For Immediate Release

August 3, 2009

Michelle Obama Becomes Honorary Chair of the National First Ladies' Library

The National First Ladies' Library (NFLL), a nonprofit organization that manages and operates the First Ladies National Historic Site for the National Park Service, is honored to announce that First Lady Michelle Obama has agreed to serve as an honorary chair of the organization along with her predecessors, the former First Ladies Betty Ford, Rosalynn Carter, Nancy Reagan, Barbara Bush, Hillary Clinton and Laura Bush. Located in Canton, Ohio, the NFLL is the only national institution dedicated to the history of America’s First Ladies and their substantial contributions.
 
In announcing the news, NFLL President Mary Regula said: “In the short period of time since she became First Lady, Michelle Obama’s words and deeds, her vision and message have already touched the lives of many young women, and captured the attention of the nation. As a result, the library has seen an enormous rise in interest on the long history of First Ladies and how they have effectively used the visibility of their position to raise awareness and address problems both domestic and global.”
 

Much as First Lady Michelle Obama is now expanding the role of the White House within the Washington, D.C. community to serve as a learning center for local public school students, the National First Ladies' Library has functioned as a teaching space for Northeastern Ohio as well. Student groups are invited to attend lectures, view documentary film presentations and interactive performances. In addition, the NFLL has developed a curriculum for students from kindergarten through 12th grade, with Kent State University that uses the history of First Ladies as a window into simultaneous historical events, providing an overall context to social, political, economic and technological histories.

 
Additional Information
Since its founding by Mary Regula in 1995, the National First Ladies' Library has had the participation and support of both incumbent and former First Ladies in a variety of ways. Rosalynn Carter helped to dedicate the institution when it first opened, in June of 1998. Hillary Clinton came to announce the NFLL as recipient of a Save America’s Treasures matching grant in 1999. Laura Bush presided at the 2003 dedication of the NFLL’s Education Center. Through the years, others have also contributed historic objects for the collection, including Nancy Reagan, Rosalynn Carter, the late Lady Bird Johnson who had also been an honorary chair and supporter, and Julie Nixon Eisenhower who donated items of her mother Pat Nixon. In addition, the collection boasts an historic clothing collection with many First Lady items dating to the early 19th century.
 
The Education and Research Center features the world’s largest collection of publications about and by First Ladies, a growing archive of materials used in the research of First Ladies biographies and a unique audio-visual library with holdings that include over a century of radio recordings, newsreels, television interviews and film depictions of First Ladies. Drawing on its collections, the Library and Museum host new exhibits through the year and a bi-annual conference on First Lady history.
 
Its website (www.firstladies.org) provides the only online bibliography and in depth biographies of First Ladies which are updated to reflect recent scholarship. Its executive director, library director, historian and archivist-curator also aid the media, general public, researchers and students at all levels with their inquiries.
 
The National First Ladies' Library complex includes a restored seven-story Victorian bank building which is now a state-of-the-art research and education facility, including a small Victorian theater. Its other property is the restored Saxton-McKinley House. A 2009 study, commissioned by the NFLL, has newly documented the fact that the house was the longest-term residence of President William McKinley, serving as his home for nearly thirty years, through his career as a U.S. Congressman, Governor of Ohio and U.S. President. The Saxton-McKinley House was in essence the “Canton White House”, which will be dedicated as the Presidential Home of President William McKinley and his First Lady Ida Saxton McKinley in the fall.
 
For more information, visit the website at www.firstladies.org.

Contacts:
Patricia Krider, Executive Director, 330-452-0876 ext. 309, pkrider@firstladies.org
Carl S. Anthony, NFLL Historian, 323-465-6374, canthony@firstladies.org