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The Roosevelts: Life In and Out of the White House

Over the course of their lifetimes, Theodore, Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt took over the political and social world in a way that no previous First Family had done before. They each accomplished so much; from FDR leading the nation through some of its most troubled times, to Teddy spearheading the preservation of the nation’s forests, to Eleanor who completely redefined the role of the First Lady. The trio—together and individually—were an unstoppable force.

In Ken Burns’ new documentary series The Roosevelts: An Intimate History, premiering September 14 at 8:00 pm on KCTS 9, audiences will be taken on an immersive experience of the historically significant family through photographs, personal letters and compelling storytelling.

Here is a look at a few of the family’s personal milestones and career accomplishments: 

Though there are many things that set FDR apart from the 31 Presidents before him, the duration of his presidency is notable. FDR served as President from 1933-1945; a total of four terms (twice the normal number of terms) — he is the first and only President to have done so.  In 1947, Congress proposed a law that would limit presidents to two consecutive terms. 


Eleanor and legendary aviator Amelia Earhart became quick friends. Bonding over their interest in flying, Amelia promised Eleanor that she would teach her how to fly. Though the First Lady obtained her student’s permit, the lessons never took place due to the mysterious and tragic disappearance of Earhart’s plane in 1937. 

From the Olympic National Forest and Wenatchee National Forest to the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, you can thank Theodore Roosevelt for the beauty that is the Pacific Northwest. These beautiful, scenic forest landmarks were able to survive and flourish for the benefit of future generations largely due to Teddy, who spearheaded the creation of the U.S. Forest Service and National Wildlife Refuge System which helped establish the existence of numerous National Parks.


Known as an active reader and writer Teddy authored more than 30 books and over 150,000 letters. 

Along with Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy, and James A. Garfield, FDR is one of eight presidents to have died while in office.

Like her uncle and husband, Eleanor was known to have made some groundbreaking moves in her career. Eleanor held the first press conference by a First Lady at the White House.  She held these press conferences regularly, and invited only female correspondents due to an under-representation of women in the press corps.

Along with hosting a weekly radio show, Eleanor wrote a daily syndicated newspaper column called “My Day,” which she began in 1935 and continued until her death in 1962. Through the medium of her column, Eleanor was able to reach the American people with her views on social and political issues, current and historical events, and her private and public life.


In 1906 Teddy was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his role in ending the Russo-Japanese War becoming the first American to win the prestigious award.


When Franklin and Eleanor married on St. Patrick’s Day in 1905, it was her uncle—Teddy Roosevelt, who had recently been elected as President—who gave the bride away. 


During his run as President (1933-1945), FDR became the first President to have appointed a woman, Frances Perkins, to the U.S. Cabinet. She became U.S. Secretary of Labor from 1933 until FDR’s passing in 1945.




Don’t forget: join us at McCaw Hall on September 3 for a preview screening of Ken Burns’ The Roosevelts: An Intimate History, followed by a conversation with Ken moderated by author and journalist Tim Egan.

For more information and to purchase tickets, visit:


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Thanks so much for including Eleanor Roosevelt in this blog. The 1/2 hour program introducing the series only includes her via a comment from her granddaughter. I was disappointed because she was an accomplished and interesting woman during her lifetime, including during her husband's presidency [not to mention after his death].

Thank you for including information about Eleanor Roosevelt in this blog. The 'preview' program for the series included her only via a comment from her granddaughter, rather a serious omission for such an accomplished and interesting woman, I think. I hope the series does better.