Young Mildred FishA Young Mildred Fish
Mildred Elizabeth Fish was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on September 16, 1902.  She attended West Division High School, and in 1926 worked at what is now the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee as a lecturer on German literature.  During this time she met her future husband, a German, Arvid Harnack, who was in the U.S. studying at University of Wisconsin-Madison.  They wed in Wisconsin and left for Germany in 1929 where she studied for her doctorate.  The couple moved to Berlin from Giessen in 1930 where she worked as an assistant lecturer of English and American literature and also as a translator.

Mildred Fish Harnack, Educator and Resistance   1902-1943
Clara, Mildred and Arvid Harnack c. 1931, Deutscher Widerstand, BerlinClara, Mildred & Arvid Harnack c. 1931
It was during this time in Berlin that Mildred became interested in Communism as a solution to poverty.  In 1932, she was let go from her teaching position and toured the Soviet Union with her husband and other academics. Arvid and Mildred began a discussion circle that debated the political situation of the time.  This circle became the center of a resistance group that by 1941 was feeding Soviet agents information about German intentions in the upcoming invasion of Russia.  Mildred and her husband recruited more members who were against the Nazi regime and this group became a hub of resistance inside Germany.  

Mildred Fish Harnack Building in Milwaukee, WIDr. Mildred Fish Harnack Bldg, Urban Milwaukee photo
Unfortunately, this group’s radio messages were intercepted and decoded.  The Gestapo arrested Arvid and Mildred on September 7, 1942, and after a quick trial Arvid was executed on Dec. 22, 1942.  Mildred Fish Harnack was originally given a six year sentence by the court, but Hitler refused to endorse this and ordered a new trial.  Upon Hitler’s direct order, Harnack was found guilty and beheaded on Feb. 16, 1943.  Her last words were, “I loved Germany so much.”

“And I have loved Germany so much.” Mildred's Final Words
For more information, view this short documentary by Wisconsin Public Television:

PictureLuick Dairy Milk Can, Chudnow Museum
John Luick, a Civil War veteran, revolutionized the ice cream industry not just in Milwaukee, but throughout the world.  He was born in New York, and except for his two years of service in Virginia, lived in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  Luick “saw the rise of ice cream from a Sunday luxury to an everyday dessert.”[i]  This rise was brought on largely by Luick himself.  

In the 1880’s, Luick was already making delectable ice cream in his small confectionary shop in Milwaukee.  It was his son William’s idea to sell wholesale ice cream, an idea that his father did not readily buy into.  William rented a failing drugstore soda machine on Milwaukee Street between Wisconsin and Wells.  William also purchased a small shop and started to make 10 to 20 gallons of ice cream a day.  At this time, ice cream had to be hand-turned in a small freezer.  A drugstore on 27th and Wisconsin Avenue was William’s first customer.[ii]  Because of his son William’s success in making and selling wholesale ice cream, John was convinced of the business potential.  

“The Dairy Industry is the biggest in the world.  It is bigger than the steel industry.” Thomas McInnerney 1926 to the Milwaukee Sentinel 
PictureLuick Dairy Advertising Truck
In 1897 he formed “Luick’s Ice Cream Co.”  The company grew so big in its first 90 days that the business was moved into a larger building at 602 East Ogden Street.  Copying his son’s idea, he also installed a soda fountain which turned his building into one of the most popular in the city.[iii]  Another of his brilliant ideas was to serve ice cream in the winter, which helped to spread its popularity.   

Luick made a number of important contributions to the Ice Cream Industry.  He was the first person to sell pint “bricks” of ice cream wrapped in paper and quarts of ice cream in cartons.  He created flavors of ice cream other than the traditional Neapolitan flavors of chocolate, vanilla and strawberry.  Luick mixed his ice cream with fruit and candy to increase his flavor potentials.  Luick’s business was so revolutionary that confectioners from across the country came to observe his business.  Eventually, John retired and left his business to his son William.

