Eleanor and Franklin: Women and the New Deal

Annual Conference 2018 Film: Presidential Lecture

Tony Badger, last updated: 13th October 2018

As a pioneering First Lady, Eleanor Roosevelt refused, as one admirer put it, ‘to step into her little mould in the biscuit tin of President’s wives that was ready and waiting for her’.  She broadcast on the radio, wrote a newspaper column, travelled endlessly and spoke out fearlessly in defence of liberal and humanitarian issues. 

In this lecture, Tony Badger examines the emotional distance that underpinned the close political relationship with President Roosevelt.  He examines Eleanor’s role as part of a remarkable network of female reformers in the New Deal which exerted an unprecedented influence over American policy and politics that would not be matched until the 1970s.  Tony looks at the policy outcomes of their efforts.  Did they create a New Deal for women?  Why was their influence so diminished in World War II?

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