One can only imagine the consternation felt by U-M President Alexander G. Ruthven when he learned first lady Eleanor Roosevelt would stay at the President’s House—where the Ruthven family had a pet dog named Eleanor.
“What to do? The students were agog, the family nervous. Would the guest object to having an English bulldog as a namesake? Could the family get through the visit without using the name? Evidently, anyone calling ‘Eleanor’ might create an embarrassing situation,” Ruthven recalled in his autobiography.
He reported the visit was a success, with the two Eleanors becoming fast friends.
Roosevelt visited campus on Oct. 26, 1939, when she addressed 6,000 people at Hill Auditorium. “If you want democracy,” she told the audience, “you have to work for it.” Her visit drew the largest crowd in the 50-year history of the sponsoring organization, the University Oratorical Association.
Roosevelt paid another visit to campus on Nov. 18, 1958, as part of International Week.
Sources: “Naturalist in Two Worlds,” by Alexander G. Ruthven; Michigan Alumnus; The Michigan Daily
Photo: U-M News and Information Services records, Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan