The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project is a university-chartered research center associated with the Department of History of The George Washington University

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Teaching Eleanor Roosevelt Glossary

[picture: Eleanor Roosevelt at ADA foreign policy commission meeting] Americans for Democratic Action (ADA) traces its founding to January 3, 1947, when a group of prominent liberals, including ER, gathered to form a broadly based and inclusive liberal political organization. Although the ADA sought to nominate a candidate other than Truman at the Democratic National Convention in 1948, it managed to retain good relations with the president upon his reelection.

In contrast to the Progressive Citizens of America, whose members favored cooperation and accommodation with the Soviet Union, the ADA was avowedly anti-communist, providing a forum in which liberals could work for progressive policies without being red baited. Notwithstanding its anti-communist credentials, however, Senator McCarthy targeted the ADA and implied that its liberal positions indicated a sympathy toward communist ideals. As McCarthy increased his attack in 1953, ER agreed to serve as ADA's honorary chair and, thereby, force him to call her a communist as well. Many ADA leaders believed her courage "saved" the organization. (1)

A bulwark of antiracism and strongly in favor of expanded civil rights, the ADA took early liberal stands on a broad range of social, political, economic, and military issues, including American involvement in Vietnam, the environment, and abortion. Perhaps it is best known today for the annual ratings that it issues for members of Congress based on their positive voting records with respect to liberal causes.


  1. Allida Black, Casting Her Own Shadow: Eleanor Roosevelt and the Shaping of  Postwar Liberalism (New York: Columbia University Press, 1996), 169.


Black, Allida. Casting Her Own Shadow: Eleanor Roosevelt and the Shaping of Postwar Liberalism. New York: Columbia University Press, 1996, 166-169.

Buhle, Mari Jo, Paul Buhle, and Dan Georgakas, eds. Encyclopedia of the American Left. New York: Garland Publishing, Inc., 1997, 597.

Kirkendall, Richard S., ed. The Harry S. Truman Encyclopedia. Boston: G.K. Hall & Co., 1989, 6-7.

For more information on the ADA, visit the following web site: