The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers, Digital Edition > My Day
My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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PARIS, Monday—I can't say that I'm really proud of our morning's work on Article Four of the Bill of Human Rights, because, for some reason which I cannot very well explain, we changed a simple article into a repetitious one.

Article Four reads: "Firstly, no one shall be held in slavery or involuntary servitude.

“Secondly, no one shall be subjected to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”

Several amendments were put before us which more or less eliminated themselves for one reason or another, and it left us voting on an amendment proposed by the Soviet delegate. This read: "Slavery and slave trade are prohibited in all their aspects, and all violation of this principle, whether it be of an overt or clandestine nature, must be punished according to the law."

It was perfectly obvious that the second part of this sentence came under the heading of implementation and had no proper place in the declaration, since we were declaring rights and not prescribing how they should be brought about. But the committee evidently felt that the first sentence added something to paragraph one and it was passed. Then we proceeded to pass the whole of Article Four just as it stood, which of course makes it a good deal of repetition. Some of us who felt that as the article stood slave trade undoubtedly would be outlawed, since if you could hold no one in slavery there really would be no profit in slave trading, and we were a little sad at the clumsiness of the article as it now stands. But such are the vagaries that come about sometimes in committee work.

Our progress is becoming almost frighteningly rapid. This article actually went through in a comparatively few hours. We did have to stay 40 minutes beyond our usual adjournment time to get it accomplished, so it was twenty minutes before two when I was able to break away for a one o'clock appointment.

* * *

I hastened away to meet the gentleman who was waiting to take me to see the ORT (Organization for Rehabilitation Through Training) School.

This school is located in a building in the Montreuil area of Paris—the workmen's area. It formerly was an old factory, and there is a plaque in the entrance corridor that states that it is a gift of the International Ladies Garment Workers Union through their president, David Dubinsky, whose picture hangs in the school's canteen.

This is really a technical school, but, as they also have enrolled youngsters in their teens, academic courses are given to youngsters as well as adults. The adults take courses lasting six to nine months, while the youngsters are enrolled for three years. The men are prepared as skilled mechanics, taught to know machines of various kinds, including motors, radios and typewriters.

In the dressmaking course there are both boys and girls—the boys learning to be tailors and the girls learning all the phases of dressmaking, lingerie making and millinery. Those who show an aptitude for designing are given special instruction along that line. Some very expert workmen have returned to take courses in furniture and fabric designing.

Many of the students in the adult classes are refugees. For instance, I was introduced to a woman who was working in the dressmaking course who had been a doctor in the Russian army during the siege of Stalingrad. She is a Pole, and has finally found her way to Paris to start a new life.

I have been through a great many training shops in the National Youth Administration and in schools in the United States, but it looks to me as though they have as good equipment and as excellent teachers here as one could find anywhere in the U.S.

We had our lunch in the school cafeteria where the entire school eats its lunch at a cost of 30 francs per person daily. The students are given practically everything, and the woman who runs this lunchroom must be a wizard because 30 francs today in a city like Paris just about buys a couple of newspapers and a stamp. I rather imagine that a good many of the students make this midday meal their main meal.

A good many of the students are orphans, and many of them have been through a great many hardships that have led to physical illnesses of various kinds. One of the women connected with the cafeteria told me that many of them had been operated on for strange diseases brought on by malnutrition, and tuberculosis is one of the things they watch for most carefully. They try to provide some recreation for them and even give them a summer holiday. This year they had six weeks in a country district, and when they came back many of them said it was the first time they had been happy and carefree in their whole lives.

These schools run by ORT are spreading all over Europe. The director of this particular school spent some time in Buchenwald after having fought with the Maquis. The only reason he came out of the war alive was that his fellow Maquis were so fond of him they sent word to the Germans that hostages they held would pay the price if he were killed. His life was spared.

E. R.


Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • Dubinsky, David, 1892-1982 [ index ]
         American labor leader and founder of the American Labor Party
         [ LC | VIAF | Wikidata | SNAC ]
  • International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union [ index ]
         [ LC ]
  • United States. National Youth Administration [ index ]
         [ LC | VIAF | Wikidata | SNAC | FAST ]
  • Paris (France) [ index ]
Other Terms and Topics

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, October 26, 1948

Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962
[ ERPP bio | LC | VIAF | WorldCat | DPLA | Wikidata | SNAC ]

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.