Diary of a First Lady: The Experience of Voice and Text

Diary of a First Lady: The Experience of Voice and Text
Lady Bird Johnson: First Ladies' Lives

Skill: Middle School
Time Required: Two to three class periods


Lady Bird Johnson, as the wife of the Vice President, was riding in the car immediately behind the President’s car when John F. Kennedy was assassinated.   Like many First Ladies, Lady Bird kept a diary of her experiences.  What is different about her diary is that portions of it were initially done with a voice recorder rather than in writing.  The voice was then transcribed into written documents, which she then revised.  In 1970 she published the diary, “White House Diary” and then in 1981 a film was produced, “The First Lady, A portrait of Lady Bird Johnson.” In this lesson, students will have the opportunity to listen to her voice diary (via the Internet), then complete their own week-long diary only using a voice recording device, then transcribing and editing one day of their diary.


Students will gain an appreciation of the emotions presented by First Lady Johnson in her voice diary.
Students will dictate, transcribe, and edit a voice diary of their own.

Materials Required:

Computer with Internet access, speakers or headphones (preferred), portable voice/tape recorders for each student, paper and pencil or word processor, and printer.


  1. Introduce students to the idea of a diary. Explain the idea of an audio diary.
  2. Allow students time at the computers to read and listen to Mrs. Johnson’s diary account of President Kennedy’s shooting. 
  3. Have students keep a diary while at school (and possibly at home) for a week using only a voice recorder.
  4. Have students transcribe one day they of their diary that they thought might be interesting.
  5. Provide students time to peer review and proof read the rough drafts.
  6. Have students re-write the papers for a final submission.  Students can also include drawings, photos, or images to enhance the diary.
  7. Have students create a cover a cover to complete the diary.
  8. Students will turn in a voice recording of one day’s worth of their own voice diary.

Extending the Lesson:

  • Ask students to submit a 200 word excerpt of their voice diary suitable for other students to read (no names on the transcript).  Collect all submissions and randomly distribute the submissions to students.  Students are to write a response to the diary they received.

Sources & Resources:

This lesson was developed by Marian Maxfield, Kent State University