History Podcasts

The Podcast Putting Ladies First. FLOTUS podcast brings you comprehensive biographies of the First Ladies of the USA from Martha Washington to Melania Trump.


United States


The Podcast Putting Ladies First. FLOTUS podcast brings you comprehensive biographies of the First Ladies of the USA from Martha Washington to Melania Trump.




Mary Todd Lincoln

With Civil War, Death and Debt, find out about the plagued life of Mary Todd Lincoln in the season finale. Bibliography: https://www.whitehouse.gov/about-the-white-house/first-ladies/mary-todd-lincoln/ https://www.whitehouse.gov/about-the-white-house/presidents/abraham-lincoln/ https://www.mtlhouse.org https://www.mtlhouse.org/biography Betty Boyd Caroli, First Ladies, The Ever-Changing Role, From Martha Washington to Melania Trump, (New York: Oxford University Press, 2019) American National Biography Database – Jean H. Baker 1999 Douglas L. Wilson, ‘William H. Herndon and Mary Todd Lincoln,’ Journal od the Abraham Lincoln Association, Summer 2001, Vol. 22, No. 2 , pp. 1-26 Jennifer L. Bach, ‘Acts of Remembrance: Mary Todd Lincoln and Her Husbands Memory,’ Journal of the Abraham Lincoln Association, Summer, 2004, Vol. 25, No. 2, pp. 25-49 Rodney A. Ross, ‘Mary Todd Lincoln, Patient at Bellvue Place, Batavia,’ Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society (1908-1984) Spring 1970, Vol. 63, No. 1 pp/ 5-34 Wayne C. Temple, ‘Mary Todd Lincoln’s Travels,’ Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society (1908-1984) Vol. 52, No. 1 pp. 180-194 Jean H. Baker, ‘Mary Todd Lincoln: Managing Home, Husband, and Children, Journal of the Abraham Lincoln Association, 1990, Vol. 11 (1990) pp. 1-12 https://millercenter.org/president/lincoln/essays/lincoln-1861-firstlady http://www.firstladies.org/biographies/firstladies.aspx?biography=17 https://www.whitehousehistory.org/white-house-tour/the-second-floor https://www.whitehousehistory.org/press-room-old/press-collection/decorating-the-white-house


Harriet Lane

Find out all about Dear Miss. Lane, favoured by Queen Victoria, patron of the first paediatric hospital in the States, and leading figure in federal sponsorship of the arts. Bibliography: https://www.whitehouse.gov/about-the-white-house/first-ladies/harriet-lane/ http://www.firstladies.org/biographies/firstladies.aspx?biography=16 https://millercenter.org/president/buchanan/essays/lane-1857-firstlady American National Biography Database by Mary K. Dains Lloyd C Taylor Jr. ‘Harriet Lane- Mirror of an Age,’ Pennsylvania History: A Journal of Mid-Atlantic Studies, April, 1963, Vol. 30, No. 2 (April 1963) pp. 212-225 Homer T Rosenberger, Harriet Lane Johnston and the Formation of a National Gallery of Art, Records of the Columbia Historical Society, Washington DC, 1969/1970, Vol. 60/70, pp. 399-442


Jane Means Appleton Pierce

Jane Pierce is remembered for her tragic personal life more than anything else during her tenure as First Lady: find out more in the latest episode of the podcast. Bibliography: https://www.whitehouse.gov/about-the-white-house/first-ladies/jane-means-appleton-pierce/ https://www.whitehouse.gov/about-the-white-house/presidents/franklin-pierce/ Pierre-Marie Loizeau, “First Lady But Second Fiddle” or the rise and rejection of the political couple in the White House: 1933-today,’ European Journal of American Studies, 10-1, 2015 Millard fillmore, Abigail Fillmore, Franklin Pierce, Jane M. Pierce, James Buchanan, H.Lane, and Mrs Lincoln, ‘Letters of Presidents of the United States and “Ladies of the White House”, The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, 1902, Vol. 26, No. 1, (1902) pp. 115-125, University of Pennsylvania Press American National Biography Database by Norman F. Boas 1999 https://www.britannica.com/biography/Jane-Pierce http://www.firstladies.org/biographies/firstladies.aspx?biography=15 https://millercenter.org/president/pierce/essays/pierce-1853-firstlady


