ALPLM exhibit on first ladies
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Many rare artifacts on display for the first time, beginning May
[MAY 5, 2006]
SPRINGFIELD -- On May 13, Springfield's Abraham
Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum will unveil "Mrs. President:
From Martha to Laura," a one-of-a-kind exhibit on American first
ladies. The exclusive exhibit will be seen only at the Springfield
site and will include more than 100 artifacts -- some more than 200
years old -- all holding a significant place in history, as do the
first ladies who owned them.
"This exhibition brings to life the individual stories of the first
ladies in a way that has yet to be told, providing insight into the
collective story of women in America and how their roles have
evolved over the past two centuries," said Dr. Thomas F. Schwartz,
interim executive director of the presidential library and museum.
Each first lady brought her own imprint to the White House as
they all struggled to balance and manage home life with public life,
private concerns and sorrows with public responsibilities. The
exhibit will be presented in an engaging, immersive manner,
highlighting captivating aspects of American first ladies through a
colorful array of personal effects, apparel, letters, and film and
radio interviews that represent the spirit of independence, style,
creativity and strength of these dynamic women. Several unique items
to be featured in the exhibit include the following:
Although John Adams successfully defended the
British soldiers who killed American revolutionaries in the
Boston Massacre, he would later become one of the great leaders
of the American Revolution. Often referred to as "Mrs.
President" because of her influence and feminist outlook, Mrs.
Adams aided the cause by offering her husband advice in their
correspondence and by making lead bullets for soldiers.
Lincoln's coral necklace: Mrs. Lincoln believed that in
order to gain support from European nations for the Union cause
during the Civil War, she must first gain their respect, which
she did by keeping up an extravagant appearance, including
wearing expensive clothing and jewelry. Her hand-carved coral
necklace -- on display to the public for the first time -- is
part of a larger ensemble of coral jewelry worn by the charming
yet temperamental first lady.
college essay: Mrs. Hayes was the first woman to be accepted
and enroll at Ohio Wesleyan University. Her college experience
and deep interest in public affairs led her to conclude,
"Woman's mind is as strong as man's … equal in all things to his
and superior in some."
Harrison's hand-painted fan: The daughter of a Presbyterian
minister and a gifted artist, Mrs. Harrison was encouraged by
her father to engage in educational and cultural pursuits. She
designed many items used in the White House, including a unique
pattern of official White House china and a hand-painted fan.
Coolidge's Girl Scout uniform: The warm and outgoing former
teacher became one of America's most popular first ladies.
Active in the Girl Scout organization, Mrs. Coolidge also was a
teacher of the deaf. Like her husband, "Silent Cal," she was
reticent in public. She gave but one public speech -- in sign
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Herbert Hoover's early career as an international
engineer and businessman frequently placed his family in
troubled parts of the world. Mrs. Hoover became an expert
markswoman and also sported a brace of pistols that protected
her in many of the world's hot spots. She was reported to have
swept spent shell casings off their front porch when they lived
in China during the Boxer Rebellion.
young girl, Claudia Alta Taylor received the moniker "Lady Bird"
from a family cook. Mrs. Johnson is best known for her efforts
to beautify the American roadside landscape by restricting the
blight of billboards. She also took a great interest in the Head
Start preschool program to help disadvantaged youth receive a
Johnson's beautification and Head Start materials:
A tireless advocate
for children and literacy, Mrs. Bush promoted an interest in
reading at an early age. She also authored a best-selling
children's book about the family dog, Millie. Additionally,
recognizing that AIDS was more than an adult disease, she worked
diligently to raise awareness of the growing number of children
literacy and childhood AIDS materials:
To celebrate the exhibit opening and offer firsthand insight into
the role of the American first lady, the Abraham Lincoln
Presidential Library Foundation will present a conference and
luncheon on May 11 at the presidential library. The event will
feature a keynote address by Susan Eisenhower, granddaughter of
President Dwight D. and Mamie Eisenhower, and a panel discussion led
by social secretaries of several administrations, including those of
Johnson, Ford and George H.W. Bush. The cost is $50 per person.
For reservations, call
"Mrs. President: From Martha to Laura" is sponsored by A&E
Television Network and will run from May 13 through Oct. 29. Exhibit
access is included with a general admission ticket to the museum.
For more information on the exhibit and related events, visit
www.alplm.org or call
(800) 610-2094 or (217) 782-5764.
[Abraham Lincoln Presidential
Library and Museum news release]