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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The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project
Lesson Plans and Lecture Notes

Eleanor Roosevelt and Progressivism

In many ways, Eleanor Roosevelt is the perfect example of the early progressive movement. She rejected Social Darwinism and embraced the Social Gospel. She believed that the environment in which a person lived played a key role in shaping that person's economic and social fate and that when educated, people could improve their own lives. She thought laissez-faire capitalism was bad for the nation and harmful to individuals.

Like many women of her era, ER put her ideals into action. She joined the settlement movement, volunteering in the Rivington Street settlement. Although she stopped working at Rivington Street after she married FDR (at her mother-in-law's insistence), she continued to work for progressive issues. She changed her mind and supported woman suffrage. In 1919, she attended the International Conference of Working Women and invited some of its key leaders to lunch, beginning a lifelong friendship with many. By the early 1920s, when she joined the National Consumers League, the Women's Trade Union League, the League of Women Voters, and the City Club of New York, ER typified progressivism. An active leader in these groups, ER championed maximum hour, minimum wage, and child labor laws; worker safety standards; and protective legislation for women workers.

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This educational program was prepared by The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers
with funding from the GE Fund through Save America's Treasures.