Selected Resources

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

Publications by Anita B. McBride

Remember the First Ladies: The Legacies of America's History-Making Women (2024) by Diana Carlin, Anita B. McBride and Nancy Kegan Smith.

U.S. First Ladies: Making History and Leaving Legacies (2023), by Diana Carlin, Anita B. McBride, and Nancy Kegan Smith, with a forward by Dr. Jill Biden -- a textbook that examines how first ladies are uniquely positioned to influence American society, public policy, politics, diplomacy, and life in the White House.

"Whatever it Takes to Get Back to Work on Behalf of the President," White House History (September 2021)by Anita B. McBride -- an article for the White House Historical Association's journal sharing the stories of White House staffers on September 11, 2001.

Southern First Ladies: Culture and Place in White House History(2020), Edited by Katherine A.S. Sibley, Chapter 18, "Laura Bush: Texan by Nature" by Anita McBride.

A Companion to First Ladies (2016), Edited by Katherine A.S. Sibley
Chapter 38, Laura Welch Bush: Strength and Serenity in Turbulent Times, by Anita McBride, director of the First Ladies Initiative

The First Ladies - White House History - The Quarterly Journal of the White House Historical Association (Spring 2017), Number 45, "The Office of First Lady: Managing Public Duties, Private Lives, and Changing Expectations"

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.

Louisa Adams
Louisa: The Extraordinary Life of Mrs. Adams (2016) by Louisa Thomas  

Sarah Childress Polk
Lady First: The World of First Lady Sarah Polk (2019) by Amy S. Greenberg

Mary Todd Lincoln
Mary Todd Lincoln: A Biography (1987) by Jean Harvey Baker.
Mrs. Lincoln: A Life (2009) by Catherine Clinton.
The True Mary Todd Lincoln: A Biography(2014) by Betty Boles Ellison

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

Frances Folsom Cleveland
Frank: The Story of Frances Folsom Cleveland, America's Youngest First Lady(2009) by Annette B. Dunlap

Caroline Lavania Scott Harrison
Caroline Lavinia Scott Harrison(2014) by Anne Chieko Moore

Nellie Taft
Nellie Taft: The Unconventional First Lady of the Ragtime Era (2005) by 
Carl Sferrazza Anthony 

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.
Madam President: The Secret Presidency of Edith Wilson (2016) by William Hazelgrove
Untold Power: The Fascinating Rise and Complex Legacy of First Lady Edith Wilson (2023) by Rebecca Boggs Roberts

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

Grace Coolidge
Grace Coolidge: The People's Lady in Silent Cal's White House (2008) by Robert H. Ferrell

Lou Henry Hoover
Lou Henry Hoover: Activist First Lady (2005) by Nancy Beck Young 

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.

Bess Truman
Bess W. Truman (1986) by Margaret Truman 

Mamie Doud Eisenhower
Mamie Doud Eisenhower: The General's First Lady (2007) by Marilyn Irvin Holt 

Jacqueline Kennedy
Jacqueline Kennedy: First Lady of the New Frontier (2004) by Barbara Perry
Jacqueline Kennedy: Historic Conversations on Life with John F. Kennedy (2011) by Jacqueline Kennedy, Caroline Kennedy (Foreword), Michael R. Beschloss (Contributor)
Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis: The Untold Story (2014)
by Barbara Leaming 

Lady Bird Johnson
A White House Diary (1970) by Claudia Alta "Lady Bird" Johnson.
Ruffles and Flourishes (1970) by Liz Carpenter. Memoir written by Lady Bird Johnson's press secretary.
Lady Bird: A Biography of Mrs. Johnson (1999) by Jan Jarboe Russell.
Lady Bird Johnson: Our Environmental First Lady (1999) by Lewis Gould
Lady Bird Johnson An Oral History (2012) by Michael L. Gillette
Lady Bird Johnson: Hiding in Plain Sight
 (2021) by Julia Sweig

