The photograph below is from the collection of Leila Rendel's schoolmate at Allenswood Academy, Eleanor Roosevelt. The photograph is dated in the American National Archives and Records Administration catalogue to 1900. Eleanor, the future First Lady of the United States, is the third young woman from the right in the top row, with the window mullion directly behind her. Leila has been independently identified by several people who knew her, and/or know her early photographs, as the third young woman from the left in the bottom row.

Allenswood Academy was founded by Marie Souvestre, described in the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library page devoted to Eleanor's time at Allenswood as "a formidable woman of deep intellect and progressive ideas." In her book "The Seven People Who Shaped My Life" (1951), Eleanor Roosevelt wrote “For three years, I basked in her generous presence, and I think those three years did much to form my character and give me the confidence to go through some of the trials that awaited me … .

"She described her years there as the “happiest of my life.” Souvestre recognized ER’s hidden strengths, helped her gain confidence, and awakened her social conscience. This “extraordinary character,” ER recalled, “exerted perhaps the greatest influence on my girlhood.”"

 "Day 14: Eleanor at Allenswood Academy", Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library


"ER thrived on Souvestre's intellectual method, which stressed rigorous analysis and independent thinking. She also responded to Souvestre's humanism and commitment to human justice. Watching Souvestre fight for seemingly lost political and social causes, Eleanor wrote many years later, "I think I came to feel that the underdog was always the one to be championed." Souvestre also introduced ER to the settlement movement (privately funded inner city institutions that provided education and social services to immigrants and the urban poor)."

"Marie Souvestre (1830-1905)", Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project,  George Washington University, Columbian College of Arts and Sciences.


Eleanor mentions Leila Rendel as among her fellow students in a 1932 newspaper article: "Mrs. Roosevelt and English Memories".


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National Archives and Records Administration, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons