28 min

The Time in 1943 That Eleanor Roosevelt Disappeared for 10 Days in the South Pacific History Unplugged Podcast

    • History

Eleanor Roosevelt is undisputedly one of America’s most influential First Ladies. She used the office to promote international initiatives that stabilized global peace after the hellish destruction of World War Two, doing such things as securing the passage of the UN Declaration of Human Rights.

But one thing few know is that for 10 days the First Lady went missing. In August of 1943, Eleanor was not attending to her domestic duties at the White House, in fact, she was nowhere to be found. Later, Americans would read in newspapers that Eleanor’s whereabouts had been discovered—she was on the other side of the world.

In an unprecedented mission which only a handful of First Ladies since have ever attempted, Eleanor’s assignment was to go undercover into a battle zone and report back, firsthand, what America’s servicemen and women were facing... and bring secret information back to the Oval Office. At a time when commercial air travel was unrefined (transcontinental flights took at least 20 hours and involved several fueling stops) and war was still active in the South Pacific, Eleanor faced dangers every day to complete her secret mission and boost troop morale.

Today’s guest is Shannon McKenna Schmidt, author of The First Lady of World War II: Eleanor Roosevelt's Daring Journey to the Frontlines and Back. She shares the largely untold story of Eleanor’s top-secret mission to the Pacific theater that had ripple effects throughout the 20th century.

Eleanor Roosevelt is undisputedly one of America’s most influential First Ladies. She used the office to promote international initiatives that stabilized global peace after the hellish destruction of World War Two, doing such things as securing the passage of the UN Declaration of Human Rights.

But one thing few know is that for 10 days the First Lady went missing. In August of 1943, Eleanor was not attending to her domestic duties at the White House, in fact, she was nowhere to be found. Later, Americans would read in newspapers that Eleanor’s whereabouts had been discovered—she was on the other side of the world.

In an unprecedented mission which only a handful of First Ladies since have ever attempted, Eleanor’s assignment was to go undercover into a battle zone and report back, firsthand, what America’s servicemen and women were facing... and bring secret information back to the Oval Office. At a time when commercial air travel was unrefined (transcontinental flights took at least 20 hours and involved several fueling stops) and war was still active in the South Pacific, Eleanor faced dangers every day to complete her secret mission and boost troop morale.

Today’s guest is Shannon McKenna Schmidt, author of The First Lady of World War II: Eleanor Roosevelt's Daring Journey to the Frontlines and Back. She shares the largely untold story of Eleanor’s top-secret mission to the Pacific theater that had ripple effects throughout the 20th century.

28 min

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