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Eleanor Roosevelt Speeches

Speech for Girl Scouts Silver Jubilee Dinner

April 9, 1937


ER speech in New York for Girl Scouts Silver Jubilee Dinner at Biltmore Hotel.

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[Unknown speaker:]

Thank you, Sir Gerald Campbell, and now the First Lady of the land, Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt. Mrs. Roosevelt addresses you on women and leadership. Mrs. Roosevelt


I am very happy to be able to greet from this dinner here in the Biltmore in New York City, the many other Girl Scout enthusiasts all over the country who are holding dinners tonight. We here think of the Girl Scout movement all over this country and wish them a very happy 25th anniversary celebration. I feel as though I have seen Girl Scouts in so many different places throughout this country and even in Puerto Rico that I almost know just what the training is doing for them. Just what these youngsters are getting out of their duties as Girl Scouts and when I was given the subject of the value of young women in leadership today, I could not help thinking that possibly the work done with the Girl Scouts had suggested the thought that from these beginnings were going to grow the leaders amongst young women of the future. I can remember the day when the only place of leadership that was considered possible for any young woman was her own home. I still consider that almost the most important place for a young woman to be a leader but she has found that her whole community touches her home. That in order to be the real leader at home, she must know her community as a whole. In other words, she must take up the full responsibilities of her citizenship and I imagine that no better preparation can be had that is given in the work done by Girl Scouts. For instance, I notice always with pride, how well these youngsters go through with any job, no matter how difficult it may be, that is given them. They meet me at trains with bunches of flowers and they say their little speeches, even though the circumstances may be extremely distracting. Crowds may be there, noises may drown the words they are trying to say, but they go right on and do what they were told to do. Recently, in one city, three young Girl Scouts were told to keep me in sight. They even thought they had to sit in my sitting room. But we did persuade them that the corridor outside was perhaps the better place to sit. But every time I wondered in or out, they stood up and did as they'd been told to do, and they stuck by me until I had finished speaking that evening and went off on the train. And as they rather wearily waved me goodbye, I couldn't help thinking that they were learning some very valuable lessons: endurance, tact, and perseverance, and above all the responsibility of doing something which you have undertaken to do, no matter how tired you may be, nor how difficult it may seem. I know of nothing which is better training for the leadership of the future. They learned many things. Avocations and things, perhaps, which may become vocations. They learned things which will be useful in their homes. But above everything else, they learn what it means to be a good citizen. (5:27) It is my experience that one of the things which really has been a benefit to us during the Depression is the feeling that has come to so many young people that they must earn their way in the world, even if they do not have to make a living, and many more have to make a living than ever before. They still feel that they must not be just ornaments to society. They must do something which pays for whatever they get. That, of course, is the first principle of good citizenship and I think it is very evident, far more evident, in the young people of today than it was in the young people of my day. I feel that many young people today are starting where my generation only arrived by the time they were fifty. I think that many young people are conscious of the fact that they owe leadership if they have been granted certain advantages, certain of the good things in life. And to young women there is going to be, I think, in the next few years, a great opportunity offered: an opportunity to begin their leadership at home, in their own community, by knowing that community, by knowing its conditions as a whole. Not any part of it but the whole of it. And by formulating objectives in their own minds which should be the objectives for the country as a whole and I feel very sure that as this opportunity opens out, these young women are going to be privileged to lead in that crusade, we might call it, which Mrs. Sidley has spoken of, for better world understanding. They have no feeling that there is any reason why they should not advocate peace. Women may work for peace without having any idea that there is the thought even of cowardice attached to that crusade and for that reason I think that these young people growing up today are going to have the opportunity of leading in that crusade. And I hope that we older people, who are sometimes fearful because we wonder what the younger ones will do with the responsibilities when we shed them and turn them over to the youngsters, I hope that we will not be fearful, that we will realize that the future of America is safe in the hands of its youth. Every generation naturally has some new ideas, some new thoughts as to the way things should be done but fundamentally I think the leadership of young men and women is going to be a very fine leadership. And I hope that we older people are going to help in every way we can by showing them how best they can serve their community. And by giving them the feeling that we trust them, that we believe in them, that we know their objectives are the same as ours, even if their methods may be somewhat different. All of us want the same thing, a better America for the future. (10:54)

[Unknown speaker:]

This address on women and leadership was given by Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt, honorary President of the Girl Scouts of America, and this concludes the Girl Scouts silver Jubilee dinner, held in the Grand Ballroom of the Biltmore Hotel in New York City. This is the National Broadcasting Company.

Program Participants

  • : Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962

Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced


About this document

Speech for Girl Scouts Silver Jubilee Dinner

April 9, 1937


Eleanor Roosevelt

Project Editors
  • National Endowment for the Humanities

Eleanor Roosevelt Speeches is a project and publication of The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project, The George Washington University, Academic Building, Post Hall, Room 312, 2100 Foxhall Road, NW, Washington, DC 20007

Transcript Editors
  • : Lewis, Britanny
  • : Grodin, Olivia
  • : Buckman, Lucy
  • : Alhambra, Christopher   [ ORCID: 0000-0002-6299-793X | VIAF ]

Transcribed and published by the Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project, 2019-11-27

Transcription created from holdings at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library