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

The George Washington University

The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project
Teaching Eleanor Roosevelt Glossary

[picture: Todhunter School] The Todhunter School in New York City was a private school for upper-class girls founded by Winifred Todhunter, a graduate of Oxford University. More than just a finishing school, Todhunter offered courses in the arts and a college preparatory program. In 1927, Marion Dickerman, who was the school's vice-principal, told ER that Ms. Todhunter was considering selling the school and returning to England. ER, whose children were grown and whose memories of Marie Souvestre and Allenswood held a special place in her heart, suggested that she, Dickerman, and Nancy Cook buy the school together.

ER taught American history, American literature, English, and current events to junior and seniors. Like Souvestre, ER strove to blend a rigorous curriculum with exercises designed to encourage students to think for themselves. Her history exams had two parts: one factual and one analytical. Students had to answer questions such as: "Give your reasons for or against allowing women to actively participate in the control of the government, politics and officials through the vote, as well as your reasons for or against women holding office in the government." "What is the object today of the inheritance, income and similar taxes?" "How are Negroes excluded from voting in the South?" In each class, she underscored the connection between the things of the past and the things of today, as well as encouraging the students to understand the difference between subject and citizen. (1) She took students on field trips to the New York Children's Court and various tenements and markets in the city so they could see the problems facing New Yorkers and how the government tried to address them

After FDR was elected governor in 1928, ER continued to teach three days a week. "I teach because I love it. I cannot give it up." (2) When FDR was elected president, her teaching career (except for an occasional current events class) at the school ended, although her association with it did not. She attended school functions, delivered graduation addresses, gave lectures to alumnae living in the Washington area, and arranged for Todhunter students to visit the White House. ER finally left the school entirely in 1938.

The Todhunter School merged with the Dalton School, also in New York City, for financial reasons in 1939.


  1. Joseph P. Lash, Eleanor and Franklin (New York: Signet Press, 1971), 410.
  2. Allida Black, Casting Her Own Shadow (New York: Columbia University Press), 1995, 22.


Beasley, Maurine, Holly C. Schulman and Henry R. Beasley, eds. The Eleanor Roosevelt Encyclopedia. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2001, 515-518.

Black, Allida. Casting Her Own Shadow: Eleanor Roosevelt and the Shaping of Postwar Liberalism. New York: Columbia University Press, 1996, 15-16, 21-22.

Roosevelt, Eleanor. This I Remember. New York: Harper Publishers, 1949, 36-37.

Schlup, Leonard and Donald Whisenhunt, eds. It Seems to Me: Selected Letters of Eleanor Roosevelt. Lexington, Ky.: University of Kentucky Press, 2001, 6.


For more information on the Todhunter School, see the following Web Sites: