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"E" is for Eleanor Clubs

South Carolina from A to Z logo

"E" is for Eleanor Clubs. During the early years of World War II, white South Carolinians, like other white southerners, passed rumors about “Eleanor Clubs.” They told each other that their black help—inspired by First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt—were organizing quasi-unions to raise their pay or leave domestic employment. And, they vowed to have a white woman in every kitchen by Christmas. Then they would start to press for social equality and, finally, the overthrow of white-led government. By the spring of 1942 the rumors were so alarming and widespread that public officials—including the First Lady called in the FBI to see if they were true. Governor Richard I. Jeffries directed all 46 county sheriffs to investigate the matter. Neither they nor the FBI could find any truth to the rumors about the Eleanor Clubs.

Dr. Walter Edgar has two programs on South Carolina Public Radio: Walter Edgar's Journal, and South Carolina from A to Z. Dr. Edgar received his B.A. degree from Davidson College in 1965 and his Ph.D. from the University of South Carolina in 1969. After two years in the army (including a tour of duty in Vietnam), he returned to USC as a post-doctoral fellow of the National Archives, assigned to the Papers of Henry Laurens.