American First Ladies is a testament to the visible role that first ladies have played in U.S. government, as well as the expanding interest in women's achievements from the birth of the country to the present time.
This fourth edition of American First Ladies is a testament to the increasingly visible role that First Ladies have played throughout history. Similar to its companion volume, American Presidents, this updated work contains comprehensive essays on every first lady from Martha Washington to Jill Biden. Each biographical essay includes the following detailed sections: Early Life; Marriage and Family; Presidency and First Ladyship; and Legacy.
Each chapter features anecdotal sidebars about the President and First Lady, an Annotated Suggested Reading, and more than 100 photographs and drawings appear throughout the work. American First Ladies also contains a detailed Introduction, Chronological List of vital information on each First Lady, Chronological list of Presidents, Libraries, Museums, Historic Sites, Bibliography, and Subject Index.
The biographical chapters included in this work are divided into various sections:
- "Early Life" deals with family and educational background
- "Marriage and Family" discusses each first lady's relationship with the president
- "Presidency and First Ladyship" covers the first lady's years in the White House
- "Legacy" provides additional insights into those activities and accomplishments for which the first lady became known.
The sidebars in American First Ladies offer engaging stories that make history and politics more accessible to readers and help bring these women to life. Each biographical chapter features two such sidebars: One discusses the president, assisting the reader in placing the First Lady's biography into historical context, while the other focuses on a fascinating episode or anecdote about the First Lady herself, highlighting an event or quality for which she is known or with which she is associated.
Distributed throughout the book are more than one hundred photographs and drawings that complement the profiles of the First Ladies, their lives, and times.
A section of nine overview essays examining historical and changing roles of First Ladies concludes the main text:
- Presidential Partners
- White House Manager
- Nation's Social Hostess
- First Ladies and Social Causes
- First Ladies and Presidential Campaigns
- First Ladies and Policy Issues
- First Ladies and Legislative Activism
- Family Life in the White House
- And Other White House hostesses
These overviews also include sidebars, describing topics such as White House renovation attempts.
American First Ladies also contains a number of valuable research tools, including a thorough introductory essay from the editors, a chronological list that summarizes vital information on each first lady from 1789 to 2015, a chronological list of presidents, a bibliography, a subject index, and appendixes of libraries, museums, historic places, and websites for further research.