During the last three years of her life, Eleanor Roosevelt hosted the innovative television series, "Prospects of Mankind" (1959-1962). Produced by National Educational Television, the forerunner of PBS, the series was recorded primarily at the Slosberg Music Center at Brandeis University. Roosevelt's ties to Brandeis were deep; she was an early member of the Board of Trustees, gave the university's first commencement speech, and joined the Brandeis faculty as a visiting lecturer of international relations just weeks before the series' inception.
The concept for "Prospects of Mankind" was originated by Henry Morgenthau III, the show's executive producer and the producer of WGBH-TV, Boston's educational television station. Morgenthau would eventually become Associate Director of the Morse Communications Research Center at Brandeis University (1961), an institute for the study and analysis of communication in modern society.
Adopting a colloquium-style format, "Prospects of Mankind" provided a forum for prominent leaders and decision makers to discuss and debate important current affairs, both domestic and international. Guests on the monthly series included Ralph Bunche, John Kenneth Galbraith, John F. Kennedy, Henry Kissinger, Edward R. Murrow, Bertrand Russell, and Adlai Stevenson.
John F. Kennedy's first appearance on the program (January 2, 1960) proved to be historic; he had announced his candidacy for U.S. President only hours before in Washington D.C. Kennedy appeared twice more on the show, once to announce the creation of the Peace Corps (1961) and again to discuss the status of women (1962).
The first episode of "Prospects of Mankind" was recorded during the week of Eleanor Roosevelt's 75th birthday (October 1959), and the last just months before her death in November 1962. The series documents some of the most influential figures of the mid-twentieth century, and captures Eleanor Roosevelt's keen interest in world affairs during the last years of her life.