Eleanor Roosevelt to Harry Boardman

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Eleanor Roosevelt to Harry Boardman

11 January 1947 [New York City]

My dear Mr. Boardman:

I have never seen a list of supporters of the particular Greek relief organization which Mr. St. John asked me to help.2 He simply told me that they sent relief impartially, and I know they send their parcels through the Greek War Relief but as it is affiliated strictly with the present government, little or no relief would go to Greek insurgents.3 I have always felt that women and children should be helped regardless of political ideas, and food and medical supplies should not be used as a political weapon. Hence I have been willing to help any organization obtaining these two things for any portion of the population of the country involved.4

I do see, however, that there are a rather large number of fairly well-known communists but I do not know that I feel for that reason that I should resign from a relief organization.5

                                       Very sincerely yours,


1. The ad, based on a letter written on ARCD letterhead, signed by ER, and mailed to private individuals in New York, was a key part of a fund-raising campaign to provide relief supplies for 5,000 Greek children whose fathers had been "killed, exiled or imprisoned" during the Greek civil war. For more on the Greek civil war see n11 Document 87 (Harry N. Boardman to ER, 24 December 1946, AERP; "Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt Speaks for Greek Orphans," NYT, 24 December 1946, 11; Robert St. John to ER, 24 October 1946, 1 November 1946, and 17 December 1946; ER to Robert St. John, 28 October 1946; Draft of Christmas Appeal Letter, n.d., AERP).

2. Broadcast journalist/foreign correspondent Robert St. John (1902–2002) co-chaired the organization along with Dr. Nicholas Cheronis. The sponsors listed in the December 24 ad included novelist Sholem Asch; August Bellanca, founder of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America; Pulitzer Prize-winning poet William Rose Benét; former Minnesota governor Elmer A. Benson; writer/critic Van Wyck Brooks; Brooklyn Borough President John Cashmore; Rep. Emanuel Celler (D-NY); American Labor Party candidate Eugene P. Connolly; Rep. Hugh de Lacy (D-WA); Rabbi Mitchel S. Eskolsky; actor José Ferrer; actress (and then spouse of Elmer Rice) Betty Field; Princeton University dean Christian Gauss; Mrs. Louis Gimbel; actress (and then spouse of José Ferrer) Uta Hagen; fashion designer and union activist Elizabeth Hawes; Rep. Ned R. Healy (D-CA); artist and political activist Rockwell Kent; attorney/activist Anna M. Kross; CIO founder Leo Krzycki; athlete/actor Canada Lee; actress Katherine Locke; novelist Albert Maltz; John T. McManus; Rev. William H. Melish; interior decorator Lady Mendl (Elsie de Wolfe); labor leader Lewis Merrill; playwright Clifford Odets; poet Dorothy Parker; actress Katina Paxinou; Mrs. Lionel Perera, Jr.; Sephardic Jewish leader Dr. David de Sola Pool; archeologist Arthur Upham Pope; Rep. Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. (D-NY); Columbia University professor Walter Rautenstrauch; orchestra conductor Dr. Fritz Reiner; playwright Elmer Rice; New York City Teachers Union legislative representative Rose Russell; Rep. Charles R. Savage (D-WA); Lisa Sergio, a pioneer radio news broadcaster in Fascist Italy who turned against Mussolini; theatrical producer/writer/director Herman Shumlin; arctic explorer Vilhjalmur Stefansson; Oreste Stephano; Mrs. Alice Stephano; artist Arthur Szyk; UAW leader R. J. Thomas; Pulitzer Prize-winning author Carl Van Doren; social worker and director of the Russell Sage Foundation Mary Van Kleeck; journalist/writer Pierre Van Passen; and actress/producer/playwright Margaret Webster ("Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt Speaks for Greek Orphans," NYT, 24 December 1946, 11; Robert St. John to ER, 24 October 1946; Program of the Press-Radio Wing of the American Veterans Committee's All-American Dinner, 24 April 1947, AERP; all biographical information comes from the New York Times).

3. The insurgents would receive no aid because the supplies would be shipped under the auspices of an American nonprofit organization with ties to the Greek government ("Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt Speaks for Greek Orphans," NYT, 24 December 1946, 11; "Greek Group Joins Care," NYT, 3 August 1946, 6; Offner, 194-96).

4. ER often made this point. For examples, see Document 73, Document 140, and Document 193.

5. On a partial copy of the ad that Boardman enclosed with his letter, he identified Asch, Bellanca, Benét, Benson, Connolly, Gimbel, Hawes, Kent, Krzycki, Maltz, Melish, Merrill, Odets, Parker, Powell, Rice, Russell, Shumlin, Thomas, and Webster as Communists (partial copy of "Mrs. Roosevelt Speaks for Greek Orphans," NYT, 24 December 1946, 11, AERP).

Answering a High School Student's Questions

The previous June, against the backdrop of the San Francisco conference, ER addressed the Inter-Collegiate Institute, a gathering of high school and college students coordinated by the Collegiate Council for the United Nations.1 Typifying the way in which young people often sought ER's insight on social and political issues, Beatrice Hauser, a high school student who had attended the conference, wrote ER seeking her advice for how her peers could better confront racial prejudice.

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Eleanor Roosevelt to Harry Boardman