First Ladies Research

  • Library Catalog - Online catalog of materials available at the National First Ladies' Education and Research Center.

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  • “The greater part of our happiness or misery depends on our dispositions and not on our circumstances.”
    Washington, Martha
    General Biography
    Juvenile Biography
    Bibliography
    Audio Visual
    Manuscripts
    Lesson Plans
    Timeline
    “Though I have been called to sacrifice to my Country, I can glory in my sacrifice, and derive pleasure from my intimate connection with one who is estimated worthy of the important trust developed upon him.”
    Adams, Abigail
    General Biography
    Juvenile Biography
    Bibliography
    Audio Visual
    Manuscripts
    Lesson Plans
    Timeline
    Martha Jefferson died 18 years before Thomas Jefferson was elected President in 1800. Her daughter Polly Jefferson Randolph on occasion served as hostess during the White House years. Both women are included in the biography and bibliography.
    Jefferson, Martha
    General Biography

    Bibliography
    Audio Visual
    Manuscripts
    Lesson Plans
    Timeline
    “There is one secret, and that is the power we all have in forming our own destinies.”
    Madison, Dolley
    General Biography
    Juvenile Biography
    Bibliography
    Audio Visual
    Manuscripts
    Lesson Plans
    Timeline
    Despite the fact that Elizabeth Monroe was First Lady for 8 years, very little primary source material exists for her. During the last days of the French Revolution she made a name for herself by her courageous visit to the imprisoned wife of Marquis de Lafayette.
    Monroe, Elizabeth
    General Biography

    Bibliography
    Audio Visual
    Manuscripts
    Lesson Plans
    Timeline
    “There is something in this great unsocial house which depresses my spirits beyond expression and makes it impossible for me to feel at home or to fancy that I have a home any where.”
    Adams, Louisa
    General Biography

    Bibliography
    Audio Visual
    Manuscripts
    Lesson Plans
    Timeline
    “…I am glad of it for Mr. Jackson’s sake, because it is his ambition. For me it is but one more burden. Even if I was qualified in other ways to do the honors of the White House, my health is not good enough to bear the strain.”
    Jackson, Rachel
    General Biography
    Juvenile Biography
    Bibliography
    Audio Visual
    Manuscripts
    Lesson Plans
    Timeline
    Hannah Hoes Van Buren died 18 years before her husband, Martin Van Buren became President. One year and eight months after he took office he designated his new daughter in law, Angelica Singleton Van Buren to serve as hostess for the White House. Both women are included in the biography and bibliography
    Van Buren, Hannah
    General Biography

    Bibliography
    Audio Visual
    Manuscripts
    Lesson Plans
    Timeline
    “We are here for four years. I do not look beyond that, as many things may occur in that time, but I am very anxious to see the family of the President provided for properly…”
    Harrison, Anna
    General Biography

    Bibliography
    Audio Visual
    Manuscripts
    Lesson Plans
    Timeline
    (letter to her from her husband, John Tyler) “Whether I float or sink in the stream of fortune I shall never cease to love you”
    Tyler, Letitia
    General Biography

    Bibliography
    Audio Visual
    Manuscripts
    Lesson Plans
    Timeline
    “I very well know every eye is upon me, my dear mother, and I will behave accordingly.”
    Tyler, Julia
    General Biography

    Bibliography
    Audio Visual
    Manuscripts

    Timeline
    “If I get into the White House, I will neither keep house nor make butter.”
    Polk, Sarah
    General Biography

    Bibliography
    Audio Visual
    Manuscripts
    Lesson Plans
    Timeline
    After praying mightily for her husband, Zachary Taylor, to lose the 1848 election, Margaret Taylor viewed the image of Washington with horror after the election.
    Taylor, Margaret
    General Biography
    Juvenile Biography
    Bibliography
    Audio Visual
    Manuscripts

    Timeline
    (letter to her husband) “Mrs. Walsh called here on Monday and wished me to write you to ask you to use your influence for her cousin. . . so you can see, I am already beset by office seekers”
    Fillmore, Abigail
    General Biography
    Juvenile Biography
    Bibliography
    Audio Visual
    Manuscripts
    Lesson Plans
    Timeline
    “Oh how I wish he (Franklin Pierce) was out of political life! How much better it would be for him on every account!”
    Pierce, Jane
    General Biography

