Eleanor Roosevelt (1884–1962)

American first lady and political activist. Roosevelt was born in New York City and educated by tutors until age fifteen, when she was sent to the Allenswood Academy for girls in England. When she was twenty she married future U.S. president Franklin Delano Roosevelt, a distant cousin, and went on to become perhaps the most important and influential first lady in American history. Roosevelt was a strong supporter of her husband’s New Deal legislation and of civil rights, and she continued to work actively for these and other causes after his death in 1945. A devoted suffragist, she was committed to improving the status of working women, though she opposed the Equal Rights Amendment, which she felt would be detrimental to women. She was a leading supporter of the United Nations and chaired the committee that drafted and approved the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. See also firstladies.org.