2015 Press Releases

The National Archives to Host a Discussion on First Ladies April 23, at 7 p.m.
Press Release · Monday, March 30, 2015

Washington, DC

C-SPAN’s Susan Swain to Discuss her Book and Moderate Expert Panel

On Thursday, April 23, at 7 p.m., the National Archives hosts a special program: “First Ladies: Private Lives, Public Image,” based on the C-SPAN series and book by Susan Swain, president and co-chief operating officer of C-SPAN. Swain’s book offers a glimpse inside the personal life of every first lady in American history, based on original interviews with major historians. She and others explore their lives, their ambitions, and their unique partnerships with their Presidential spouses.

This program is free and open to the public and will be held in the William G. McGowan Theater of the National Archives Museum in Washington, DC, and streamed live via YouTube. Attendees should use the Special Events entrance, located on Constitution Avenue at 7th Street, NW. The building is fully accessible. Metro: Yellow or Green lines, Archives/Navy Memorial station.

Swain will lead a conversation with experts including: Carl Sferrazza Anthony, author and historian of the National First Ladies Library; Edna Greene Medford, chair of the history department at Howard University; Krissah Thompson, journalist; and Carl Cannon, author and journalist.

C-SPAN’s yearlong history series, First Ladies: Influence and Image, featured interviews with more than 50 preeminent historians and biographers. These experts paint intimate portraits of all 45 first ladies, from Martha Washington to Michelle Obama—their lives, ambitions, and unique partnerships with their presidential spouses. They reveal how Martha Washington intentionally set the standards followed by first ladies for the next century; how Edith Wilson was complicit in the cover-up when President Wilson became incapacitated after a stroke; and how Mamie Eisenhower used the new medium of television to reinforce her, and her husband’s, positive public images.

This book provides an up-close historical look at these fascinating women who survived the scrutiny of the White House, sometimes at great personal cost, while supporting their families and famous husbands—and sometimes changing history. The women in this role have sought to balance their families’ private lives with the public expectations of the First Family. Along the way, they have had to adapt to changing social expectations, media scrutiny, and public fascination.

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