duplicating the old buildings which were restored there.

I like the plan of the house and I have only one criticism, namely, that the fireplace in the room which is to be the library may be architecturally perfect, but it looks too small ever to give one the sense of space and hospitality that an open fire should convey. The house stands on a hill and has a lovely view. I planted a little oak, which starts the landscaping.

On leaving here, Mrs. Evatt, wife of the Attorney General and Minister for External Affairs, and I drove together for the rest of the morning, which was a pleasant arrangement as it gave us a chance for a little conversation between stops. Our first visit was to the radio school for United States Naval personnel. Some 80 sailors are being trained for work at sea or at shore stations.

At the YWCA we saw a hut operated for service girls. They can get a bed and bath for two shillings. Meals are very inexpensive and they may have their friends visit them there. I found that some of our men were enjoying their hospitality.

Next, we visited the war memorial built after the last war. This is a dignified and beautiful building and one could spend several days looking at the paintings, sculpture and exhibits. I had so little time that I could only see how much there was of interest and hope for an opportunity at some future date to see it more satisfactorily. A short stop was then made at a service club where there were Australians and Americans and where I signed many autographs, and could have signed many more if I had not had an appointment with the Prime Minister at his home. I had an opportunity to talk to Mrs. Curtin, and then Mr. Curtin and I had a quiet talk. It was both interesting and restful after a rather active morning.

At 1:00 o'clock we arrived at Parliament House, where the Prime Minister had arranged a luncheon at which he welcomed me very cordially to Australia. His remarks were seconded by Mr. William Hughes of the opposition party, and then I was given a precious gift to bring back to my country. It is a photographic copy—the only one ever made—of Captain Cook's own diary, kept in his own hand, of his first voyage when he discovered Australia. For fifty years after his death it remained in his wife's possession and now it is a most treasured possession of the public library here. It is a gift from the people of Australia to the people of America and is so inscribed.

During the afternoon I spent a little while with the staff of the American Legation and was glad to see my cousin, Mrs. Kidder, and her husband.

Our Minister and his wife gave a reception in the afternoon, and after dinner at Government House another reception was held there in the evening. I had an opportunity to talk with the heads of the various women's services. Heads of the Army and Navy nursing services are called "Matron," but they are given military rank just as ours are.

The Australian nurses served in Greece and Crete, so these women know at first hand all the dangers of war.

I was given some very good photographs of American boys taken here and I am taking them home and will send them to the hometowns of the boys. I have also been promised some movies of women's war activities, which have been made.


(Copyright, 1943, by United Feature Syndicate, Inc.)

Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • Canberra (Australia) [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, September 7, 1943

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 UFS wire copy of a My Day column instance archived at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library.