PictureRecreated Luick Ice Cream logo
At the end of 1923, a man named Thomas McInnerney formed the National Dairy Products Corporation with the goal of consolidating all of the independent ice cream companies in the US.  McInnerney was highly successful and merged with Luick Ice Cream Co. in 1926.  Luick Ice Cream Co. was largely left to create ice cream the way it always did.  A newspaper at the time reported, “Mr. Luick [William] will remain president of his company and its organization, methods and product will remain unchanged.”[iv]  William was even appointed to the board of directors of the National Dairy Products Corporation.[v]

PictureMilk Half Pint with Luick & Sealtest Cap
Around 1929, Luick Ice Cream became part of the Sealtest division of the National Dairy Products Corporation, which would eventually become Kraft Foods, Inc.[vi]  Sealtest and Kraft were companies that were purchased by the National Dairy Products Corporation to consolidate the food industry.  In 1969, the National Dairy Products Corporation changed their name to Kraft, which is one of the biggest food-producing companies today.  In 1993, Kraft sold its ice cream brands, including Sealtest (the brand that owned Luick Ice Cream) and Breyer’s to the Unilever Corporation, which owns them today.[vii]   

Nevertheless, Luick Ice Cream was a Milwaukee staple for decades, especially in the 1920’s.  This decade saw the standard of living rise along with wages.  Never before in history did the majority of the population have some sort of disposable income or leisure time.  These two things merged together at the soda fountain or ice cream parlor that Luick helped to popularize. 

[i] “Luick, Veteran of Civil War, Is Dead at 97” The Milwaukee Journal, March 30, 1938, Page 1.
[ii] “Everybody Likes Ice Cream” The Milwaukee Sentinel, January 29, 1952, Section 2.
[iii] Ibid 
[iv] “Chain Concern Booms State Milk Future” The Milwaukee Sentinel, September 3, 1926.
[v] “Trapp Dairy Co. Unites With Chain Organization” The Milwaukee Journal, December 16, 1927, Page 1.
[vi]“Luick Dairy Co. Horse and Wagon,” Milwaukee Public Library Digital Collections, accessed June 23, 2011,
[vii] “Breyers,” Unilever USA Brands, accessed June 23, 2011,

Born Carrie Lane on January 9, 1859 near Ripon, Wisconsin, Carrie was to be a key figure in the passing of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and the founding of the League of Women Voters. She gained a college education from what is now Iowa State University. After working as a teacher and school principal, Carrie married Les Chapman in 1885, a newspaper editor. Unfortunately, he died the following year.

Carrie Chapman Catt, Suffrage Leader & Educator  1859-1947
The year 1887 marked a new part of her life as she became involved in the Iowa Woman Suffrage Association. Carrie quickly became a leader in the fight to win women the right to vote and by 1900 she became the president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA), taking over for legendary women's rights advocate Susan B. Anthony. Her second marriage to George Catt ended in 1905 with his death, and she became involved with the International Woman Suffrage Alliance.

Carrie was asked by NAWSA to return in 1915 to help the struggling organization after suffragist Alice Paul and others had left the group. Ms. Catt got the organization back on solid financial ground and developed a plan to get women the vote through passage of a federal amendment. Carrie was so sure of women getting the vote that she helped establish the League of Women Voters in 1920 before the amendment was passed. After the 19th Amendment was adopted, Catt left NAWSA to help women around the world gain the right to vote. She also endorsed the short-lived League of Nations and the later United Nations.

Elsa Ulbricht Works Progress Handicrafts Project for Milwaukee
Elsa Ulbricht was born on March 15, 1885 in Milwaukee. She studied at the Milwaukee Normal School, receiving a degree in education before attending the Pratt Institute in New York, from which she graduated in 1911. Ms. Ulbricht was asked to join the faculty of the art department of the Normal School upon her return from the east. Elsa was influenced by Wisconsin artists during this time and spent the summers of the 1920s and 1930s painting. Her work in teaching and developing a curriculum at the Normal School led to her appointment as the director for the Works Progress Administration Handicrafts Project for Milwaukee. She had a genius for organizing and a determination to get the job done to create in her words, "socially useful and durable art."

