December 23, 2020

Primary Source Learning: Women in the White House

First Lady Michelle Obama official portrait
As the 2012 U.S. presidential election heats up, there is a lot of talk not just about President Barack Obama and the Republican challenger Mitt Romney, but also about their wives, Michelle Obama and Ann Romney. Use the resources below to learn about the women in the White House and the some of the roles various first ladies took on throughout the years. One fun learning activity comes from the Collection Connections section of Words and Deeds in American History.

Ask students to consider if these letter show evidence of a first lady exerting political influence.

As a follow up project, have students research the legacy of one of the first ladies, comparing her political and national influence to a first lady who has served within the last 20 years. Describe the position of the first spouse as you imagine it will be 20 years from now.

[Note: Students might use the National First Ladies Library to find additional sources of information.]

Who’s That Lady? (oral game quiz)

Collection Connections: Portraits of the Presidents and First Ladies, 1789-Present

First Ladies of the United States: Selected Images

PSN resources

Featured first ladies

Presidential resources

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