    Bibliography
    Audio Visual
    Manuscripts

    Timeline
    Harriet Lane was not the “wife” of a President. She did fulfill the position of First Lady of the White House during the term of her uncle James Buchanan.
    Lane, Harriet
    General Biography

    Bibliography
    Audio Visual
    Manuscripts

    Timeline
    “I do not belong to the public; my character is wholly domestic, and the public have nothing to do with it.”
    Lincoln, Mary
    General Biography
    Juvenile Biography
    Bibliography
    Audio Visual
    Manuscripts
    Lesson Plans
    Timeline
    “It’s all very well for those who like it, but I do not like this public life at all. I often wish the time would come when we would return to where I feel we best belong.”
    Johnson, Eliza
    General Biography

    Bibliography
    Audio Visual
    Manuscripts
    Lesson Plans
    Timeline
    “I became an enthusiastic politician.”
    Grant, Julia
    General Biography

    Bibliography
    Audio Visual
    Manuscripts

    Timeline
    “Woman’s mind is as strong as man’s…equal in all things and is superior in some.”
    Hayes, Lucy
    General Biography
    Juvenile Biography
    Bibliography
    Audio Visual
    Manuscripts
    Lesson Plans
    Timeline
    “I’m going to try harder than ever before to be the best little wife possible.”
    Garfield, Lucretia
    General Biography
    Juvenile Biography
    Bibliography
    Audio Visual
    Manuscripts
    Lesson Plans
    Timeline
    Ellen Arthur died in 1880, the year before her husband Chester Arthur, became President.
    Arthur, Ellen
    General Biography

    Bibliography
    Audio Visual
    Manuscripts

    Timeline
    “I have not had a life yet. It is all before me…” (after leaving the White House)
    Cleveland, Frances
    General Biography
    Juvenile Biography
    Bibliography
    Audio Visual
    Manuscripts
    Lesson Plans
    Timeline
    “Since this Society has been organized and so much thought and reading directed to the early struggles of this country, it has been made plain that much of its success was due to the character of the women of that era. The unselfish part they acted constantly commends itself to our admiration and example.”
    Harrison, Caroline
    General Biography
    Juvenile Biography
    Bibliography
    Audio Visual
    Manuscripts
    Lesson Plans
    Timeline
    (following her husband’s assassination) “Nothing can make me happy again. . .”
    Mckinley, Ida
    General Biography

    Bibliography
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    Manuscripts
    Lesson Plans
    Timeline
    “Being in centre of things is very interesting, yet the same proportions remain. When I read “The World is to much with us” or “Oh for a closer walk with God” they mean just what they did, so I don’t believe I have been forced into the “first lady of the land” model of my predecessors.”
    Roosevelt, Edith
    General Biography

    Bibliography
    Audio Visual
    Manuscripts

    Timeline
    “I had always had the satisfaction of knowing almost as much as he about the politics and intricacies of any situation in which he found himself, and my life was filled with interests of a most unusual kind.”
    Taft, Helen
    General Biography
    Juvenile Biography
    Bibliography
    Audio Visual
    Manuscripts
    Lesson Plans
    Timeline
    “I am naturally the most unambitious of women and life in the White house has no attractions for me.”
    Wilson, Ellen
    General Biography
    Juvenile Biography
    Bibliography
    Audio Visual
    Manuscripts
    Lesson Plans
    Timeline
    “So began my stewardship. I studied every paper, sent from the different Secretaries or senators, and tried to digest and present in tabloid form the things that, despite my vigilance, had to go to the President. I myself never made a single decision regarding the disposition of public affairs. The only decision that was mine was what was important and what was not, and the very important decision of when to present matters to my husband.”.”
    Wilson, Edith
    General Biography
    Juvenile Biography
    Bibliography
    Audio Visual
    Manuscripts
    Lesson Plans
    Timeline
    “I know what’s best for the President. I put him in the White house. He does well when he listens to me and poorly when he does not.”
    Harding, Florence
    General Biography
    Juvenile Biography
    Bibliography
    Audio Visual
    Manuscripts
    Lesson Plans
    Timeline
    “...this was I and not yet I, this was the wife of the President of the United States and she took precedence over me; my personal like and dislikes must be subordinated to the consideration of those things which were required of her...”
    Coolidge, Grace
    General Biography
    Juvenile Biography
    Bibliography
    Audio Visual
    Manuscripts
    Lesson Plans
    Timeline
    “It is very possible to have both a home and a career, (for) in this modern age we are released from so many of the burdens our grandmothers and great-grandmothers had to bear.”
    Hoover, Lou
    General Biography