Abigail Powers Fillmore

What connects Abigail Fillmore with The Greatest Showman movie? You'll have to listen to the latest episode of FLOTUSpodcast to find out! Bibliography: https://www.whitehouse.gov/about-the-white-house/first-ladies/abigail-powers-fillmore/ https://www.whitehouse.gov/about-the-white-house/presidents/millard-fillmore/ https://millercenter.org/president/fillmore/essays/fillmore-1850-firstlady https://www.whitehousehistory.org/millard-fillmores-musical-family https://www.britannica.com/biography/Abigail-Fillmore American National Biography Database


The Taylor Women

As we creep closer to the Civil War, the presidency of Zachary Taylor shows that the absence of a First Lady leaves room for gossip and speculation to run rife. Bibliography: https://www.whitehouse.gov/about-the-white-house/first-ladies/margaret-mackall-smith-taylor/ https://www.whitehouse.gov/about-the-white-house/presidents/zachary-taylor/ American National Biography Database https://www.whitehousehistory.org/the-enslaved-households-of-president-zachary-taylor https://www.whitehousehistory.org/press-room/press-timelines/decorating-the-white-house Zachary Taylor National Cemetry https://millercenter.org/president/taylor/essays/taylor-1849-firstlady https://www.britannica.com/biography/Margaret-Taylor Pierre-Marie Loizeau, “First Lady But Second Fiddle” or the rise and rejection of the political couple in the White House: 1933-today,’ European Journal of American Studies, Vol. 10 No. 1 2015 pp. 1-11 http://www.firstladies.org/biographies/firstladies.aspx?biography=13


Sarah Childress Polk

The most politically minded First Lady so far, find out more about how Sarah Polk enhanced her husband's political career in the latest episode. Bibliography: https://www.whitehouse.gov/about-the-white-house/first-ladies/sarah-childress-polk/ https://www.whitehouse.gov/about-the-white-house/presidents/james-k-polk/ American National Biography Database Sarah Agnes, Wallace, Sarah Polk, John W. Childress, ‘Letters of Mrs. James K. Polk to Her Husband,’ Tennessee Historical Quarterly, Vol. 11, No.3, September 1952 pp. 282-288 https://millercenter.org/president/polk/essays/polk-1845-firstlady Paul H. Bergeron, ‘All in the Family: President Polk in the White House,’ Tennessee Historical Quarterly, Vol. 46, No. 1, (spring 1987) p. 10-20 Jayne Crumpler DeFiore, ‘COME, and Bring the Ladies: Tennessee Women and the Politics of Opportunity during the presidential Campaigns of 1840 and 1844,’ Tennessee Historical Quarterly, Vol. 51, No. 4, (Winter, 1992) pp. 197-212 Conover Hunt, ‘Fashion and Frugality, First Lady Sarah Polk,’ Journal of the White House Historical Association Number 32 https://www.whitehousehistory.org/the-enslaved-households-of-james-k-polk https://www.whitehousehistory.org/the-red-room-in-the-polk-white-house https://jameskpolk.com/history/ Jewel A. Smith, ‘Academic and Music Curricula in Nineteenth-Century American Women’s Education: A Comparison of the Moravian Young Ladies’ Seminary and Nazareth Hall,’ Music Quarterly, Vol. 90, No. 2, (Summer 2007) pp. 275-306


The Tyler Women

An invalid, an actress and a socialite; this episode we take at look at how Letitia, Priscilla and Julia Tyler all forged the First Lady role during the administration of "His Accidency," John Tyler. Bibliography: https://www.whitehouse.gov/about-the-white-house/first-ladies/letitia-christian-tyler/ https://www.whitehouse.gov/about-the-white-house/first-ladies/julia-gardiner-tyler/ https://www.whitehouse.gov/about-the-white-house/presidents/john-tyler/ American National Biography Database Evelyn L. Pugh, ‘Women and Slavery: Julia Gardiner Tyler and the Duchess of Sutherland,’ The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, Vol. 88, No. 2, (April, 1980) pp. 186-202 https://millercenter.org/president/tyler/essays/tyler-letitia-1841-firstlady https://millercenter.org/president/tyler/essays/tyler-julia-1841-firstlady Christopher J. Leahy, ‘Playing Her Greatest Role: priscilla Cooper Tyler and the Politics of the White House Social Scene, 1841-44,’ The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, Vol. 120, No. 3, (2012) pp. 236-69


Anna Harrison

We discuss the FLOTUS who held the title for the shortest amount of time, Anna Harrison! Nevertheless, there are some important things we can learn from her... Bibliography: https://www.whitehouse.gov/about-the-white-house/first-ladies/anna-tuthill-symmes-harrison/ https://www.whitehouse.gov/about-the-white-house/presidents/william-henry-harrison/ American National Biography database https://millercenter.org/president/harrison/essays/harrison-1841-anna-firstlady https://millercenter.org/president/harrison https://www.history.com/topics/first-ladies/anna-harrison Reginald Horsman, ‘William Henry Harrison: Virginia Gentleman in the Old Northwest,’ Indiana Magazine of History, Vol. 96, No. 2, (June 2000) pp. 125-149 https://www.britannica.com/biography/Anna-Harrison https://www.britannica.com/biography/Isabella-Marshall-Graham Dorothy G. Becker, ‘Isabella Graham and Joanna Bethune: Trailblazers of Organized Women’s Benevolence,’ Social Service Review, Vol. 61, No. 2, (Jun 1987) pp. 319-336


The Van Buren Women

Despite the fact that Van Buren had been a widower for 18 years by the time he enters office, we take a look at the experiences of his late wife and his daughter-in-law, who eventually acts as White House hostess during his tenure. Many thanks to all the providers of the following resources: https://www.whitehouse.gov/about-the-white-house/first-ladies/hannah-hoes-van-buren/ https://www.whitehouse.gov/about-the-white-house/presidents/martin-van-buren/ American National Biography Database by Marilynn Wood Hill https://www.whitehousehistory.org/the-enslaved-households-of-martin-van-buren https://www.whitehousehistory.org/photos/treasures-of-the-white-house-angelica-singleton-van-buren Joseph G. Rayback, Martin Van Buren: His Place in the History of New York and the United States, New York History, Vol. 64, No. 2, (April, 1983) pp. 120-135 Robert P. Watson, The First Lady Reconsidered: Presidential Partner and Political Institution, Presidential Studies Quarterly, Vol. 27, No. 4, Fall 1997 pp. 805-818 Nicoline Van Der Sijs, Cookies, Coleslaw and Stoops: The Influence of Dutch on the North American Language, (Amsterdam University Press, 2009)


Season 2 Trailer

Tune in for a round up of Season 1 and a trailer of Season 2


The Jackson Women

In the final episode of our early republic series, we have a change of scene at look to life on the frontier with Rachel Jackson and Emily Donelson before Andrew Jackson takes the White House. Shownotes: https://www.whitehouse.gov/about-the-white-house/first-ladies/rachel-donelson-jackson/ American National Biography Database Harriet Chappell Owsley, ‘The Marriages of Rachel Donelson,’ Tennessee Historical Society, Vol. 36, No. 4, (Winter 1977) pp. 479-492 Stanley F. Horn ‘The Hermitage: Home of Andrew Jackson,’ Tennessee Historical Quarterly, Vol. 20, No. 1, (March 1961) p. 3-19 Robert P. Watson, ‘The First Lady Reconsidered: Presidential Partner and Political Institution,’ Presidential Studies Quarterly, Vol. 27, No. 4, (Fall 1997) p. 805-818 Lewis L. Laska, “The Dam’st Situation Ever Man Was Placed In”: Andrew Jackson, David Allison, and the frontier Economy of 1795-96,’ Tennessee Historical Quarterly, Vol. 54, No. 4, (Winter 1995) p. 336-347 Jeff Smith, ‘Lords (and Ladies) of Misrule: Carnival, Scandal, and Satire in the Age of Andrew Jackson,’ Studies in American Humor, New Series 3, No 12, (2005) pp. 52-82 https://thehermitage.com/learn/andrew-jackson/family/rachel/ https://www.whitehousehistory.org/not-a-ragged-mob-the-inauguration-of-1829 Pauline Wilcox Burke, Emily Donelson of Tennessee, Garrett and Massie, Richmond, VA, 1941 https://www.whitehousehistory.org/bios/emily-donelson https://millercenter.org/president/jackson/essays/jackson-1829-firstlady https://www.whitehouse.gov/about-the-white-house/presidents/andrew-jackson/ https://millercenter.org/president/jackson/life-in-brief


Louisa Catherine Adams

In this episode we explore the life of Louisa Catherine Adams, the first non-native First Lady who spent much time at the court of Tsar Alexander I before ascending to the White House. Shownotes: https://www.whitehouse.gov/about-the-white-house/first-ladies/louisa-catherine-johnson-adams/ American National Biography Database Joan R. Challinor, ‘The Mis-Education of Louisa Catherine Johnson,’ Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society, Vol. 98 (1986)p. 21-48 L. H. Butterfield, ‘Taming a Drangon-Killer: Notes for the Biographer of Mrs. John Quincy Adams,’ Proceeding of the American Philosophical Society, Vol. 118, No.2 (April 19 1974) pp. 165-178 Catherine Allgor, “A Republican in a Monarchy”: Louisa Catherine Adams in Russia,’ Diplomatic History, Vol. 21, No 1, (Winter, 1997) pp. 15-43 Margery M. Heffron, “A Fine Romance”: The Courtship Correspondence between Louisa Catherine Johnson and John Quincy Adams,’ The New England Quarterly, Vol. 83, No. 2, (June 2010) pp. 200-218 https://www.masshist.org/adams/louisa_catherine_adams https://www.whitehousehistory.org/the-enslaved-household-of-john-quincy-adams


Elizabeth Monroe

This episode we discuss the life and changes to the First Lady role made by Elizabeth Monroe. Show Notes: https://www.whitehouse.gov/about-the-white-house/first-ladies/elizabeth-kortright-monroe/ https://millercenter.org/president/monroe/essays/monroe-1817-firstlady https://www.history.com/topics/first-ladies/elizabeth-monroe American National Biography Database Entry Fred I. Greenstein, ‘The Political Professionalism of James Monroe,’ Presidential Studies Quarterly, Vol. 39, No. 2, (June 2009) p. 275-282 Gerard W. Gawalt, ‘James Monroe, Presidential Planter,’ The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, Vol. 101, No. 2, (April 1993) pp. 251-272 Andrew Burstein, ‘Jefferson’s Madison versus Jefferson’s Monroe,’ Presidential Studies Quarterly, vol. 28, No. 2, (Spring, 1998) pp. 394-408 Arthur Scherr, ‘Governor James Monroe and the Southampton Slave Resistance of 1799,’ The Historians, Vol. 61, No. 3, (Spring 1999) pp. 557-578 Traci Watson, ‘A Residence Fit for a President,’ Archaeology, Vol. 70, No. 4, (July/August, 2017) pp. 34-37 David L. Holmes, ‘The Religion of James Monroe,’ The Virginia Quarterly Review, Vol. 79, No. 4, (Autumn, 2003) pp. 589-606 https://www.whitehousehistory.org/reflections-after-the-fire https://www.whitehousehistory.org/fashion-and-frugality https://www.whitehousehistory.org/articles-of-the-best-kind


