Eleanor Roosevelt and the Arthurdale Experiment

Eleanor Roosevelt and the Arthurdale Experiment

by Nancy Hoffman

Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal - School Library Journal
Gr 5-8-Hoffman serves up a little-known slice of American history with the story of her subject's personal crusade to aid West Virginia's downtrodden coal miners during the Depression, tracing the founding and ultimate downfall of America's first homesteading community. The government provided residents with the necessary tools to build homes and farm the land, while also handing them contracts that provided employment and revenue. After a prejudiced selection process that "appalled" Roosevelt ("The community in which we are located is thoroughly opposed to Negroes as residents"), 165 families from nearby areas moved to Arthurdale. Despite the government aid, the community failed to become self-sufficient. One chapter briefly sketches Roosevelt's life, and the author weaves accounts of the First Lady's continuous support to the homesteaders throughout the book. Interviews with residents and their descendants provide firsthand accounts, lending a somewhat conversational quality to the text. Black-and-white photos show Roosevelt in Arthurdale, workers in factories, and so on, and give a solid sense of life in the community. Currently, the town hosts the annual New Deal Festival, involving local craftsmen and home tours. This title may have limited appeal, but it is a good resource for reports.-Laura Glaser, Euless Junior High School, TX Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Arthurdale, West Virginia, is the site of an important social-engineering project initiated by Eleanor Roosevelt. Designed to improve the lives of coal miners and their families who were suffering from the economic effects of the Great Depression, the planned community included farms, homes, schools, shops, and medical facilities. The government bought the land with the understanding that the residents would homestead it and repay the loan after achieving a self-sustaining community. The community and others like it were to be models for eliminating poverty. Roosevelt's pioneering effort in community-building offers an interesting commentary on how government support made a difference in people's lives but could not resolve their economic or social problems. It was Roosevelt herself who entered peoples' homes, engaged them in conversation, brought modern educational methods into the school, and made a lasting impression on the people she touched. Hoffman's debut effort weaves the historical context of Arthurdale with a biographical approach to Eleanor Roosevelt's life and personality. She attempts to capture and recreate the spirit of the times by quotations of former residents describing their lives in the town. However, the story never quite comes alive. The voices of the townspeople are not connected in a seamless narrative that pulls the reader into what should be a dynamic piece of historical writing. The biographical information is necessarily sketchy and sometimes superfluous. Black-and-white historical photos illustrate the text. Notes, bibliography, and an index are included. (Nonfiction. 10-12)

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Product Details

Shoe String Press, Incorporated
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.84(w) x 8.80(h) x 0.60(d)
Age Range:
10 - 14 Years

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