Eleanor K. Taft

Leo left Geneva in June, 1940, before getting most of the certificates for the courses he took. He asked the Graduate Institute to mail them to him in the United States. Interestingly, they were sent care of Miss Eleanor K. Taft in Cinccinnati, Ohio. Miss Taft, who was about a year younger than my father, had spent the previous year in Geneva, which is no doubt how he knew her. (As reported in the Cincinnati Enquirer of June 18, 1940, p. 7: TO TELL OF SWITZERLAND. “My Experiences In Switzerland” is the subject of an address by Miss Eleanor K. Taft at an open meeting of the Men’s Club of the Church of the Nativity, Price Hill, tomorrow night. Miss Taft returned recently after a year in the International Labor Office.)

Although the Taft family in general is associated with conservative politics, Eleanor’s branch seems to have been more liberal. Her father, for example, ran for Mayor of Cincinnati as a member of the Charter Party, known for pursuing “a number of liberal and progressive causes”.

The fact that she was working for the ILO has implications for her political leanings, too. Just as one data point, the first Director General of the ILO was French socialist Albert Thomas. The ILO has historically focused on issues such as “freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining, the elimination of all forms of forced or compulsory labour, the effective abolition of child labour, and the elimination of discrimination in respect of employment and occupation.” (Wikipedia)

I had never heard of her before seeing her name on the document reproduced below. Based on her assumed political leanings, she and my father may have been kindred spirits.

In July, 1941, she married Dr. Donald Thornton Hall of Seattle, where she lived until her death in 2004.

Her departure from Geneva may have been precipitated by the planned departure of the ILO itself:

“During the Second World War, when Switzerland was surrounded by German troops, ILO director John G. Winant made the decision to leave Geneva. In August 1940, the government of Canada officially invited the ILO to be housed at McGill University in Montreal. Forty staff members were transferred to the temporary offices and continued to work from McGill until 1948.” (Wikipedia)

Dear Sir –

Before leaving Geneva, you had asked us to put into your possession copies of your seminar certificates. You will find attached copies of the certificates in question, certifying that you have taken active part in the seminars of MM. Burckhardt, Rappard and Röpke. As for the seminar of M. Mises, you will remember that you have taken the original of the certificate. We have a copy of it here.

We hope that you had a good trip and are doing well in the United States.

Best wishes,

Alice Goldenberg
Secretary

Eleanor’s father, Charles Phelps Taft II*, was the youngest of three children born to President William Howard Taft and First Lady Helen Herron Taft. He also served as Mayor of Cincinnati from 1955 to 1957.

* Not to be confused with Charles Phelps Taft, older half-brother of William Howard Taft, 27th President of the United States.

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