Cathy D. Knepper, Ph.D.
Historian and Author
Dear Mrs. Roosevelt: Letters to Eleanor Roosevelt Through Depression and War
"… Knepper's book illuminates the nexus of social and political history."
This remarkable collection of letters offers a uniquely intimate view of our nation's most challenging era, as well as a refreshingly personal portrait of a woman in the White House dedicated to aiding the less fortunate. Dear Mrs. Roosevelt is history from the grassroots and a testament to Eleanor Roosevelt's influence on the American consciousness and her effectiveness in catalyzing social change.
Often addressed as "Mrs. President," Eleanor Roosevelt received hundreds of letters daily during her fourteen years as First Lady, and often responded by using the instruments of government to aid her correspondents. Historian Cathy Knepper has selected more than one hundred fifty of these letters — and found many of Mrs. Roosevelt's replies, or a documentary trail that shows how she tried to help the people who wrote to her — to tell the story of the Greatest Generation in its own words. The letters come from those impoverished during the Depression; the elderly in search of a pension program; blacks suffering the effects of racism; toilers in the New Deal; and mothers of soldiers in combat. They allow readers to glimpse into the lives of Oklahoma families forced to abandon their farms, mothers dealing with the blight of urban poverty in Washington, D.C., soldiers in Europe worried about their families at home, and servicement in the Pacific desperate for a break from long years of war.
Proving that the most accurate and vivid version of history is the testimony of the people who lived through it, Dear Mrs. Roosevelt gives eloquent voice to the America of the 1930s and '40s, while painting a vivid portrait of Eleanor Roosevelt through the hopes and dreams Americans expected her to help them fulfill.