Elsa Ulbricht, Artist and Educator   1885-1980
"Our Club" sketch by Elsa Ulbricht
During eight years of the Great Depression, 1935 to 1943, five thousand Milwaukee County residents were lifted from welfare by working on dolls and toys for poor children; wall hangings, rugs and drapes for hospitals, schools and nurseries; and a myriad of other items including furniture, quilts, pillows, book binding, and costumes for theatrical groups. This WPA project became a model for others around the country, with Eleanor Roosevelt visiting Milwaukee to view its productivity. Elsa also saw to it that African Americans were employed by the project at a time when many were being turned away. She believed that everyone had one thing in common - the need for work.

Elsa Ulbricht newspaper image
Elsa taught and developed an amazing variety of subjects in the art department of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and its predecessors over the forty-four year period 1911-1955, serving the last two years as head of the department. Elsa was also a founding member of the Wisconsin Players, the Milwaukee Art Institute, and the Wisconsin Designer-Craftsmen. She was an accomplished painter, print-maker, weaver and puppeteer as well as a zealous promoter of crafts as major art forms. Ms. Ulbricht died in Milwaukee on March 13, 1980.

"And still they gazed and still the wonder grew, 
how one small head could carry all she knew." 
-1914 Normal School Graduating Verse on Elsa Ulbricht

Young Edna Ferber at desk with typewriter
Edna Ferber was born on August 15, 1885 in Kalamazoo, Michigan. She grew up mostly in her native Michigan, in Iowa, and in Appleton, Wisconsin. Edna began her working career at age 17 as a reporter for the Appleton Daily Crescent, later working as a reporter for the Milwaukee Journal. Her 1912 move to New York led her into a circle of influential friends such as Katherine Hepburn, Moss Hart and George Kaufman. In 1920 she covered both the Democratic national convention in San Francisco and the Republican national convention in Chicago for the United Press Association.

Edna Ferber, Author and Newspaper Reporter   1885-1968
Edna Ferber having tea and reading a manuscript
Her talents turned to writing books that offered an accurate, lively portrait of middle-class Midwestern experiences in the 1920s and 1930s. Frequently the heroines of these books were women whose strength and talent made them successful in business, like Emma McChesney in Roast Beef or Fanny in Fanny Herself. Ferber believed that working people still retained "a kind of primary American freshness and assertiveness."

Edna Ferber's Showboat starring Ava Gardner
Edna won a Pulitzer Prize in 1924 for her book, So Big, of which there are three film adaptations. She garnered much critical acclaim for Show Boat, later turned into the musical play and movie. Her later novels Giant, Saratoga Trunk, Cimmaron and Ice Palace were all made into motion pictures. World critics hailed Ferber as the greatest woman novelist of the period. She died on April 16, 1968 in New York City. Her published works include twelve novels, twelve collections of short stories, nine plays and two autobiographies. 

"A Closed Mind is a Dying Mind" - Edna Ferber
Young Meta Berger of Milwaukee
Born on February 23, 1873 in Milwaukee, Meta Schlichting was educated at the Wisconsin State Normal School (now the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee). Meta taught primary school after graduating. She was forced to resign when she married Victor Berger in 1897 due to rules that required female teachers to be single.

Meta Berger, Educator and Politician   1873-1944
Milwaukee's Meta Berger with fancy hat
Meta was elected to the Milwaukee School Board in 1909, and as a school board member, she supported progressive measures such as the construction of playgrounds, "penny lunches," and medical exams for children. Ms. Berger also advocated on behalf of teachers for tenure, a pension system, and a fixed salary schedule. She was re-elected again and again, serving a total of 30 years on the board. Meta's work for the school board led to her appointments to the Wisconsin State Board of Education, the Wisconsin Board of Regents of Normal Schools and the University of Wisconsin Board of Regents.

