Eleanor Roosevelt's Civics Book From Nearly 90 Years Ago Has Been Revamped and Reissued

U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, Wikimedia Commons // Public domain
U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, Wikimedia Commons // Public domain

A children's civics book that Eleanor Roosevelt wrote nearly 90 years ago is making a comeback just in time for the midterm elections, PBS reports. The book, titled When You Grow Up to Vote: How Our Government Works for You, is being reissued with revised text by author Michelle Markel, who previously penned children's books about Hillary Rodham Clinton and the lesser-known Clara Lemlich, a Ukrainian immigrant who led a shirtwaist workers strike in 1909. It also features illustrations by Grace Lin, who's best known for Where the Mountain Meets the Moon and Dumpling Days.

The 101-page book—suitable for children between the ages of 6 and 12—explains what our elected officials do as well as each citizen's role in a democracy. "Children will come away from the book excited that one day soon they will have the chance to use their own votes to help shape the world they want to live in," Marian Wright Edelman, founder and president of the Children's Defense Fund, writes in an introduction to the book.

A section about voting, for instance, includes the following piece of sage advice: "You may be guided by the choices of your party, but you should also learn, on your own, the facts about the issues and the candidates."

The former First Lady wrote the book in 1932, right after her husband Franklin was elected president. She was raising five children at the time, and wanted them to understand what their parents did and how government worked, according to granddaughter Nancy Ireland.

Ireland tells PBS that the updated book is "very similar to the original" with some minor tweaks. "There was nothing negative [in the original], but it was not as inclusive and, of course, things needed to change, like the number of secretaries in the cabinet," Ireland says. "But I always say—because it's an ability I don't have—my grandmother could envision the way things could be, which is what made her so powerful and so important."

Eleanor Roosevelt was a prodigious writer. In her lifetime, she published 27 books and more than 580 articles, 8000 columns, and 100,000 letters, according to the Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project at the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences. When You Grow Up to Vote is currently available on Amazon for $13.51 in hardcover, and $9.99 on Kindle.

[h/t PBS]

10 Surprising Former Librarians

Len Trievnor/Getty Images
Len Trievnor/Getty Images

It's National Library Week! To celebrate, we're taking a look at 10 people who once worked among the bookshelves.

1. Mao Zedong

Before he led the Communist Party of China, Mao Zedong worked as a librarian's assistant at Peking University between 1918 and 1919. He needed a job, and earned only $8 a month carrying periodicals to the readers and organizing shelves. "My office was so low that people avoided me," he once said.

2. J. Edgar Hoover

The future FBI director got his start in government when he worked at the Library of Congress ("the world's largest filing cabinet") while attending night school at George Washington Law School. At GWU, you had to be a government employee to attend night school. He started as a messenger, but soon rose in rank to cataloger, then clerk. While working at the Library of Congress, Hoover mastered the Dewey Decimal System, which became the model for the FBI's Central Records System.

3. Laura Bush

First Lady Laura Bush reads a story about 'Rudolf the Red Nose Reindeer' during a visit to the Children's National Medical Center in 2007.
MANDEL NGAN, AFP/Getty Images

The former First Lady holds a masters degree in library science from the University of Texas at Austin. In addition to teaching in the public schools, she was a librarian in the Houston, Dallas, and Austin school systems. Bush used her passion and enthusiasm for reading during her time in the White House, launching (with Congress) the first National Book Festival in 2001.

4. Lewis Carroll

The talented author of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass served as sub-librarian at Christ Church, Oxford University. The library was perfect job site for this avid reader: Carroll kept track of the library's books and their borrowers in addition to tutoring students and lecturing in mathematics.

5. Jorge Luis Borges

Although he never won the Nobel Prize for his literary achievements in Latin America and beyond, Jorge Luis Borges did work as a public librarian in Buenos Aires. When he supported the allies during WWII, Juan Perón dismissed him from his position and offered Borges a poultry inspector position instead (he declined). Once Perón fell from power, Borges was appointed director of the Biblioteca Nacional, but stepped down when Perón regained control of Argentina. While serving in this prestigious position, Borges also taught literature at the University of Buenos Aires.

6. Giovanni Giacomo Casanova

Venetian-born adventurer, abbe, alchemist, cabalist, magician, gambler, violinist and womaniser Giovanni Giacomo Casanova
Keystone, Getty Images

The world's greatest lover worked for 13 years at the castle of Count Waldstein in Dux, Bohemia. Down on his luck and low on funds, Casanova asked for a favor, since the occultist count was known to have an affinity for fellow adventurers and fascinating people. Casanova set out to catalog the count's more than 40,000 volumes and clean the library, but he spent most of his time writing. It was there that he wrote his famous Memoirs.

7. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe explained his passion for the details of a librarian's job when he said, "The library organization proceeds little by little, slowly enough. I hold my course, and seek to push on from section to section. I profit occasionally from an hour of poetry, or a bit of scientific knowledge." Goethe worked at the Weimer Library, one of the most important libraries in Germany, where he meticulously organized and cataloged. His success here led to other branches asking for his help.

When cleaning and organizing the disarrayed Jena library, Goethe needed more room for books, and his request to use an empty room was denied. He was determined to succeed, so much so that he broke through the brick wall to complete his project. Later, because the dampness of the library was damaging to the books, Goethe wanted to break down a city wall, and did the same thing.

8. Eratosthenes of Cyrene

In addition to measuring the Earth's circumference, Greek mathematician and geographer Eratosthenes served as head librarian at the library of Alexandria, and also personally tutored the Greek-speaking king of Egypt. Alexandria was considered the scientific and cultural center of the world in the 3rd century BCE, and being a head librarian gave Eratosthenes the reputation of a universal scholar. He was a model bibliographer and possessed an all-around broad knowledge of many fields of study.

9. BEVERLY CLEARY

A photo of Beverly Cleary
Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

This Newbery Medal-winning author and creator of beloved characters such as Ramona Quimby served as a children's librarian in Yakima, Washington.

After studying at the school of librarianship at the University of Washington in Seattle, she took the job, where she enjoyed interacting with all sorts of children. Cleary's favorite guests were the ones who had homemade roller skates and scooters and asked her, "Where are the books about us?" Cleary answered by writing dozens of children's classics, the first of which featured Henry Huggins and his dog Ribsy.

10. Batgirl

When DC Comics wanted to generate female interest, a "grown-up" version of Batgirl appeared in January of 1967 in Detective Comics #359. In this later incarnation (the original character, Bat-Girl, had been created in 1961), Barbara Gordon was the grown daughter of a police commissioner and worked as a librarian. She only began her crime-fighting career by accident, breaking up a robbery when she happened to be wearing her Halloween costume. Who was the victim of this crime? Bruce Wayne, of course!

The Library That Locked Its Readers in Cages

Owen Massey McKnight, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0
Owen Massey McKnight, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

With National Library Week upon us, it's a good time to remind people that visiting a library can be a captivating experience. For people browsing Ireland’s Marsh Library, that feeling may have been slightly more intense. During the 18th century, readers would be locked in cages.

Located in Dublin, Marsh's Library was founded in 1707 by Archbishop Narcissus Marsh and was host to a number of titles. Some of them were rare, and early on, the library had problems with theft. More than 1000 books were stolen in its first decade of operation. To protect their inventory, librarians created three small alcoves with locking wire doors. If a reader wanted to peruse a particularly valuable volume, they would have to agree to be contained in the alcove so they didn’t run off with the book.

The cages in Marsh's Library in Dublin, Ireland

Marsh’s was the first public library in Ireland, and the concept of a place where people could go, borrow a book, and then be trusted to return it was still something of a leap of faith.

The library is still open today, cages intact, though no one expects visitors to submit to the holding cells in order to read.

[h/t Atlas Obscura]

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