Eleanor Butler Alexander-Roosevelt

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Eleanor Alexander-Roosevelt in 1936

Eleanor Butler Alexander (1888–1960) was a philanthropist, First Lady of Puerto Rico and the Philippines, and a daughter-in-law of US President Theodore Roosevelt.

She was the only daughter of Henry Addison Alexander, a prominent New York lawyer, and Grace Green. She was a great-granddaughter of the late Theron Butler.[1]

She married politician and general Theodore "Ted "Roosevelt III, the eldest son of President Theodore "T.R." Roosevelt, Jr. and Edith Kermit Carow, on June 29, 1910 in New York City at the Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church on 55th Street and Fifth Avenue [(Manhattan)]. Ted was the only general officer to land in the first wave on D-Day and was awarded the Medal of Honor.

During her husband's service as Governor of Puerto Rico and Governor-General of the Philippines, she served during three years as First Lady of Puerto Rico (1929–1932) and the Philippines (1932–1933).

Throughout her life Eleanor not only supported her husband's career, but also proved a highly organized, socially conscious person in her own right. She helped improve the conditions of Puerto Rican women while her husband was governor of the island (1929–31); she organized the first American women's committee for China Relief (1937); and she directed the American Red Cross Club in England (1942). Eleanor received citations and commendations from, among others, the French government, Gen. John J. Pershing, and the U.S. War Department. She also wrote an account of her life in her memoirs, Day Before Yesterday.[2]

Eleanor was also a keen photographer. In 1986, her daughter Grace presented 25 of her albums to the Library of Congress together with some 5,000 of her own photographs, including images of presidents and international dignitaries. In later life, Eleanor and Grace studied with photographer J. Ghislain Lootens. She used a Voigtlander Superb from 1935, developing her own film and making her own prints. Her travel photographs of Europe, Mexico and Asia are of a particularly high quality.[3]

Ted and Eleanor had four children: Grace Green Roosevelt (1911–1993), Theodore Roosevelt IV (1914–2001), Cornelius Van Schaack Roosevelt III (1915–1991) and Quentin Roosevelt II (1919–1948). She died on May 29, 1960 at Oyster Bay, Nassau Co., Long Island, NY, sixteen years after her husband, who had died of a heart attack shortly after the D-Day invasion of France.


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