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Eleanor Roosevelt Asks Pennsylvania Educator to Serve as Chair of Local Women’s Crusade
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We have been passing through a period of depression longer than that of the World War and more corrosive in its effects. We have before us a work of recovery and reconstruction.

ELEANOR ROOSEVELT. Typed Letter Signed, to Mrs. E. M. Hartman, August 24, 1933, New York, New York. On “1933 Mobilization for Human Needs” stationery. 1 p., 8.5 x 11 in.

Inventory #26385.01       Price: $1,850

Complete Transcript

                                                                        August 24, 1933

Mrs. E. M. Hartman / College Campus / Lancaster, Pennsylvania

My dear Mrs. Hartman:

            I am requesting you to serve as Chairman of your local Women’s Crusade, which will be a part of your welfare fund or chest campaign this year.

            Our committee relies upon your Crusade to arouse public opinion which will express itself in generous support of the social agencies essential to our civilization.

            Women know from experience how to make a little money go a long way in providing for their families and they can therefore appreciate the task of the community fund agencies in budgeting their income so that no essential service shall be sacrificed. They know how important are the growing years of babyhood, the play time of boys and girls, the worries and heartaches of burdened mothers, the anxieties of the old folk. They are the conservators of family life.

            During the World War, women gave their time and energy unsparingly. We have been passing through a period of depression longer than that of the World War and more corrosive in its effects. We have before us a work of recovery and reconstruction. May we count on you?

            With every good wish for your local Women’s Crusade, I am

                                                                        Yours sincerely,

                                                                        Eleanor Roosevelt

                                                                        Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt


Historical Background
The Mobilization for Human Needs campaign began as early as 1931 to aid local community charities, and Eleanor Roosevelt became the chair of the National Women’s Committee in 1933. The campaign in 1933 involved thirty-four national welfare and health organizations and community chests of four hundred cities across the nation. The 1933 national campaign began on October 20 and continued through November 1, though in some areas it continued longer.

In September 1933, President Roosevelt addressed a two-day conference on the Mobilization for Human Needs on the lawn of the White House: “As you know, the many Governments in the United States, the Federal Government, the forty-eight State Governments, and the tens of thousands of local Governments are doing their best to meet what has been in many ways one of the most serious crises in history. On the whole, they have done well. The Federal Government cannot, by any means, accomplish the task alone.” He explained that private charities, local governments, and state governments needed to do what they could, and only when their efforts were insufficient to meet the need would the federal government step in: “while it isn't written in the Constitution, nevertheless, it is the inherent duty of the Federal Government to keep its citizens from starvation.” He told the local activists, “You have a very great opportunity, not merely to keep people from starving. You have a further opportunity of inculcating the understanding that we have to build from the bottom up—not merely to supply food from the top down.”[1] President Roosevelt also used his radio addresses throughout his presidency to support the annual campaigns of the Mobilization for Human Needs.

Late in December 1933, Eleanor Roosevelt wrote about “The Mobilization for Human Needs” in a series of articles for The Evening News of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: “The Mobilization for Human Needs 1934 campaign received real impetus at the Chicago conference last month.... Speaking for myself, I can say that I have never met a more purposeful body of public spirited women than those I found in this conference. This woman’s crusade was launched in advance of the work of raising community chest funds for various social services in different communities throughout the United States.” She concluded, “though these women had come in with the knowledge that they were only being asked to do a short educational piece of work, hardly one amongst them but had decided that in one way or another she must continue her work until the time of stress is over. A brave and heartening attitude, but one to be expected in America. We have always met our crises and we are surely not going to go under today.”[2]

Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962) was born in New York City into the prominent Roosevelt family. She was tutored privately and attended an English finishing school from 1899 to 1902. In 1905, she married her distant cousin Franklin D. Roosevelt, and they had six children, one of whom died as an infant. She actively supported her husband’s political ambitions, campaigning for him, and representing him when he was Governor of New York (1929-1932) and President of the United States (1933-1945). She redefined the position of First Lady into a much more activist one with a heavy traveling, speaking, and writing schedule. Her syndicated newspaper column, “My Day,” reached millions with her views on many issues, and she continued it for more than a decade after leaving the White House. After Franklin D. Roosevelt’s death, his successor Harry S. Truman appointed Eleanor Roosevelt as the first U.S. Representative to the United Nations, where she served from 1947 to 1953. She also served as the first chair of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights. In 1961, President John F. Kennedy appointed her as the first chair of the Presidential Commission on the Status of Women, a position she held until her death nearly two years later.

Helen Russell Stahr Hartman (1873-1957) was born in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and graduated from Wellesley College in 1894. She taught in schools in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. In 1901, she cofounded Miss Stahr’s School in Lancaster County, which later became the Lancaster Country Day School. In 1905, she married Dr. Edwin M. Hartman (1870-1947), an 1895 graduate of Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and headmaster of the Franklin and Marshall Academy from 1897 to 1943. They had at least three children. At her death, she was honored as a “pioneer in women’s education in Lancaster County.” She was active in support of the Lancaster YWCA and Planned Parenthood.

[2] The Evening News (Harrisburg, PA), December 30, 1933, 10:5-7.

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