First Ladies: Anna Eleanor Roosevelt III

Lead: After the death of her husband in 1945, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt began a life of vigorous support for those causes that animated the couple during their marriage.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Released from the political restrictions of the White House, Eleanor Roosevelt followed her heart. She served on the board of the NAACP, helped found the liberal social pressure group Americans for Democratic Action, and actively stumped for her friend Illinois Governor Adlai Stevenson in two presidential campaigns. She continued to animate the faithful and irritate her enemies with a full schedule of lectures, writing, and activism. Her unconventional approach had made her a controversial First Lady, it didn’t stop after she left the White House.

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First Ladies: Anna Eleanor Roosevelt II

Lead: Beloved by millions and despised by many, in the White House Eleanor Roosevelt evolved into a most unconventional First Lady.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: When she first moved into the Executive Mansion, the wife of Franklin Roosevelt shocked the staff by helping re-arrange furniture in the family quarters and insisting on operating the ancient elevator herself. That was just the beginning. She did the conventional, ceremonial duties, but unlike other First Ladies, she became involved in the administration’s policies, had her own very popular newspaper column, and lectured around the country on a wide variety of topics.

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First Ladies: Anna Eleanor Roosevelt I

Lead: As a young woman Anna Eleanor Roosevelt, daughter of rich and glamorous parents, was painfully shy, insecure and inarticulate. She overcame it all.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Eleanor Roosevelt, the niece of one Roosevelt president, the distant cousin and wife of another, grew up in the privileged society of New York’s elite. She was a disappointment to her handsome mother who considered Eleanor to be rather plain. Her father adored her but was too often absent from the family. She grew into a young woman with profound insecurities that began to dissipate only at the age of 15 when she was sent to a finishing school in a fashionable London suburb. The headmistress, the political and religious liberal Marie Souvestre, took special interested in Eleanor. In addition to strict discipline Mademoiselle Marie conveyed important social lessons. The girl emerged as a thoughtful gentlewoman with an appealing charm.

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First Ladies: Mary Todd Lincoln II

Lead: Already the subject of much public abuse, Mary Lincoln began to come unglued with the death of the couple’s young son, William.

Intro: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts

Content: Not until Eleanor Roosevelt did a First Lady have to endure the carping of critics as did Mary Todd Lincoln, wife of the 16th President of the United States. She was vilified as being generous, stingy, energetic, retiring, patriotic and treasonous, all at the same time. But it was the death of her middle son, Willie, which set Mary Lincoln on the path to emotional disintegration. Willie contracted typhoid fever, and died in February 1862. Both of the Lincolns were shattered, but Mary seemed close to mental collapse. She had convulsions, stayed in bed for days, and began attending séances in hopes of making contact with him.

First Ladies: Mary Todd Lincoln I

Lead: Mary Lincoln was the first Presidential wife to be center of ill-deserved, widespread, and sometimes bitter controversy.

Intro: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts

Content: When Mary came with her husband to Washington, the city was gloomy with the prospect of civil war. Lincoln’s election in November had provoked the deep South to secession. She was hopeful that she and her husband might help reduce tension, but she was disappointed. Not until Eleanor Roosevelt was a First Lady subjected to the abuse Mary Lincoln was forced to endure.

Dorothea Dix II

Lead: A chance encounter in the East Cambridge Jail in 1841 gave Dorothea Dix a cause to pursue, a focus for her intellect and considerable energy, and a passion which would consume her for the rest of her life.

Intro: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts

Content: Dorothea Dix, daughter of an alcoholic itinerant minister, but granddaughter of a prominent and wealthy Boston physician, in her early years was a devout Christian. She believed her affluent, cultured upbringing and her faith placed powerful requirements on her life. She felt compelled into a life of service to those in society less fortunate, less wealthy, less healthy, less indulged than she.

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Dorothea Dix I

Lead: She came from a life of wealth and social prominence, but Dorothea Dix devoted her life to good causes, especially helping to improve the treatment of the mentally ill.

Intro: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts

Content: Dorothea Dix’s early years were not happy. Her father was the estranged son of a prominent Boston family. An alcoholic who suffered religious delusions, Joseph Dix barely kept his family out of starvation. Dorothy refused to live in such conditions and eventually, at the age of twelve, fled to Boston where she lived with relatives for the next several years.

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First Ladies: Abigail Fillmore

Lead: Well-read and cultured, Abigail Fillmore maintained a well-tuned political sense in an otherwise lackluster administration.

Intro: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: When Abigail Power’s preacher father died in 1799, her mother migrated to Cayuga County, then on the New York frontier. Mrs. Powers took responsibility for the education of the children and so well did she did do her job that by the time she was nineteen Abigail was teaching in a country school near Sempronius, New York. In the winter of 1818, she looked up from her desk into the bright, inquiring eyes of a big farm boy who had appeared in her classroom with little notice. The eighteen-year-old was ambitious to become a lawyer and Abigail responded to his enthusiasm. His name was Milliard Fillmore and after an eight-year courtship, much of the time spent apart as he was reading for the bar, they began a twenty-seven year marriage.