Jan 16, 2009

A First Lady A Day: Wilson, Roosevelt, Cleveland

from the Smithsonian Institute Research Information Service : “View of First Ladies Hall in the Arts and Industries Building, 1955, showing gowns of, left to right: Edith Bolling Wilson, Ellen Axson Wilson, Helen Herron Taft, Edith Kermit Roosevelt, Ida Saxton McKinley, and Frances Folsom Cleveland...”
As I have said before, the Smithsonian Institute Research Information Service Archives are a bit cagey about which if the dresses are actually Inaugural Ball gowns. After all, the tradition of donating the Inaugural Ball Gown to the Institution didn’t start until Helen Herron Taft. And many of the early dresses just don’t exist anymore. They truly are lucky to have as many examples of garmenst as they have, especially form the early years. And some First Ladies donated a gown other than the Inaugural Ball gown. and I just can't presume to analyze gowns from a dark B&W photo with some shown only from the back. So this post is really just for fun.

Some close-ups. The two Mrs. Wilsons, Edith Boling Gault ( second wife, Inaugural in 1917) on left and Ellen Axson Wilson ( first wife, died in office, Inaugural in 1913) in right . Edith, quite a the business woman and very much a force, and Ellen, very maternal, much loved.

Left to right, Edith Kermit Roosevelt , Ida McKinley and Frances Cleveland.
Edith - the perfect lady, tolerant mother of an active bunch of kids, and the one person Theodore Roosevelt was intimidated by. Inaugural in 1905. Ida, we already did. Frances - married Grover Cleveland in her early 20s, while he was in the White House, immensely popular, came back for second term, Inaugural in 1893. Outlived him by many years and remarried. Check her out - an interesting life. I can show you her White House wedding dress:
http://www.150.si.edu/150trav/remember/pres.htm : "Wedding Dress worn by Frances Folsom (1864-1947), on her marriage to President Grover Cleveland, 1886, ivory satin, India muslin, white mull"
Next installment: Hilary Clinton.

1 comment:

Evangeline said...

Thanks for these wonderful posts! I've been searching high and low for photographs of the inaugural gowns of First Ladies after reading descriptions in old NYTimes articles. I've been blogging about D.C. of this era here and my post on the inaugurations will go live Jan 20.