Dolley Madison

In this episode, discover how "Queen Dolley" reshaped the existing social norms in Washington DC, renovated the White House, and became a symbol of national unity. Shownotes: https://www.whitehouse.gov/about-the-white-house/first-ladies/dolley-payne-todd-madison/ American Nation Biography Database Merry Ellen Scofield, ‘Yea or Nay to Removing the Seat of Government: Dolley Madison and the Realities of 1814 Politics,’ The Historian, Vol. 74. No. 3, (Fall 2012) pp. 449-466 John Todd Jr, Dolley P. Todd, J. Madison Jr. and Paul G. Sifton, ‘What a Dread Prospect…”: Dolley Madison’s Plague Year,’ The Pennsylvania magazine of History and Biography, Vol. 87, No. 2, (April 1963) pp. 182-188 Holly C. Schulman, ‘Madison V. Madison: Dolley Payne Madison and her Inheritance of the Montpelier Estate, 1836- 1838, The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, Vol. 119, No. 4, (2011) pp. 350-398 Allen C. Clark, Life and Letters of Dolly Madison, (Press of W. F. Roberts Company Washington D.C. 1914) https://www.montpelier.org/learn/tag/dolley-madisonhttps://www.montpelier.org/learn/dolley-madison-becoming-americas-first-lady Catherine Allgor chapter ‘Dolley Madison A Case Study in Southern Style,’ pp. 201-221 in Cynthia A. Kierner, Sandra Gioia Treadway Virginia Women, Their Lives and Times, University of Georgia press, (2015) Catherine Allgor, “Queen Dolley” Saves Washington City’ Washington History, Vol. 12, No. 1, (spring summer 2000) p. 54-69 Robert P. Watson, ‘The “White Glove Pulpit”: A History of Policy Influence by First Ladies,’ OAH Magazine of History, Vol. 15, No. 3, First Ladies (Spring 2001) pp. 9-14 Catherine Allgor, “Believeing the Ladies had Great Influence”: Early National American Women’s Patronage in Transatlantic Context,’ American Political Thought, Vol. 4, No. 1, (Winter 2015) pp. 39-71 Cynthia D. Earman, ‘Remembering the Ladies: Women, Etiquette, and Diversions in Washington City, 1800-1814,’ Washington History, Vol. 12, No. 1, (Spring/Summer 2000) pp. 102-117 http://www.montpelier.org https://www.battlefields.org/learn/biographies/dolley-madison


The Jefferson Women

This episode explores the wife and daughter of the third President, Thomas Jefferson, who was the first widower to fill the role. Step back in time to the early Republic via revolutionary Paris to discover how a lack of a presidential spouse highlighted the gendered roles taking shape in the early years of the presidency. Shownotes: https://www.whitehouse.gov/about-the-white-house/first-ladies/martha-wayles-skelton-jefferson/ Review: Dinah Mayo-Bobee, ‘Martha Jefferson Randolph, Daughter of Monticello, Her life and Times by Cynthia A. Kierner, West Virginia History, New Series, Vol. 7, No. 2, (Fall 2013) p. 124-125 Geraldine Brooks, Dames and Daughters of the Young Republic, Thomas Y. Cromwell and Co New York, 1901) Catherine Kerrison, ‘The French Education of Martha Jefferson Randolph,’ Early American Studies, Vol. 11, No. 2, (Spring 2013) pp. 349-394 American National Biography Database https://www.monticello.org/site/research-and-collections/martha-wayles-skelton-jefferson http://www.firstladies.org/blog/first-ladies-never-married-to-presidents-martha-randolph/ https://millercenter.org/president/jefferson/essays/madison-1801-firstlady Cynthia A. Kierner, ‘Martha Jefferson and the American Revolution in Virginia,’ in Children and Youth in a New Nation , eds. James Marten, NYU Press, New York, 2009 Cynthia A. Kierner, ‘The President’s Daughter,’ in Martha Jefferson Randolph, Daughter of Monticello, University of North Carolina Press, 2012


Abigail Adams

We explore the history of the second First Lady, Abigail Adams, in this episode of the podcast. Abigail transforms the role and is remembered as one of the most interesting female characters in American political history. Shownotes: American National Biography Database David S. Shields and Fredrika J. Teute, ‘The Court of Abigail Adams,’ Journal of the Early Republic, Vol. 35, No. 2, (Summer 2015) pp. 227-235 Linda Garbaye, Women and Politics in North America: The Experience of Abigail Adams, Nuevo Mundo Mundos Nuevos, 09 April 2014, Woody Holton, Abigail Adams, Bond Speculator, The William and Mary Quarterly, Third Series, Vol., 64, No. 4, (Oct 2007) p. 821-838 https://www.whitehouse.gov/about-the-white-house/first-ladies/abigail-smith-adams/ Edith B. Gelles, ‘A Virtuous Affair: The Correspondence Between Abigail Adams and James Lovell,’ American Quarterly, Vol. 39, No. 2, (Summer 1987) pp. 252-269 Elaine Forman Crane, ‘Abigail Adams, Gender Politics, and “The History of Emily Montague”: A Postscript,’ The William and Mary Quarterly, Third Series, Vol. 64, No. 4, (Oct 2007) pp. 839-844 Edith B. Gelles ‘bonds of Friendship: The Correspondence of Abigail Adams and Mercy Otis Warren,’ Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society, Third Series, Vol. 108, (1996) pp. 35-71 Edith B. Gelles, ‘Abigail Adams: Domesticity and the American Revolution,’ The New England Quarterly, Vol. 52, No. 4, (Dec 1979) pp. 500-521 Richard Alan Ryerson, ‘The Limits of a Vicarious Life: Abigail Adams and Her Daughter,’ Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society, Third Series, vol. 100 (1988), p. 1-14 Wolfgang Mieder, book chapter from ‘Proverbs are the best policy: folk wisdom and American politics,’ University Press of Colorado, 2005 http://www.john-adams-heritage.com/abigail-adams-biography/ G. J. Barker-Benfield, ‘Stillbirth and Sensibility: The Case of Abigail and John Adams,’ Early American Studies, Vol. 10, No. 1, (Winter 2012) pp. 2-29 Edith Gelles, ‘The Adamses Retire,’ Early American Studies, Vol. 4, No. 1, (Spring 2006) pp. 1-15 Meade Minnigerode, Some American Ladies, Seven Informal Biographies, (G.P. Putnam’s Sons, New York, 1926) Laura E.Richards, Abigail Adams and Her Times, D. Appleton and Company, New York, 1917 https://cdn.loc.gov/service/rbc/rbpe/rbpe05/rbpe052/0520050a/0520050a.pdf https://www.womenshistory.org/education-resources/biographies/abigail-adams https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Adams/04-01-02-0241 https://millercenter.org/president/adams/adams-1797-abigail-firstlady Jeanne E. Abrams, First Ladies of the Republic: Martha Washington, Abigail Adams, Dolley Madison, and the creation of an Iconic American Role, (NYU Press, New York, 2018)


Martha Washington

This episode discusses the first First Lady of the United States: Martha Washington. We look at her childhood in colonial Virginia, her participation in the Revolutionary War, and how she shaped the office of the First Lady in the early days of the Republic. Shownotes: Thanks to the London Library for use of their resources in researching this podcast. American National Biography Database- Martha Washington Entry By Samuel Willard Crompton John Parke Custis and Billy J. Harbin ‘Letters from John Parke Custis to George and Martha Washington, 1778-1781’ The William and Mary Quarterly, Vol. 43, No. 2, (April, 1986) pp. 267-293 Harold Donaldson Eberlein, ‘Martha Washington’s Gardens’ Art and Life, Vol. 11, No. 1 (Jul 1919) p. 14-20 George Washington, Martha Washington, John Adams, Abigail Adams, Thomas Jefferson, M. Randolph, James Madison Jr. and Dolly P. Madison, ‘Letters of presidents of the United States and “Ladies of the White House” The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, vol. 25, No. 3, (1901) pp. 355-365 Shawn. J Parry-Giles and Diane M. Blair, ‘The Rise of the Rhetorical First Lady: Politics, Gender Ideology and Women’s Voice, 1789-2002’ Rhetoric and Public Affairs, Vol.5, No. 4, (Winter 2002) pp. 565-599 Benson J. Lossing, Martha Washington, J.C. Buttre, New York, 1864 https://www.mountvernon.org/george-washington/martha-washington/ten-facts-about-martha-washington/ https://www.whitehouse.gov/about-the-white-house/first-ladies/martha-dandridge-custis-washington/ Robert P. Watson, ‘Remembering Martha’ OAH Magazine of History, Vol. 14, No. 2, The Early Republic (Winter 2000) pp. 54-56 Anne Hollingsworth Wharton, Martha Washington, London, John Murray, 1897 Helen Bryan, Martha Washington, First Lady of Liberty, (John Wiley and Sons, Inc. 2002) Flora Fraser, George and Martha Washington, A Revolutionary Marriage, (Bloomsbury, London, 2015)


Welcome to FLOTUS!

Welcome to this introductory episode of FLOTUS podcast! This episode kicks off the series by explaining my background as a historians and my research on First Ladies, ready to take you through the history of all 47 First Ladies from Martha Washington to Melania Trump. All episodes are researches by Elizabeth Rees using sources accessed from the London Library, Library of Congress and presidential libraries- all citations will be included in the shownotes.