People who enjoy history are going to be in for several treats during the next two months.
PBS begins the long-awaited series "The Roosevelts: An Intimate History," a seven-part documentary, produced and directed by our national treasure Ken Burns. Then October 19 historian Douglas Brinkley will present the keynote address for the 31st annual Frank Church Conference on Public Affairs, “Wilderness: America’s Heritage,” which will continue the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act.
The PBS document chronicles the lives of Theodore, Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, three members of the most prominent and influential family in American politics. The seven-part, 14 hour film follows the Roosevelts for more than a century, from Theodore’s birth in 1858 to Eleanor’s death in 1962 beginning Sept. 14.
Its hard to overstate the impact this family has had on the nation, the world and specifically Idaho. Teddy Roosevelt championed the dams and irrigation projects on which southern Idaho’s economy was built. He single-handly protected millions of acres of national forests. Franklin Roosevelt actually carried Idaho in national elections in part because of New Deal programs like the Civilian Conservation Corps that put Idahoans to work. Then he led the international crusade to defeat Hitler and fascism, building the United States into a superpower in the process.
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Eleanor Roosevelt was personal emissary for her husband who visited Idaho. She was fighter for worker rights, civil rights and women’s rights when those causes weren’t always popular. She wrote in her column September 28, 1937 of chatting with women reporters in Boise.
“They were seriously handicapped, however, because every time they asked me a personal question, they felt they must apologize,” Roosevelt wrote. “I hope their interview was satisfactory to them!”
She wouldn't say that if she visited Boise today.
She returned to Idaho March 29, 1938 where she visited the University of Idaho and the Palouse.
“These tremendous rolling fields are now showing signs of soil erosion and it is a comfort to know the Government is working with the farmers on this problem, which should be tackled before it gets any worse,” Roosevelt wrote.
Brinkley, the author of “The Wilderness Warrior: Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for America,” also will bring this remarkable family together with his follow-up book “Rightful Heritage: Franklin D. Roosevelt and the American Conservation Movement.”
The Church conference’s day session at Boise State University Oct. 20, also will be held in the Simplot Ballroom. It features Tom Tidwell, U.S. chief of the Forest Service.