first lady ford


Today’s #ElectionCollection challenge is #FirstLadies!

Betty Ford became First Lady in 1974, but she soon became known to many as First Mama. By 1975, her support for women’s rights, her candor about breast cancer, and her frank humor earned her a public approval rating of 75%. The former Martha Graham dancer-turned-FLOTUS was also a CB radio enthusiast who broadcast from the White House with the handle First Mama.

During the 1976 Presidential election campaign, Betty Ford made several speaking tours throughout the east and midwest. Her popularity was reflected on lapel buttons that proclaimed “Betty’s Husband For President!”

Here are four examples from the 1976 campaign cheering on First Mama from @fordlibrarymuseum.

We at @usnatarchives​ and @americanexperiencepbs want to see the cool campaign swag that you’ve collected. Share your own historic memorabilia and tag #ElectionCollection! 

@richardnixonlibrary @fdrlibrary @jfklibrary @lbjlibrary @fordlibrarymuseum

t0rtillachipss  asked:

I love presidential history but being a woman myself, I always find it interesting to study the Women of the White House as well. I am curious to know who your favorite First Ladies are and if you have any suggestions for FLOTUS biographies to read. I hope you are enjoying this holiday season!

Thank you! We’ve had some remarkable First Ladies dating back to the very beginning of our country, and I hate to overlook some deserving women like Abigail Adams, Dolley Madison, and Eleanor Roosevelt, but my two favorite First Ladies are Lady Bird Johnson and Betty Ford. Both women were indispensable to the success of their husbands (although that’s a common thread in the history of First Families) and played inordinate roles in public life while living in the White House.

Like Eleanor Roosevelt, Lady Bird Johnson and Betty Ford recognized the power in their unique position. They had the ear of the President every night and the eyes of the nation throughout their family’s time in the White House. While most modern First Ladies find an issue that they want to shine a spotlight on, Lady Bird Johnson and Betty Ford revolutionized the role of the President’s spouse, becoming activists in support of the issues they believed in. Those issues were not always popular, and they didn’t always coincide with the policies of their husbands. Controversies which could easily be avoided – and which Presidential aides often pushed back against due to potential political traps – never frightened Lady Bird Johnson or Betty Ford from taking a stand on behalf of what they believed. Lady Bird didn’t worry about campaigning for her husband and LBJ’s Civil Rights legislation while facing hostile crowds in the Deep South. Betty Ford didn’t hesitate to publicly support abortion rights or the Equal Rights Amendment (despite strong opposition from leading politicians in her husband’s party), or reveal when she underwent a mastectomy and treatment for breast cancer. Later, Betty Ford publicly revealed an addiction to painkillers and alcohol, and opened the Betty Ford Center after leaving the White House.

Most Presidents note that their wives are one of their leading advisors on all issues, foreign and domestic, political and personal. Most First Ladies put energy into certain issues that they feel strongly about. Lady Bird Johnson and Betty Ford were warriors – activists with a Bully Pulpit every bit as strong (and often far more popular) than that of their husbands in the Oval Office. When looking back through American History, it’s noteworthy how many of our Presidents seemed to marry women so far above their station.

As requested, here are a few quick book recommendations on America’s First Ladies:

The First Ladies Factbook: The Childhoods, Courtships, Marriages, Campaigns, Accomplishments, and Legacies of Every First Lady From Martha Washington to Michelle Obama by Bill Harris and revised by Laura Ross (BOOK | KINDLE)

Secret Lives of the First Ladies: What Your Teachers Never Told You About the Women of the White House by Cormac O’Brien (BOOK | KINDLE)

Upstairs at the White House: My Life With the First Ladies by J.B. West with Mary Lynn Kotz (BOOK | KINDLE)

Lady Bird and Lyndon: The Hidden Story of a Marriage That Made a President by Betty Boyd Caroli (BOOK | KINDLE)

A White House Diary by Lady Bird Johnson

Lady Bird: A Biography of Mrs. Johnson by Jan Jarboe Russell (BOOK | KINDLE)

Betty Ford: Candor and Courage in the White House by John Robert Greene

The Times of My Life by Betty Ford with Chris Chase

Betty: A Glad Awakening by Betty Ford with Chris Chase 

Happy Arbor Day!

Betty Ford planted a tree on the North Lawn of the White House in commemoration of the American Bicentennial on October 20, 1975. The seedling had been specially cultivated from an American Elm tree planted by President John Quincy Adams, which was the oldest and tallest tree on the White House grounds.

Image: Betty Ford plants a seedling from the John Quincy Adams American Elm tree on the North Lawn of the White House, 10/20/1975 (White House photograph A6967-08A)


The Girl Scouts were founded 104 years ago on March 12, 1912.

Girl Scout Troop #2019 of Portland, Connecticut, handmade this quilt for First Lady Betty Ford. Milt Mitler, coordinator of Bicentennial activities, accepted it on her behalf at the White House on July 1, 1976.

The quilt features 30 embroidered squares on a red background. Three of the blocks in the top row contain the Girl Scout trefoil with the United States Seal in the Center, the troop’s name,and a picture of Portland’s fire department, which sponsored the troop. The other squares depict historical images related to United States and the state of Connecticut. These include the Washington Monument and Jefferson Memorial; the state flag, state seal, and state bird of Connecticut; and prominent figures such as Abraham Lincoln, Mark Twain, Paul Revere, and Nathan Hale. Each member of Troop #2019 embroidered her name or initials on her square.

This quilt was on exhibit when the Ford Museum first opened.

Images: Quilt made by Girl Scout Troop #2019 of Portland, Connecticut; Members of Girl Scout Troop #2019 of Portland, Connecticut, present the quilt to Milt Mitler on the North Lawn of the White House, 7/1/1976 (White House photograph B2233-014A)

As a Whovian, I think it is truly a blessing that Carole Ann Ford, the very first companion, the very first woman in Doctor Who, is still alive. I also think it is the most blatantly wasted opportunity that she hasn’t been brought back to the series, even if it’s just for one episode. I want Susan back. I want Carole back.



President and Mrs. Ford began their 1975 ten-day visit of Eastern Europe in Germany. President and Mrs. Watler Scheel of Germany greeted them at the Villa Hammerschmidt on July 27, 1975, and Mrs. Scheel presented this gift to the Fords.

This white china plate features gold etched edges and open lattice work around the rim. The center of the plate displays a hand-painted fruit design with four smaller fruits surrounding it. This elegant gift is housed in its original box.    

While Betty Ford utilized her time as First Lady to fight for women’s equality and the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment, German First Lady Mildred Scheel used her public role to advocate the fight on cancer. She raised awareness on different types of cancers, collected donations, and created the German Cancer Aid. Long-time friend Andy Warhol even created one of his signature silk-screen portraits of her to raise funds for her organization. Both women went above and beyond in their roles as First Ladies and made lasting public health and social impacts on their countries.

Image: German First Lady Mildred Scheel greets Betty Ford outside of the Villa Hammerschmidt in Bonn, Germany, prior to a luncheon on July 27, 1975 (A5911-26).

CBS correspondent Morley Safer is retiring this week.

Safer retires as the longest serving reporter on “60 Minutes,” having filed 919 reports on the program since 1970. Among them is his candid interview with Betty Ford that aired in August 1975. 

Image: Betty Ford and CBS Correspondent Morley Safer in the White House Solarium Prior to Taping a 60 Minutes Segment, 7/21/1975 (White House photograph A5605-12)