TwHP Lessons

First Lady of the World:
Eleanor Roosevelt at Val-Kill

[Cover photo] Val-Kill
(Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site)

My Missus and some of her female political friends want to build a shack on a stream in the back woods and want, instead of a beautiful marble bath, to have the stream dug out so as to form an old-fashioned swimming hole.

This is how Franklin D. Roosevelt described his wife Eleanor's ambition to build a retreat for herself and her friends away from the big family house at Hyde Park, New York. The "shack," built in 1925 near a gently flowing stream, was actually a stone cottage situated on land FDR offered the women for their lifetime use.

The following year, the women had a second building constructed on the site to house a small furniture factory. After the factory closed in 1936, Roosevelt converted the building into a cottage for herself, her secretary, and guests, and christened it "Val-Kill Cottage." She used the cottage only sparingly until the death of FDR in 1945. Then, she moved permanently to Val-Kill. She had once described Val-Kill as the place "where I used to find myself and grow" and where "I emerged as an individual." It was truly her home and the place where she came into her own. She gained strength and inspiration from the pastoral surroundings.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

About This Lesson

Getting Started: Inquiry Question

Setting the Stage: Historical Context

Locating the Site: Maps
 1. Eleanor Roosevelt NHS and
 surrounding region

 2. Eleanor Roosevelt's home at Val-Kill

Determining the Facts: Readings
 1. Eleanor Roosevelt at Val-Kill
 2. Goodwill Ambassador to the World
 3. Universal Declaration of Human Rights
 4. A Complex Woman

Visual Evidence: Images
 1. Val-Kill
 2. Members of UNESCO meet with
 Eleanor Roosevelt

 3. Eleanor Roosevelt lunches with the
 future president

 4. Eleanor Roosevelt hosts visitors
 from overseas

Putting It All Together: Activities
 1. My Day
 2. The Declaration of Human Rights
 3. Local Volunteer Organizations

Supplementary Resources

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Eleanor Roosevelt NHS

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This lesson is based on the Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site, one of the thousands of properties listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

 

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National Park Service arrowhead with link to NPS website.