Out of These Roots (signed by Agnes Meyer and First Lady, Eleanor Roosevelt)

Little, Brown and Co. 1953


Out of stock

First Edition, First Printing. One of a kind. Signed on the front free endpaper by Agnes Meyer, scion of the Washington Post family and influential political activist, and her close friend, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. Near fine in a very good-plus dust jacket with slight chipping on the head of the spine, front flap, and with a bit of edgewear. A wonderful association and a slice of history writ large and personal! A true collector's copy.

Out of These Roots is the autobiography of a trailblazing visionary and leader ahead of her time. Agnes Elizabeth (Ernst) Meyer, (b. January 2, 1887 – d. September 1, 1970), was a journalist, philanthropist, children's education advocate, political and civil rights activist, art patron, and more. Born and educated in New York City, Agnes attended Barnard College and paid for her education herself through work and scholarships. After graduating in 1907, Meyer became one of the first women reporters hired by the New York Sun. A renaissance woman, during her time Meyer shared friendships with a diverse group of stalwarts in addition to First Lady Roosevelt, including Thomas Mann, Gertrude Stein, Albert Einstein, Marie Curie, and Auguste Rodin.

In 1909, Meyer married successful financier and business executive, Eugene Meyer, who, after serving as Chairman of the Federal Reserve, bought the Washington Post out of bankruptcy in 1933. Eugene led the company and Agnes worked as an executive there. Her marriage, wealth, and ownership of the Post provided her with the means to positively influence national policy and American opinion for generations. Her work continued through her son-in-law Philip Graham, (both during and after Eugene Meyer’s death), and subsequently through her daughter, the ineffable, Katharine Meyer Graham.

Originally opposed to FDR's New Deal, (Meyer penned numerous articles criticizing the Works Progress Administration and other New Deal Programs), she had a change of heart during World War II as she came to see first-hand the government’s then failure to meet its citizens' basic needs. During this time Meyer developed a close friendship with Eleanor. And, like Eleanor, she devoted her energy and much of her life in service of the disadvantaged and disenfranchised.

Among other things, Meyer lobbied for the creation of the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, and for the U.S. government to provide federal aid to states for education. Indeed, President Johnson credited Meyer with materially influencing his thinking around education policy, and for building crucial public support for the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, which for the first time directed federal assistance toward states and their respective school districts that serve children from low-income families. Throughout the 1960s and beyond she continued to dedicate her time to improving public education through the creation and financial support of several not-for profit organizations. Meyer's investigative journalism also showed the inequities of racial segregation. She strongly advocated for equal employment and educational opportunities, regardless of race or gender. Agnes’ legacy lives on in her children, grandchildren, and their families.

“Democracy is hard work -- so says Mrs. Meyer, who has lived her faith in democracy to the full. And not shirked the hard work. This is the story of a full life. An honest story, revealing the insecurities of her adolescent years, and how in her mature years she found again the roots of early childhood happiness. It is a story of a period of feverish seeking in fields of art and letters; it is a story of a marriage to a financier, a public servant, a newspaper publisher -- and of how that marriage enriched and motivated her life. It is a story of training for social welfare in the field of politics under a political boss of the best type; of how she went on to fight for community service, better education in public schools the country over, sounder health education and a nation-wide system of public health, a fair deal for minorities, a sane approach to immigration, and so on....If your faith in America is shaken, this is a book that makes you realize what we as citizens can do.” (1953 book review, Kirkus).

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