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Teaching Eleanor Roosevelt Glossary

Encampment for Citizenship was a summer youth program founded in 1944 by Algernon Black, a leader of the New York Society for Ethical Culture. The program was organized as a summer camp "at which young adults of many religious, racial, social and national backgrounds learned the principles and techniques of citizenship in a liberal democracy through lived experience." (1) It encouraged political activism and volunteerism and sought to educate its participants about civic responsibility, participation in government, and tolerance of diversity.

Eleanor Roosevelt was an early supporter of the Encampment for Citizenship, and in its first years she routinely invited the program to workshops at Hyde Park. As a long-time member of the Society for Ethical Culture's board, ER felt naturally attached to the aspirations of the project, and she heartily defended it when the Encampment program came under attack from McCarthyite forces in the early 1950s.

One such incident involved the American Legion, which accused the Encampment for Citizenship of being un-American and socialistic. ER was outraged by the criticism and she marshaled other Encampment supporters to speak out in its defense. They pointed out that the American Legion's accusations were paranoid, that there was nothing inherently un-American in listening to representatives of the American Civil Liberties Union, and assured them that they would continue to support the Encampment's work. Several months later, ER reiterated her support by serving as honorary chairman of the Encampment's anniversary gala.

The Encampment for Citizenship has since become a nationwide program that continues to conduct citizen workshops to this day.


  1. The New York Society for Ethical Culture. Internet on-line. Available From


The New York Society for Ethical Culture Homepage. Internet on-line. Available From

Lash, Joseph. Eleanor: The Years Alone. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1972, 236-237.