The National Archives Celebrates Betty Ford Centennial
Press Release · Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Washington, DC

Betty Ford 100 Celebrate Her StoryTo celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of First Lady Elizabeth Anne “Betty” Ford (April 8, 1918), the National Archives will debut a special display and host public and social media programming. These initiatives are part of a year-long commemoration of the life of Betty Ford, with special programs, exhibits, and displays in Washington, DC, and at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library (Ann Arbor, MI) and Museum (Grand Rapids, MI).


Exhibit Display: “Betty Ford Centennial: A Champion for Breast Cancer Awareness”
April 6, 2018 – April 4, 2019

The Public Vaults Gallery, National Archives Museum, Washington, DC
Museum hours 10 a.m.–5:30 p.m.
Beginning April 6, the public can view rarely seen objects, documents, and photographs that highlight Betty Ford’s courage and candor when speaking publicly about her own personal battle with breast cancer. Breaking with social conventions of the time, she reassured women already suffering from similar ordeals and purposefully raised public awareness of screening and treatment options that ultimately saved the lives of countless Americans.

The display includes:

  • Letters and cards from children and adults sharing words of encouragement and their own personal battles with cancer
  • Speech cards from Betty Ford’s American Cancer Society speech with her own handwritten edits
  • Letter to Betty Ford from Gerald Ford and their children (facsimile)
  • Award from the National Association of Practical Nurse Education and Service honoring Betty Ford for her “outstanding courage and for furthering public understanding regarding the importance of early detection and treatment as a means of combating cancer.”
  • A selection of photographs

Film Screening: Betty Ford: The Real Deal
Friday, April 6, noon; free reservations are available

William G. McGowan Theater
In commemoration of the 100th anniversary of First Lady Betty Ford’s birth, join us for the screening of the 2009 PBS documentary that profiles Betty Ford, her time in the White House, her advocacy for equal rights, and the founding of the Betty Ford Center in California. (60 minutes).


April 8, 2018
Free Admission Day
Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum, Grand Rapids, MI
Noon–5 p.m.

Celebrate Betty Ford's Centennial with free admission to the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum!

Exhibit Display: “In Step with Betty Ford: In Celebration of Her Centennial”
April 10, 2018, through January 6, 2019

Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum, Grand Rapids, MI
Museum hours: Monday–Saturday: 9 a.m.–5 p.m., Sunday, noon–5 p.m.
Closed: New Year’s Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day
Grand Rapids’ Central High graduate, student of dance, New York model, proud mother, and congressman’s wife. First Lady Betty Ford spoke openly about personal and political issues near and dear to her heart. Her courage endeared her to the American people as she and the people found themselves in step with one another.   

First Ladies Luncheon—The Centennial Birthday of First Lady Betty Ford (SOLD OUT)
April 11, 2018, noon

Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum, Grand Rapids, MI
Please join us as we commemorate the 100th birthday of First Lady Betty Ford. Invited speakers include Hillary Clinton, Susan Ford Bales, Lynda Johnson Robb, and Andrea Mitchell.

Lecture: First Ladies and American Women: In Politics and at Home
April 26, 2018, 7 p.m.–9 p.m.
Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library, Ann Arbor, MI
Jill Abraham Hummer will discuss her new book, First Ladies and American Women. In this engaging book, Hummer explores how background, personality, ambitions, and her respective relationship to the President shaped each First Lady’s response to women in society and to the broader political context in which each administration functioned—and how, in turn, these singular responses reflect the changing role of women in American society over nearly a century. Dr. Hummer, associate professor of political science at Wilson College, focuses her research on women and the Presidency, and in particular, American First Ladies.

Lecture: Betty Ford: First Lady, Women’s Advocate, Survivor, Trailblazer
September 12, 2018, 7 p.m.–9 p.m.
Gerald R. Ford Library, Ann Arbor, MI

September 13, 2018, 7 p.m.–9 p.m.
Gerald R. Ford Museum, Grand Rapids, MI

Betty Ford: First Lady, Women’s Advocate, Survivor, Trailblazer is the inspiring story of an ordinary Midwestern girl thrust onto the world stage and into the White House under extraordinary circumstances. Lisa McCubbin brings to light Gerald and Betty Ford’s sweeping love story. From Michigan to the White House, until their dying days, their relationship was that of a man and woman utterly devoted to one another—a relationship built on trust, respect, and a quantifiable chemistry.


Throughout April, National Archives social media platforms will highlight stories about Betty Ford as they relate to women’s history and women’s rights.  

Join us on social media using the hashtag #BettyFord100. Follow #BettyFord100 on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

On April 6, the National Archives will celebrate Betty Ford’s lifelong love of dancing with an Archives Hashtag Party on Twitter and Instagram. Cultural organizations will share their dance-related collections using the tag #ArchivesDanceParty. Over 560 galleries, libraries, archives, and museums have joined the National Archives to share their collections for #ArchivesHashtagParty.

Visit the Betty Ford Centennial web page throughout the year for updates on programming across the National Archives.  


# # #

For media inquiries, please contact: National Archives Public and Media Communications at (202) 357-5300 or via email at

Connect with the National Archives on:

Facebook logo icon Facebook: USNationalArchives

Instagram logo icon Instagram: usnatarchives

LinkedIn icon LinkedIn: usnatarchives

Threads icon Threads: usnatarchives

Tumblr icon Tumblr: usnatarchives

X iconX: @USNatArchives

YouTube iconYouTube: usnationalarchives


This page was last reviewed on April 6, 2018.
Contact us with questions or comments.