Cover image for First ladies and American women : in politics and at home
First ladies and American women : in politics and at home
Hummer, Jill Abraham, author.
Publication Information:
Lawrence, Kansas : University Press of Kansas, [2017]
Physical Description:
x, 269 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
"This book is a history of first ladies beginning with Lou Henry Hoover and ending with Michelle Obama, discussing how they defined their role with a focus on how they related to women's issues and how they participated in politics. Hummer explores the intersection of personality and the first ladies' personal ambition and relationship with their presidential spouse, with the social and political context of the time as these women found their place in politics and the presidency. How each incumbent defines this rather formless office reflects the changing role of women in society as well as the image the president wants to project of family life in the White House and his attitude towards women"--Provided by publisher.

"Unelected, but expected to act as befits her 'office, ' the first lady has what Pat Nixon called 'the hardest unpaid job in the world.' Michelle Obama championed military families with the program Joining Forces. Four decades earlier Pat Nixon traveled to Africa as the nation's official representative. And nearly four decades before that, Lou Hoover took to the airwaves to solicit women's help in unemployment relief. Each first lady has, in her way, been intimately linked with the roles, rights, and responsibilities of American women. Pursuing this connection, First Ladies and American Women reveals how each first lady from Lou Henry Hoover to Michelle Obama has reflected and responded to trends that marked and unified her time. Jill Abraham Hummer divides her narrative into three distinct epochs. In the first, stretching from Lou Hoover to Jacqueline Kennedy, we see the advent of women's involvement in politics following women's suffrage, as well as pressures on family stability during depression, war, and postwar uncertainty. Next comes the second wave of the feminist movement, from Lady Bird Johnson's tenure through Rosalyn Carter's, when equality and the politics of the personal issues prevailed. And finally we enter the charged political and partisan environment over women's rights and the politics of motherhood in the wake of the conservative backlash against feminism after 1980, from Nancy Reagan to Michelle Obama. Throughout, Hummer explores how background, personality, ambitions, and her relationship to the president shaped each first lady's response to women in society and to the broader political context in which each administration functioned--and how, in turn, these singular responses reflect the changing role of women in American society over nearly a century"--Provided by publisher.
[I] After Suffrage -- 1. Women's Citizenship -- 2. The Stable Society -- [II] The Second Wave -- 3. Equality -- 4. The Personal Is Political -- [III] After 1980 -- 5. Women's Rights and Human Rights -- 6. Motherhood and Family Politics.
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