My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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COPENHAGEN, Denmark—We left the Amsterdam Airport at noon Tuesday and had a smooth and pleasant flight to Copenhagen where our ambassador, Robert Coe, met us. Mrs. Bodil Begtrup and the president of the National Council of Women, among others, also were there.

As soon as I arrived at the hotel there was a press conference, but nobody seemed to have a great many questions to ask and so it was over quickly.

My two grandsons, Miss Corr and I then went to an arts and crafts exhibit. This is called Den Permanente and here they show the work of craftsmen in furniture, silver, woodwork, jewelry, weaving, prints and modern paintings. It is a fascinating place in which to see the handcrafts of the artists of the country. It is also a shop where you may order anything that you wish to buy and they will send it home to your family and friends.

As usual, I looked for elephant figurines for my daughter-in-law and, at the same time, some donkeys, but I was told that donkeys had a bad name and, therefore, they were not to be found either in carvings or in ceramics.

My room at the D'Angleterre is a joy with many flowers, and I have, of course, innumerable invitations to attend meetings and see social work of different kinds. Unfortunately, I have very little time and I want to go with the boys as much as possible. I think we will have to visit some museums when we have some free time.

One thing has been brought to my attention which in the U.S. we should be interested in. A young Dane, who has made more than 300 life masks of Danish people of note, writes me the following:

"You have in your country something which is very little known officially, a unique collection of excellent life masks of early American Presidents, e.g., Lincoln, Jefferson, Adams and Mrs. Adams, also face casts of Franklin, Washington, Mrs. Grant and many other notables.

"This is remarkable in itself, as no other country has anything to compare with this. They are, however, spread all over the U.S. and their condition is such that they will not, with time, survive.

"My idea in bringing this subject to your notice is to propose that Americans establish an institute and that the masks in question already existing be cast in metal to preserve them and they be collected together and exhibited in one collection.

"Face masks of great personalities of today and races becoming extinct should also be made and care taken that the art of making face casts be now preserved for future generations."

It takes someone from Denmark to tell me of something interesting to be found in the U.S., and I am quite sure there are many of my fellow citizens who know nothing at all about this possible collection. It seems to me that the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., would be the proper place to assemble this collection and put it on exhibition.

I have from Holger Winther of Denmark a pamphlet of what information he has gathered and, on my return, I shall send it to the curator at the Smithsonian in the hope that he may be interested in doing something to preserve these life masks.

Tonight we dine at a dinner given by the ambassador, and the only drawback to our pleasure is the fact that Dr. David Gurewitsch, who was coming here to attend an international meeting of physical medicine, has not been able to leave Paris and also his daughter is not well and unable to join us.

I have seen Dr. Howard Rusk and Miss Mary Switzer, both of whom are here for the meeting Dr. Gurewitsch hoped to attend. It was nice to meet them at the arts and crafts exhibit.


(Copyright, 1956, by United Feature Syndicate, Inc.)

Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • Copenhagen (Denmark) [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, August 24, 1956

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.