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

Betty Ford
The Times of My Life (1978) by Betty Ford with Chris Chase.
Betty Ford: Candor and Courage in the White House (2004) by John Robert Greene.
Betty Ford: First Lady, Women's Advocate, Survivor, Trailblazer (2018) by Lisa McCubbin

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

Nancy Reagan
My Turn (1989), by Nancy Reagan with William Novak
I Love You, Ronnie: The Letters of Ronald Reagan to Nancy Reagan (2000) by Nancy Reagan.
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.
Lady in Red: An Intimate Portrait of Nancy Reagan(2018) by Sheila Tate
The Triumph of Nancy Reagan (2021) by Karen Tumulty 

Barbara Bush
Barbara Bush: A Memoir (1994) by Barbara Bush
Reflections: Life After the White House (2003) by Barbara Bush
Barbara Bush: Presidential Matriarch (2008) by Myra Gutin
The Matriarch: Barbara Bush and the Making of an American Dynasty (2019) by Susan Page
Pearls of Wisdom: Little Pieces of Advice (That Go A Long Way)(2020) by Barbara Bush

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

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

Michelle Obama
Michelle: A Biography (2008), by Liza Mundy, a reporter for The Washington Post.
Michelle Obama: A Life (2015) by Peter Slevin
Becoming (2018) by Michelle Obama
The Light We Carry: Overcoming in Uncertain Times (2022) by Michelle Obama

Melania Trump
The Art of Her Deal: The Untold Story of Melania Trump (2020) by Mary Jordan
Free Melania: The Unauthorized Biography (2019) by Kate Bennett

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.

On Behalf of the President: Presidential Spouses and White House Communications Strategy Today by Lauren Wright (2016).

Historical Surveys

First Ladies of the Republic: Martha Washington, Abigail Adams, and Dolley Madison and the Creation of an Iconic American Role (2018) by Jeanne Abrams

Ties That Bound: Founding First Ladies and Slaves (2017) by Marie Jenkins Schwartz

A Role Without a Rulebook: The Influence and Leadership of Global First Ladies (2017) by Natalie Gonnella-Platts and Katherine Fritz; a review of global first ladies and their impact around the world, published by the George W. Bush Institute.

First Ladies: The Ever Changing Role, from Martha Washington to Melania Trump (2017) by Betty Boyd Caroli

First Women: The Grace and Power of America's Modern First Ladies (2016) by Kate Andersen Brower

First Ladies: Presidential Historians on the Lives of 45 Iconic American Women (2015) by Susan Swain

The Smithsonian First Ladies Collection (2014) by Lisa Kathleen Graddy and Amy Pastan

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

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

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

The First Ladies, Biographies and Portraits, The White House Historical Association.

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.

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

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

Modern First Ladies: Their Documentary Legacy (1990) by Nancy Kegan Smith

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.

The White House: The First Ladies - From the official website; includes links to brief biographies of the first ladies of the United States.

White House Historical Association website

Original Records of First Ladies

Original records of First Ladies provide a rich body of original source materials regarding the thoughts of first ladies and, in the case of more recent first ladies, her projects and initiatives.

Jacqueline Kennedy White House Tour (1962)

Lady Bird Johnson White House Tour (1968)

Laura Bush White House Tour (2008)

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

First Lady Michelle Obama’s archived White House web pages (National Archives)

The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project Volume 1Volume 2, George Washington University

The Library of Congress - holds some materials on 19th and early 20th century First Ladies.  

The National First Ladies Library in Canton, Ohio 

Presidential Library Websites

Herbert Hoover Library

Franklin D. Roosevelt Library

Harry S. Truman Library

Dwight D. Eisenhower Library

John F. Kennedy Library

Lyndon B. Johnson Library & DiscoverLBJ

Richard Nixon Library

Ronald Reagan Library

George Bush Library

Clinton Presidential Library

George W. Bush Library

Barack Obama Library