Anna Roosevelt Halsted

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Anna E. Roosevelt and her dog (1920)

Anna Roosevelt Dall Boettiger Halsted (May 3, 1906 – December 1, 1975) was an American writer and socialite. She was the daughter of the U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Eleanor Roosevelt, as well as the granddaughter of Elliott B. Roosevelt and Anna Hall Roosevelt.

Biography[edit]

Anna Eleanor Roosevelt was born at 125 East 36th Street in New York City. She was named for her mother Anna Eleanor Roosevelt and maternal grandmother Anna Rebecca Hall. She was married for the first time, in Hyde Park, New York, in 1926 to stockbroker Curtis Bean Dall, but the marriage soured even before her father became president, and she then chose to live in the White House.

The couple had two children; Anna Eleanor Roosevelt Dall (born March 25, 1927) who became an educator and librarian, and Curtis Roosevelt (born April 19, 1930) a civil servant and author. They were often referred to as "Sistie" and "Buzzie" in the 1930s American press.

Between 1932 and 1934, Anna was associate editor of a magazine called Babies Just Babies (her mother Eleanor also had ties to this publication); hosted a Best and Company Department Store; contributed articles to Liberty magazine; and wrote two children's books, Scamper and Scamper's Christmas. During this time, she began an affair with journalist Clarence John Boettiger, who was also married.[1]

Anna Boettiger with her son John Roosevelt Boettiger and her mother (1939)

Anna and Curtis Bean Dall divorced on July 30, 1934 at Minden, Nevada. Six months later, on January 18, 1935, she married Boettiger. Her second husband had recently resigned from the Chicago Tribune, and signed on with the Will H. Hays organization, the Motion Picture Producers of America.

Boettiger was hired by William Randolph Hearst to take over as publisher of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer following a bitter labor dispute with its employees in 1936. Anna was active as a writer and journalist, and she served as editor of the woman's page of that newspaper from 1936 until 1943.[1] With her second husband, she had one son, John Roosevelt Boettiger (born March 30, 1939) who became an educator, clinical psychologist, and author.

In 1943, Boettiger began to suffer from serious depression. After a casual remark by FDR about his son-in-law's not being in uniform, Boettiger wrote to General Dwight D. Eisenhower for an officer's commission.[2] When Boettiger went to serve in the war, new management conflicted with Anna and she left the paper as well. In 1944, at her ailing father's request, Anna moved into the White House to serve as an assistant to the President and as White House hostess during her mother's frequent absences. When in February 1945 President Roosevelt traveled to Yalta in the USSR to meet Stalin and Churchill, he selected Anna to accompany him since his son, Brig. Gen. Elliott Roosevelt, who had attended the previous summits, had become politically controversial.[3]

Anna was a witness to many historic moments, but she also carried the burden of dealing with some of the most intimate and painful decisions of her parents during their dysfunctional marriage. This was especially awkward when, after the president's death, Anna informed her mother that FDR had been with his long-time mistress, Lucy Mercer Rutherfurd and that for decades everyone had deliberately kept Eleanor in the dark about the continuing relationship. Her brother James later wrote that Anna became estranged from Eleanor when she took over some of her duties at the White House.[4] The relationship was further strained because Eleanor desperately wanted to go with her husband to Yalta. Yet after a few years, the two were able to reconcile and cooperate on numerous projects. Anna's relationship with her famously fractious brothers was also volatile, but it was Anna who took care of her mother when she was terminally ill in 1962.

After her father's death, Anna and Clarence Boettiger bought a weekly newspaper in Phoenix, Arizona in 1946.[5] They renamed it the Arizona Times, turning it into a daily paper by May 1947. Anna was an executive editor and columnist until February 1948, when she became editor and publisher. For various reasons including newsprint shortages, the project turned into a costly failure that soured the Boettigers' relationship with wealthy Democratic investors led by Walter Kirschner.

The paper was sold in July and in September 1948, Anna launched a radio program with her mother, called the Eleanor and Anna Roosevelt Program, which was canceled in September 1949. In 1949, Anna edited the monthly magazine The Woman, and contributed a series of articles called My Life with F.D.R.

Anna divorced Boettiger in 1949. He committed suicide the following year by jumping from a hotel window in New York City.[5]

She married Dr. James Addison Halsted, a doctor with the Veterans Administration, on November 11, 1952.[5] Anna contracted coccidiomycosis and spent the next several years recovering.

She began to work in the public relations field for labor unions. In the fall of 1954, she attended University of California, Los Angeles School of Social Work. In 1955, she and her husband moved to Syracuse New York, where she was hired as the assistant to the Director of Public Relations at the State University Upstate Medical Center in Syracuse. In April 1957, she became the Director of Public Relations and Assistant to the Dean, and held this position until September 1958.

The Halsteds then moved to Iran, where Dr. Halsted helped establish the Pahlavi University Medical School, where Anna worked in public relations and administrative work. In 1960, the Halsteds moved to Lexington, Kentucky and Anna worked as a staff assistant to the Dean of the University of Kentucky Medical Center. In 1961, the Halsteds moved to Birmingham, Michigan, where Anna became the public relations director and coordinator at Metropolitan Hospital for the Comprehensive Medical Care Program sponsored by the United Auto-Workers. In 1963, she became the Director of Public Relations for the Wayne State University School of Medicine, in Detroit. In October, 1963, Anna was appointed by President John F. Kennedy to the Citizen's Advisory Council on the Status of Women, and worked on the council until her resignation in 1968. In February of that year, she was appointed vice-chairman of the President's Commission for the Observance of Human Rights. The Halsteds relocated to Washington, D.C. in 1964. While living there, Anna became involved in the Washington Work and Training Opportunity Center, Americans for Democratic Action, the Capitol Area Division of the United Nations Association of the United States of America, the National Committee of Household Employment, the Wiltwyck School, and the Eleanor Roosevelt Foundation.

In 1971, the Halsteds retired to a cottage in Hillsdale, New York. Anna continued to be active in most of the same organizations until her death from throat cancer on December 1, 1975, aged 69. She was interred at Saint James Episcopal Church Cemetery in Hyde Park, New York.

Resources[edit]

References[edit]

Notes

  1. ^ a b Goodwin 1994, p. 181.
  2. ^ Goodwin 1994, p. 409–10.
  3. ^ Hansen, 419.
  4. ^ Roosevelt, 305.
  5. ^ a b c Goodwin 1994, p. 635.

Bibliography

  • National Park Service bio
  • Syracuse Herald, Jan 18, 1935. p 11 "Anna Dall marries"
  • Roosevelt, James: My Parents, A Differing View. Playboy Press, 1976
  • Hansen, Chris: Enfant Terrible: The Times and Schemes of General Elliott Roosevelt. Able Baker Press, 2012
  • Asbell, Bernard: Mother and Daughter: the letters of Eleanor and Anna Roosevelt. Fromm International, 1988
  • Goodwin, Doris Kearns (1994). No Ordinary Time. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 9780684804484. 

External links[edit]