    Bibliography
    Audio Visual
    Manuscripts
    Lesson Plans
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    “…but there isn’t going to be any First Lady. There is just to be plain, ordinary Mrs. Roosevelt…I never wanted to be the president’s wife, and don’t want it now. You don’t quite believe me, do you? Very likely no one would-except possibly some woman who had had the job.”
    Roosevelt, Eleanor
    General Biography

    Bibliography
    Audio Visual
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    Lesson Plans
    Timeline
    “We are not any one of us happy to be where we are but there’s nothing to be done about it except to do our best-and forget about the sacrifices and many unpleasant things that bob up.”
    Truman, Bess
    General Biography

    Bibliography
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    Lesson Plans
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    “Of course, being mistress of the White House is a terrific responsibility, and I am truly grateful for my Army wife training.”
    Eisenhower, Mamie
    General Biography
    Juvenile Biography
    Bibliography
    Audio Visual
    Manuscripts
    Lesson Plans
    Timeline
    “I think the major role of the First Lady is to take care of the President so that he can best serve the people. And not to fail her family, her husband, and children.”
    Kennedy, Jackie
    General Biography
    Juvenile Biography
    Bibliography
    Audio Visual
    Manuscripts
    Lesson Plans
    Timeline
    “The first lady is, and always has been, an unpaid public servant elected by one person, her husband.”
    Johnson, Lady Bird
    General Biography
    Juvenile Biography
    Bibliography
    Audio Visual
    Manuscripts
    Lesson Plans
    Timeline
    “I just want to go down in history as the wife of the President.”
    Nixon, Pat
    General Biography
    Juvenile Biography
    Bibliography
    Audio Visual
    Manuscripts
    Lesson Plans
    Timeline
    “I don’t feel that because I’m First Lady, I’m very different from what I was before. It can happen to anyone. After all, it has happened to anyone.”
    Ford, Betty
    General Biography
    Juvenile Biography
    Bibliography
    Audio Visual
    Manuscripts
    Lesson Plans
    view timeline
    “I don’t think that there is any doubt that the First Ladies have some influence on their husbands, because they are close to them, they talk with them all the time, they have the presidents’ ear. I don’t think there is any doubt about it.”
    Carter, Rosalynn
    General Biography
    Juvenile Biography
    Bibliography
    Audio Visual
    Manuscripts
    Lesson Plans
    view timeline
    “I think it’s an important, legitimate role for a First Lady to look after a President’s health and well being. And if that interferes with other plans, so be it. No first lady need to make apologies for looking out for her husband’s personal welfare…The First Lady is, first of all, a wife.”
    Reagan, Nancy
    General Biography

    Bibliography
    Audio Visual
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    “The First Lady is going to be criticized no matter what she does. If she does too little. If she does too much. And I think you just have to be yourself and do the best you can. And so what? That’s the way it is.”
    Bush, Barbara
    General Biography

    Bibliography
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    Manuscripts
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    “The American people have made the role of the First Lady one of the most important jobs in the country. ... It is a tribute to American women that, coming from different social and economic backgrounds, from many different geographical regions, and with diverse educational preparation, each First Lady served our country so well. Each left her own mark, and each teaches us something special about our history.”
    Clinton, Hillary
    General Biography

    Bibliography
    Audio Visual
    Manuscripts
    Lesson Plans
    view timeline
    “The role of First Lady is whatever the First Lady wants it to be.”
    Bush, Laura
    General Biography

    Bibliography
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    Lesson Plans
    view timeline
    "Policies that support families aren't political issues. They're personal. They're the causes I carry with me every single day."
    Obama, Michelle
    General Biography

    Bibliography
    Audio Visual
    Manuscripts
    Lesson Plans