Thursday, July 2, 2015

The First Ladies at the Smithsonian

Dress of Martha Washington
Wife of President George Washington (1789-1797)

Dress of Sarah Childress Polk
Wife of President James Polk (1845-1849)

Dress of Mary Todd Lincoln
Wife of President Abraham Lincoln (1861-1865)

The postcards above show the dresses of three First Ladies of the United States at the Smithsonian Institution  in Washington D.C, a group of museums and research centers administered by the Government of the United States.  It was originally organized as the "United States National Museum." These postcards were published in the 1930s. 

The First Lady of the United States is the White House hostess and is normally the wife of the President of the United States. The First Lady is not paid a salary and has no official duties. However, she attends many official ceremonies and functions of state either along with or in place of the president. (source: Wikipedia)

The First Ladies Exhibit at the Smithsonian explores the unofficial but important position of first lady and the ways that different women have shaped the role to make their own contributions to the presidential administrations and the nation. The first ladies exhibit has long been one of the most popular attractions at the Smithsonian Institution. It includes many of the gowns worn by First Ladies. Over the years the exhibit has been expanded and updated.

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  1. Wow - that was such a great post. I really enjoyed the video and hearing about the conservator's work. I have just finished watching the 3rd season of House of Cards so it's all a bit synchronous. A First Lady's job is a tough one for sure.

  2. What will the position of "First Lady" be called when it's a man, I wonder?

    1. Aren't all past presidents known as Mr President while they are alive, so they could just be The Presidents?

  3. The Smithsonian is a marvellous museum. I think it interesting to see how the same theme is treated through the ages. Terrific video.

  4. The funniest part of this post is "La Nightingail's" response to Brett Payne...

  5. Thanks, Deb! :) When I was in Washington D.C. years ago & visited the Smithsonian, one of my favorite displays was that of the gowns of the First Ladies. Of course the styles of the times dictated to an extent what the women chose. Beyond that, however, distinct personalities were evident and in some cases (Jackie Kennedy) started very popular trends!

  6. So many different jobs/careers out there that never cross my mind. Interesting to see how she builds up the display form for the dresses.

  7. Though the gowns are interesting, the manikins are rather ghostly. Was there a card for each first lady? Did people try to collect them all, only to be foiled by a missing Mrs. Millard Fillmore?

  8. Well I was looking all over for the fish...tee hee. Enjoyed the video, and I think I probably saw the dresses as a teen when I visited D.C. in 59, before many of the ones on display now! Guess I'll have to go back.

  9. I probably saw some of them when visiting Washington DC in 2005 and 2007, but I visited a lot of museums there, and they are definitely worth seeing again, if I get another chance to go there.

  10. I loved visiting the gallery of gowns at the Smithsonian.


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