The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project is a university-chartered research center associated with the Department of History of The George Washington University

The George Washington University

The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project
Teaching Eleanor Roosevelt Glossary

[picture: Eleanor Roosevelt and Anna Roosevelt, 1941] Anna Eleanor Roosevelt, the oldest child and only daughter of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, was born in New York on May 3, 1906. As a child, Anna was closer to her father than her mother, although her relationship with ER improved as Anna matured. During the last seventeen years of ER's life, they were very close and wrote each other often.

Anna's early childhood was difficult. As the oldest child she was aware of the conflict between ER and her grandmother, Sara Delano Roosevelt, as well as the difficulties her parents experienced in the aftermath of her father's relationship with ER's social secretary, Lucy Mercer. FDR's battle with polio and the close relationship political advisor Louis Howe enjoyed with both her parents further upset Anna. After briefly attending Cornell University, Anna married for the first time in 1926 partly to escape her family situation. She and her husband, New York stockbroker Curtis Dall, had two children–Anna Eleanor ("Sistie") and Curtis ("Buzzie") who lived in the White House with their mother in 1933-34. By that time, Anna was seeking both a divorce and financial independence. She began working as a writer, a career she continued after her second marriage to journalist John Boettiger in 1936. Together they worked on the Seattle Post-Intelligencer until 1943 when Boettiger went into the military and Anna returned to the White House as her father's confidential assistant. She accompanied FDR to Yalta and served as White House hostess during ER's absence. Anna also facilitated Roosevelt's meetings with Lucy Mercer, which greatly angered ER and briefly strained their relationship.

After the war Anna and Boettiger attempted to run a newspaper in Arizona. The effort failed, and the couple separated in 1947 after more than ten years of marriage and one child. (They were divorced in 1949, and Boettiger later committed suicide.) To help Anna with her debts, ER agreed to join her on an ABC radio discussion program that aired five days a week for thirty-nine weeks before the network dropped it in 1949 because no sponsors could be found.

In 1952, Anna married Dr. James Halsted, a physician with the Veterans Administration. Thereafter, she worked in medical public relations and helped her husband with his work. After ER's death in 1962, Anna was active with organizations and causes that her mother had supported, including Americans for Democratic Action, the United Nations Association of the United States and the Wiltwyck School. Anna also served as a board member of the Eleanor Roosevelt Memorial Foundation. She died in New York in 1975.
 


Sources:

Asbell, Bernard, ed. Mother and Daughter: The Letters of Eleanor and Anna Roosevelt. New York: Fromm International Publishing Corporation, 1988, 30-31, 41, 277.

Beasley, Maurine H., Holly C. Schulman and Henry R. Beasley, eds. The Eleanor Roosevelt Encyclopedia. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2001, 222-226.

Caroli, Betty Boyd. The Roosevelt Women. New York: Basic Books, 1998, 262, 277, 287, 375.