Why did Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962), one of the most famous women in the world at the time, come to Brattleboro to address The Putney School graduating class of 1956? She came at the invitation of a woman with whom she shared strong affinities but had never met -- Carmelita Hinton (1890-1983). Hinton founded The Putney School in 1935 as New England's first coeducational boarding school, an experiment in progressive education with a working farm. Roosevelt and Hinton shared strong social justice values shaped by Jane Addams, the first American woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize. They worked to end child labor, secure an 8 hour work day and support the newly founded United Nations.
The Brattleboro Words Trail helped Putney resident Marni Rosner, Hinton's grand-daughter, uncover and restore a forgotten tape recording of Roosevelt's speech presented in part in this recording produced and edited by Rosner's daughter in law Anna Kusmer. In the speech, Roosevelt reflects on the roiling racism and civil unrest of the time. She reflects on what the US must do if it wanted its values to be shared with the world, saying 'how we meet our own problems will be something of a gage as to our greatness as the rest of the world looks on."
Hear uncovered audio from her speech, and insight from her family. (A transcript of her full speech is included with the audio).
Audio Producer: Anna Kusmer. Kusmer is a radio producer and reporter based in Boston, MA.
Commentary also by: Marni Rosner, Carmelita Hinton's granddaughter.
Excerpt from United Nations Eleanor Roosevelt 1948 Declaration of Human Rights speech thanks to UN Web TV:
Thanks to Dave Snyder, Guilford Sound for restoration of Eleanor Roosevelt 1956 Putney School Speech, and thanks to The Putney School archives for maintaining that tape.
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Pictured above: (L) Eleanor Roosevelt, 1933. (R) Carmelita Hinton Harvest Festival photo by Rudolph Furrer. Photo provided by family.