For Immediate Release:
April 12, 2006
Contact: Jill Burwitz (ALPLM)
(217) 299-6165 cell
(217) 558-8970 office
FIRST LADIES CONVERGE ON SPRINGFIELD IN
MRS. PRESIDENT: FROM MARTHA TO LAURA
Many rare artifacts on display for the first time beginning this May
SPRINGFIELD, IL: On May 13, Springfield's Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum (ALPLM) will unveil Mrs. President: From Martha to Laura, a one-of-a-kind exhibit on American first ladies. The exclusive exhibit will only be seen at the ALPLM, 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 ALPLM.
Each first lady brought her own imprimatur to the White House as they all struggled to balance and manage home life with public life; private concerns and sorrows with public responsibilities. Mrs. President: From Martha to Laura 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:
- Abigail Adams' bullet mold: 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.
- Mary Todd 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
- Lucy Hayes' 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'sÖequal in all things to his
and superior in some."
- Caroline 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.
- Grace 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, and gave but one public speech-in sign language.
- Lou Hoover's rifle: 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.
- Lady Bird Johnson's beautification and Head Start materials:
As a 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
- Barbara Bush's literacy/childhood AIDS 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 born infected.
To celebrate the exhibit opening and offer first-hand 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 Johnson, Ford, and George H. W. Bush. The cost is $50 per person. Reservations for the event will be accepted beginning April 20 by calling (217) 558-8881.
Mrs. President: From Martha to Laura is sponsored by A&E Television Network, and will run from May 13 through October 29, 2006. Exhibit access is included with a general admission ticket to the museum.
For more information on Mrs. President: From Martha to Laura
and related events, visit www.alplm.org
or call (800) 610-2094 or (217) 782-5764.