First Ladies and American Women: Representation in the Modern Presidency

Hummer, Jill Abraham, Department of Politics, University of Virginia
Rhoads, Steven, Department of Politics, University of Virginia
Young, James Sterling, Department of Government and Foreign Affairs, University of Virginia
Shulman, Holly, Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, University of Virginia

This dissertation examines the American First Ladies' performance as a representative from 1920 through the present. I argue that representing women has been one of their most important representative tasks. This project applies Hanna Fenichel Pitkin's concepts of representation to reach new conclusions about First Ladies' contributions to the presidency. Drawing on presidency research, as well as women and politics and gender studies literature, this project posits a developmental theory concerning the origin and evolution of their representative roles. The implications of their women-focused political representation are analyzed through the concepts of transgendering and regendering.

First Ladies' performance as a representative has been expressed through several concrete roles. Chapter One examines the work of candidates' wives in reaching out to women voters. Chapter Two focuses on First Ladies acting for women as public liaisons. Chapter Three considers First Ladies' attempts to integrate women into national economic policy and programs through their roles as homemakers and consumers. Chapter Four evaluates First Ladies' lobbying and educative efforts on behalf of the Equal Rights Amendment. And Chapter Five analyzes First Ladies' performance as public diplomats to women abroad.

Evidentiary support for this dissertation comes mainly from primary source materials contained within presidential library archives around the country.

Note: Abstract extracted from PDF file via OCR.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
representative roles, First ladies

Digitization of this thesis was made possible by a generous grant from the Jefferson Trust, 2015.

Thesis originally deposited on 2016-03-14 in version 1.28 of Libra. This thesis was migrated to Libra2 on 2017-03-23 16:37:22.

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