My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

Text Size: Small Text Normal Text Large Text Larger Text

NEW YORK, Wednesday—I came to New York City Tuesday afternoon to meet a grandson and to see Mrs. Perle Mesta who had come to New York to make a speech at the conference of the International Federation of Business and Professional Women's Clubs.

On Wednesday I took a plane in the early morning to Boston to speak at the opening session at Harvard University of the International Seminar of the Summer School of Arts and Sciences and of Education.

Mr. Henry A. Kissinger invited me and was kind enough to say I could talk about anything I wished. But since this was a group of younger people he said he hoped I would say something about the role of the younger generation in the postwar world, backed by observations made on my recent trip. This is a wonderful subject for me, for the more I see of young people in the different countries of the world the more I realize how much our youngsters can do by contact with them.

One young friend of mine recently left for India to see for himself where he might do some effective work in educating himself and at the same time be of some help in the Middle East. This is showing commendable spirit, because there is plenty of work to do. But he should be amply rewarded by the things he will learn. Young people are often handicapped by the fact that they have to support themselves if they go on such trips as this, but today there are many opportunities to earn a living and still do a job that is not undertaken purely to make money.

On Thursday I speak at the convention of the American Library Association. I was assigned the topic, "Books Are Basic," and was asked to speak on the international aspect.

One of the international aspects that I wish everybody in this country knew more about is the value of the libraries or reading rooms which the U.S. Information Service has established in different parts of the world. In India the one complaint I heard was that these centers were not being established quickly enough. Wherever they did not have one they were jealous of the places that already had them.

The books and posters available in these libraries, and the documentary films, are among the few ways in which a real picture of American life can be impressed on the people of various countries. It is true that many people in India cannot read, but there are many others who are able to read and even able to read English who cannot afford the price of American books.

The Russians translate the books they want the people in India to read. They use many of the Indian dialects, and also subsidize the distribution of the books so that the people pay hardly anything for them. This shows how valuable the Soviets think books are as propaganda weapons. We rather underestimate what we could do through the written word reaching the right people over vast areas of the world.

E. R.
TMs, AERP, FDRL