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2023 | First Ladies as Presidential Partners

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February 2, 2023 - October 19, 2023

Join moderator Diana Carlin for this year’s series, which underscores the two-person nature of the presidency and the influence first ladies have on their husbands’ administrations, women’s issues, and U.S. culture.

The series is moderated by Diana Carlin, professor emerita of communication at St. Louis University, where she taught a course on women in politics that included first ladies, and a retired professor of communication studies at KU.  She is a founding member of the First Ladies Association for Research and Education (FLARE), the presenting partner of this series.


This series is presented in partnership with the First Ladies Association for Research and Education (FLARE).



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

February 1, 2023 | Featuring Michel LaRosa and Anita McBride

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 backgrounds, personalities, the times, and their husbands’ views of the role. Some duties, however, remain the same since Martha and contribute to the informal or “soft” power of the first lady. This program looks at the position from the perspective of two individuals who worked for first ladies and who study them.


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

February 9, 2023 | Featuring Rebecca Roberts, Katherine Sibley, and Teri Finneman

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 of those women: Sarah Polk, Florence Harding, and Edith Wilson and the power they wielded, each in her own way.


First Ladies, Women’s Rights and Suffrage

March 9, 2023 | Featuring Nancy Kegan Smith and Stacy Cordery

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 who supported women’s rights, those who could have supported but chose not to, and those who did not see a need for women to have the vote or hold political office and why they approached the issue of women’s rights as they did.


First Ladies, the ERA and Beyond

March 23, 2023 | Moderated by Director Audrey Coleman, and featuring Bob Bostock and Diana Carlin

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 little-known efforts of first ladies to move women’s rights forward.


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

October 19, 2023 | Featuring Myra Gutin

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 Marian Anderson (1936); Jacqueline Kennedy’s Tour of the White House (1962); Betty Ford and Breast Cancer (1974), Hillary Clinton’s decision to run for the U.S. Senate (1999) and Michelle Obama becoming the first African-American first lady (2008).


February 2, 2023
October 19, 2023
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