Meta Berger and Wisconsin Governor Heil in 1941
After the death of her husband, Victor, in 1929, Meta was selected to fill his seat on the Socialist Party's National Executive Committee, a position given to few women. She resigned from the Socialist Party in 1940 and spent her remaining years on her farm in Thiensville where she died on June 16, 1944. Meta was a daughter of German immigrants who became a prominent and outspoken activist and politician at a time when women's roles and place were hotly contested.

"We never obtained Suffrage until we made a row about it." 
- Meta Berger
Hattie McDaniel on CBS radio
Actress Hattie McDaniel was born on June 10, 1895 in Wichita, Kansas to a family of entertainers. She was the 13th child of a banjo-playing Baptist minister and gospel singing mother. While attending high school in Denver, Colorado, her singing abilities brought her work in minstrel shows and eventually found her performing with a vaudeville troupe for five years.

Hattie McDaniel, Singer and Actress   1895-1952
Hattie McDaniel and James Cagney in 1943 film
In 1925, Hattie was invited to perform on Denver's radio station which gave her the distinction of being the first African American woman to sing on the radio in the U.S. Ms. McDaniel continued the vaudeville circuit and landed in Milwaukee when the slow down of the Great Depression occurred. She was working as a ladies' room attendant at Sam Pick's when she audition with the song, "St. Louis Blues." In 1929, McDaniel found a steady job as a vocalist at the club and never went back to the maid job. Two years later, Hattie moved to Los Angeles after hearing about work available there on the radio. While she was able to pick up some radio work, at times she had to supplement her income by working at odd jobs.

Hattie McDaniel accepting her Oscar Award
In 1931, she landed her first film role as an extra in a Hollywood musical. Hattie's first major on-screen break came in 1934 singing a duet with Will Rogers in Judge Priest. The following year Ms. McDaniel landed a role opposite Shirley Temple in The Little Colonel. This part brought her to the attention of major Hollywood directors and a stead stream of offers followed. The highlight of her entertainment career came in 1939 with Hattie playing the role of Mammy, the house servant in Gone with the Wind. This role won her the first Oscar ever given to an African American in 1940. Hattie McDaniel unfortunately lost a battle to breast cancer after starting a new career in television as a maid on The Beulah Show. She died on October 26, 1952.

"I sincerely hope I shall always be a credit to my race and to the motion picture industry." 
- Hattie McDaniel, During Her Oscar Acceptance Speech
PictureMilwaukee Mayor Hoan
Daniel Hoan served as mayor of Milwaukee from 1916 to 1940. The twenty-four years that Hoan served as mayor made him the longest serving socialist politician in United States History. He was elected Milwaukee city attorney in 1910, and for the six years before he became mayor, he worked to reduce governmental corruption, which had become a major issue. After being elected mayor, Hoan continued this work on a broader scale, cleaning up local government and making it more efficient. He also implemented countless progressive reforms, many of which proved successful. 

Included in these reforms were the Garden Homes Project, restructuring the city’s public transportation, and a push towards municipal ownership of quarries, water treatment and sewage disposal. He also began work on a highway system, but funding was cut and the project was put on hold. Eventually, funding was secured and the project was finished in 1977. The expanded system included the Hoan Bridge, Milwaukee’s only tribute to a man who changed our city in so many ways.

Daniel Hoan Was Milwaukee's Longest Serving Socialist Mayor From 1916 to 1940.
PictureFormer Mayor Emil Seidel and Mayor Daniel Hoan
Socialism is a word often confused with communism. The biggest difference between the two is that socialism is an economic system, while communism is a political one. This means that socialism can work in the context of a democracy, whereas communism cannot. Although socialism does have roots in communism, they are not the same. Communism is often viewed as a more extreme version of socialism. In a communist political system, socialism would likely be the dominant economic system. However, this does not mean that socialism and communism always go hand in hand. There are many programs in the United States that borrow from socialist principles, including Social Security and the highway system. During Hoan’s time as mayor, Milwaukee was the center of the Socialist movement in America. He, along with other politicians, practiced what became known as sewer socialism. This particular branch of socialism focused on cleaning up Milwaukee after the industrial revolution and a return to the basics of socialism to maximize the help given to citizens.

