“WARM SPRINGS IS A PLACE CLOSE TO THE HEARTS OF MANY”: FOUR WONDERFUL TYPED LETTERS FROM ELEANOR ROOSEVELT TO AN AFRICAN-AMERICAN NURSE, DISCUSSING PIGS, WARM SPRINGS, AND POSSIBLE TOPICS FOR A SPEECH AT THE WARM SPRINGS FOUNDATION, SIGNED BY ELEANOR ROOSEVELT
ROOSEVELT, Eleanor. Four typed letters signed. Hyde Park and New York, March 19, 1951, July 8, 1952, February 23, 1954, and January 24, 1956. Four sheets, each measuring 6 by 7 inches, typing on rectos only, with original envelope. $4200.
Exceptional series of four typed letters signed by Mrs. Roosevelt to Miss Temple Williams, an African-American nurse from Alabama, turning down the offer of a ham; offering good wishes to those attending a nurses' meeting at Warm Springs; providing possible topics for a retirement speech at Warm Springs on nursing; and expressing happiness at Williams' retirement and hoping that she will be active in the future.
Written on stationery from Mrs. Roosevelt's residence at Hyde Park and her residence in New York City, each letter is typed and has been signed by Eleanor Roosevelt. The recipient was Temple Williams, an African-American nurse who evidently wrote to Eleanor Roosevelt with some frequency and was engaged in nursing events at Warm Springs. The first letter, written on "Val-Kill Cottage" stationery and dated "March 19, 1951," reads in part: "It is good of you to offer to send me a ham. We raise pigs and have our own hams. I do, however, appreciate your thought." While Eleanor Roosevelt is not often associated with livestock-rearing, she was, in fact, heavily engaged in innovating farm life at Val-Kill. Although originally purchased as a prime picnicking spot, Val-Kill was more than a plot of country land; rather, it became the home of an experimental workshop devoted to sustainability and farming. Drawing on the ideas of her friends, Marion Dickerman and Nancy Cook, Roosevelt decided to help fund a project meant to discern how farmers could survive difficult times through establishing cottage industries like weaving and furniture-making. The success of the project would later provide the template for certain aspects of the New Deal focusing on self-sufficiency. The second and third letters pertain to a set of nurses' meetings the Temple Williams was planning to attend in Warm Springs, Georgia, where Franklin Roosevelt spent much time recovering from polio. "At Warm Springs, Franklin D. Roosevelt, 32nd president of the United States found the strength to resume his political career and a positive outlet for his own personal struggle with polio through creation of the Warm Springs Foundation. Roosevelt returned to use the therapeutic waters at Warm Springs every year, except 1942, from his first visit in 1924 until his death there in 1945… The Warm Springs Foundation created what became the first and for many years, the only hospital devoted solely to the treatment of poliomyelitis victims in the world. The organization became the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis, the sponsor of the 'March of Dimes,' and was instrumental in promoting the development of a cure for polio. Roosevelt continued for the rest of his life to be actively involved with the foundation" (National Park Service). The first letter, dated "July 8, 1952," briefly expresses pleasure about Williams' attendance at the meeting and asks her to pass on Eleanor Roosevelt's "greetings and good wishes." The substantially longer third letter, dated "February 23, 1954" (two years later), reflects Eleanor Roosevelt's growing acquaintance with Williams and her authentic interest in her endeavors and reads in part: "I am delighted to know you are to give a speech at your last nurses' meeting in Warm Springs. This will be an important occasion and I know you want it to be a great success. Having grown up with the Foundation you must remember of course many of the incidents, both comic and serious, that will be of real interest to those nurses who came after you. Warm Springs is a place close to the hearts of many and whatever you might say about it would, I am sure, meet with touching approval and appreciation." The fourth letter, dated "January 24, 1956" (another two years later), thanks the writer for her letter and expresses the hope that Williams—despite her retirement—will remain active. The accompanying original envelope is dated "February 26, 1954" and bears Roosevelt's free franking stamp.
Only lightest soiling. A wonderful collection of signed letters from Eleanor Roosevelt.