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College of Human Ecology
Cornell University
  home sewing
  a profession?
  type of research?
  types of careers?
  national and international impact?
  educational techniques?
  role in national emergencies?
  influence on consumer culture?
  students' self-definition?
  practice apartments?
  role in the university?
  change to Human Ecology?
  women's suffrage
  Eleanor Roosevelt
  Marriage Course

What was Eleanor Roosevelt's relationship
with Cornell's College of Home Economics?

By 1929, the College of Home Economics had grown significantly, and its facilities were no longer adequate for the growing institution. That year the college requested one million dollars in funding for construction of a new building; however, the state only gave them four hundred and seventy five thousand dollars. As a result Van Rensselaer and Rose turned to Eleanor Roosevelt, who used her connections to obtain additional funding for the school. In a 1953 interview Flora Rose described how Eleanor Roosevelt persuaded her husband Franklin to get extra money for the construction of the new home economics building:

Rose: ...we always felt that this building, in which we are now [Martha Van Rensselaer Hall], was really the influence of Eleanor Roosevelt on her husband... because when we used to go, after the appropriation [by New York state] was made we used to go, up to Albany and when he, Governor Roosevelt, only appropriated half a million dollars for it to begin with, and one night when we were up there, because we always stayed with them, Eleanor said to Franklin, "Franklin, why don't you give Martha all the money she asked for, the million dollars." And Franklin said, "Why, Eleanor, you know Martha can't use all of that right away. I'll give her the rest in time to complete the building." (Laughter.)

Despite her busy schedule Eleanor Roosevelt visited the school annually during her terms as first lady for Farm and Home Week, the College's educational outreach fair. Her attendance at the events drew large crowds and increased turnout and publicity surrounding Farm and Home week. At the 1937 Farm and Home Week pageant, Mrs. Roosevelt walked down the ramp in Bailey Hall modeling the gown she wore at her husband's second inaugural ball. In a February 1937 letter to her daughter, Anna, she described the occasion: "Darling, ...I've just been on my annual pilgrimage to Cornell and besides my speech this year I took up my inauguration dresses at the request of the Student Council and modeled them in the fashion show. I've decided I can earn my living that way some day if necessary..."

Ed. Asbell, Bernard. Mother and Daughter: The Letters of Eleanor and Anna Roosevelt. New York: Coward, McCann, and Goeghehan, 1982, 78-79.



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