One of Mayor Hoan’s most famous programs was the Garden Homes project in 1923. The end of World War I brought with it a housing shortage, and politicians were scrambling for a solution. This was when Hoan developed the Garden Homes project, the country’s first public housing project. Hoan commissioned the Garden Homes Company to build six room houses. 

When the homes were finished, each family who wanted to live within the project bought stock in the company. Each month, a family made payments on their stock, as well as made a small payment for upkeep on the house. Over the course of the next twenty years, the value of the stock decreased until each family was only paying the rent for the upkeep of the property, not making payments on the stock. A six room home cost about $4,500. For the first month, a family would pay $49.33, and then $22.25 every month after that until his stock was paid off. The project was extremely successful, and by 1936 every family who had purchased stock had it paid off and were homeowners in their own right.

Municipal ownership is the idea that a city’s local government owns and controls services that are used by the public at large, such as the water supply, public transportation and access to natural resources. A system like this prevents large corporations from using these markets to make money. It also allows for consistency. Without municipal ownership, a city could have three water treatment plants, each selling different qualities of water at different prices. 

Mayor Hoan believed in municipal ownership of the city’s water, sanitation and quarries. The corruption in local politics at the time ran deep, and many government officials were making money by allowing large corporations to bend the rules. This led to spoiled water and various other problems. In Hoan’s effort to clean up the government and stop corruption, he began the push for municipal ownership, and eventually succeeded in his efforts. Milwaukee’s local government gained ownership of the stone quarries, street lighting, water purification and sewage disposal.

By Lena Tomaszek,
Museum Intern, University of Minnesota Undergrad
This panel is part of our 2016 exhibit on Daniel Webster Hoan, Milwaukee's longest serving socialist mayor. For educational purposes, we have made the document available as a pdf. -->
PictureYoung Herbert Hoover
In 1895, Hoover graduated from Stanford University with a degree in geology. He and his classmates were the first class to graduate from the newly formed school. After graduation, Hoover took a job with Bewick, Moreing & Company, a mining company based in Australia. 

When World War I began in 1914, Hoover left the mining business and began working with the relief efforts in various European countries to aid war victims. When the U.S. entered the war in 1917, Hoover was appointed head of the U.S. Food Administration. Through creative marketing, he was able to reduce the amount of meat and wheat that was being eaten by the American public so it could be sent overseas to the soldiers. 

When President Harding was elected in 1921, he appointed Hoover Secretary of Commerce. In 1927, President Coolidge announced that he would not be seeking re-election, and party leaders began to look to Hoover as the leading Republican candidate. Thanks to his already strong reputation across the country, Hoover easily won the election. On November 6, 1928, Herbert Hoover became president, receiving 58% of the popular vote and 444 electoral votes.  

"Who But Hoover" - 1928 Campaign Slogan
Picture31st U.S. President Herbert Hoover
When the stock market crashed in October of 1929, President Hoover took the first in what would become a never ending series of steps in an effort set the economy right. He called factories and businesses to advocate against layoffs and wage cuts, and started several public works projects to employ some of those who had been laid off. It was thanks to these efforts that Hoover Dam was constructed.

He fought for laws that would keep workers safe and income at a livable level. As a last ditch effort before leaving office, the Hoover Administration crafted the Emergency Relief and Construction Act. The bill allowed more money for public works projects and created the Reconstruction Finance Corporation, an institution that provided government backed loans to banks, farmers and railroad companies.

