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Selected Resources

 

First Ladies | First Ladies: Politics & Media | Historical Surveys | Life in the White House | Online Resources

 

First Ladies

Martha Washington
Martha Washington: An American Life (2005) by Patricia Brady.

Abigail Adams
Dearest Friend: A Life of Abigail Adams (2002) by Lynne Withey.
First Family: Abigail and John Adams (2010) by Joseph Ellis.

Dolley Madison
A Perfect Union: Dolley Madison and the Creation of the American Nation (2007) by Catherine Allgor.

Mary Todd Lincoln
Mrs. Lincoln: A Life (2009) by Catherine Clinton.
Mary Todd Lincoln: A Biography by Jean Harvey Baker.

Julia Grant
The Personal Memoirs of Julia Dent Grant (1975) (edited by John Y. Simon).

Edith Roosevelt
Edith Kermit Roosevelt: Creating the Modern First Lady (2013) by Lewis L. Gould.

Ellen Wilson and Edith Wilson
Ellen and Edith: Woodrow Wilson’s First Ladies (2010) by Kristie Miller.

Florence Harding
First Lady Florence Harding: Behind the Tragedy and Controversy (2009) by Katherine A.S. Sibley.
Florence Harding: The First Lady, the Jazz Age, and the Death of America’s Most Scandalous President (1998) by Carl Sferrazza Anthony.

Eleanor Roosevelt

No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in World War II (1994) by Doris Kearns Goodwin.
The Autobiography of Eleanor Roosevelt by Eleanor Roosevelt.
Eleanor Roosevelt vol. 1 (1993) and vol. 2 (2000)
by Blanche Wiesen Cook
The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers, vols. 1 (2007) and 2 (2012) Edited by Allida Black.

Jacqueline Kennedy

Jacqueline Kennedy: First Lady of the New Frontier (2004) by Barbara Perry

Lady Bird Johnson
Lady Bird: A Biography of Mrs. Johnson (1999) by Jan Jarboe Russell.
Ruffles and Flourishes (1970) by Liz Carpenter. Memoir written by Lady Bird Johnson’s press secretary.
A White House Diary (1970) by Claudia Alta “Lady Bird” Johnson.

Pat Nixon
Pat and Dick: An Intimate Portrait of a Marriage (2014) by Will Smith.
Pat Nixon: Embattled First Lady (2011), by Mary Brennan.
Pat Nixon: The Untold Story (1986), by Julie Nixon Eisenhower. A biography of her mother by “first daughter” Julie Nixon Eisenhower.

Betty Ford
Betty Ford: Candor and Courage in the White House (2004) by John Robert Greene.
The Times of My Life (1978) by Betty Ford with Chris Chase.

Rosalynn Carter
First Lady from Plains (1984), by Rosalynn Carter.
Rosalynn Carter: Equal Partner in the White House (2007), by Scott Kaufman.

Nancy Reagan
I Love You, Ronnie: The Letters of Ronald Reagan to Nancy Reagan (2002) by Nancy Reagan.
My Turn (1989), by Nancy Reagan with William Novak
Nancy: A Portrait of My Years with Nancy Reagan (2004) by Michael Deaver. Deaver was Deputy Chief of Staff to President Reagan from 1981 to 1984 and a confidante of the first lady.

Barbara Bush
Barbara Bush: A Memoir (1994) by Barbara Bush

Hillary Clinton
For Love of Politics: Bill and Hillary Clinton: The White House Years (2007) by Sally Bedell Smith
Living History (2003) by Hillary Rodham Clinton
A Woman in Charge: The Life of Hillary Rodham Clinton (2008), by Carl Bernstein.

Laura Bush
Spoken from the Heart (2010), by Laura W. Bush. Memoir by Laura Bush.
The Perfect Wife (2004), by Ann Gerhart. Written by reporter who covered Laura Bush for The Washington Post.

Michelle Obama
Michelle: A Biography (2008), by Liza Mundy, a reporter for The Washington Post.

