Washington DC: [June 13, 1934]. One page Typed Letter Signed on a single sheet of White House stationery measuring approximately 6x9". Mailing folds and small paperclip stain to one corner. Together with the original transmittal envelope dated June 13, 1934. Directed to Mrs. William Randolph Hearst in New York, it reads in full: "My dear Mrs. Hearst: This will introduce you to Mrs. John Herrick, about whom I wrote. I shall be very grateful if you can find the time to see her and give her the benefit of your advice. Very sincerely yours, Eleanor Roosevelt." Provenance: from the estate of Milicent Hearst.
An important letter establishing the connection among three women who brought about national and global changes for equality, and highlighting the important role of collaborative activist networks. A diplomat and activist before, during, and after her time as First Lady, Eleanor Roosevelt remains one of the most influential women in U.S. history. A vocal supporter of Civil Rights and racial equality, she lobbied to reframe New Deal programs to ensure an equal share of relief benefits to communities of color; and an advocate for working women, Roosevelt promoted legal reforms that increased women's wages and provided reasonable limits on work hours. Roosevelt was forward-looking in terms of policy and her methods for promoting reform; and she frequently published columns and spoke on the radio to reach the widest possible audience. In the present letter, she reaches out to socialite and philanthropist Millicent Hearst -- the estranged wife of publishing magnate William Randolph Hearst -- whose activist work included establishing the Free Milk Fund for Babies almost a decade before. And she provides an introduction for Genevieve Forbes Herrick. Herrick, whose career began covering the crime beat in Chicago (including the infamous Leopold and Loeb trial), had risen to prominence in the Roosevelt White House women's press pool. There, she became one of the "faithful four" journalists most trusted by the First Lady as well as a regular guest to her radio show. While the letter does not disclose the matter on which Herrick desired advice from Hearst, it seems likely that it was related in some way to her role in the Women's National Press Club and her recent election to president.
In the years after this letter, following her 12 years in the White House, Roosevelt went on to serve in the United Nations, chairing the Commission on Human Rights in the post-war years and using her influence to contribute to the passage of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Herrick would become press relations chief for the Women's Army Corps and the chief of the magazine for the Office of War Information. Hearst would continue to use her platform to advocate for unemployed women and increased accessibility for disabled persons. (Item #4298)