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

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NEW YORK, Wednesday—A short time ago while here I saw a most interesting film called "Make Way for Youth," a presentation sponsored by the Youth Division of the National Social Welfare Assembly. This group represents a great many organizations with different racial and religious backgrounds, and the motion picture seemed to me one of the best, for presentation in a dramatic way of the problems we have before us on every level. We must learn to live together—all of us—in the same world.

Whenever I see a picture of this kind I hark back to my own background and wonder what made me feel so strongly that people had to be looked upon as individuals and considered more because of what they were than because of any outward appearance or because of racial or religious background. Naturally, all these things enter into the making of an individual, but it is what they produce in character that is important.

It always has seemed to me that in education the teacher who has the greatest personal influence over her pupils leaves the greatest mark on the younger generation. In going over my books yesterday I came across a pamphlet about Mlle. Marie Souvestre, head of Allenswood school which I attended for three years in London, and in it I found a little note from an American woman. The note reads:

“My mother—cherished from early childhood the philosophy of Emile Souvestre. Very advanced and thoughtful in her ideas in the education of women, I remember hearing her frequently say, and this fifty years ago, that above all she would like to have her daughters educated by Mlle. Souvestre. The enlightened influence of the father, amid the wholesome atmosphere of England.”

The pamphlet itself is entitled, "Some Memories of Marie Souvestre" and was given to holders of her scholarships. It was written by an eminent English woman after Mlle. Souvestre's death, when the alumni contributed to a scholarship in her memory. It begins:

“This scholarship was founded in memory of a very remarkable woman. Those of us who subscribed to it wish we could keep alive more of her personality than the mere fact that many people loved, admired, and were grateful to her...To Allenswood (in England) and to Les Ruches (her first school which had been in Fontainebleau, France), the elite of many countries sent their daughters—the Chamberlains, the Roosevelts, the Siemenses, the Stracheys—to mention only a few of the best known...In what did she succeed? In exciting, in amusing, in passionately interesting the intellect, in putting such a salt and savour into life, that it seemed as if we could never think anything dull again. I remember her history lessons, it was history and literature she liked best to teach...She went into the world; she travelled; she was on intimate terms with many of the ablest minds of the day in many countries, and wherever she went she brought the keenness of her mind, her refreshing and sometimes alarming sincerity, her irrepressible spirits. And through all the direst quarrels of the day, though she 'took sides' vehemently, she never lost a friend, and if she made enemies, it was never of those who were worthy or able to understand her.”

Do you wonder then, when an English woman could write of her thus, that she left her mark on her pupils?

E. R.


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About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, January 27, 1949

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.