First Ladies: Politics and Media

First Ladies and the Press: The Unfinished Partnership of the Media Age (2005) by Maureen H. Beasley. Analyzes the relationship between the press and first ladies from Eleanor Roosevelt to Laura Bush.

First Ladies and the Fourth Estate: Press Framing of Presidential Wives (2008), by Lisa Burns.

Leading Ladies of the White House: Communication Strategies of Notable Twentieth-Century First Ladies (2005) by Molly Meijer Wertheimer. A collection of essays by various authors on the rhetoric and communication strategies of selected 20th Century first ladies.

The Politics of the President’s Wife (2011) by MaryAnne Borelli. On the changing political role of the first lady from Lou Hoover to Michelle Obama.

The President’s Partner: The First Lady in the Twentieth Century (1989) by Myra Gutin. Discusses the communication styles and strategies of twelve first ladies.

Historical Surveys

American First Ladies: Their Lives and Their Legacy (2001) by Lewis Gould (ed.). A book of essays by various historians on 39 first ladies from Martha Washington to Laura Bush.

First Ladies: An Intimate Group Portrait of White House Wives (1995) by Margaret Truman.

First Ladies: From Martha Washington to Michelle Obama
(2010) by Betty Caroli.   

First Ladies of the United States: A Biographical Dictionary (2001) by Robert P. Watson.

First Ladies: The Saga of the Presidents’ Wives and their Power, 1789-1961 (1990). By Carl Sferrazza Anthony.

The First Ladies of the United States of America (2013) by Allida Black (13th edition). Biographical essays of First Ladies from Martha Washington to Michelle Obama. Published by the White House Historical Association.

Founding Mothers: The Women Who Raised Our Nation (2005), by Cokie Roberts.

Hidden Power: Presidential Marriages That Shaped our Recent History (2001) by Kati Marton. Journalist Kati Marton examines twelve “presidential marriages” from Edith and Woodrow Wilson to Laura and George W. Bush.

Ladies of Liberty: The Women Who Shaped Our Nation (2008) by Cokie Roberts.

Mrs. President: Biographical Sketches from Martha to Barbara (1990) by Richard Norton Smith.

Life in the White House

Forty-Two Years in the White House (1934) by Irwin (Ike) Hood Hoover. Hoover came to the White House in 1891 to install the first electricity in the building and ultimately became the chief usher, remaining in that role until his death in 1933.

My First Ladies: Twenty-five Years as the Chief White House Floral Designer (2011) by Nancy Clarke with Christie Matheson. Clarke served as Chief White House Floral Designer from the Carter to the Obama administrations.

My 21 Years in the White House by Alonzo Fields (1960). Fields served as chief White House butler from 1931 to 1953.

My 30 Years Backstairs at the White House (1961) by Lillian Rogers Parks. Parks worked in the White House from 1933 to 1960 as a seamstress and a maid.

Upstairs at the White House: My Life with the First Ladies by J.B. West with Mary Kotz. Former chief usher writes about working at the White House from every administration from Franklin Delano Roosevelt to Richard M. Nixon.

White House Diary (1948) by Henrietta Nesbitt. Nesbitt was the housekeeper for the White House during the Franklin Delano Roosevelt administration.

White House History – Quarterly Journal of the White House Historical Association

 

Online Resources

Carl Anthony Online – Website of historian, journalist and screenwriter Carl Anthony. Has a section on First Ladies.

CSPAN First Ladies Influence & Image - Produced in 2013-2014, this series includes interviews with journalists and historians, archival footage, and Q&A with viewers.

Jacqueline Kennedy White House Tour
(1962)

Laura Bush White House Tour (2008)

First Lady Laura Bush’s archived White House web pages (National Archives)

National First Ladies Library - An archive devoted to “educating people about the contributions of First Ladies and other notable women.”

The White House: The First Ladies - From the official Whitehouse.gov website; includes links to brief biographies of the first ladies of the United States. Entries are from the 2009 version of The First Ladies of the United States by Allida Black.

White House Historical Association website

The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project
, George Washington University