My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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HYDE PARK, Thursday—I went down this morning to the Alumnae House at Vassar College to attend a meeting presided over by Miss Vera McCrea, President of the Business and Professional Women's Clubs of New York State, and Miss Kathryn Starbuck. There were present various representatives from various women's organizations interested in the service of women on juries.

It was decided that there should be some kind of a state committee to serve as a clearing house for all these organizations. The point was emphasized that organizations must be enlisted which might perhaps not in the past have been interested in the passage of the bill, but which have a large membership amongst women in either rural or urban centers and could therefore reach a greater number.

One woman made a very interesting point when she said that you were supposed in court to come before a jury of your peers, but in her experience the better men of the community rarely served on juries and she was afraid the same would be the case with women. It would be sad if only the idle men and women qualified! Another woman at once responded that this was just the reason why it was important that women should begin now to discuss this matter.

It seems important to me that both men and women should realize that jury service is one of the responsibilities of citizenship. If you cannot serve because of idleness or a business emergency or some other valid reason, that excuses you, but men have frequently invented excuses, where with a little effort they might have succeeded in performing this service. Women will do the same thing unless we can bring it home to men and women both, that it is not fair to any government to accept all the privileges and shirk all the chores.

These jury schools that are proposed are open to both men and women and I hope in every community they will be attended by both sexes.

One woman this morning brought up the point that she was a housewife, her husband worked hard to keep a business going which has been through precarious times, her daughter was a businesswoman, it was her job not to add to the family expenses and to see that her family was well taken care of. How could she manage to serve on a jury? The answer is of course, that the family as a whole will have to recognize the fact that jury service is a duty and putting their heads together, they may find a solution. Someone could be got in to cook the necessary meals. Three dollars a day is paid for jury service, of course, it would be nice to keep that money but if this is a duty you may have to spend it in this way. Perhaps the members of the household not serving on a jury, might be able to look in the icebox for sufficient food to keep them going, even to make themselves a cup of coffee and a boiled egg if necessary. It seems to me it is a question really of whether you feel this is a job on a par with your other occupations in life. If it is then there must be a way to do it.

E.R.
TMsd 12 August 1937, AERP, FDRL