Presidential Lecture Series

A series of talks focusing on a particular aspect of U.S. political leadership, typically the U.S. Presidency. This series often features nationally-known individuals, including public servants, historians, top strategists, award-winning journalists, and political operatives.

Past Presidential Lecture Series

Presidential Lecture Series

10 Defining Moments in the History of the American First Lady 1900-2023

October 19, 2023

The history of the American First Lady has seen a number of defining moments, incidents or challenges that are distinctive and leave a clear impression of the presidential spouse. Included in this presentation are discussions of Eleanor Roosevelt and…

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First Ladies, the ERA and Beyond

March 24, 2023

While the ERA did not pass, three first ladies—Pat Nixon, Betty Ford, and Rosalynn Carter all supported the amendment. These women also supported other women’s issues as did several of their successors. This program explores some of the…

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First Ladies, Women's Rights and Suffrage

March 10, 2023

Abigail Adams was famous for her letter to John urging him to “remember the ladies” as a new country and government were developed. John and most of his successors ignored that plea until the early 20th century. This program looks at the women…

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First Ladies and Power - Influential First Ladies You Might Not Know Much About

February 10, 2023

Anyone asked to list the top first ladies usually draws on their own experience studying or knowing about the women during their lifetimes. A few first ladies were far more powerful than history classes typically reveal. This program centers on three…

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Evolution of the Modern First Lady - How We Got from Lady Washington to Dr. Biden

February 02, 2023

Since George Washington made it clear that Martha was his partner in the presidency by providing her with her own schedule of meetings and having her serve as hostess and surrogate, first ladies have each defined the role as it best suited their…

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2022 | Military Veterans in the Oval Office

February 11, 2022

The Presidential Lecture Series is presented in partnership with the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum and the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library, Museum & Boyhood Home.Join notable historians and archivists as they discuss…

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2021 | Where Do We Go from Here?

February 10, 2021

Richard Norton Smith is a nationally recognized authority on the American presidency. He worked for Senator Bob Dole, with whom he collaborated on books. Mr. Smith served as Director of the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum, the Dwight…

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2020 | Presidential Speeches and Rhetoric

February 06, 2020

This year’s Presidential Lecture Series, created and developed by award-winning presidential rhetoric scholar Dr. Robert Rowland, focuses on presidential speeches and rhetoric, from the greatest speeches, to the process of speechwriting, to changes…

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2019 | Follow the Leader: Four Women’s Journeys in Public Service

February 11, 2019

Public service leadership has many faces, and no two paths are the same. Four female leaders from various stages of their public service careers will join the Dole Institute to discuss how they prepared to take on their leadership roles and how they…

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2018 | 1 to 44: The Best and the Worst of American Presidents

February 25, 2018

Presidential historian and former Dole Institute director Richard Norton Smith returns for a deep dive into presidential rankings and what they can teach us. Smith will guide the audience through an examination of the executive office from the…

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2017 | The U.S. and the Great War: 100 Years Later

February 02, 2017

On April 2, 1917, President Woodrow Wilson asked a joint session of Congress to make the world “safe for democracy.” Four days later, the United States entered World War I, one of the deadliest wars in American history. The 2017 Presidential…

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2016 | They Also Ran: America’s Would-Be Presidents

January 31, 2016

In the 2016 Presidential Lecture Series, noted presidential historian and former Dole Institute director Richard Norton Smith returns this spring to examine the politicians who were nominated to America’s highest office but never elected. Covering…

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2015 | The First Woman President 2.0

February 12, 2015

With attention turning toward the next presidential race, we look at a question we first addressed nine years ago: Will the U.S. elect its first woman president? What unique challenges must women overcome to rise through the ranks to some of the…

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2014 | The First Ladies: Intimate Sacrifice, Honored Post

February 16, 2014

Richard Norton Smith, notable presidential historian, will examine the private lives and the public roles of the First Ladies and how this position has changedsince Martha Washington.The Presidential Lecture Series is sponsored in part by the William…

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2013 | In the Beginning: Three Men Who Made America

February 10, 2013

A fascinating look at the Founding Fathers! Presidential historian and first permanent director of the Dole Institute, Richard Norton Smith, brought our first three presidents to life and helped us understand these men’s important contributions to…

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2012 | Why Presidents Succeed. Why They Fail.

January 29, 2012

With the 2012 presidential contest already underway, the Dole Institute's signature series looks at what separates successful presidents from those deemed failures.Both Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon had significant accomplishments during their…

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