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image icon John Curtin and Eleanor Roosevelt at an official dinner, Canberra, 1943

John Curtin and Eleanor Roosevelt at an official dinner, Canberra, 1943
John Curtin Prime Ministerial Library


This is a black-and-white photograph of Australian Prime Minister John Curtin presenting Eleanor Roosevelt, wife of US President Franklin D Roosevelt, with a photographic copy of Captain Cook's journal. They are watched by a number of people in formal dress, most of whom are seated at the elaborately set tables. The photograph was taken at an official dinner in Eleanor Roosevelt's honour held at Parliament House, Canberra, in September 1943.

Educational value

This resource is useful because it:

  • This asset shows guests and dignitaries at a formal state banquet to honour the wife of the President of the USA - Eleanor Roosevelt was in Australia on a goodwill visit with the objectives of visiting US forces and inspecting Australian war activities; her visit was a formal acknowledgement of Australia's new alliance with the USA, forged in the wake of the bombings of Pearl Harbor and Darwin, and the fall of Singapore.
  • This asset suggests the importance the Curtin government attached to Australia's alliance with the USA - Eleanor Roosevelt, wife of Franklin Delano Roosevelt (US President from 1933 to 1945), was accorded a state banquet at Parliament House in Canberra and presented with a specially created copy of Captain Cook's journal, a work of great significance to Australia, as a symbol of the friendship between the two countries; John Curtin, Prime Minister from 1941 to 1945, gave a speech at the function expressing deep admiration for the USA and the principles it embodied.
  • This asset shows Eleanor Roosevelt wearing a Red Cross uniform - she undertook this visit to the south-west Pacific in her role as president of the American Red Cross, and wore the uniform to underline her commitment to the war effort and to boost morale among Allied troops.
  • This asset depicts Eleanor Roosevelt, an independent and strong-willed woman, who was actively involved in political campaigning for her husband - she developed a serious interest in politics from the time women achieved the vote in the USA in 1919, viewing politics as a means to 'right wrongs ... to be of use'; after Franklin contracted polio, Eleanor adopted a more influential role, becoming an inspired speaker and achieving national recognition in her own right; she championed numerous causes, including a 48-hour working week, child labour laws, equal rights to education for girls, and workers' rights.
  • This asset shows an array of flags hung behind the main table - these flags represent some of the Allied nations in the Second World War, including Australia, the USA, the United Kingdom and the Republic of China, then headed by the Kuomintang party.