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Elinor Morgenthau

Elinor Morgenthau’s greatest accomplishments were largely invisible, as she helped her husband, Henry Morgenthau, Jr., rise to great heights in Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s administration. Morgenthau, daughter of wealthy clothing manufacturer Morris Fatman, graduated from Vassar College in 1913 and began to teach acting at the Henry Street Settlement. She met her future husband there and proposed to him in 1916—the couple married only two months later. Elinor Morgenthau became speaker for the state Democratic Committee Women’s Division and in 1920 she and her husband began their long association with the Roosevelts, campaigning for FDR. She took classes in public speaking and used her skills (as well as her sharp political instincts) to help her husband read the lay of the land in Washington, DC, propelling him to the post of Secretary of the Treasury. When he was unavailable for speaking engagements, she often filled in for him. In 1941, she became Eleanor Roosevelt’s assistant in the Office of Civilian Defense, but soon suffered health problems that limited her work.

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Elinor Morgenthau in 1916.
Courtesy of the U.S. Library of Congress.
Date of Birth

New York, NY
United States

Date of Death

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Elinor Morgenthau." (Viewed on July 3, 2020) <>.


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