Life Story: Ellen Sullivan Woodward (1887–1971)

New Deal Administrator and Advocate for Women’s Social Services

The story of Southern widow who transformed her need to work into a high-ranking government career.

Portrait of Ellen Woodward

Portrait of Ellen Woodward, 1930. Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division, Washington, D.C.

Suggested Activities

  • Ellen’s work shaped the lives of hundreds of thousands of Americans, many of them women. Connect her life story to the artwork of Augusta Savage, and the life story of Zora Neale Hurston to learn more about how the WPA shaped the lives of women directly.
  • Ellen had a close working relationship with First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. Ask students to read Ellen’s life story alongside Eleanor Roosevelt’s life story to lear