Recently the Director of the Taylor Memorial Library discovered a glassine envelope containing five negatives of photographs, two of a group of students, and three of a famous visitor. These pictures were taken the day Eleanor Roosevelt visited Centenary College.
On February 9, 1950 Eleanor Roosevelt, former First Lady of the United States, traveled to Hackettstown and spoke at what was then Centenary Junior College. Roosevelt had been the First Lady from March 1933 to April 1945, until her husband died in office. She became more popular with time and many referred to her as First Lady of the World.
When she arrived on campus, her first stop was the president’s home, where she met President and Mrs. Seay and was welcomed to the College by a group of students. Following introductions, a short press conference was held in the President’s office.
Centenary was very lucky to have arranged a visit with Eleanor Roosevelt; she explained that she accepted the college’s invitation to speak because she just happened to be free, she had not yet been to this part of New Jersey, and because she enjoyed addressing groups of young people, particularly women.
She spoke in Centenary’s Whitney Chapel to an audience of both students and members of the community; so many people attended that the overflow was seated in the Little Theater on campus (She spent a few minutes speaking to that group before giving her speech in the Chapel). Her remarks were broadcast over radio stations in Morristown, NJ and Easton, PA.
The topic of her remarks was taken from the title of a freshman orientation class at Centenary: “Living in Today’s World.” She spoke about the challenge of selling democracy in the face of the threat of communism and the H-bomb (the hydrogen bomb). Mrs. Roosevelt said scientific knowledge had outrun our development in human relations, and that “we must learn to live by reason and not by force.”