Theodore, Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt are the most prominent members of one of the most important families in American history. All three overcame personal obstacles as they independently – and collectively – transformed the model of a nation’s responsibility to its citizens and the wider world. Theodore and Franklin occupied the White House for 19 of the first 45 years of the 20th century. Between them, the three Roosevelts helped create National Parks and the New Deal, helped defeat Hitler, and shaped the postwar struggles for civil rights at home and human rights around the world.
The Roosevelts: An Intimate History (2014) is Ken Burns’ seven-part documentary series on these three figures. The documentary receives an encore broadcast presentation on THIRTEEN from Monday, August 7 through Thursday, August 17, 2017. Watch a 7-minute introduction to the series, below, and see the night-by-night schedule of episodes.
Episode 1 – Get Action (1858-1901)
Monday, August 7 at 9pm
The century-long Roosevelt legacy begins with the birth of Theodore Roosevelt in 1858. The series begins with his formative years as a frail, asthmatic child. Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the fifth cousin of Theodore, is born on January 30, 1882, an only child doted upon by his loving parents and their staff on the family estate in Hyde Park, New York. On October 11, 1884, Eleanor Roosevelt is born to Theodore’s troubled alcoholic younger brother, Elliot, and his beautiful but aloof wife, Anna Hall.
Episode 2 – In The Arena (1901-1910)
Tuesday, August 8 at 9pm
Theodore Roosevelt transforms the office of the presidency, winning his second term by a landslide, and winning a Nobel Peace Prize for peacekeeping efforts. His fifth cousin Franklin courts and weds Eleanor Roosevelt. In March 1905, Theodore officiates the marriage of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt.
Episode 3 – The Fire of Life (1910-1919)
Wednesday, August 9 at 9pm
With his election to the New York State Senate in 1910, Franklin D. Roosevelt sets out to make a name for himself in Albany, much as Theodore Roosevelt had done 29 years earlier. In 1912, Theodore Roosevelt forms his own third party, the Progressive “Bull Moose” Party. He survives an assassination attempt and goes on to defeat William Taft in the general election, but by splitting the ticket, he ensures the election of Democrat Woodrow Wilson as President. Both Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt express anger over President Wilson’s unyielding neutrality at the outbreak of World War I. On the night of January 5, 1919, the Theodore goes to bed and never wakes up. He is just 60 years old.
Episode 4 – The Storm (1920-1933)
Monday, August 14 at 9pm
Franklin is elected Governor of New York. For Eleanor, the experience of campaigning gives her a taste of what is possible outside the confines of home, and she is determined to find “real work” and to redefine her role with her husband and family. In 1921, FDR is diagnosed with polio and leaves Washington to recuperate. By early 1922, Eleanor Roosevelt makes her first steps into the world of public speaking and political organizing and meets new female friends active in Progressive causes. FDR becomes the presidential nominee for the Democrats. In 1932, following the stock market crash, FDR wins the presidency by 7 million votes.
Episode 5 – The Rising Road (1933-1939)
Tuesday, August 15 at 9pm
Franklin Delano Roosevelt begins his first 100 days in office, the most productive in presidential history. Eleanor Roosevelt takes to her new role as First Lady with energy and purpose. She holds weekly press conferences for female reporters only, embraces controversial social programs and is an ardent supporter of civil rights. By the spring of 1935, President Roosevelt launches some of the most important pieces of legislation in American history – the National Labor Relations Act, which guarantees labor’s right to organize and bargain collectively; and the Social Security Act. During the 1930s, most Americans deplore the events unfolding in Europe under Hitler and Mussolini, but many do not want the United States to become involved.
Episode 6 – The Common Cause (1939 – 1944)
Wednesday, August 16 at 9pm
By the late summer of 1939, FDR and Eleanor are tired and looking forward to retirement. Eleanor Roosevelt shares her husband’s desire to ready the country for war. But events overseas do not distract her from the importance of domestic reforms, and she continues to be the spokesperson for those who cannot speak for themselves. On the morning of December 7, 1941, Japanese planes attack Pearl Harbor – and that evening, on her weekly radio program, the First Lady becomes the first public official to reassure the American people about what lies ahead.
In 1943, FDR, Winston Churchill, and Joseph Stalin reach an agreement on how to set the stage for an Allied World War II victory, but the President returns exhausted and suffering from what physicians diagnose as the flu. The year 1944 is a presidential election year, and the Commander-in-Chief is seriously ill.
Episode 7 – A Strong and Active Faith (1944-1962)
Thursday, August 17 at 9pm
By April of 1944, Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt have occupied the White House for more than 11 years. Despite his failing health, FDR wins the 1944 election and has ambitious postwar plans for his country: to see the horrific struggle through to victory, and then to bring the United States into a new international organization strong enough to insure that the world will not go to war again – the United Nations.
On April 12, 1945 Franklin Roosevelt suffers a massive cerebral hemorrhage and dies. After her husband’s death, Eleanor Roosevelt never slows down or loses sight of the goals for which she and her husband fought so hard for so long. She goes on to serve as a delegate to the United Nations, impressing skeptical fellow-delegates with her courage and tenacity.
In her later years, Eleanor remains involved in championing civil rights and women’s rights, disagreeing with religious and political leaders, supporting presidential candidates, knowing it is imperative that the Democrats return to power. Have a look at what THIRTEEN imagined Eleanor Roosevelt’s resume would look like.