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Bush Presidential Library at SMU: First Ladies - Style of Influence

  • George Bush Presidential Library and Museum 2943 SMU Blvd. Dallas, TX 75205 (map)

The George W. Bush Presidential Center announces a new special exhibit, giving visitors an inside peek at the role that first ladies have played behind the scenes and on the world stage throughout our nation’s history.

Running through October 1, “First Ladies: Style of Influence” examines how the role of the first lady has evolved over time, and how first ladies have used their position to advance diplomacy and other social, cultural, and political initiatives.

“As Mrs. Laura Bush noted when being interviewed about her time in the White House, ‘The role of the first lady is whatever the first lady wants it to be,’” said Brig. Gen. Patrick X. Mordente, director of the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum. “This exhibit is an entertaining opportunity to discover how America’s first ladies have changed not only style, attitudes, and public opinion, but U.S. history.”

The impact of first ladies, including Laura Bush, Barbara Bush, Dolley Madison, Michelle Obama, and Eleanor Roosevelt, will be viewed through themes presented in the Bush Institute's landmark research report, A Role Without a Rulebook: The Influence and Leadership of Global First Ladies. Visitors will explore how American first ladies have served as hostess, teammate, champion, and policy advocate, all within the context of the changing American political and cultural landscape. 

“First ladies have a unique platform to improve lives," said Natalie Gonnella-Platts, deputy director of the Bush Institute's Women's Initiative and co-author of A Role Without a Rulebook. "We hope this exhibit will underscore their significant contributions to our country, the international community, and the value of women's leadership more broadly."

In addition to rare photographs and historic documents, artifacts on display will include a black evening gown worn by Eleanor Roosevelt, a snuff box owned by Dolley Madison, and Lou Hoover’s original Girl Scout uniform and Cine-Kodak movie camera. As the personal stories of the first ladies unfold, visitors learn the challenges and rewards of a position that is reimagined by each person who holds it.

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Later Event: September 20
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