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

[This column has emendations. View original version]


NEW YORK—I am home from my little jaunt to Rochester and Buffalo. I enjoyed particularly in Buffalo on Thursday my contacts with the State University College for Teachers and the students there, and my meeting on Friday morning with the teachers making up the Western State Federation of N.Y. State.

I had beautiful weather all the time and that made the plane trips enjoyable. On the way home Friday noon I was fortunate to have Mr. Paul Fitzpatrick in the seat beside me and we talked about the days when he used to be in politics and how pleasant it is to be on the sidelines now. There is none of the constant pressure to decide one way or the other! I have enjoyed that situation for many years now, and it certainly gives one a greater amount of freedom.

Having published one letter on the use of the word "housewife," I have another letter which takes me to task for my stupidity in not realizing that what my first correspondent wanted was a new name for an occupation all women are proud of. It is simply the name they really object to, says the lady, because it is not descriptive of the job. So, I reprint her letter here and I would vote for any one of the names she suggests.

"In regard to your article in today's Post-Dispatch, 'Housewife Is a Skilled Profession,' you missed the point completely! What this woman wished to bring out in her letter is that though she is proud of her profession of running a house and making a home for her husband and children, she does not like the term 'housewife' to describe that profession.

"She maintains (and I am in accord) that a wife is a woman joined in marriage to a man as husband; thus a woman is not a 'housewife' (which would mean 'the wife of a house'—and you can't marry a house!).

"Your writer wished for you to find another term to use instead of 'housewife.' In filling in questionnaires as to profession, one who writes puts down 'writer;' one who lectures writes 'lecturer'; one who labors writes 'laborer;' one who sings writes 'singer'; one who manages a store writes 'manager'; one who runs a lighthouse writes 'lighthouse keeper'; etc. And, according to you, a woman who runs a house or manages a home should write 'housewife.' That doesn't make sense! She should write 'housewifer.'

"Seriously, though, since a man who manages a store is 'store-manager,' why isn't a woman who manages a home, a home manager or house manager? Or what's wrong with housekeeper (compared to storekeeper)? Of course, many housekeepers are paid servants, but then a wife earns her living, clothes and spending money by managing a house, so she really is a housekeeper and truly gets paid (in room, board, clothes, and spending money) for the performance of her job. So why not admit it?

"The correct way for a wife (and mother) to label her profession would be 'housekeeper,' 'housemanager,' 'homekeeper,' 'home manager,' or even 'homemaker.' I'm for any one of these, so let's stop this illiterate 'housewife' business!"


(Copyright, 1955, by United Feature Syndicate, Inc.)

Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • New York (N.Y., United States) [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, November 1, 1955

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

  • Brick, Christopher (Editor)
    [ VIAF | ORCID ]
  • Regenhardt, Christy (Associate Editor)
    [ ISNI ]
  • Black, Allida M. (Editor)
    [ VIAF | ISNI ]
  • Binker, Mary Jo (Associate Editor)
    [ VIAF | ORCID ]
  • Alhambra, Christopher C. (Electronic Text Editor)
    [ VIAF | ORCID ]

Digital edition published 2008, 2017 by
The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project

Available under licence from the Estate of Anna Eleanor Roosevelt.

Published with permission from the Estate of Anna Eleanor Roosevelt.

MEP edition publlished on June 30, 2008.

TEI-P5 edition published on April 28, 2017.

XML master last modified on June 9, 2017.

HTML version generated and published on May 3, 2022.

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