"Advice columnist" is not a role that's usually listed under Eleanor Roosevelt's long list of achievements, but for over 20 years she wrote a popular write-in column, first for Ladies Home Journal and then McCall's magazine.
Roosevelt wasn't especially witty or psychologically acute in the role; unlike many of today's inspirational "life coaches," Roosevelt didn't invite her readers to accompany her on extended journeys of introspection.
Indeed, when a questioner wrote in 1944 asking what the president said to her when he proposed, Roosevelt firmly drew the curtains over that intimate subject by replying: "There are some things in life which one should be allowed to keep to oneself."
But, one of the things Roosevelt did have going for herself as a counselor and dispenser of practical wisdom was the fact that she was so real. She clearly was not performing, nor winking at her readers; and she certainly wasn't checking in with a public relations team before weighing in on questions ranging from the death penalty (anti), birth control (pro) and how soon a widow might begin dating again after the loss of a beloved husband. ("Heavens above!" Roosevelt exclaimed in a column in 1946. "You can decently be seen with other men whenever you feel like going out again. This is your life ...")
Once upon a time in America, ordinary people turned to Roosevelt for advice and, as these columns attest, she repaid their trust with responses that are downright startling to read today because of how seriously she took even their most mundane problems.