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America’s First Ladies: Shaping a Role, Shaping History

Evening Program with Book Signing

Evening Lecture/Seminar

Wednesday, August 10, 2016 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. ET
Code: 1H0169
S. Dillon Ripley Center
1100 Jefferson Dr SW
Metro: Smithsonian (Mall exit)
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First Lady Michelle Obama with former First Lady Nancy Reagan at the White House, 2009 (White House)

“The one thing I do not want to be called is First Lady. It sounds like a saddle horse. Would you notify the telephone operators and everyone else that I’m to be known simply as Mrs. Kennedy, and not as First Lady.” —Jacqueline Kennedy

Who would you describe as the smartest first lady? The funniest? Who would you want to be stranded with on a desert island? Andrew Och, the “First Ladies Man,” is ready to share his insights on the women who spent time serving in Washington’s most visible and powerful unelected position. He spent a year visiting sites associated with every first lady from Martha Washington to Michelle Obama to document their lives for the 44-part C-Span series First Ladies: Influence and Image, which aired in from 2013 to 2014. Since then the television producer and raconteur has added to his treasure trove of facts and stories.

Frances Cleveland was the youngest first lady at 21 years old and Nancy Reagan one of the funniest. Eleanor Roosevelt was the eyes and ears for Franklin once he was confined to a wheelchair, Lou Hoover the first woman to graduate from Stanford. Och shares what he has learned about these women and how they positioned themselves to promote their causes, protect their families, and support their husbands through their personalities, political astuteness, savvy, and good old-fashioned common sense.  

Och’s book Unusual for Their Time: On the Road with America’s First Ladies (Tactical 16 Publishers) is available for signing.

Smithsonian Connections

View an online version of the American History Museum’s popular exhibition The First Ladies.