In addition to these relief efforts, Hoover also called for an in-depth investigation into the workings of the stock exchange, to ensure nothing like this ever happened again. Many of the programs Hoover started laid the groundwork and provided the inspiration for Roosevelt’s New Deal a few years later.

PictureBlowing Soil of Drought-Stricken Great Plains
Just eight months after President Hoover entered office, the American economy saw a downturn like nothing else ever experienced. Beginning with the stock market crash on October 29, 1929, the economy spiraled downward rapidly. Though Hoover tried many different tactics to improve the economy and quality of life for American citizens, none of them were effective enough to enact long-lasting change.                             

The President was against submitting budgets that were unbalanced, and he was unwilling to raise the country’s deficit to fund welfare programs, so despite public outcry for more federal assistance, little was given. Shanty towns called “Hoovervilles” began to sprout up across the country, with thousands of Americans losing their homes each year.

To make matters worse, the 1930s also brought an extreme drought to the Midwest, which made farming nearly impossible. Fields lay empty and the soil dried out rapidly, effectively creating a dust bowl in the middle of the country. Thousands of people were forced to relocate as their farms became less and less profitable. President Hoover did little to aid these people, and his public approval fell rapidly across the country.

PictureFirst Lady, Lou Hoover
Lou Henry Hoover was born on March 29, 1874, in Waterloo, Iowa. As a child and teenager, she enjoyed camping and traveling with her father, who taught her to ride horses and hunt. In 1894, she enrolled at Stanford University as a geology major, where she met Herbert Hoover. She remained at Stanford when Hoover graduated to finish her degree, and graduated in 1898. On February 10, 1899, the two were married at her parent’s house in Monterey, California. The day after their marriage, the couple set sail for China, where they lived for several years.

When they, along with their two sons, moved back to the United States, Lou became involved with the Girl Scouts of America, serving as president of the organization from 1922 to 1925, and again after she left the White House from 1935 to 1937. As First Lady, Lou advocated for volunteerism like her husband, and continued her work with the Girl Scouts of America. She was also the first First Lady to be broadcast on the radio on a regular basis, appearing on several radio shows each week.

Herbert Hoover, a Republican from Iowa, was President from 1929-1933. Hoover believed that the government was filled with inefficiency, and he worked to change this during his time in office. He also placed great value on volunteer work and the power of the individual to create change.

PictureHoovers on a Boat in China
When Lou Hoover graduated from Stanford, Herbert was in Australia working the mines. Around the time of her graduation, Hoover was offered a promotion that would relocate him to China. That very day, he sent Lou a telegram asking for her hand in marriage. She wired back her acceptance almost immediately. While the two were living in China, they learned to speak Chinese, and they frequently conversed in Chinese rather than English while living in the White House.

By Lena Tomaszek,
Museum Intern, University Minnesota Undergrad
This panel is part of our 2014 exhibit on U.S. Presidents Between the World Wars. For educational purposes, we have made the document available as a pdf. -->
Roosevelt graduated from Harvard College in 1903 with an A.B. in history. After graduation, he went on to Columbia Law School and passed the bar in 1907. Shortly after this, he began practicing corporate law with a Wall Street law firm. 

In 1910, Roosevelt ran as a Democrat in the New York State Senate race. While in office, Roosevelt began to introduce many progressive ideas and fought back against party bosses. He was also very vocal about his support for President Wilson, which landed him a job as the Assistant Secretary of the Navy. In 1914, he decided to run for U.S. Senate, but lost because he did not have the backing of a party boss. 

At the Democratic National Convention of 1920, Roosevelt was nominated as the running mate for James M. Cox, but the pair was defeated by Harding and Coolidge in the election. He decided to run for governor in 1928, and won reelection in 1930. In 1932, he received the presidential nomination at the Democratic National Convention and on November 8, 1932, Roosevelt won the election with 57% of the popular vote and 472 electoral votes.

