Finding Mrs. Roosevelt

While I’m sure you are still reveling in the awesome performance of Smoking Popes or waiting with great anticipation for Rockapella to tell you where in the world Carmen Sandiego truly is, take a step back from this year for a moment. In fact, lets visit 1936, as I did this week while organizing box number 4093E in the archives.

It was here that I came across the knowledge that Eleanor Roosevelt did her own whirl-wind tour of the country (complete with adoring roadies, I’m sure), making a short but distinguished stop at our very own Dominican University (then Rosary College). As the keynote speaker for the Catholic Association for International Peace Conference, Roosevelt gave a lecture in which she urged individuals to seek peace, beginning within themselves and those around them.

[Mrs. Franklin Delano Roosevelt, head-and-shoulders portrait, facing slightly right].

What an honor it must have been for Rosary College and all in attendance to have such an influential and beloved woman speak within these walls. Her discussion of peace was particularly relevant, as it was directed at youth–college students–who were slightly too young to have any recollection of the First World War. I found a sense of eeriness as I read over her urgings, for I read them with the knowledge that she was speaking to the very individuals who would find themselves (or their husbands and brothers) clenched by the grips of the Second World War.

“The older people should constantly make vivid the war that we remember, because if you never lived through a war it is very easy to think that you believe in peace, to want peace; but it is also easy to be carried away by propaganda, perhaps, and by enthusiasm for ideals which are not real ideals. We have grown up in the country, at least through my generation, with the conception that patriotism reached its height when you were called upon to give your life for your country. That was in the past. We always want to honor the heroes of our history and of the past who gave their lives in war, because it their day that was the greatest service that they were called upon to give.

You can find the complete transcript of her speech, photographs and all the behind-the-scenes correspondence it took to get her here in the archives (located in Crown 200 if you don’t know). We’d love for you to stop by to pay your respects to Mrs. FDR on your way from Lewis into the library.

Roosevelt concluded with a statement that, some seventy years later, still holds great value for students:

“I hope very much, as you young people think of the future, that you will think of it as an opportunity to serve your country through your full participation in citizenship. You are only good citizens of democracy if you take the trouble to know what your representatives do and if you carry your full responsibility in your own community, which means in the nation as a whole, so that you can not be satisfied by just knowing what is happening in one little spot which you may be moving about in. You must be a citizen of your nation, and in being that, in shouldering willingly your full responsibility as a citizen of a democracy you will perhaps be able to make your country the kind of country which may exert sufficient moral influence to really be a factor in the world for the peace which all of us long for.”


One thought on “Finding Mrs. Roosevelt”

  1. Hi there,

    I wanted to write a short note and let you know how happy I am that you are writing about the Dominican University Archives in the library blog. I worked in the archives while attending Dominican, and I too came across Eleanor Roosevelt’s wonderful speech in box 4093E. It truly is amazing–and relevant. Thank you for the work that you do (especially for organizing the London Study Abroad box–which definitely needed some tender loving care). Good luck and keep promoting archives!


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