A stylish biographical sketch of each First Lady from Martha Washington to Hillary Rodham Clinton written by 31 political historians and featuring excerpts from personal papers, family memoirs, and relevant articles. The entries include precedents which were set in the white house during that administration, e.g. Lou Hoover was the first First Lady to give a radio speech. The compilation is an interesting historical study in the perceived role of the First Lady and the personalities who shaped, defined, and resisted that perception. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
From Martha Washington to Hillary Rodham Clinton, "American First Ladies" presents accounts of 38 women and their impact upon the institution of first lady. Coverage is limited to those who were married to a president during his term of office. The impact of first ladies on all aspects of society is discussed. For example, Eliza (McCardle) Johnson's greatest contribution was her commitment to her family and husband during his presidency. Four first ladies (Anna Harrison, Letitia Tyler, Margaret Taylor, and Jane Pierce) left only a slight mark in history, therefore the essays on them are briefer than those on women who took an active role in society, such as Eleanor Roosevelt. A bibliographic essay concluding each treatment notes any writings by the first lady, memoirs by family and friends, biographies of her and her husband, and relevant newspaper articles; the location of her papers is given. A black-and-white portrait accompanies each entry, and a detailed index concludes the book
There are many biographical compilations on these women, such as "Presidents' Wives" (McFarland, 1989) and "The First Ladies" (8th ed., White House Historical Association, 1996). However, this is the only one to include Hillary Clinton, and its biographies are the most extensive. One can see the role of the first lady evolve as one reads the chronologically presented essays. This work provides the researcher with a thorough understanding of the role these women played in our country's history and is a valuable resource for secondary-school, public, and academic libraries.