Happy Days Are Here Again - 1932 Campaign Slogan
PicturePresident Roosevelt Signing the Social Security Act
While campaigning for his first term, Roosevelt formulated a plan to pull the country out of the Great Depression in three steps: relief, recovery, and finally, reform. He began by restoring faith in the banking system, which people had all but stopped using as they were afraid any money they deposited would disappear. He then expanded and improved many of the programs initiated by Hoover. 

The job market was in shambles, with an unemployment rate of 24.1% when Roosevelt was inaugurated. He knew the country needed jobs to get back to spending and stimulate the economy, so he created the Civilian Conservation Corps, or the CCC. The CCC was a program that hired local men to work on construction projects in their area. The workers did everything from build parks to plant trees. 

In April of 1933, President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 6102, which required Americans to sell any gold they had to the US Treasury in an effort to combat the inflation that was controlling the economy. As his first term continued, Roosevelt established the Works Progress Administration (WPA), a program similar to the CCC. The WPA also had a branch for musicians, writers and artists. By the early 1940s, the United States was pulling out of the depression and heading into World War II.

Picture31st U.S. President Roosevelt at Warm Springs
In 1921, the Roosevelt family was vacationing in Canada when Roosevelt contracted polio. The disease left him permanently disabled from the waist down. He considered halting his political career at this time, but with some persuasion from Eleanor he changed his mind. From this point on, it was a constant struggle to hide the extent of his illness from the American people. 

Roosevelt was concerned that if the public knew how paralyzed he was, they would fear for his health and he would lose elections. From there on out, public appearances were carefully planned so that the president would never have to walk or stand upright without someone there to support him, usually one of his sons. Roosevelt ordered custom braces for his legs and hips and taught himself how to stand again. Over time he also learned to walk short distances with a cane. While he was unable to hide his illness, he was able to convince the people that he was getting better. 

Privately, he used a wheelchair, though he was careful never to be seen in it. Only two photos from the time show Roosevelt in his chair. Over the course of his four terms, his health slowly declined, though this was kept from the people. In April of 1945, Roosevelt died, and the country was left grieving and in shock. 

PictureFirst Lady Eleanor Roosevelt in Wedding Dress
Anna Eleanor Roosevelt was born on October 11, 1884 in New York, New York. Her early years were spent with her parents and brothers, Elliot and Gracie. Her mother passed away in 1892 and Eleanor was sent to live with her grandmother. The family arranged for Eleanor to have private tutors until she was 15, when she was sent to Allenswood Academy for finishing school. 

In 1902, her grandmother brought her back to New York. One day while riding the train back to her grandmother’s home, she ran into Franklin D. Roosevelt. The two had met previously, as they were distantly related cousins. A romance developed and by November 1903, the pair was engaged. They were married on March 17, 1905.

When Roosevelt was elected president, Eleanor transformed the role of first lady. Prior to Franklin’s election, the role of first lady was essentially to support the president and serve guests of the White House. Rather than fade into the shadows of her husband, she used his office to her advantage, fighting for issues about which she was passionate. She gave countless speeches and public appearance during his time in office.

Franklin D. Roosevelt, a Democrat from New York, was President from 1933 to 1945. Roosevelt believed that the government should get involved and help people when the situation called for it, and he implemented several progressive policies to help end the Great Depression.

PictureSarah, Eleanor and Franklin Roosevelt
Roosevelt was the only U.S. President to serve more than two terms. When he was elected in 1933, the United States was in the midst of the Great Depression, and the public was thirsty for change. He enacted several programs and many Americans felt the grip of poverty loosen over the next several years. As they became happier, public approval for the president soared, and with World War II on the horizon, Roosevelt opted to continue running for as long as the people would elect him. After his death, Congress passed the 22nd Amendment in 1947, which legally limited all presidents to serving only two terms.

Lena Tomaszek, 
Museum Intern, University of Minnesota Undergrad

This panel is part of our 2014 exhibit on U.S. Presidents Between the World Wars. For educational purposes, we have made the document available as a pdf. -->